With the holidays having passed and New Year resolutions in full swing, I'm going green. And we’re not just talking salads, either. Definitions of “health” have moved beyond low-salt, low-fat and low–sugar, and are now strongly associated with local, natural and organic, as well as whole-wheat, free-range and sustainable food and drink. In addition, consumers are taking more of a balanced and personal approach to healthy eating—seeking out better-for-you foods while enjoying occasional indulgences. With more restaurateurs adhering to the “you-are-what-you-eat” mantra these days, the culinary paradigm has slowly shifted towards healthier menu items. Within blocks of one another, and a short distance away from Waikiki, the opening of Greens & Vines, Chef Chai at Pacifica Honolulu and Blue Tree Café represents this prevailing trend.
Sylvia Thompson started preparing vegan meals after her husband, Pete, suffered a heart attack two days after Thanksgiving in 2004. She has never looked back, first establishing Licious Dishes, which provides raw and vegan meal plans; and then opening her new Greens & Vines, the brick-and-mortar extension of the idea. Some of the menu highlights include the kaffir miso pad Thai, falafel and the “living lasagna,” which substitutes zucchini for pasta noodles and pureed macadamia nuts for ricotta cheese, and is then layered with spinach and pureed sun-dried tomatoes. It’s well done and even non-vegans will appreciate this healthy iteration of the Italian classic. Open for lunch and dinner. Most dishes cost around $10. 909 Kapiolani Blvd., 808.536.9680
Spices and Herbs
When chef Chai Chaowasaree announced plans for his new Chef Chai at the Pacifica, he promised to offer more healthy choices. “There will be no butter in my kitchen,” Chaowasaree asserts. “Healthy, though, doesn’t mean flavorless. I’m going to use more herbs and spices instead of fat and salt.” Indeed this is reflected in the menu, which includes such dishes as apple kim chee summer rolls with grilled spicy garlic gochujang shrimp, Mrs. Cheng’s soft tofu with coconut ginger broth, braised whole rainbow trout with roasted chili ginger and Chinese-style steamed fresh catch with ginger and green onions. 1009 Kapiolani Blvd., 808.585.0011
Cup of Tea
Restaurateur Kevin Aoki describes his new Blue Tree Café as a “whole living” and holistic dining concept. “It follows the simple philosophy that food should nourish the body, provide energy and aid in one’s overall well being,” he notes. Aoki plans to source ingredients from local farmers and producers, opting for organic products whenever possible. In addition to raw cuisine, wheat-free/gluten-free baked goods, sandwiches and such entrées as lasagna and pad Thai, the quaint café also serves kombucha, a fermented drink composed of tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. The tonic is alleged to have health benefits, although the verdict is still out on this medical claim. Aoki also opened his second Doraku location in the same condominium project. 1009 Kapiolani Blvd., 808.591.0101