Last we week, Marcus, Luca and I traveled to the Big Island for the first time, and we spent a few days on the Kona side of the island. We both had been to Hawaii, but it was our first time on the Big Island and our first time traveling to Hawaii with baby Luca (and my incredibly generous mother-in-law who helped babysit). Since the Big Island is huge, we didn’t get to go to all the vegan hot spots that I had scoped out on Yelp, but sharing a few of our favorites from the Kona side:
1.Pure Green Kona International Farmer’s Market – a MUST! Sundays 9-2 with amazing local fare — fruits, veggies, meals, sweets, kona coffee, artisanal gifts and more! My favorite were these amazing sweets made with carob and macadamia nuts; we also tried some delicious spring rolls, and stocked up on affordable macadamia nuts and kona coffee to bring home. There was live music too. Overall great vibes and delicious food!
2.Herbivore – This quirky, tiny vegan restaurant isn’t in the most picturesque location. In fact, it’s right in the middle of a parking lot. BUT they do have a creative vegan menu, a fun step stool up to the extra tall counter where you order, and we tried a good taro burger (which we took to go to eat on the beach — not just any beach – Kua Bay which is stunningly beautiful!).
3.Kaya’s cafe – A sweet, hippie-esque artsy cafe with delicious kona lattes and every kind of alternative milk you might want. Lots of vegan options too w/ sandwiches, sweets and more.
4.The Coffee Shack – a heads up that their menu is decidedly NOT vegan friendly, but they do have amazing views so you can just go get a coffee and some fruit and enjoy the sweeping views of the island from their incredible location.
5.Island Naturals Market & Deli – I was told this was THE health food market on the island, and it did not dissapoint. While a bit pricey (like all supermarkets in Hawaii) and I thought the salad bar was only okay, overall this is a great stock up spot for all your vegan staples and treats alike. We got some great lillikoi (passionfruit) cake too, one of the many vegan desserts they had.
And it goes without saying that tropical fruits should be a mainstay for any vegan (or anyone!) traveling to Hawaii. Whether at farmers markets, side of the road stands or regular supermarkets, the bananas, papayas, avocados, lychee and other tropical fruit are all delicious!
Lastly, a few places I wanted to try (per Yelp) but didn’t make it to on this trip (too far from where I was staying in Captain Cook) are here.
Other tips: Organic farmstay: We stayed on this organic mango farm in Captain Cook w/ a cedar hot tub surrounded by lush plants, and a great layout for a family (plus they have a pack ‘n play and it’s pretty baby-proofed for anyone traveling with little ones).
Kua Bay also called Manini’owali- Simply stunning beach – favorite on the island that we saw (and one of the few we went to that actually has sand as many are more rocky). It’s not too far from the Kona airport so if you are flying into or out of Kona, you can (and should!) easily swing by.
Hope to do some more travel soon – next up San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in March for a dear friend’s wedding. Any vegan tips for San Miguel? Would love to hear them! Mahalo :).
I recently hosted my first plant-based potluck of 2019, an event I’m hoping to do once a month with friends and family, and this truffle beet hummus was a hit. The surprising trick to this hummus is the beet flavor is actually from organic beet powder (vs. roasted beets) so you can make this really quickly. I’ve been pairing it with Simple Mills crackers – both w/ the Everything flavor and w/ the classic almond flour crackers. For some added nutrition and flavor, I top it off with some micro-greens for a healthy and somewhat sophisticated snack. Enjoy!
- One can of organic garbanzo beans
- One garlic clove
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup organic beetroot powder
- 2 tbpsn tahini
- A few squeezes of lemon
- 1 tbspn of truffle oil
- Himalayan sea salt
- Drain garbanzo beans and place in food processor. Add ingredients 2-7 and pulse until you get to creamy consistency. If it’s thicker than you like it, try adding 1/4 cup of water to get to desired creamy thickness.
- Top with a drizzle of truffle oil and sea salt. Optional: top with some micro-greens for a pop of extra color and flavor.
