The Path to Enlightenment is Paved with Thai Street Food

thai street food

thai street foodOnce a year the Thai Buddhist Temple of Hawaiʻi turns into a Thai Street Food Sanctuary

Crispy fried chicken with sticky rice, steaming bowls of coconut fish curry poured over vermicelli noodles with fresh herbs and lime and ice-cold cups of bright orange, spiced Thai tea. Getting hungry yet?

Thai fried chicken
Thai fried chicken

A few weeks ago I was out foraging with Nat Bletter, cofounder of Madre Chocolate, and we got to talking about Thailand––where he lived for a while doing his postdoc.

In between identifying native plants and cracking open kukui nuts he gave me a gem of a recommendation. Every year during Buddhist lent––July to October––the Thai Buddhist Temple of Hawaiʻi in Pearl City puts on a Thai Street Food Market on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is the closest you will get to authentic Thai and Lao cuisine in Hawaiʻi he promised.

thai street food
Green Fish Curry

On a sweltering hot day in July I grabbed a foodie friend and set out for the Temple. We failed miserably on our first attempt.

“It happens to people all the time,” Bletter said after hearing that we showed up to their old location on 2nd street first by accident.

By the time we found the right address, and made our way over to their new(ish) Temple on Farrington, Bletter was just showing up.

thai street food

The three of us spread 11 dishes onto a picnic table and dove in. Bletter gave us ingredient intel on each dish as we navigated through the flavors of sweet, sour, salty and spicy.

None of the dishes are over $8 and all proceeds go to support the monks––who steadily perform rituals and chants all afternoon while people graze.

Thai Street Food
Red Fish Curry

Spicy fried smelt (tiny fish) are tossed with red curry paste, fresh chilis and julienned lemongrass and Tod Mun, or fish cakes, made with galangal and makrut lime leaves are served with Thai sweet chili sauce.

thai street food
Spicy fried smelt
thai street food
Tod Mun

Papaya salad is made to order––to suit your taste––and is served with a handful of peppery la lot leaves. I opted for only one dried chile and an extra squeeze of lime in mine. The woman preparing it let me try it three times until she saw I was happy with the ratio.

thai street food
Green papaya salad

One of the vendors instructed us to eat the Saku Sai Mu––chewy balls of tapioca stuffed with pork––by wrapping them first in fresh cilantro sprigs and following each bite with a nibble off a Thai chili. It was my favorite dish of the day. “You have to eat it all today,” he urged. “It won’t be good tomorrow.”

thai street food
Saku Sai Mu

Pla Pad Chah gets its name from the sizzling sound the fish makes when it hits the skillet. This version is made with eggplant and includes mouthwatering aromatics like green chilis, pickled green peppercorns and Thai basil.

Thai street food
Pla Pad Chah

Another made-to-order salad I loved comprised bamboo shoots massaged with bai yanang––an herb and natural MSG. The marinated shoots are tossed with toasted, ground sticky rice, dried chilis, palm sugar, fish sauce, red onion, lime and mint.

Thai street food
Marinated bamboo shoots
Thai street food
Bamboo shoot salad

For dessert you must try the Khanom Krok––plump pan fried rice pancakes oozing with coconut cream and scallion––and Khao Tom Mud–– banana leaf wrapped coconut sticky rice stuffed with red beans and banana that turns bright pink once cooked.

Thai street food
Khanom Krok
Thai street food
Khanom Krok
Thai Street Food
Khao Tom Mud

There is also a table set up inside the Temple where the monks place their leftover food after they eat. The food is up for grabs to anyone who would like some blessed bites.

Thai Street Food
Food blessed by the monks

Bletter gave me a few tips. You may want to practice these when you show up to the Temple (or Thailand) out of respect.

1.   Cover your shoulders and don’t wear shorts to the Temple.
2.   At the beginning of a meal, fill up on a few bites of sticky rice first instead of going in for the more expensive ingredients right away.
3.   Pick up the sticky rice with your fingers and use it as a vessel to pick up the other ingredients with. Don’t lick your fingers.

On our way out we spoke with Loonk Pai-Rat, or “Uncle” Pai-Rat, a Buddhists who had been walking around educating guests while we were eating.

“You know why monks shave their heads?” he asked. “To make it easier to wash! That’s it!” He was demonstrating one of the principals of their lifestyle, which is to simplify.

He also warned us about desire––an action the Buddhists believe is the root of all suffering.

I digested his words, along with the feast we had just consumed, on the car ride home. It was a reminder to accept and be grateful for what I already have, to stop clinging to impermanent things and to stay focused on living a virtuous and intentional life––that eternal practice of letting go of the ego.

If you enjoy Thai cuisine you will love this event. Bring friends, sample everything and most importantly…open your mind. The Buddhist’s path is an enlightening one and as it turns out a delicious one too.

96-130 Farrington hwy, Pearl City
July-October, Sundays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Pro tip: The parking lot gets full so if you see a spot on the street, grab it!

Madre Chocolate Farm Tour: How To Get From Bean To Bar

madre chocolate farm tour
madre chocolate farm tour
Photo by Ketino Photography

An afternoon of connecting with the land and tasting award winning chocolate awaits you on the Madre Chocolate Farm Tour at Nine Fine Mynahs Estate in Waialua.

