Friday, May 27, 2011

Maui: Biodegradable Plastics

Perhaps you've noticed the lack of keeping track of plastic when we were in Maui. It's difficult to haul around your garbage with you when you're traveling (I'm sure you get it). But I assure you we didn't go off the deep end indulging in airplane peanuts and the likes (do they even still serve peanuts on airplanes anymore??!). Pre-trip I spent some time brainstorming ideas for things I could easily bring with me on my trip to reduce my plastic usage while I'm away from home.

-Travel mug (stainless steel) for Starbucks (you never know when your flight might be delayed... twice...)
-Lush has these great solid shampoo bars that come in zero packaging (we bought a travel tin to keep it in)
-I also have a Lush moisturizing bar that I bought last year still lurking around. I'll be bringing that with me too (also zero packaging, kept in a reusable tin)
-Rechargable batteries for cameras (and charger)
-We'll be hitting up the farmers market which means I'll be bringing a tote & my bulk bin bags! Maui actually banned ALL plastic bags on the island earlier this year- hurrah!
-Stainless steel water bottles

One thing that we took notice of when we were in Maui 3 years ago was the prevalence of biodegradable tableware. We came across this at Whole FoodsOno Gelato, and Maui Tacos. Before it was as mainstream as it is now, we were using potato based cutlery and corn based cups on our day trips out on the ocean. We also saw this on the side of one of the boats we were boarding.

An island who relies on tourism and wishes to maintain its pristine ecosystems has nowhere to dump it's waste and minimal land space for landfills. They chose an eco-friendly route out of necessity long before many of the rest of us did.

Now maybe you're thinking "What do you mean they have nowhere to dump their garbage? Ever heard of the Pacific Garbage Patch?". Currents carry debris from the west coast of North America to the North Pacific gyre in about six years, and debris from the east coast of Asia in a year or less. But what about Hawaii? Stuck in the middle of all of it. One surely cannot compare the population of one state (1.3 M) to that of all of Asia (3.9 B- that's billion!) plus the entire west coasts of the U.S. (47 M) & Canada (4.5 M), nor the trash that they produce respectively. But are they the ones that suffer? Absolutely... And there's more to come in the wake of the Japanese earthquake earlier this year.

Traditional Hawaiian culture places a lot of emphasis on nature and keeping things in balance with each other. Gorgeous beaches stretching as far as the eye can see, beautiful reefs teeming with colorful fish, sea turtles & humpback whales dotting the waters- this is the stuff of Hawaiian legend. And in order to preserve it all for future generations, as a society we need to make some changes.

Image from here.

You can't just pretend that it goes away when you throw it in the garbage can, or even when you recycle it. The key is to reduce your consumption. You know that grade school adage "reduce, reuse, recycle"? You are to do those in order!

Our Maui plastic tally*(in absolutely no order whatsoever!):
-3 Sample size conditioner packets/ bottle (existing)
-Sample size lotion (existing)
-Contact lens containers (2)
-Seal from bottle of contact solution
-Packaging from bar of soap (Christmas gift)
-Wrapping from travel size box of q-tips
-Hair serum bottle
-Caramel wrappers (the very last of the halloween candy!)
-Toothpaste tube
-Drinking straws at various establishments throughout our trip :(
-Plastic sword stabbed into one of our meals indicating that it was an allergy modified dish
-Deli-style container from shrimp bought from grocery store
-Several chip bags
-Goat cheese containers
-Packaging in jambalaya mix
-2 Salad tubs & seals
-Pamela’s pancake mix bag (brought from home)
-Goat cheese tasting sticks & cups
-Tasting stick from strawberry lavender syrup
-Steak wrapping
-2 Risotto packages
-Taco place knife & 2 forks
-4 Emergen-c packets
-Water bottle from goat farm tasting
-Wrapper from bottle of booze!
-Whole Foods forks
-In-flight drinks & snacks (even water)
-Realfruit gummies bag
-4 Sesame snaps packages
-Veggie sticks & ranch dip cup
-Burger styrofoam container
-2 Styrofoam containers from 'emergency' tacos
-Sushi place styrofoam container
-2 Chicken packages
-1 Fish package
-2 Ground beef packages
-Steak stir fry strips package
-4 Bread bags
-Salsa container
-2 Hummus containers
-2 Tags from pineapples
-Stickers on fruit
-Daiya bag
-2 Coconut milk yogurt containers
-2 Coconut milk ice cream tubs
-Tray in box of goat milk truffles
-Pull tab from carton of OJ
-2 Cups containing salsa accompanying meals 
-Cookie container
-6 Granola bar wrappers
-Macadamia nut container
-Pasta bag
-Baby carrot bag (left behind by previous condo tenants)
-Stir fry veggie bag
-Alcoholic beverage pouch
-Starbucks Frappuccino cup
-Several garbage bags
-Dip cup of ranch in airport
-Skor bar wrapper