My husband has been growing some fresh basil in whisky barrel planters he made, and the abundant basil that was ready to use inspired this recipe. I have made raw vegan cashew dips before, but almost always made either a classic garlic or red pepper version and this was my first time experimenting with an herb forward flavor profile. The creamy cashew base + fresh & herbaceous basil complement each other beautifully. This dip / sauce is very easy to make and can be used in so many ways — as a dip for veggies/ chips / crackers, as a pasta sauce on classic pasta or zoodles or even just eaten by the spoonful.
- 1 cup of raw cashews
- 1 cup of fresh basil
- 1-2 garlic cloves (1 if large, 2 if smaller or if you like more garlic flavor in general)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast (I used Foods Alive version since it is totally soy free)
- Himalayan Sea Salt – adjust amount to your liking. I add about 5 generous sprinkles to start and then adjust as I taste.
- Soak the cashews in a bowl of water for at least 2 hours
- Once the cashews are soaked, drain the water and add the cashews to the food processor followed by all the ingredients. Process until smooth and creamy. Play around until you get the flavor to your desired liking: If you’d like it to be even more creamy, slowly add a bit more oil and / or water. If you’d like it to be even more ‘cheesy’ add some more nutritional yeast.
- Suggested optional toppings:
- Sprinkle some hemp seeds
- Add a swirl of olive oil
- Add some other chopped fresh herbs on top including basil, cilantro, etc.
My husband and I have always loved staying on farms, meeting farmers, enjoying a slower pace and savoring farm fresh food. We’ve camped at the amazing Full Belly Farm annual Hoes Down, stayed on an incredible family owned Alpaca farm / Airbnb in Paso Robles and most recently had the pleasure of staying at the beautiful and secluded Morning Song Farms near Temecula wine country. This was our first mini roadtrip since the birth of our son Luca so we were looking for something not too far from LA, baby friendly and very relaxing. Morning Song turned out to far surpass all our expectations. It is such a special tucked away gem with a few very private cottages scattered about a stunning organic farm replete with the most abundant avocado, mulberry, orange, macadamia nut, kumquat trees, the cutest alpacas as well as mini goats and chickens. We stayed in the Romantic Mountain House which was such a charming cottage with expansive nature views and a magical private hot tub and beautiful outdoor mosaic table (the mosaic art is all done by the farmer Donna) enveloped under an olive tree — the perfect spot to enjoy a peaceful morning coffee, family meal, read a book or relish in the sunset views. The stay also includes a generous breakfast basket with farm fresh eggs from their chickens (being vegan I didn’t eat these but my husband very much enjoyed them), delicious coffee, juicy oranges and tangerines from their trees and more. They also do a CSA program and leave a menu if you want to order additional items – we ordered some avocados and macadmia nuts and I’m glad we did because they were both delicious.
We went for two days and while there are so many day trip options (Encinitas, Escondido, etc.), we decided to go to the unassuming nearby town of Fallbrook, a short 20 minute drive from the farm and the avocado capital of the world (!!!!!). We had a delicious brunch at the very charming and yummy Fallbrook coffee co., and then ventured on two beautiful garden walks– one at the very manicured and stately gardens of the Garden Estates and one in the very funky artsy botanical gardens of Myrtle Farm Creek. If you only have time for one, I would recommend the latter if you are looking for a more unique experience, but both were very beautiful. The next day we only did a very quick stop in Temecula and thanks to Yelp found the fabulous Press Espresso cafe, which is hands down one of the most beautifully designed cafes I’ve ever seen and the macadamia nut latte was simply perfect. On this trip we didn’t go wine tasting (I’m breastfeeding so not drinking at the moment), but on a future trip we’ll be sure to check out some of the nearby vineyards. There is even a low key winery called Roadrunner on a farm that is walking distance from Morning Song that we’ll be sure to check out next time.
have induced if necessary (as my outlook was focused on ‘healthy mom, healthy
baby’ and staying flexible in terms of how and when he would come), I was hoping that baby would come on his own w/ less upfront intervention. I continued to stay very active walking 4-5 miles a day, doing prenatal yoga and also started drinking raspberry leaf tea a couple times a day (who knows if it really works to speed things along but figured it couldn’t hurt). The week leading up to labor I also started to get what felt like strong stomach cramps (akin to menstrual cramps), and usually would feel these during my walks, but since the cramping was sustained for a period of 20 minutes or so and didn’t come and go in waves, I knew that they weren’t labor contractions.