Imagine biting into a bar of rich dark chocolate that is so creamy you swear it is milk chocolate.

There’s no crumble or chalkiness. Instead, it feels like you are sinking your teeth into a stick of butter. The essence of north shore rain and tropical fruit  slowly tempers on your tongue.

This is Madre Chocolate.

You can thank the climate and terroir in Hawaiʻi for that luxurious mouthfeel.

But don’t think it is because of sunny, warm temperatures. Hawaiʻi is actually one of the coldest places on earth growing cacao. It’s cool winds and volcanic soil produce beans that are extra high in cocao butter making them some of the best in the world.

You will learn this, and so much more, on the Madre Chocolate farm tour.

madre chocolate farm tour

Out on the farm

The air is thick and muggy upon my arrival. I hop out of the car, cover myself in a fog of bug spray and pull my hair up, which is already starting to frizz and stick to the back of my neck.

The owner of the property, Jeanne “J” Bennet, strolls over with a smile and ushers me to a picnic table surrounded by a cluster of tree stumps. The other guests are just starting to congregate.

In between the spaces of country silence I can hear mynah birds chirping and firearms popping off nearby. “Target practice,” Bennet says. “At least when they’re shooting guns you can hear them and know where they are. Not like when they’re shooting arrows.”

I survey the faces of the other guests, curious of their reactions, and then turn my attention to the plate of freshly harvested Sunrise papaya Bennet has just set out for us.

Next to the papaya is a bottle of Nat Bletterʻs mango hot sauce made from local mangos and chilis. “You can dip your papaya in the hot sauce if you’d like,” Bennet suggests.

madre chocolate farm tour
Nat Bletter, co-founder of Madre Chocolate

The dreamers of the dreams

We start the tour with a meet and greet.

Nat Bletter guides the Madre Chocolate farm tour. He is an expert botanist and cofounder of Madre Chocolate. He’s also a chili enthusiast currently growing 120 different varieties on O’ahu, hence the hot sauce.

Bennet and her husband Bruce Clements own the estate. They moved in several years ago to find acres of fallow land suffering from years of aggressive monocropping and depleted soil. They started by planting trees. Hundreds of them. All types. Within a year and a half 620 cacao trees covered the property. “We are planting trees as fast as trees are being cut down,” Bennet says.

Clements is an ex pilot and the farm’s “handy man.” He’s built everything you see at Nine Fine Mynah’s Estate including a massive workshop, a sweet little chocolate factory and the couple’s impressive country home (complete with indoor bird sanctuary). In his spare time he makes beer and chocolate with Bennet and Bletter.

madre chocolate farm tour
Nat’s mango hot sauce, miel de cacao, raw criollo cacao

Ice cream and black coffee

After her spiel Bennet quickly passes the baton to Bletter who gives us a brief history on the evolution of cacao and its origins.

He splits open a fresh pod for us to taste and hands out cups of cacao pulp juice he calls miel de cacao. The juice is delightful––syrupy sweet with a thick mucous-like consistency similar to what spills out of okra. The beans from the cacao pods are covered in a white, sweet-tart pulp with a crunchy center that is bitter like black coffee. A wonderful contrast in my opinion.

madre chocolate farm tour

Afterward, Bletter walks us over to a grove of cacao trees full of pods tie died red, yellow and orange.

The cacao enjoys the shade and consistent hits of nitrogen from the ice cream bean trees hovering above.

Bletter cracks open a fuzzy, green bean pod thatʻs about a foot long. It is packed with what looks like a cluster of damp cotton balls. He passes the pod around, so everyone can reach in and pull out a bean to try.

We are instructed to enjoy the soft, snow white outer coating but not eat the bean itself (which is only edible if cooked). It feels like cotton candy melting on my tongue and tastes of tamarind and vanilla ice cream. Some of the guests pocket the beans to plant an ice cream tree of our own when they get home.

madre chocolate farm tour
Nat introducing us to ice cream beans

Over 50% of the cacao used for Madre Chocolate is from Hawaiʻi. Criollo and trinitario varieties are grown at Nine Fine Mynahs Estate. More comes from Kona and a few other small farms on the Big Island and Oʻahu. The rest comes from Central America simply to keep up with supply and demand.

Bean to bar in 12 steps

Madre Chocolate is made in small batches, by hand, with the help of a few simple tabletop machines. Bletter walks you through each step during the tour giving you the opportunity to taste the cacao during every stage of the process, so that you can see the transformation the beans undergo.

1. Harvesting.  The cacao is checked for ripeness by scratching the pod. If it reveals a green hue they need more time on the tree. If they scratch yellow or red they are ready to harvest.
2. Fermentation.  After the pods are split open and the beans are removed they get placed in a small chest freezer to ferment for about 10 days, until reaching a temperature of 118-120 degrees. The beans look like they are covered in the same red-orange clay mud that spreads across the farm like peanut butter. They smell yeasty and, when peeled, take on the color and taste of red wine.
3. Drying. Still hot to the touch, the beans are laid out to dry on wire racks lined with 2 layers of fiberglass screens (so the metal doesn’t impart flavor). This happens in a well-ventilated A-frame shed for 6 weeks to 6 months.
4. Roasting. The beans are roasted using low heat resulting in a complex nutty, yet still fruity, flavor.
5. Crushing. The beans are crushed in order to remove the outer shell.
6. Winnowing. The beans are put through a winnower to blow off the outer shell.
7. Grinding. The cacao nibs go into a grinder.
8. Cacao butter separation. This step is omitted at Madre Chocolate. Bletter explains that they do not have the volume of cacao, nor the enormous machine thatʻs needed in order to separate the cacao butter from the cacao. Instead, the cacao butter at Madre Chocolate is left in.
9. Sugar and other desired ingredients are added.
10. Churning. The cacao and other ingredients churn together for 2-5 days straight to produce chocolate.
11. Tempering. The chocolate is heated and cooled for texture and shine.
12.The chocolate is poured into molds to create chocolate bars.

