22 November 2009

Hot Cracked Wheat Cereal: Searching for Healthy Sources of Food

I’ve made a re-commitment to become more disciplined in my health and eating. I have been thinking a lot about my grandmother’s hot cracked wheat cereal. I did some research thinking it would be easy to find and buy cracked wheat and find a recipe to make cereal in a slow cooker. But it’s not as easy as it seemed. I could not find cracked wheat, even at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. All the recipes on the internet were too complicated, not just simple cereal, but with lots of other things added. Any suggestions anyone?

I also wanted to make bran muffins as another healthy breakfast alternative. I spent two days looking for a good plain bran flakes cereal – three stores! It was almost impossible to find plain bran flakes cereal. These days they have to be mixed with all sorts of fruits and additional flavors. I appreciate a good raisin bran but it feels like things have gotten too over-engineered.

It is also very difficult to find packaged foods without maltodextrin, malted barley flour or barley malt in them. These are ingredients I’m trying to avoid because they are fermented and associated with Candida.  It’s amazing how many foods that make claims to be natural and healthy contain ingredients that are not that good for the body. I finally found a workable option at Whole Foods, Arrowhead Mills Organic Oat Bran Flakes.

Other ingredients I am trying to avoid are high fructose corn syrup, yeast, dextrose and vinegar. A few resources you can check out to find out more are the book Feast Without Yeast: 4 Stages to Better Health by Bruce Semon, M.D., Ph.D. and Lori Kornblum. Dr. John Humiston, at the William Hitt Center, in San Diego is a friend and great resource for information. You can find him on CandidaMD.com, youtube and the Hitt Center web site.

If you have any suggestions on finding cracked wheat, let me know! I’ll write more on Healthy Eating topics over time and will definitely share any great resources and recipes too! Healthy, happy eating!

19 November 2009

Hawaii's #1 Tourist Attraction and My Old Backyard

The Polynesian Cultural Center is a place that is near and dear to my heart and the most popular tourist attraction on the island of Oahu. First let me give you a little history about my relationship with the center. My parents both worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center as college students and after I was born I made myself welcome hanging out with the students and family there.  As a toddler I fell off one of the show canoes into the lagoon at the PCC. This may explain my lifelong fear of water which I only recently overcame.

Elvis was a frequent visitor to the Polynesian Cultural Center and filmed part of Paradise Hawaiian Style at the PCC. My mother was part of the lei welcome for him once when he arrived in Hawaii and she and my aunt danced in the finale of Paradise Hawaiian Style. There is even a shop dedicated to Elvis at the PCC now.

The center features eight cultural villages with fantastic activities for guests, a canoe pageant, beautiful scenery, luaus and this year a fantastic new night show called HA, the Breath of Life. I have seen many of the night shows and this one by far is the best yet. It is a visually and spiritually inspiring. There is also an IMAX theater where we viewed a fantastic 45-minute movie on coral reefs. On a hot day, the theater also makes a fantastically cool retreat.

There are wonderful stores throughout the center with treasures in all price ranges and styles. The center continually improves the quality, originality and variety of items available in the shops. This year I was received my first ukulele, something I’d wanted for some time, as a gift from there. It is gorgeous stripped wood and I have already played a bit on it and am looking forward to becoming proficient someday soon.

The center is a great place for guests of all ages. They have a charmingly designed little book for children explaining each village which they can carry with them throughout the day and get stamped in each village or event they attend. There are so many things to do that you could easily spend two days there, so they give you a come-back free within 5-days offer with the purchase of your ticket. We went to the night show one night then went back two days later to visit all the villages and we still could’ve had more time I think. This year for some reason I was especially tickled by the Tongan drum show, even though I’ve seen it a few times. The guest participation in all the villages adds to the fun in a big way.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is the best place on Oahu you could spend a day learning about the Pacific Islands. The people are friendly and it’s a great place to relax and have fun. Look for discounts and special offers on the website www.polynesianculturalcenter.com.

18 November 2009

09 November 2009

Stop for the Red Stripes

If you are on Oahu and you see one of these trucks STOP! Leonard's Bakery hot malasadas are something you should not miss. Malasadas are little donut puffs rolled in sugar you can eat plain or with delicious chocolate, haupia (coconut custard) or vanilla custard (my favorite) fillings. They are melt in your mouth delicious.

You can visit Leonard's Bakery's two storefront locations or trucks are all over the island and on the web site you can find their scheduled stops. Trucks are frequently found in the Foodland parking lot in Laie, next to the Old Navy at the Waikele Outlets, and in Kaneohe at the mall.

If you can't get to Hawaii anytime soon try making them with the official Leonard's Maladasas Recipe from Foodnetwork.com. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

The Aloha Spirit

Everyone in Hawaii is so pleasant and easy-going. Couldn’t we use a little more of this in the world? Maybe I’ve been living in L.A. for too long, but it shocks when employees in businesses I patronize actually thank me for coming in and seem genuinely interested in helping me.  It makes life so much easier and more pleasant. I’m getting spoiled believing that people will actually appreciate my business and help me when I ask. Everywhere here people seem genuinely happy, friendly and more aware of the people around them and willing to connect with them.

I’m sure that people here have just as many challenges in life: sicknesses, financial problems, work stress, etc. But they don’t let these things get in the way of gracious, friendly living. They are not so involved in their own lives, spinning inside their own heads that they miss out on all that’s going on around them. They greet you with a smile, they engage you, ask how you are, smile, laugh, joke and overall exude a feeling of calm. What a difference that makes in their lives and everyone they interact with.  Couldn’t we adopt a little more of this on the mainland?