|The day he was born in the NICU and now|
|The day he was born in the NICU|
core). I’m also continuing to eat very healthy and have been especially craving warm soups, sweet potatoes, fried tofu and/or chickpeas, nutritional yeast on everything, oatmeal/ granola, lots of healthy fats (avocado, nuts and nut butters, coconut oil, etc.), and coconut water. I’m also very much enjoying herbal lactation teas from Yogi tea that are supposed to help with relaxation and milk supply. I still am drinking
coffee every morning, which many recommend abstaining from during breastfeeding but I love my coffee and it is very much helping me during these first couple months of reduced sleep.
Life as a new mom
|On my birthday reveling in this beautiful card|
I feel very spoiled to have my amazing husband as full time support right now, which I think makes the adjustment to parenting a much more positive experience relative to those who are navigating a lot of the early weeks on their own. He is a true partner
who changes almost all the diapers (even in the middle of the night), helps soothe and comfort Luca, reads and plays with him and so much more. He infinite patience and sense of humor is so nourishing to both of us. And we are able to trade off watching him to allow each other to take some deep naps or go for solo walks / bike rides to get in some rejuvenating adult solo time too. While I have always been big on self care, during these early weeks of significant sleep reduction and the challenges of developing confidence to care for our baby, it has been so critical to help stay in a positive place and especially to cultivate patience. On the topic of sleep, during the first couple weeks at home I was sleeping an average 3 hours at night, but had an incredible surge of adrenaline and was doing everything they advise against– namely cleaning the entire house, cooking and more. As a lifelong 8+ hour sleeper, I was very nervous about surviving on little sleep but the hormones do kick in to sustain round-the-clock feedings. I did try to slow down a bit, and now thankfully he is starting to sleep in longer ~4 hour stretches (fingers crossed this will stick around) so starting to get a solid 6-7 hours of sleep at night, which these days is great!
to get this for $550 by buying a store display through a local seller that specializes in lightly used or store display baby gear. We are very happy with this stroller so far as it navigates the cracks in the road well and we are also using the bassinet for him to sleep in sometimes.
needed to stimulate my milk supply, especially with a baby in the NICU who was not able to start breastfeeding until day. This hands free pumping bra made pumping so much easier and should be very useful when going back to work.
unzip for middle of the night diaper changes. The only thing to consider is the newborn size seems to run a bit smaller than they say as our baby already outgrew them at 9 lbs and 22″ and we needed to size up to a small. UPDATE: We since have tried the ‘Love to dream’ swaddle and like it even better! It doesn’t bunch up near his face and keeps his arms up in the soothing position he likes.
have baby with you throughout the day, and Luca likes to sleep/ nap in it too.
8. Cushioned lounger – Admittedly this is not really necessary as it’s somewhat duplicative with the Fisher Price Rock ‘N Play as something to have him nap in, but it’s fun to have him right up on the couch or bed with us in it and he likes lounging in it.
9. Books: The First Forty Days– Beautiful read with self care tips for mama
pregnancy is totally aches and pains free, and I have definitely been experiencing baby kicking my ribs over the past few weeks and did have a scare of what felt like pre-term labor at 26 weeks (in hindsight believe it was dehydration), but overall have thankfully been feeling very well and am sharing some things that have helped me.
Every woman’s body is so unique and different, and every pregnancy
experience will of course be unique, but I am hoping that some of these may help.
- Oakland: Barefoot studio – This was just a few blocks from my work in downtown Oakland and offered daily prenatal yoga classes, which is very rare (most studios offer prenatal 1-2x / week if they offer it at all). And not only do they offer daily classes but they are the most affordable too with unlimited prenatal for ~$65/ month and a first time student special of $40/ month if you are new to the studio.