madre chocolate farm tour
Fermentation and drying process

Halfway through the tour, dark clouds start to fill the sky. We escape the rain by taking a detour through Bennet’s home and mynah bird sanctuary––what the estate is named after.

madre chocolate farm tour

Inside Bennet’s home a zoo unfolds. Mynah birds soar through the kitchen and dining room and the kids get the opportunity to feed some of the newborns by hand. Bennet notices my wide eyes and skeptical smile and turns to me and says, “We use a lot of wet wipes here.” I laugh and gaze at the happy birds in awe.

madre chocolate farm tour
The kids feeding baby Mynah birds with syringes

Nat and the chocolate factory

Soon Bletter shows back up to take us over to the chocolate factory for a chocolate making demo and chocolate dipped frozen apple bananas.

madre chocolate farm tour
Roasting, winnowing and grinding

He saves the best for last by caffeinating us with cacao shell tea and gifting our palates with samples of every flavor of their award winning chocolate, including a bar he calls Horchata that’s been flavored with cinnamon, puffed rice and almonds, their Drinking Chocolate that has a rustic stone ground texture and the Earl Grey Chocolate that contains as much caffeine as 6 cups of tea.

madre chocolate farm tour
Roasted cacao beans

Madre Chocolate, now 8 years old, is among the top 18 cacao growers in the world. They have won the highest number of accolades in Hawaii for their chocolate including Best Hawaiian Cacao at the Big Island Chocolate Festival and the prestigious International Cocoa Award at the Cocoa of Excellence competition in Paris.

madre chocolate farm tour
Chocolate dipped apple bananas with toppings

Producing award-winning chocolate isn’t Bennet and Clement’s only raison d’être. As much as they love chocolate they are equally as passionate about caring for the wild life and land that surrounds them. To tour the estate is to look deeply into their dreams and life’s work on an intimate level. An invitation I do not take lightly.

madre chocolate farm tour

Bennet is a recent breast cancer survivor. She says the first thing she asked her doctor, when she was diagnosed, was if she could still eat a chocolate bar a day.

Her doctor enthusiastically said, “Yes!” and told her that as long as itʻs 70% cacao the benefits of the antioxidants and flavanols cancel out any negative effects of the sugar. Bennet says when she heard this she looked at her doctor and replied “how about two bars a day?”

madre chocolate farm tour

In addition to the Madre Chocolate farm tour, Bletter also hosts chocolate making classes, whiskey and chocolate pairings and a boot camp for aspiring cacao farmers.

You can purchase their chocolate online, at the KCC farmers market or in select retail and grocery stores that can be found on their website.

Madre Chocolate Farm Tour 
Hosted by Nat Bletter and Jeanne Bennet

Sundays at 1pm
Nine Fine Mynahs Cacao Farm
Waialua, HI 96791
(808) 779-8608


Like this article? Subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more on how to eat local and live well in Hawaiʻi. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

Vegan Sweet Potato Chowder

vegan sweet potato chowder
vegan sweet potato chowder
Photo by Ketino photography

Want a comforting, hot soup that will make you feel amazing afterward? One that won’t weigh you down? This vegan sweet potato chowder is a favorite at the yoga retreats I cook for. And after many requests for the recipe I’m finally getting it up on the blog.

Feel free to play around with adding different types of vegetables and spices to this recipe. You can swap lemon for lime too, which is just as tasty. One thing I recommend however, is to use Arroy-D brand coconut milk. It is 100% pure and does not separate like other coconut milks can when brought to a simmer.

I use local Okinawa purple sweet potatoes here, but I have also made this soup with a variety of other types of sweet potatoes and they all work well.

Vegan Sweet Potato Chowder

*Use local and organic ingredients whenever possible. 

Cuisine vegan
Keyword vegan sweet potato chowder
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 5 cups


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil unrefined
  • .5 each yellow onion diced small
  • 2 ribs celery diced small
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger peeled and minced
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes peeled and diced large
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 pinch chile flakes
  • 1.5 cups water roughly
  • TT salt & black pepper
  • 1 can coconut milk Arroy-D brand (14oz)
  • .5 head broccoli cut into tiny florets
  • 2 each scallions sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • .5 each lemon juiced


  1. Melt the coconut oil in a large pot over medium-low heat.

  2. Add the yellow onion and celery, season with salt and pepper and cook on medium-low heat stirring occasionally until soft. 

  3. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 2 minutes more. 

  4. Add the sweet potatoes, nutritional yeast, chile flake and water (enough water to barely cover the vegetables). Season with more salt and pepper, bring to a boil over high heat and then lower to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are tender. 

