Manolo gave me a challenge… Why don’t we plan a Vegetarian Festival with the flavors of Hawaii?? Hawaii?? Why?? I asked. He replied: “Well… I did this Rice with Pineapple the other day and I think it’s pretty awesome… so I thought it would go well within a Hawaiian-themed festival.”
Just like Manolo… he gets an idea in his head, and then the rest of the world needs to accommodate to it. “Oh… and the decorations would look so pretty!!!! Don’t you think, Madelyn??” And that’s how the idea about this Hawaiian Festival came about. Because… I have never been to Hawaii, Manolo has never been to Hawaii and the closest we have been to something truly Hawaiian are our friends Kenny and Tim, who one is from Hawaii and the other lives currently in Maui.
So I went to the internet and social media to gather some ideas of what a traditional Hawaiian Luau would be like and how could I make it into a vegan, gluten-free affair. My friends were enthusiastic about the idea and recipes started to flow. What surprised me the most was that many of the ingredients in Hawaiian/Polynesian cuisine are the same as in Puerto Rican cooking – taro root, breadfruit, sweet potatoes… with a few unexpected twists, such as nori, gomasio, rice vinegar, and macadamia nuts…
During the next few weeks I will be sharing with you the menu of this Vegetarian Hawaiian Luau. But this post will serve as an anchor and summary of all the recipes served that Sunday at the Centro Cultural Yoga Devanand. Let’s all travel through our taste buds…
Alohas and Mahalo!!!
Tofu Mushroom Poke
Roasted Breadfruit with Spices
Haupia with a Carob Drizzle
Banana Mango Bread
Lilikoi and Grapefruit Juice
When I wasn’t a vegetarian growing up, our traditional way to celebrate Easter was Jamón con Piña, or Sweet Ham with Pineapple. My mom would buy one of those canned Virginia Hams and bake it with cloves, pineapple slices, brown sugar and maraschino cherries. Later on, when I was a teenager, I also learned how to make myself Smoked Pork Chops… which you would fix in a pan using the exact same flavors.
Now that I am vegetarian, I can still enjoy the same sweet flavors without sacrificing any life… I purchase vegetarian ham at NYC’s Chinatown. This is the brand I like to get. It comes frozen… but after you thaw it, the flavor and texture is very, very similar to what I remember real ham to be.
I thaw it in small portions and keep it in a plastic zipper bag in the fridge. But if you don’t take my word for it on how similar these ham slices are to the real thing… check out my nieces enjoying some crepes filled with vegetarian ham and cheese. They are not vegetarian, they’re super picky and they regularly eat the real thing. Picky eaters asked me for MORE VEGETARIAN HAM!! So it’s that good…
SWEET VEGETARIAN HAM AND PINEAPPLE
6 slices of vegetarian ham
1 individual serving container of cut pineapples in their juice
1 ½ tbs brown sugar
5-6 whole cloves
- In a glass oven-proof dish, place the vegetarian ham slices slightly overlapping each other.
- Sprinkle with the brown sugar and pour the pineapple juice over them, dissolving a bit the sugar. Place the pineapple pieces as evenly as possible over the ham slices. Sprinkle the cloves over.
- Cover the glass dish with parchment paper and a piece of aluminum foil on top. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes at 350F. If you prefer, you can take the cover off and bake for an additional 5 minutes to allow the sugar to caramelize a bit.
Serve warm with a potato salad.
This is kinda like a Mango Lassi, but with more fruits which makes it perfect for a breakfast drink. I am trying my best to keep my new year’s resolution of eating more fruits each day.
MANGO STRAWBERRY PINEAPPLE SMOOTHIE
2 fresh pineapple rings
1/2 cup mango nectar
1/2 cup water
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tbs agave nectar
1 tbs ground flaxseeds
4 ice cubes
- Blend well in a blender… That’s all to it.
What are your favorite fruit combinations???
Keeping with my new year’s resolutions, I am a smoothie inventing machine. I just start mixing and matching fruits and flavors. Sometimes I like what I make, but sometimes I like it a LOT!!!! Here is another favorite combination…
STRAWBERRY, PINEAPPLE AND ORANGE SMOOTHIE
2 fresh pineapple slices
1 cup orange juice
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tbs agave nectar
3 ice cubes
- Blend everything in a blender or your Magic Bullet…
You can certainly add any supplement like ground flaxseeds, raw oatmeal or bee pollen.
Piña Coladas are the quintessential Caribbean drink… Wanna make them even more nutritious??? Let’s take the flavors and make it into a smoothie, perfectly suitable for a breakfast drink.
PIÑA COLADA SMOOTHIE
½ cup pineapple, cut into cubes
½ cup vanilla yogurt
2 tbs cream of coconut – I use Coco López
1 tsp ground flaxseeds
2 -3 ice cubes
About ½ cup Water or pineapple juice – enough to make the mixture blend well in the blender.
This is a recipe for one smoothie… I blend it all in my Magic Bullet.
- Mix all the ingredients well in a blender.
- Serve immediately.
- Garnish with a piece of fresh pineapple, but this is completely optional.