- Los Angeles: Any classes with Keya Nikoni – she teaches at YogaWorks Playa Vista, Moving Joint in Mar Vista and Red Diamond Yoga in Culver City. Her energy is so grounding and nurturing and you get a great stretch too. She also offers partner workshops and is a doula. I also enjoyed Bridgette’s Monday / Wed. mid-day class at YogaWorks Montana in Santa Monica, which has a nice gentle pace.
pregnancy (okay probably second to prenatal vitamins & iron pills, but this is really high on the list and I am pretty obsessed with it). My sister, who like me is petite, gifted this to me and mentioned that it is apparently especially great for petite women, and I have absolutely loved it. Sometimes after I get up my husband will crawl into it and he loves it too. I love it so much that I bought a second one to keep at my parent’s house for when I visit, and I even recommended this to a non-pregnant friend
who was having sleeping issues and she loves it too. I started using this towards the end of my first trimester, probably before I needed to, and plan to continue to use it for a while after baby arrives.
propped up by 1-2 pillows. Some doctors/ websites/ yoga teachers don’t recommend back sleeping but I am hearing more
and more that the science is coming around to suggest that it can be okay for some women, and since I feel very in touch with my body and baby (he moves a ton and lets me know when he is unhappy for example I cannot sleep on my right side), I think this has been fine for me and my doctor has been okay with it.
the lower back. Since my pre-pregnancy weight was 105 lbs and I gained 25 lbs throughout my pregnancy, I gained nearly 25% of my original body weight, which is in a good and healthy range and thankfully baby is measuring well, but I did intermittently feel like I needed
a little extra support for my back. Based on Amazon reviews, I tried this Azmed belly belt and it worked very well for me. I did not need to use it daily and would only use it when I felt I needed it, which was more towards my third trimester, esp. during work days when I was sitting more often.
Especially toward the end of my third trimester, I have been finding that I am feeling extra hot / flushed, esp. at night. This is caused by hormones and exacerbated by the California heat waves we had been experiencing, and this little handheld fan has been surprisingly effective to cool me down and I plan to pack this in my hospital bag too for labor.
· Books: My dear friend Nadine who is also having a baby boy recommended this birth partner book for my husband (who will be my acting doula / labor support as I decided not to go w/ a doula), and we actually both read it and found it very helpful to supplement the childbirth prep classes we took.
Iron Pills: If you are vegan or vegetarian, it is really important to get enough iron during pregnancy. Given that blood volume increases during pregnancy, iron is so critical and while it is pretty common from what I learned to have slight anemia during pregnancy, this is likely more common among vegetarians even if you are vigilant about eating high iron foods like spinach, nuts & legumes, dried apricots/ figs, etc. I found out that I was slightly anemic early in my second trimester after some blood tests and started taking iron pills with orange juice (vitamin C helps absorption); in hindsight, I would have started taking these in my first trimester.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, and the inspiration for this particular simple dish came from a delicious sample I tried yesterday at Costco. This was my first time trying Banza pasta, and I really liked both the taste and the fact that each serving has 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber! As a brand marketer, I also applaud their bright, simple and clean packaging. For this dish, I made the pasta w/ a classic vegan pesto w/ some fresh summer basil from our local farmer’s market. It’s a great easy and healthy summer dish and can also be jazzed up w/ some veggies if you like.
1. 1 packet of Banza pasta (makes 4 servings)
1. 1 bunch of basil (I used Tomatero Farm’s organic basil)
2. 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3. 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
4. 3/4 cup of walnuts
5. 1 large garlic glove
6. Squeeze of lemon juice
7. Himalayan sea salt – generous sprinkles, and taste and add more to your liking
1. For pasta, just follow the instructions on pack (boil water + add pasta for 7-9 minutes and then strain).
2. For pesto, put all ingredients in a food processor for about 1 minute. Taste it and adjust to your liking (if it’s thicker than you like, add more olive oil, if it’s not salty enough, add a few more sprinkles). Note that when you store the pesto in the fridge it can thicken and I like to add a little more olive oil and mix after storing.
3. For each serving of pasta, add a couple heaping spoons of pesto and mix well.
A week ago, my husband and I were blessed to spend a week and half traveling in Portugal. We stayed in Lisbon, Sintra, Porto and Algarve (about 2 days in each), and along the way we tried a few vegetarian restaurants. At most Portuguese restaurants that aren’t specifically vegetarian/ vegan, there aren’t that many veggie options, but usually options will include soups (they surprisingly have vegan soups almost everywhere), bread and olive oil / olives, and for vegetarians, there will also be batatas bravas and cheeses. On this trip, I flexed to vegetarian as I sometimes do, but will specify options that are vegan friendly.