  5. Add the coconut milk and broccoli, bring back up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook until the broccoli is tender. 

  6. Turn off heat, add scallion, parsley and lemon juice. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. 

Recipe Notes

Purchase Arroy-D coconut milk here

Purchase nutritional yeast here

Ulu-Kiawe Cornbread

ulu-kiawe cornbread

ulu-kiawe cornbread

I developed this ulu-kiawe cornbread recipe for my last Pupus With A Purpose  event to highlight ingredients that are both local and invasive to Hawaiʻi. To make a gluten-free cornbread (or any kind of gluten-free bread for that matter) takes a bit of tinkering. AP flour brings a lightness to breads and pastries that gluten-free flours can’t. To avoid creating a dry hockey puck I treated this bread like a cake. How do you create a super moist cake? You add fat.

So, in addition to high quality ulu and kiawe flours, and locally grown and milled cornmeal, I incorporate a good amount of coconut oil into this recipe. I also use a lower glycemic monkfruit sugar instead of refined sugar to make it even healthier.

Lastly, I bake this bread in a well seasoned cast iron dutch oven passed down from my aunt who used it for years before me. This helps steam the bread a bit while giving it a nice crust. Plus, everything tastes better coming out of a family heirloom.

This may be a difficult recipe to make if you don’t live on Oʻahu because the ingredients may be tough to source. But, if you are lucky enough to live here I invite you to please indulge.

Ulu-Kiawe Cornbread

Use organic, local ingredients whenever possible. 

Cuisine Gluten free
Keyword cornbread, cornmeal, gluten free, kiawe, ulu
Servings 16 servings


  • 2 cups cornmeal Counter Culture Organic Farms' 'Nalo Orange Cornmeal
  • 2 cups milk whole
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1.5 ounces kiawe flour Waiʻanae Gold
  • 5 ounces ulu flour Manaʻe Farm or Kahumana Farms brand
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup monkfruit sugar
  • 2 each eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil plus more for greasing your pan


  1. Pre-heat oven 400 degrees.

  2. In a small bowl combine cornmeal, creamed corn and milk; let stand for 15 minutes. 

  3. Grease a cast iron pan with 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil and place in the  oven while it's pre-heating. 

  4. In a large bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, salt and monkfruit sugar. 

  5. Whisk in cornmeal mixture.

  6. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and coconut oil until well incorporated, and then whisk this into the rest of the cornbread batter. 

  7. Remove the cast iron pan from the oven, pour in the batter, level it out with a spatula and place back in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean.

  8. Let the bread cool in the cast iron pan for at least 30 minutes. Invert the pan on to a cutting board to remove the bread, continue to let it cool on the cutting board for another 30 minutes, and then slice into 16 pieces or as desired. 

  9. Serve with soft butter, honey and jam or all on its own. 

Discovering Wild And Invasive Ingredients With Sunny Savage: Pupus With A Purpose | March 2019

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose

Photography by Marissa Phillips-Wallace

On March 27th, 2019, at Moku Kitchen in Honolulu, Jess Rohr (Forage Hawaii) and I hosted our second Pupus With A Purpose Event, continuing our mission of creating conscious change in our local food system. The theme was wild and invasive ingredients.

pupus with a purpose
The Healthy Locavore (Sarah Burchard), Forage Hawaii (Jess Rohr) & Savage Kitchen (Sunny Savage) host Pupus With A Purpose 2: Wild & Invasive Ingredients

pupus with a purpose

Our special guest for the evening was wild foods advocate Sunny Savage. Sunny foraged for several of the ingredients I used throughout the menu, helped with food prep in the days leading up to the event and gave an unforgettable expert talk .

pupus with a purpose

As an educator Sunny teaches people how they can connect to the land through food and increases a sense of food security by showing us how to forage for ourselves.

Sunny has a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics, a Master’s of Science in Nutrition Education and has traveled extensively on all 7 continents foraging and learning about wild edibles along the way. She knows the medicinal benefits of these foods as well as the role they play in nature.

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose
Jess greets Vince Dodge, owner of Waianae Gold Kiawe Flour

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose

Jess kicked off the evening by explaining the theme of our event and what her company Forage Hawaii does in relation to it. She also introduced me and Sunny. An introduction so heartfelt I was nearly in tears, by the time it was my turn to go up and talk…..

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose

…I manage to pull it together enough to introduce myself, my inspiration for the menu and score a couple laughs.

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose

Nothing gets me more excited than talking about local ingredients and the  people who grow them.

pupus with a purpose

Such as this wonderful human, Vince Dodge, owner of Waianae Gold. who came bearing gifts of dried wild, invasive Kiawe pods for all of our guests to try.

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose

Sunny commences the meal by burning redwood needles harvested along the high elevation slopes of Haleakalā. She starts with a prayer, an invitation to create and purify the space in which we would share our evening together.

pupus with a purpose

She explains that “smoke medicine” increases our awareness and signals the body to pay attention.

pupus with a purpose

Sunny teaches us that invasive species are sacred plants from where they came from. Encouraging us to not think of them as a “problem we need to get rid of,” but as an opportunity to collaborate with life.

pupus with a purpose
The famous Merriman’s Mai Tais
pupus with a purpose
Wild, invasive Venison and Kahili Ginger Thai Laap

Thai Venison Laap

Maui Nui venison loin** / kahili ginger*** – powdered, pickled & hydrosol / housemade sourdough fermented with wild Honolulu yeast* / Thai aromatics

Maui Axis deer enjoy a stress-free life, void of natural predators. This immunity contributes to their invasiveness but also results in some of the tastiest, least-gamey venison you ever will find.

