CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Chef Sharon Kobayash used fresh avocados for her recipe of Fresh Fish Tacos with Hearts of Palm Salsa during a cooking class held at Macy's on Saturday. The recipe is from the newly released book, "A DASH of Aloha: Healthy Hawaii Cuisine and Lifestyle."
Good health, no sacrifice
A new book by Kapiolani Community College says Hawaii residents should have fun as they learn how to eat well
It shouldn't be so difficult to get and stay healthy, according to Daniel Leung, an education specialist in Kapiolani Community College's Culinary Arts Department. And that's really the concept behind "A DASH of Aloha: Healthy Hawaii Cuisine and Lifestyle," a new cookbook produced by KCC, with recipes from Sharon Kobayashi and Alyssa Moreau.
With a significant portion of the book devoted to nutrition, exercise and kidney and heart health, for instance, it demonstrates that good food is only part of the equation, and small changes in terms of diet and exercise can make a big impact. It's message: Don't make the mistake that a healthy lifestyle is boring and bland. You need not sacrifice fun (forget the treadmill; go kick the soccer ball with your kids) or interesting flavors (miso and soy sauce can still be part of the diet) to achieve your goals. Solutions are within reach.
"We're not telling people to give up (local foods) ... But we're telling them to modify."
KCC Culinary Arts Department specialist and co-author of "A DASH of Aloha"
The primary objective was to "promote healthy eating and Hawaii farm products, so everyone wins," said Leung. Indeed, it's filled with recipes taste-tested by the staff in KCC's Culinary Arts Department, detailed nutrition information and tons of substitution ideas. But it's more than that. It's a book that encourages an entire lifestyle evolution, and explains how to do it.
"We're not telling people to give up (local foods)," said Leung, who knows that many people cook for elderly parents who may not eat meals lacking certain flavors. "But we're telling them to modify." For example, those who need to reduce sodium intake, but can't stand food without salt, may combine salt with vinegar, citrus or natural spices. This accentuates the saltiness without increasing the sodium. A bonus: "Those elements actually create variations and new flavors," said Leung.
Another problem for people is fad diets, such as the high-protein/low-carbohydrate craze. Other times, they set goals too high in terms of exercise and weight loss. As with everything, moderation is the key to maintenance, he said. Achieving lasting results requires finding a program that is realistic enough to stick with for more than a few months -- or frustration and feelings of failure will lead to quitting.
"Just get something going," said Leung. "And don't try to do everything all at once." Thirty minutes of exercise per day is better than 90 -- if you stick to it long term. Don't try to lose more than a half-pound per week.
The cookbook is a community-service effort funded by the American Heart Association and HMSA. Leung plans to distribute free copies to health organizations and clinics around Oahu, as curriculum for classes for patients who might be obese or diabetic, or simply need nutrition education. But most of all, he doesn't want anyone to feel limited.
"We want people to try," said Leung. "We don't want them to be afraid to experiment, get outside their comfort zone and try new ingredients. Think of it as fun rather than work."