Spice up your life pt. 2

Just in case I didn’t convince you the first time, here’s a monograph with extended research highlighting the health benefits of Hawaii’s own chili pepper, nioi.  Chili peppers are full of antioxidants, and can help with things like weight loss, nerve pain and difficulty swallowing.

Monograph Assignment


Meet my friend Ricky, a Rickets Survivor


Hi everyone, my name is Ricky and if you don’t know I have Rickets.  I just want to thank you all for coming out to my Rickets Charity Benefit.   Having Rickets isn’t easy, and I’m not so good at talking about it… so I wrote a song instead.  Enjoy!

When I was just a baby

Mom could only afford to breast feed me

She couldn’t eat real healthy, even for me…

And in my body bones were growing

Without the minerals they’d need

They grew out bent and squishy, a deformity

Vitamin D, Deficiency

Made my arms and legs curvy

And now I look real scary, with crumbly teeth

I have another friend with Rickets

And she looks just like me

Her family’s from a foreign, country

Their culture shuns the sunlight

And so they covered up her whole body

No sunlight stimulating vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency

Made our arms and legs curvy

And now we look real scary with crumbly teeth

Vitamin D, Vitamin D

Helps absorb minerals we need

Our bones can grow real brittle, just ask me

And when the night is cloudy

There is still a light that shines on me

Doctors say that treatment can work on me

Supplements of Calcium, Phosphorous, and Vitamin D

Braces for my arms and legs, and surgery

Vitamin D, Vitamin D

Helps absorb minerals we need

Or bones can grow real brittle, just ask me

Vitamin D, deficiency

Caused rickets in my body

Help me fix my Rickets and donate money… please

Rickets song


Itadakimasu 808 Cooking Classes

Itadakimasu translates to thank you for this gift of food.  I feel like it’s a beautiful statement that shows gratitude for people who cooked the meal, the people who grew the food and the lives of the plants and animals that we eat.  808 is the area code for Hawaii, the place I intend to start my cooking classes.

I have a confession to make.  I grew up in a house where my mom did all the cooking, or we ate out.  I always had this fear of knives and cutting myself and it wasn’t until recently that I started to learn how to cook from classes I took at school.  It’s amazing how being able to cook opens up so many options when it comes to eating healthy food on a budget.  I want to empower families to be able to have fun cooking healthy meals together and slowly pick up some healthy habits along the way.  Also, after working with growing gardens a non-profit organization in Portland, I know that being able to grow your own food can definitely help people who can’t afford fresh vegetables all the time.  So on the first day of class besides cooking, everyone will be planting seeds for herbs or vegetables to grow at home as well as good intentions for a healthier, happier family!

Here is a sneak peak of my 12 week lesson plan and 2 handouts I will be giving my students:

  1.  Family Time
  2. Nutrition 101- Macronutrients
  3. Preparing yourself to eat
  4. Fermented foods
  5. Healthy Snacks
  6. Label reading/shopping
  7. Spices
  8. Balancing the 5 flavors
  9. Hydration
  10. Traditional Diets around the world
  11. Local, seasonal and Fresh foods
  12. Potluck and Review

We will also be cooking a meal together, practicing basic cooking skills that corresponds with the lesson of the day.


Picky Eating

It hurts my heart when I see kids refusing to try delicious healthy vegetables cooked with love.  The following is a handout I created after researching what parents can do to encourage their children to try to eat new healthy things.  I eventually want to make a cooking class to help encourage families to cook and eat healthy meals together, but until that dream becomes a reality here’s a handout filled with hope.

Picky eaters


Osteoporosis is a big problem in Hawaii, especially since Asian women are at risk for developing this silent disease.

Follow my link to see how to protect yourself and your family from brittle breakable bones.  Click on the chart to see how much nutrients your bones need.  Below is a sneak peak of what you’ll see, but with an active chart.

Bone Health


Spice up your life!

Did you know that the herbs and spices that we have stored in our cupboards can actually be full of antioxidants and other healing benefits?  Feel free to check out this infograph I made about herbs and spices and start designing your new spice rack today!