Vegan Soups and Fresh OJ everywhere
Most places will have a ‘sopa do dia’ and amazingly they are almost all vegan – generally vegetable based purees – and they are pretty filling and delicious. My favorite soups were the pumpkin soup from The Garden in Lagos – a pretty, outdoor garden setting in the charming town of Lagos in the South (though my husband who eats meat thought the food was mediocre)- and the squash soup at Esencia in Porto – a beautiful, very highly ranked vegetarian restaurant (more on this restaurant below).
I also quickly learned that Portugal grows incredibly juicy oranges and there is fresh squeezed OJ at most cafes, bakeries and restaurants. Or you can also grab some oranges (from the fruit market next to the Time Out market in Lisbon, from stands on the side of the road in the South, or at any market) and squeeze your own.
Lisbon: Natural Terra, Time Out Market and Batata heaven at Alto do Bairro
My friend Kerry, who spent a few months in Lisbon, said that a vegetarian must was Natural Terra, and we weren’t let down. We went for lunch where there is an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet (w/ vegan options, although vegan options were mostly salads and fruit). The food was plentiful and the quaint, tucked away garden setting was lovely, and it was very reasonable for ~10 Euros each. I especially enjoyed the salads, soup, fruit, iced herbal drinks and the garden setting. They had a delicious sounding vegan berry crumble dessert, but alas I was too full to try it this time. Only a few blocks away, there was another similar concept with a veggie buffet and garden called Jardim Dos Sentidos. While we didn’t get to try it, it has even better reviews on TripAdvisor so could be worth checking out.
In Lisbon, we also had amazing batatas at Alto do Bairro, a very little hole-in-the-wall that made this magical dipping sauce (pretty sure it’s vegetarian and not vegan b/c it had an aioli-like taste). Everything else was just okay, but it’s worth stopping by for the yummy potatoes and magic sauce.
This past weekend my hubby and I went on a quick jaunt to Encinitas for the inaugural half marathon and in gearing up for the race, we fueled up with so much delicious vegan food. For those who will be in the Encinitas area looking for vegan meals and treats, here are a few of my favorites:
- EVE (#1 favorite)!: Eve is a beautiful, peaceful all vegan spot with comfy couches, goddess artwork, a gorgeous vertical succulent garden, and it even has a large and beautiful yoga studio in the back. They do lots of healthy options and from reading Yelp reviews it sounded like the Buddha bowls were the way to go, and boy was that an amazing choice. We had the ‘Legendary Hero’, which seems so simple to make w/ rice, brussels sprouts, kale, carrots, and beets but the magic was in the tahini sauce! The tahini sauce and the way the veggies were perfectly cooked made this bowl incredibly tasty, and next time I’m in Encinitas I definitely plan to return. They also have an ample library and it is a cozy spot to read, write, or do some work.
- PeacePies: This raw vegan spot (believe the only fully raw vegan spot in Encinitas) has a nice outdoor patio w/ a vibrant mural backdrop. I’ve been there twice now for desserts and the first time I got doughnuts, which weren’t that great, but this time I returned for the Cosmic Coconut pie, which was creamy coconut deliciousness. Raw vegan is not for everyone, but if you tend to like raw vegan like me, would recommend you try it. They also have lots of savory options like nori wrap, ‘farawfel’ and more.
- SucculentCafé (Carlsbad): This is a café – not a vegan joint – but it is oh so beautiful and inspiring with creative succulent creations everywhere and the entire large space is surrounded by succulents. It’s got great little nooks and benches to hang out in the sun and the soy chai latte is the perfect mix of spicy and sweet. This spot is a gem, especially for succulent lovers!
- UnionKitchen & Tap: This is more of a classic very lively brewery, and by no means specifically vegan (in fact believe they are known for burgers), but the sweet potato fries are amazing.
- LePapagayo: Didn’t get to try this one yet but the menu looked great and there was very lively music on Sat. night. The line was too long w/out a reservation so next time we’re in town we’ll be sure to make a ressie and try out this romantic, hopping spot.