*From departure day (April 22) through return date (May 6, 2011)

It's worth noting that we didn't purchase ALL of these items. We were traveling with two other individuals for the first week of our trip and their grocery shopping habits aren't entirely focused on plastic consumption as ours are. 

Things that I can do better/work on finding a plastic-less solution for (ya know, for our next holiday):
-plasticless cutlery for travel days
-remembering to ask for no straw in restaurants (or just drink martinis!)
-stop acquiring samples of stuff to use on trips like this
-make more snacks without individual packaging rather than buying
-leave stickers on apples so that customs doesn't take them away :(
-fill up water bottle after security/customs & before boarding flight

"Junk Food" by Option-G Found on

These things can be difficult when on vacation because you're suddenly immersed in an environment where you don't know what sort of differences there will be between what you're used to at home and what you will find in the new place. I brought along my beloved bulk bin bags, but Safeway didn't have bulk bins (the nearby health food store Hawaiian Moons did however). I'll still bring them next time. 

Another challenge is cooking meals for people that generally eat differently than we do. People with other allergies or medical conditions need to be considered when planning to feed more than just ourselves. It's not impossible to cook a meal that's gluten, soy, dairy, nut, shellfish & egg free while also keeping in mind how the meal will impact blood sugars. Difficult, sure. Impossible, no. Oh, and all the while reducing our plastic usage of course!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bitlets For You This Past Week: May 17 - 23, 2011

Blogger was wonky AGAIN recently... sorry bout' the late (and sparse) post!

Organic isn't just a fad...

Surfing for change.

The EWG's Sunscreen guide for this year is a must-read before "lubing" up this summer!

What is eating gluten-free really about?

Mason jar meals!

Celiac disease as a cover for an eating disorder? It's happening.

Not all restaurants are like this when it comes to dealing with allergies, but there are always a few phenomenal exceptions.

Does this change how you shop for fish?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Week's Worth of Plastic: Week 12

Oh man is this a bad week... I'm embarrassed:

1. 7 pieces dental floss (not shown)
2. Garbage bag for the week (not shown)
3. 2 Ice bags from camping
4. 2 Chip bags
5. Rice cracker tray
6. Plastic lining inside air mattress
7. Daiya package
8. 2 Salad tubs
9. Rice bag
10. Broken plastic spoon
11. Juice box straw
12. Tortilla chip bag
13. Wine gum bag
14. 2 pieces butchers paper
15. Frozen fruit bag
16. Restaurant straw (not shown)
17. Bison burger packaging
18. Breton cracker sleeve
19. 2 Pasta bags
20. Lid to glass bottle of salad dressing
21. Duct tape wrapping
22. Cellophane from box of q-tips
23. Ham package
24. Cherry tomato container
25. OLD package of jam (found in camping gear)
26. Dried blueberries package
27. Apron package (I thought it was a home made one when I ordered it)
28. Bread bag
29. Tab from carton of almond milk
30. Candy wrapper
31. Energy chews package
32. Seal from glass bottle of salad dressing
33. Corn tortilla bag
34. Seal from glass bottle of soy sauce
35. Citronella candle bucket lid
36. 2 (OJ & Coconut milk) pull tabs
37. Fish packaging

We started the week on a short camping trip, so yet again this week we have a few things that aren't normally part of our daily life. We've restarted collecting & refreezing our ice cubes for camping purposes since it tis' the season! This was a 24 hour notice camping trip, so we weren't terribly prepared, hence lots of pre-prepared foods like chips & rice crackers rather than things like granola bars. I'll be better prepared for our next trip, that's for sure!