I served this meat raw, unadulterated by heat, to showcase its high quality. Because its flavor is mild, I invoked the vibrant flavors of Thai cuisine. I replaced galangal with kahili ginger, an invasive plant that spreads like wildfire, snuffing out other native plants. Sunny processed this ginger three ways – dried and ground into powder, sliced and pickled, and distilled into hydrosol – to maximize its aroma.

I chose a sourdough crostini as a serving vessel, instead of the traditional side of salad or rice, to incorporate another wild ingredient: Honolulu yeast. To tie it all together, I seasoned the dough with spices used in Thai cuisine including Kahumana Farms coriander.

pupus with a purpose

Sunny sprays her wild kahili ginger hydrosol for guests to enhance the dish with its beautiful aroma.

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose

Sunny tells us stories throughout the evening demonstrating how invasive plants are a symbol of abundance. How through our battle with herbicide, climate change and pathogens in the environment it is the invasives that continue to thrive.

pupus with a purpose
Jess helping out in the kitchen. Always welcomed.
pupus with a purpose
Wild greens “poke”

Wild Greens 

Wild, foraged greens*** / sweet onion / Java plum***-haole koa seed miso*** vinaigrette / ogo / housemade inamona* / Alaea sea salt / butter lettuce wrap 

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose

One of the benefits of eating wild ingredients is the deeper relationship that you can cultivate with your environment. Sunny ventured deep into the wild to pull these greens from the earth by hand to commence this connection. The salad was served in a butter lettuce cup like a taco, so guests could use their hands to connect with the dish. (All of the dishes on this menu were finger foods for this reason.) Putting down the knife and fork reduces the distance between us and our sources of nourishment.

These greens may be foreign to many of us, so I added the familiar tastes and textures of a favorite local dish, poke, to encourage guests to consider introducing them into their kitchen.

pupus with a purpose
Vietname La Lot Rolls with Wild Antelope & Boar

Vietnamese La Lot Rolls 

Makaweli Meat Co. antelope* & Big Island mac nut boar** wrapped in la lot leaves / nuoc cham / marinated, local vegetables 

La lot leaves, which are native to Vietnam, are grown on Oahu by Jay Silverstein at Kamahi Produce & Horticulture. Thịt bò nướng lá lốt is a Vietnamese dish made by wrapping ground beef mixed with aromatics in la lot leaves, like Greek dolmas, and grilling them.

I adapted the recipe to use local ingredients – wild antelope and invasive boar – instead of beef. Nuoc Cham and marinated, raw vegetables accompanied the rolls to create contrast and to honor the traditional dish.

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose
Wild, invasive kiawe beans | Kiawe-Ulu Cornbread with java plum jam and kiawe honey

Kiawe Cornbread & Tea

Cast-iron skillet cornbread made with Counter Culture Organic Farms cornmeal, kiawe flour** & ulu flour / Java plum jam*** / kiawe honey / kiawe & wild spice tea*** 

 I used cornmeal grown, dried and milled by Counter Culture Organic Farms and kiawe and ulu flours in place of all-purpose flour to prepare this bread from local ingredients.

The kiawe flour, produced by Waianae Gold, is made from kiawe pods harvested from the invasive trees that surround Kahumana Farms. The honey drizzled over the cornbread comes from bees that pollinate these same kiawe trees during the summer.

Sunny transforms the astringent Java plums – one bite can suck all the moisture out of your mouth! – by cooking them down into a jam. My hope was that if Java plums had turned our guests off in the past, then this jam would inspire them to try them again.

Java plum is a sacred tree at the center of the island at the center of the world, written about in the Bhagavad-Gita. Lord Ram spent 14 years exiled to the forest eating java plums. It is sacred stories like this that encourage us to have respect for ingredients like the java plum.

pupus with a purpose
General Manager of Moku Kitchen, Mason Hundhausen passes out wild kiawe and allspice tea to end the meal.

pupus with a purpose

It was a magical evening blending story, education, friends and wild flavors. A huge thank you to everyone who came out to support local.

pupus with a purpose
Greeting Jacey Joern, owner Roots and Remedies farm in Waimanalo

*wild & local   

**wild, local & invasive   

***foraged on Maui or Oahu by Sunny

Ingredient Sources:

Distributed by Forage Hawaii:

Wild venison – Maui Nui Venison

Wild boar – Big Island Boar 

Wild antelope – Makaweli Meat Co. (Kauai)

Foraged/produced by Sunny Savage:

Kahili ginger powder – (Maui)

Kahili ginger pickle – (Maui)

Kahili ginger hydrosol – (Maui)

Edible flowers – (Oʻahu)

Java plums (for jam) – (Maui)

Greens – (Oʻahu)

Kiawe pods – (Maui)

Allspice – (Maui)

Haole koa seed miso – (Maui)

Produced by Sarah Burchard:

Spiced sourdough bread – with wild Honolulu yeast

Inamona – using Kukui nuts from Lokoea Farms

Java plum vinegar – using Java plums foraged by Sunny Savage

Procured locally:

Kahumana Farms (Waiʻanae, Oʻahu):

Coriander seeds 



Garlic chives


Counter Culture Organic Farms (Waialua, Oʻahu):

Nalo orange cornmeal




Lokoea Farms (Haleʻiwa, Oʻahu):


Makrut lime leaf

De La Mesa Farm (Waimānalo, Oʻahu):

Purple Daikon

Micro Cilantro, Scallion, Pea Shoots, Daikon & Salad Mix

Roots and Remedies Farm (Waimānalo, Oʻahu): Butter Lettuce

“Old Time” Brand/Hawaiian Paʻakai Inc. (Honolulu, Oʻahu): Alaea sea salt 

Waianae Gold (Waiʻanae, Oʻahu): Kiawe flour 

Manaʻe Farm (Molokaʻi): Ulu flour 

Manoa Honey (Wahiawa, Oʻahu): Kiawe honey 

Bear Claw Farm (Waimānalo, Oʻahu): Lemongrass 

Maʻo Organic Farms (Waiʻanae, Oʻahu): Scallion 

Lovanʻs Farms (Waialua, Oʻahu): Sweet onion 

Kamahi Produce & Horticulture (Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu): La lot leaves  

Mahina Pua Farms (Waimānalo, Oʻahu): Fennel 

Olakai (Kahuku, Oʻahu): Ogo 

pupus with a purpose
Wild Food Plants of Hawaiʻi by Sunny Savage

Sunny Savage is the author of Wild Food Plants of Hawaiʻi, the host of the show “Hot On The Trail with Sunny Savage” and her TED talk “You can eat that––The gift of wild foods” has received over 9,000 views on YouTube. Her new app Savage Kitchen Edible Invasive Species, promising to link you to 5 edible invasive plants in your own back yard (that is, if you live in Hawaii), is slated to launch next year.

Pupus with a Purpose

Subscribe here to find out when and where the next Pupus With A Purpose will be. 

*Tickets On Sale Now* Pupus With A Purpose Event Series: The Wild and Invasive Ingredients of Hawaii

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose


Part of being a locavore is knowing what kind of foods grow where you live and when they are in season. When you start looking into the wild you can see what is thriving around you. These ingredients, when left up to nature, don’t need any help from us at all.

This month’s Pupus With A Purpose event will focus on ingredients that are Wild, Invasive and Delicious. Author, speaker and expert on wild edibles––Sunny Savage will be our special guest for the evening. You will learn which species of plants and animals are invasive to Hawaii and why it is important for us to reshape our relationship with them.

Sunny will provide many of the wild ingredients that you will find on your plate. You will get to hear the stories of how they got there and learn more about urban foraging. Sunny is currently working on a new app (slated to launch in 2020) that will enable you to find wild edible ingredients no matter where you are in Hawaii. You too can forage your own food and help manage invasive species!

Chef Sarah Burchard will work her magic with the ingredients Sunny forages along with wild and/or invasive meats provided by Jessica Rohr of Forage Hawaii. Her intention with the menu is to make these ingredients so enticing, that you are inspired to use them in your own cooking. Each pupu will comprise several wild ingredients combined with local ingredients grown on island by organic farms, and everything from the wild yeast fermented sourdough to hand cracked inamona will be made in house.

As always the purpose of this event is to support local, inspire you to think differently about where you source your food and encourage you to make choices from a conscious place in your heart, so that positive change can happen in our food system. Hope to see you there!

Event Details:

5:00 – Check in

5:15-6:30 – Talk Story with Sunny Savage + Pupus by Sarah Burchard

6:30-7:00 – Q&A with Sunny Savage and Jessica Rohr


About the guest speaker:

Sunny Savage is the author of Wild Food Plants of Hawai’i and the host of the show “Hot On The Trail with Sunny Savage.” Her TED talk “You can eat that — The gift of wild foods” has received over 9,000 views on YouTube. She is currently working on a new app called, “Savage Kitchen Edible Invasive Species,” a statewide mapping program  for 5 edible plants that grow invasively in Hawaii. As a seasoned traveler, having made it to all 7 continents, she has learned of the power of collaborative efforts to save our remaining biodiversity and to follow the lines of abundance that the earth still gives so freely when you know where to look. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics and a Master’s of Science in Nutrition Education, but has found that the education gleaned from listening to the plants and the people who love them to be her greatest teachers. Learn more about her at and follow her @sunnysavage on Instagram and Facebook.

About your hosts:

Jessica Rohr, founder of Forage Hawaii distributes high quality meats from local Hawaiian farms strait to the consumer through farmer’s markets and direct ordering. She partners with farms that use sustainable, humane and natural farming practices. Her mission is to make local meats more accessible to Hawaii residents and tell the story of their food sources. Jessica is an avid fisherman and slow-food lover with an endless curiosity about everything food related. Learn more about how you can purchase local meats at and follow her @foragehawaii on Instagram and Facebook.