I am going to soak up as much of this Aloha Spirit as I can while I’m here and I’m willing to pay $15 for an extra suitcase to bring a load of it home with me.  Dear readers, can we do this together, spread the Aloha Spirit worldwide?  Less wrapped up in ourselves, less stressed, less anxiety-ridden? More smiling, more hellos, more laughing, more cheerfulness, more graciousness! Yes, please!

04 November 2009

Home to Hawaii

Look forward to 10 days of posts from Hawaii and all about Hawaii! Hooray! I will be sharing with you the land of my birth: some of my favorite haunts, hikes, beaches, foods, adventures and amazing photos along the way.

Prices for lodging and airfare to Hawaii this year are down significantly from last year. There are great package deals available from many sources.  Might I recommend Marriott’s  Ko Olina Resort on the west coast of Oahu. It’s the perfect place to set down your roots for a week on the island. It is easy access to the North Shore, shopping, Honolulu and all the island offers and there is plenty to do at the resort itself. The beach is outstanding; there are great restaurants, entertainment, culture classes, golfing, a marina and more.

And here’s a little secret for you. There have been many rainy days on the island where we have driven all over the island looking for the sun and found it at Ko Olina. It’s the dry side of the island!

What are your recommendations for fun and adventure on Oahu? Do you have a favorite Hawaiian snack? A favorite beach? Help add to the list of fun things to do and see on Oahu!

Love Letters

Today I received a love letter. The kind where someone eloquently expresses your influence and blessing on their life and how deeply they care for you. That made my day.

In a scurrying world where the shared human experience is often overlooked with focus on less important things, it's surprisingly beautiful when we are blessed with those sacred moments of grace to stop and appreciate people and in turn share of ourselves.

Love letters can be sent to and come from many sources: family, significant others, friends and even acquaintances who in brief encounters we share ray of sunshine moments. Love letters often seem to arrive just when our spirits flag or we're inspired to send a letter without knowing it will turn the tide of a day and bless another to carry on.

Today's love letter inspired me to write more love letters, to send real mail, and to take greater advantage of opportunities to thank people for the blessing they are to my life.

Have you received a love letter recently? Did it boost your spirits and give you courage to stand tall? Have you sent a love letter recently? Did you get any feedback? Please do share!

02 November 2009

A Renewed Interest in Thrift Shopping

Over the past year, as we have all become more aware of the unpredictability of the world we live in, I have found a renewed and increased interest in the frugality and simplicity of thrift shopping. It’s a phenomenal way to save money, a fun treasure hunt and a great means of recycling useful items. It’s also a beautiful give and take: give away what you don’t need (which is also a fantastic tax write-off if you take the time to get the receipt properly filled out when you drop things off) and a great way to get high-quality things you really need without paying new prices.

As I look around at my home, I realize how much money I’ve saved over the years furnishing it with thrift store finds and how much this has personalized my surroundings. I see a favorite dresser which has held my clothes and valuables in at least 6 different homes, price $14. On top of it rests a beautiful mirror I bought for $10 many years ago. Across the room is another dresser, $29, which is chest-high, just the perfect height to break up the visual elements in a room. I stained it dark brown and tripled its value when I purchased 12 knobs for seven drawers from Anthropologie.

On each side of my bed sit nightstands, $9 each, non-matching, painted in black with matching antique handles purchased in a NYC salvage shop. No one has ever noticed they aren’t identical and with a small shelf on the bottom and drawer above they are perfect for storing a few favorite books, lip balm and other bedside necessities.

In the front hall is a small buffet, $14, one of my first furniture finds, which had been painted a horrible baby blue. I stripped it, painted the body beige, the doors a brick red and installed new patterned glass, $20, in the four small doors panels of the cabinet. It served as an excellent TV stand until recently. A fabulous and perfect chocolate brown armoire, $99,  now houses the TV and accompanying electronics and below there is plenty of room to store a few toys for kid visitors. Above the couch are two paintings, originally $200 each that I bought new for $20 and over the fireplace is a large oil painting of dark red poppies on a hill overlooking a lake, $20.

In my office is a small faux-bamboo table, $29, which was once an ugly and dingy off-white. I stained it dark brown and it has worked as a side table and storage area for guests in two different homes. In that room there is also an old cabinet, $15, I painted beige and added big metal rose petal knobs, again from Anthro.

In each room the thrift pieces mixed with other design elements from other eras, some new, some used, give the room a depth and charm that could not be achieved at a big box furniture store. People often comment on pieces and I am pleased to know that my instincts were right with each purchase prominently featured in my home. That is not to say that there haven’t been a few mistakes that never worked along the way. Another blessing of thrift shopping is that I am more willing to take creative risks to repaint, reuse and refashion pieces because I purchased them second-hand. And as the years pass, I find I am more and more fond of the unusual, imperfect and non-matching than I am in things that come in pairs or are without ding or scar.

A regular feature here on kalanicut will be thrift shopping adventures. My next thrift store share will be tips & hints for easy, successful and regular thrift shopping adventures.  I often hear non-thrifters complain about never finding anything good when they walk into a store. We’ll cover that topic and more. My third thrift shopping entry will detail amazing purchases I’ve made this year and a few before and afters. Until then, I’d love to hear about your thrift shopping experiences. Do you have a favorite all-time thrift purchase? Does thrift shopping frustrate you? If yes, why? Share your recent thrifting adventures!

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