Buckwheat Focaccia Bread

I just attended a class lead by Annie Moss, pastry chef and co-owner of Seastar Bakery, and learned some of the basics of baking.  As someone who doesn’t bake, I learned a lot!  One of the most interesting concepts I learned was that baking is “creating a delicious balloon full of air”.  Special ingredients called leavening agents (ex: baking soda) are strategically incorporated into the dough so that they can either create air bubbles in the dough or expand them.  Excited by this class, I decided to try this focaccia bread recipe from Joanne and Adam Gallagher of Inspired Taste, featuring the amazing leavening agent: yeast.  What’s interesting about yeast is that unlike baking soda, it’s alive!  More specifically it’s a single-celled fungus (usually Saccharomyces cerevisiae)  that can be revived with warm water and some kind of sugar.  Once revived, the yeast starts consuming the sugar and releases carbon dioxide which expand the air bubbles that were in the dough when the water mixed with the flour.

One thing to note is that I decided to make my own spin on the recipe, and so I substituted white all purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour and buckwheat flour.  In the end, the once golden-white focaccia was turned into beautiful shade of dark brown accompanied with a distinct nutty flavor from the buckwheat.

2016-08-14 06.47.27

Buckwheat Focaccia Bread Recipe

Yield: 8


  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onions 2016-08-11 17.18.43
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 cup (237 ml) warm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 envelope)
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 ½ cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

What You Need:

  • 2 large bowls
  • 2 small bowls
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 knife 2016-08-11 18.58.17
  • 1 medium saucepan
  • a 13 x9 baking pan
  • 1 garlic press
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 silicone spatula
  • 1 cup measure
  • 1/4 cup measure
  • 1 tbs measure
  • 1 tsp measure
  • whisk
  • 1 warm wet towel
  • paper towels


2016-08-14 08.58.20

  1. In a cold medium saucepan or skillet, combine olive oil, pressed garlic, green onions,  rosemary and the black pepper. Place pan over low heat then cook, stirring occasionally 5 to 10 minutes or until aromatic, but before the garlic browns. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and 2016-08-14 06.31.38honey. Stir a few times then let sit for 5 minutes. Now, add 1 cup of the flour and a 1/4 cup of the infused garlic-olive oil mixture. Stir 3 to 4 times until the flour has moistened. Let sit for another 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour and the salt. Once the dough comes together, transfer to a floured board and knead the dough 10 to 15 times until smooth. Transfer to a large oiled bowl, cover with a warm, damp towel and let rise for 1 hour. (It’s best to let the dough rise in a warmer area of your kitchen). 2016-08-14 06.36.422016-08-14 06.35.51
  4. After 1 hour, heat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Then, use two tablespoons of the remaining garlic-olive oil mixture to oil a 9-inch by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Transfer dough to the baking sheet then press it down into the pan. Use your fingers to dimple the dough then drizzle the top with the 2016-08-14 06.39.25remaining 2 tablespoons of the garlic-olive oil mixture. Let the dough rise for 20 minutes until it puffs slightly then bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer focaccia bread to a cooling rack and cool.




If I were to make it again, I would probably add more herbs and spices because the flavor of the bread (although pleasant) is much stronger than white bread.  Please share your comments if you try this recipe, or have any stories to share about your baking adventures.

Until we meet again,










Ground Cherries

2016-07-09 07.48.01 I was at the PSU Farmer’s Market (which is open in downtown Portland every Saturday from 8:30 am-2:00 pm) on a mission to find an interesting item to cook with.  While meandering through the booths these beautiful paper lantern like plants caught my eye.  I tasted one and it was sweet and slightly tart like a cherry or plum with a slight tomato aftertaste.  I asked the vendor how they are normally cooked and she told me that she just eats them raw as she popped another one in her mouth and smiled.  I instantly bought a pint box of them to make some salsa.

2016-07-16 12.22.30

Just in case you want to pick some up, I got mine from the Rick Steffen Farm Booth and each container of ground cherries cost $3.  They were the only booth selling ground cherries that day.  According to the farmer, although the farm isn’t certified organic, their ground cherries aren’t sprayed and grow like tomatillos, loving the sun at their farm.