Sarah Burchard, A.K.A. The Healthy Locavore, has been cooking professionally for almost 20 years. She is an advocate for family farms and embodies the phrase: support local. Her unwavering commitment to sourcing the highest quality ingredients, grown as nearby as possible, are only outshined by her attention to detail and dedication to providing an “under promise, overdeliver” approach to hospitality. Sarah’s respect for ingredients and the people who grow them, paired with her locavore sensibilities, inspires diners to connect with their community and environment. Sarah is also a writer, marketer and event coordinator active in both the yoga and farmers market communities on Oahu. In addition to supporting small businesses and hosting farm-to-table events she leads a regular farmers market tour in Kaka’ako to educate consumers about sustainable agriculture and the food security issues of Hawaii. Visit her blog The Healthy Locavore and follow her on Facebook @healthylocavore and on Instagram @healthylocavore & @yearofingredients to learn more about local food.

Pupus With A Purpose

Date: Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

Location: Moku Kitchen – 660 Ala Moana Blvd. No. 145, Honolulu, HI 96813

Time: 5:00-7:00pm

Ticket Price: $49/person (+cash bar)


*SAVE THE DATE* Pupus With A Purpose Event Series: The Wild and Invasive Ingredients of Hawaii

pupus with a purpose

pupus with a purpose

Wed. March 27th | 5-7pm | Moku Kitchen Honolulu

In the mystical world of the wild Sunny Savage is able to connect. She has the innate ability to translate what is happening in nature, what is safe to eat and which plants have the capability to help us thrive. As an educator she teaches people how they can connect to the land through food and increases a sense of food security by showing us how to forage for ourselves.

Sunny has a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics, a Master’s of Science in Nutrition Education and has traveled extensively on all 7 continents foraging and learning about wild edibles along the way. She knows the medicinal benefits of these foods and the role they play in nature. She is the author of Wild Food Plants of Hawai’i, the host of the show “Hot On The Trail with Sunny Savage” and her TED talk “You can eat that––The gift of wild foods” has received over 9,000 views on YouTube. Her new app Savage Kitchen Edible Invasive Species, promising to link you to 5 edible invasive plants in your own back yard (that is, if you live in Hawaii), is slated to launch next year.

As advocates of sourcing wild and invasive foods it was only fitting we invite Sunny to be our special guest at the next Pupus With A Purpose event to help us continue our mission of creating conscious change in our food system.

We are thrilled to have her and hope you will save the date so you can experience her nurturing soul, the gifts of the wild and another deliciously informative  community gathering with The Healthy Locavore and Forage Hawaii.

Waiahole Poi Factory: A Roadside Stand Worth Stopping For

waiahole poi factory

waiahole poi factory

An afternoon cruise on the Windward side is not complete without a plate lunch at this local icon.

One of my favorite things to do with my husband on a day off, is pack a couple beach towels and a cooler and drive up the windward coast. After living here almost two years we finally made it to Waiahole Poi Factory last week.

Originally a poi factory in 1905, this institution has since turned into an art gallery, incubator kitchen and, about 10 years ago, back to a poi factory with a counter service restaurant serving some of the best traditional luau fare on island.

The historic building charms you the minute you drive up. A rusty, aluminum overhang wraps around the weathered wood façade that boasts their iconic sign. The vibe is laid back––vacationers and locals in bathing suits fresh from the beach. There are a dozen tables, mostly out front under umbrellas, but some inside sharing the space that houses local art and T-shirts for sale.

The line to order stays steady, but moves quickly. The friendly staff navigates tourists efficiently through the menu, so they won’t accidently order too much. You can order staples like Chinese long rice and Beef Luau as large or small combo plates, or as a side dish so you can mix and match.

My husband eagerly ran back to our cooler, to grab a couple beers, when the cashier gave him the green light. She said the only reason they don’t serve alcohol is because half the staff is too young to sell it.

waiahole poi factory

The lau lau is addictive. Succulent chunks of pork shoulder, salty butterfish and creamy kalo steamed to perfection. I recommend adding a splash of house-made chile water to every bite. Side dishes like lomi salmon, with its bright acidity reminiscent of pico de gallo, and crunchy ho’io salad–– quickly blanched and chilled fiddlehead ferns tossed with sweet onion, dried shrimp, tomato and shoyu dressing––balance out the richness of the main dishes.

Waiahole Poi Factory

The only dish that wasn’t as bold as the others was the kalua pig, but I still happily scooped up several bites of it with steamed rice dunking it in the chile water. Our meal was so satisfying; I’m already planning my next visit back.

Waiahole Poi Factory, 48-140 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, 239-2222,

How To Make An Omelette

how to make an omelette

how to make an omelette

Do you want to know how to make an omelette? You should!

From Escoffier to James Beard there is probably no ingredient, more highly revered by chefs, than the humble egg. Back in the day, Chefs had aspiring cooks prepare them an omelette to test their capabilities in the kitchen. If they passed the test, it meant they had that “chef’s intuition,” deeming them teachable.  At least that was the case back when I was in culinary school and apprenticing.

The heat of the pan, the amount of butter used and the technique of rolling and folding a true omelette takes finesse. It’s simple and difficult at the same time.

First, you have to have the right pan. I use an 8” non-stick classic fry pan. If you want something a little sexier you can use a seasoned French skillet made of carbon steel. Something with rounded sides…you’ll need that for the folding part.