I'm going to set a goal of less than 25 items for next week. How am I going to do it? We're cooking a turkey on Tuesday (which is sigh, wrapped in plastic), we have four different kinds of rice that are not currently in plastic packaging at our disposal & lots of veggies from the farmers market from the weekend (which are mostly in plastic now that I think of it...). I'm going to have to be diligent!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Maui: Sustainable Fish

I bought a cookbook at our 'fish place' awhile ago that is a compilation of "Ocean-Friendly" recipes written by "Chefs Who Care". The Ocean Wise Cookbook is chock full of beautifully photographed dishes crafted from sustainable fish choices. A section at the beginning of the book details which fish are better than others, how to purchase, prepare & store your fish and the differences between wild & farmed fish. To read more about sustainable seafood, check this out.

You can download a wallet sized sustainable seafood guide for your region here. It does depend on where you live and what's local and not over fished in your area.

Not-so-local shrimp from our last trip to Maui

I can recall eating Ahi Tuna & Mahi Mahi the last time I was in Hawaii. (At the time) I assumed that any fish that was being served at a restaurant that was overlooking the ocean was fresh from the water in front of me, and I felt great "knowing" that. I was a little more discriminating in my choices this trip.

There are a few fish that I don't eat ever really including shark, orange roughy, farmed salmon (except presumably in sushi on occasion), caviar, tuna (all kinds, occasionally sushi), snapper, grouper and a lot of the bottom dwelling, filtering-type seafood like scallops. And a lot of the fish on this list we don't really see much of at home including swordfish, marlin & spearfish- I've never even heard of this! I'd be looking for things like crab, halibut, tilapia, oysters & mussels on menus in Hawaii. It can be confusing, so print off the pocket guide for easy reference!

Pollock is one of those things that a celiac wants to stay away from as the "fake crabmeat" touted as pollock that it is generally found in sushi can contain wheat. Go figure. Sendo Sushi, which is "our sushi place" in Prince George has California rolls made with real crab. I was thrilled to find out I could have a basic California roll at a restaurant again!

"Mainland sushi" no matter how good it is will probably never live up to what we've had in Maui however!

I digress...

Fishing outside the box!

Sustainable fish farming!

Tell me about your fish choices lovlies!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bitlets For You This Past Week: May 10-16, 2011

Sadly Blogger was on the fritz earlier this week & failed to save many of the links I had amassed for this post. Sorry it's late. And missing the good stuff :(

Vegans & vegetarians think eating meat is gross... check this out.

And did you hear about this?????

On a tastier note, have you ever had yak meat before? We stock up at Horizon meats whenever we're in Calgary.

Exploding watermelons!

celiac vaccine? I can't say I'd go for it... you?

Gluten-free isn't always healthy!

I love hearing about this happening!

Don't believe everything you see on a supermarket shelf. I suppose you should know better.

Your intestinal health has more to do with your brain than you think.

An extremely well written guide on how to live gluten free.

Actually cooking your own food isn't as hard as industry would have you think it is.

It used to be like this. Oh how the times have changed...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Maui: Gluten Free Eats

While this is likely the least flattering picture of me from our last trip to Maui, it does illustrate the results of my learning curve towards a gluten free diet. At this point in my life, I was just beginning to eat gluten free. I've never been officially diagnosed with Celiac disease, but let me tell ya I can pick up on the teeniest bit of gluten. Three years ago when this picture was taken I had no knowledge of cross contamination, the ingredients in soy sauce or the fake crab that's in sushi. It was more or less just "I can't eat bread". Looking back (even long before this trip) I can see the signs. Two years prior to this picture I can recall comments of "You always have gas after we get bagels from Tim Hortons!". I didn't clue in at the time. Or for quite awhile afterwards either...