I did some research and this fruit has traveled the globe!  It originated in Brazil and made its way to Peru and Chile where it was named Physalis peruviana.  Later it was brought to Europe, Australia, and even Hawaii.  Now it can be found around the world in various tropical or subtropical environments.  And with its travels, it has picked up many different names like:  Goldenberry, Poha berry, Peruvian cherry, Pok Pok and Cape Gooseberry.

Here is a basic nutitional snapshot based on if you ate 1 cup (140 g) of them:

  • Calories- 74 kcal2016-07-12 15.16.00
  • Fat- 0.98 g
  • Carbohydrate- 15.68 g
  • Calcium- 13 mg
  • Iron- 1.4 mg
  • Vitamin A – 50 µg
  • Vitamin C – 15.4 mg
  • Thiamine – .154 mg
  • Riboflavin- .056 mg
  • Niacin – 3.92 mg

Based on the color and some of the vitamins, these ground cherries look like a sweet source of antioxidants!

In my research I also found that ground cherries can be eaten raw, cooked into pie fillings, made into preserves, dried like raisins, and dipped in chocolate.  does a great job on explaining how to make preserves using ground cherries in this recipe:

Ground Cherries Preserves

yield 4 quarter-pint jars

1. Place the following in a preserving pan (a heavy, bottomed, stainless steel or enameled cast iron pot) and place over med-low heat the following ingredients:

  • 1lb 9oz husked ground cherries (which was 5 pints’ worth)
  • 1 small lemon juiced (about 3 Tbs)
  • 2 cups sugar

2. Remove pot from heat once all sugar granules are dissolved, pour into a bowl and place in fridge with a piece of parchment paper and a plate to cover top of bowl.

3. The next day, pour the mixture back into your preserving pan and bring to a boil. It will take about 8-12 minutes for your preserves to set, depending on the type of pan you use and possibly the sugar.

4. [optional] Mash some or all of the ground cherries with a potato masher to whatever consistency you prefer. I like to do this because it varies the consistency of the spread and pops out the seeds from about half of the berries.

5. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars and seal in waterbath (please refer to instructions for this in many of the other Canning & Home Food Preserving tagged posts) or ladle into one or two larger jars and place in the fridge; it will keep (if you don’t gobble it all up) anywhere between 3-6 months.

However, I was still determined to make some salsa. Here is the recipe explaining what I did using the ingredients I had at home:

2016-07-12 21.20.32

Ground Cherry Salsa


  • 3/4 cup ground cherries husked and quartered
  • a bunch of chopped cilantro
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic finely diced
  • 1/2 roasted jalapeno pepper finely diced
  • 1/2 onion cubed
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. cut the ground cherries, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno and onions and put them all into a bowl and mix it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  2. Slowly add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste


This was my first time making salsa, and usually when I think of salsa I envision earthy red tomatoes with hints of garlic, onion and pepper. This came out totally different, but better than I imagined.  It tasted fresh with the mix of cilantro and sweetness from the ground cherries.  Then the roasted jalapeño gave it a nice bite at the end.  While this was all happening, the lemon brought all the flavors together making it taste like salsa.  One thing that surprised me was how long it took to prepare the ground cherries.  After individually popping them out of the their papery shells, I also had to take them them one by one and cut them into quarters.  If I did this again I’d probably just cut them in half or use a food processor instead.  What’s great about this dish is that it’s fresh, tasty and showcases the flavor of the ground cherries.

Ground cherries taste delicious raw.  I can see myself putting it in a salad, on yogurt, or even in a sandwhich with cheese.  I’m also looking forwarding to buying another batch to see what they are like when cooked.


Until we meet again,




Blackwood M. All About Ground Cherries | Healthier Steps. Healthier Steps. Published August 19, 2013. Accessed July 18, 2016.

CAPE GOOSEBERRY. Fruit Facts. Accessed July 17, 2016.

Full Report (All Nutrients): 09138, Groundcherries, (cape-gooseberries or poha), raw . National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28 . Accessed July 16, 2016.

Payne K. Ground Cherries Preserves. Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking – Get hip to your home, kitchen and garden with Kate Payne. Accessed July 17, 2016.