James Beard will tell you to use two and a half eggs per omelette. I don’t know anyone who has a half an egg lying around, so I recommend three. I often eat breakfast alone, so I’m working with a single portion recipe here. Whisk your eggs with some fresh herbs (I like chopped thyme and parsley), a couple cracks of fresh black peppercorns and a hefty pinch of kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand if you want to look like a pro).

You’ll need butter…real butter of course…the good stuff. A tablespoon will seem like too much, until you use less and wish you had used more. Your pan must be hot, but not too hot. When the butter touches the surface, a bubbly sea type foam is what you desire, being careful not to let it brown. Just when you fear your butter may turn on you, pour in the eggs. This is where living in Hawaii has come in handy…I always have wooden chopsticks lying around. I grab a pair and whisk, whisk, whisk like the devil is chasing me, shaking my pan back and forth to create frantically fine ribbons. Once the eggs take on an appearance that looks less like something I’d sneeze into a tissue and more like a soft, creamy scramble, I take my chopsticks and draw a circle around the circumference of the pan, peeling the omelette away from the sides. Thin wispy edges reveal themselves and I know it’s time to start rolling.

Quickly, I grab a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano (I know….NOT so French of me. I have a thing for Italians…) and a microplane and make it rain all over the surface of the eggs. Drop that, pick the chopsticks back up and tilt my pan towards me while I lovingly encourage the edge of the omelette that’s closest to me to make its way over to the other side in the form of a burrito.

This is the test––when you find out if your pan was too hot or not hot enough, and whether or not your pan has been properly cared for. If the omelette rolls without sticking, you exhale for the first time since dropping your eggs in the pan, and continue to roll it right out of the pan on to a plate where I like to finish it with a dash of Aleppo Pepper for spice and smokiness. Grab a fork, and a glass of champagne, if you got it on hand, and sit back and savor one of the most simple and refined dishes on earth.


Ever attempt an omelette? What has your experience been? Tell us about it in the comments section. And if you liked this post I invite you to subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more on how to eat local, live well, cook healthier and support each other. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it.

Digesting A Year Of Ingredients

On January 1st, 2018 I took on a personal project called “The Year Of Ingredients.” The goal was simple, find 365 ingredients grown in Hawaii.

I chose Instagram as my platform for the challenge. My job was to post an image of an ingredient every day with a caption of what it was and how to cook with it.

Learn more, about what inspired me to do this, here.

The ingredients could come from anywhere in Hawaii. They did not have to be organic, they just needed to be locally grown or produced with local ingredients.

year of ingredients
North Shore potatoes, raw honeycomb from Tolentino Honey Co., Banana Gabe’s banana bounty at the Variety Showcase

I gained a lot from this project: I got to form relationships with the people who grow my food, I learned about ingredients I had never seen or heard of before, I discovered local markets like The Locavore Store, and toured farms that often aren’t open to the public. Not to mention, establishing a daily writing routine.

Sometimes on tough mornings (last year was not the easiest) writing my daily Year Of Ingredients post was the only thing that motivated me to start my day. 

year of ingredients
Escarole, Mohala Farms

By completing this project I  found that there are way more than 365 ingredients growing in Hawaii. We can grow practically anything here with the right location and a strong enough desire. More small farms are stepping up to this challenge every day. Crops like peppers, once notoriously difficult to grow, are popping up at farmers markets and in locally made hot sauces in all kinds of varieties. 

year of ingredients
Counter Culture Farm

The Year of Ingredients took me on an epic culinary journey this year.

I’ve enjoyed hanging with the farmers, working the Go Farm program in Waimanalo, sampling ingredients ripped right out of the ground in front of me. Bryan and Natalie from Dela Mesa Farm, Priscilla from Vida Farm and Jacey and Miles from Roots and Remedies Farm have been amazing. 

farms and produce
Jay Bost (Go Farm), farmer’s market produce, Roots & Remedies Farm

I learned about new crop varieties being developed to thrive in Hawaii’s growing conditions at The Variety Showcase. I toured Ma’o Farms, spent hours photographing flowers and kale at Counter Culture Farm, learned about canoe plants at the Manoa Heritage Center,  attended farm-to-table dinners at Mohala Farms, sourced ingredients from all corners of the island from my laptop thanks to Farm Link and tasted freshly harvested honeycomb from Tolentino Honey Company. I’ve also learned about the struggles of processing meat and raising chickens in Hawaii and the need for harvesting wild deer and boar to help manage invasive species.

year of ingredients
Kahumana Farms radishes, Priscilla from Vida Farm harvesting puntarelle, Mangos from Kahumana Farm hub, Bryan showing us huitlacoche at DeLa Mesa Farm
Hawaii’s farmers, ranchers, fisherman and small business owners generously shared their bounty and knowledge with me. They are some of the kindest,  smartest and most humble people I’ve ever met. Their dedication to nurturing the land and waters of Hawaii goes beyond simply talking about sustainable practices, it is their life’s work. Getting to know them and their stories has been the most rewarding part of this experience. 
year of ingredients
Locally caught fish from Ashley at Local’Ia,

After a year of hunting I now have a good understanding of what ingredients are available locally in Hawaii and where to source them.  Most of all, I have an insurmountable feeling of gratitude for the people who grow them.

The Year of Ingredients has inspired me to know end.

I hope it did for you too.

year of ingredients
Ma’o Farms at the market and in the field

To see the complete project visit @yearofingredients on Instagram.

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