This time, I'm prepared.

We're staying in a condo and will be attempting to make most of our food ourselves (saves on costs too!) since we have the ability to do so, but at the same time we're on vacation too. I wont have many of the pantry supplies that I have at home in the condo, so a bit of pre-planning was required.

GIANT omelet with rice (!) at Fred's

Moose Mcgillycuddys / Fred's Mexican Cafe: Right next door to the condo complex we're staying in, Fred's is great any time of day & is open for breakfast. Mexican fare generally has corn substitutes for wheat based flour tortillas, making gluten free choices easier. The two are of the same group of restaurants, and use the same kitchen (Moose's is upstairs) so their tacos are available on corn as well (and cheap on Tuesdays!). Oh, and they're awesome!

Flatbread: We drove up to Paia one afternoon to check out all the cool little shops & had lunch at Flatbread. They are primarily a pizza place, but they offer gluten free as well! We went for the vegan pizza (on a gluten free crust of course!) and added goat cheese, which came from Surfing Goat Dairy. It was fantastic! I'll be tweaking my pizza crust when I get home, now that I know that a crust like this is possible!

Ono Gelato: Sourcing fresh local ingredients, Ono makes their gelato fresh every day with only the best ingredients (including a flavor using the Surfing Goat Dairy's Lilikoi quark which is what they use in their cheesecake filling! This gelato flavor does contain some cows milk as well as the goats milk however.). We tasted the Lilikoi in addition to blood orange, pineapple (obligatory!) and a fantastic green tea, fruity flavored creation. They were all fantastic, and served in biodegradable cups that were collected for composting!

Sansei Sushi: I was SO looking forward to this, as it's the best sushi I've EVER had in my life. I had planned to bring a bit of gluten free soy sauce with me in case I couldn't find any, but checked with the health food store down the street from where we stayed & they sold it, so I didn't bother. Turns out Sansei had my favorite GF tamari available in house!

808 Bistro: On our very last day (departure day at that) in Maui, we stopped in at this tucked away spot for some breakfast. We should have gone sooner. This was by far the best breakfast I ate the whole trip. The establishment serves breakfast, lunch & dinner and (here's the sneaky part) does BYOB! To be honest, that was probably the reason why we didn't try them out sooner. I felt like it gave the place a bit of a cheezy feel, but it was anything but. This is yet another spot in Kihei that we will be returning to on our next visit.

Oh, and we got to check these guys out!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Maui: Springtime Farmers Market

Our last trip to Maui was in February, which was excellent for whale watching (we arrived smack dab in the middle of mating season) but it was still winter. Nothing like what the rest of North America experiences in February of course. This trip was the end of April where most of the rest of the world is yearning for those rainy showers resulting in spring flowers & all kinds of other green things are sprouting up. We missed out on the farmers market last time, but this year we got a chance & jumped all over the fresh produce.

Maui is three hours ahead of the time zone we're used to, so of course we were up at an ungodly hour most mornings. But since it's still spring, the sun goes down around 7:00, so waking up early makes for optimal usage of daylight hours. However, not a lot of places are open that early in the morning. I suppose we made a bit of a mistake by going to the farmers market first thing in the morning (even though we had been up for so long already!). While the sign said they were open, most vendors were still setting up for the day. They call it being on 'Maui time' because everything is so relaxed & no one's stressed out. Being a bit late is no big deal!

Hawaii certainly isn't known for its avocados, but it seems as though they're in season here on Maui- they were everywhere! And HUGE! We've gone through more avocados this week than an all you can eat Mexican restaurant! And they are phenomenal!

Mangoes growing on the condo property.

Pineapple IS what Hawaii is known for & here on Maui they're certainly pumping it out (although much of the pineapple found in grocery stores across North America is not grown here due to a higher cost of labour than in other countries). Did you know that it takes two years for a pineapple to grow to full size? We drove past a field of pineapples when we went ziplining. They had little bitty ones that had been planted only 3 weeks prior, and great big ones that were just about ready to be harvested! That is just about as local as you can get!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Maui: Sansei Sushi

In February of 2008 I traveled to Maui and ate some of the best  thee best sushi I have had in my life. It ruined Sushi boat for me (which for a land-locked province, is GOOD!). Every bite of ricey seaweed I ate for the last three years was measured up to what we had had at Sansei.

This is NOT what we had at Sansei!

So when we decided we were going back to Maui, we knew that we HAD to visit Sansei again. But this is what we were faced with...

We made it in just under the wire despite the fact that the two ladies in front of us asked for a table for fourteen people... So worth the wait!

I couldn't have asked for more sitting right up at the sushi bar! This is somewhere that we will eat every single time we're in Maui (which hopefully will be many more times!).

Ahi Carpaccio

Ebi & Smoked Salmon Sushi

Salmon Skin Roll
Sashimi Trio
Whoops, looks like my martini glass was blocking the lighting....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dinner: Sushi! How To Make It At Home


We love going out for sushi. In fact Mr.C and I had our first date over sushi four years ago! Who knew we'd be rolling it ourselves in our own place back then? We've made sushi a handful of times and it's usually a joint dinner making as it's on the time and labour intensive side. The last time we made sushi was at Thanksgiving, I suppose this will be our Easter dinner since we spent Good Friday flying across the country vacation-bound!

We've always gone by this guide for a few pointers in cooking sushi rice (not simple!) and have yet to have any bad sushi rice. If you have the ability to make the rice earlier in the day (long before your meal) do it. Sushi is much better with cold (rather than warm, "fresh") rice.

The short(ish) version:
Only use designated sushi rice. Okay, so I'm just saying that because I have no experience using other rice to make sushi, however I have seen brown rice sushi in the grocery store before. You would want to be using short grain brown rice if you were going to try this though.

Wash the rice thoroughly first. I find it easiest to put one cup of dry rice into a mesh sieve and rinse it under the tap until the water runs clear. This much rice does the two of us just fine.

As the guide suggests, use 15% more water than rice. 1/4 of a cup measure is 25% of a cup, so just estimate.

Boil the water (without the rice) in a pot, adding the rice once the water is boiling ferociously. Only boil it for 2-3 minutes, and stir (with a wooden/bamboo or other non-ceramic utensil) it a few times while boiling so that it doesn't stick to the bottom. When your time is up turn the burner to low, and take the pot off until the burner has adjusted. If the burner is too hot the rice will stick to the bottom! Let it cool.

Throw the lid on the pot and set the timer for 10 minutes. Let the rice simmer until all of the water has been absorbed (check it at 10 minutes, it may need a bit more time). When it's done, take the pot off the stove and let it sit for 20 minutes.

While you're waiting, mix up some sushi vinegar.

1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar

This is enough per 2 cups of dry rice that is cooked. Mix it up in a glass or ceramic dish (a pie plate or baking dish works well) until the sugar has been dissolved. This is the one thing that I keep white sugar in my house for (other than guests that may wish to have it in their coffee or tea I suppose) but you could certainly try alternative sweeteners.

Once your 20 minutes is up, put the rice into your pie plate/baking dish containing the vinegar & stir to mix the vinegar into the rice, again using preferably a wooden or bamboo utensil. Spread it out as thin as you can along the bottom of the dish you're using so that it can cool. If you've got a bit before you're going to be rolling your sushi put the rice in the fridge covered with a damp tea towel so that it doesn't get crunchy.

When you're ready to make your rolls, get a few tools out to aid you:
-Bamboo rolling mat
-Saran wrap to cover the mat (I know.....)
-Small dish or glass of water to dip fingers & knife in
-Sharp knife to cut the rolls

And a few ingredients:
-Nori sheets
-Crab, salmon, shrimp, tuna etc (sushi grade or cooked meat of course)
-Gluten free soy sauce/tamari (optional)
-Sriracha mayo (optional)
-Sesame seeds (optional)

Assembling your sushi rolls is best left to a video, so here ya go!