Mr. Charming and I LOVE Hawaii. Although, who wouldn't love an island where the temperature is always perfect, the scenery is breathtaking and fresh food outweighs the access to processed food? I previously published my series (Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4) on Oahu, Hawaii... but this post focuses on our adventures on the Big Island. Our friends Perla & Manny invited us to join them on a week trip at the Wyndham in Kona.
Mr. Charming and I started Day One really early and enjoyed scrambled eggs at the airport to keep us full with protein for the flight. Once landing at the cute airport in Kona, we got ourselves floral leis and snapped our first photo. He brought his pro camera to take tons of pics!
We didn't end up renting a car until half-way through our trip since there was SO much to do SO close. After meeting up with our friends at our hotel we went to the welcome party the hotel was having for us and enjoyed salads and drinks (this was before I cut out alcohol 4 years ago) and got a swag bag of awesome Hawaii things! Like beach towels, a book on the history of the islands and Kona coffee.
We had this beautiful beach just down the road from our hotel and attended a luau one of our first nights in town. Aside from getting EATEN ALIVE by the mosquitos, the walks were so pleasant and we got SO MUCH exercise.
When attending a luau, there are so many delicious Paleo options! Stay away from the rice dishes and focus on the meat and veggie dishes that are always in abundance. I enjoyed Luau Chicken (chicken breast cooked with coconut milk & taro leaves) - Kalua Pig and salad.
At the locals farmer market we picked up HUGE avocados & white pineapple to have as a hotel room snack. White pineapple doesn't contain the acidity of regular pineapple, so we ate bowls of it! It was a yummy & filling breakfast before a day of boating and snorkeling. As always, check your city of travel ahead of time to see what restaurants, cafes or stores will have food for you to eat. We found both casual eateries and fancy date night spots where I could have fish, fries, salads and chicken. And Kona has a Natural Grocers Market, which made it convenient for stocking up on healthy eats to take on our boat trips, beach trips and traveling around the island.
The Hilton Waikoloa Village also has one of the most selective gluten-free menus I've seen in Hawaii, and is included in their in-room dining as well. From flourless cake to gf pancakes, burgers at the grill and a full omelette station, healthy eaters can choose from many options.
Do keep in mind that Kona & the western cities have many more options for healthy eats than Hilo and the eastern and norther regions of the island, so make sure to pack a lunch! We packed a lunch to go see the volcanoes and black sand beaches & I'm glad we did because even though the island isn't very large, it takes a long time to travel due to the mix of winding roads and modest speed limits.
Sometimes I fantasize about living on the islands. Getting a small beach condo, letting the doggies run free on the beach and seeing Mr. Charming open a dental practice in town. But then I realize how very far away it is from all those I love, and it makes me happy to be where I am. Right here, right now.
Our last full day on island was spent sleeping in, visiting Icarus once more (PENGUIN OBESSION. I want one now by the way.) Another trip to Fresco for lunch (seriously, pasta that tasted THAT good without wheat or cheese? Are you kidding. Of COURSE I went back.)
We decided to visit Iolani Palace on our trip and though we didn't have time to tour the inside this trip (a definite must if you go, and if we go again!) The grounds were amazing and the expanse of the palace on the outside was just breathtaking. When we arrived at the airport we had to walk further than I feel like I've EVER walked before to get to a terminal. And I've had to walk to A LOT of them when I was touring back in the day. This was ridiculous. Tip number eight: Get to the airport EARLY. We did, thankfully and didn't have to rush at all. But had we gotten to the airport without the two hour window we would have been running to our gate. Not cool. And I realize that tip wasn't about healthy eating, travel. It's just good sense. And a warning that Oahu Airport is HUGE. Once we finally made it to our gate, I became hungry. I had a six hour flight ahead of us and my travel 3 oz. applesauce that was plane-approved had merged with the lavender oil for my head to relax me on the flight rendering it inedible. Sad. Mr. Charming spoke with the airline and I found out if you order ahead of time you can get a gluten-free meal! But they were out. Sad, again. BUT! The normal meal they were serving was a side salad, gluten free white rice, peas and carrots and bottled water with teriyaki chicken. HAPPY DAY! I didn't have to starve on the plane. I gave Mr. Charming my chicken, it wasn't dairy free, and I got to eat. But a reminder! Tip number nine: Certain airlines will accommodate food issues if you ask ahead of time! We flew Hawaiian, and they are one of the few that still include a free meal. Mahalo to them for that! It was an amazing trip and I thank you for sharing in the memories of it with us! I hope my travel/food tips helped you. If you are traveling and have any questions or need help finding places to eat don't hesitate to contact me!
Day three in Hawaii was amazing. Tip number six: Take time to RELAX. Sometimes when Mr. Charming and I travel we want to make sure we pack in as much fun and activity as we can. By day three of the trip I had a little mini-meltdown. I needed to just BE. To just relax. That was why we got away in the first place.
He was very sweet and let me plan our morning. First we went to the penguin habitat because i LOVE penguins. Like, LOVE them. They are my favorite animal. I met a little penguin named Icarus and I got to pet him. At that point my day was made but we had a whole day of exploring Hawaii left, so on we went. We made our way down to the beach and the lagoon that was at our hotel. I have always dreamed of doing a few things in my lifetime, "bucketlist" if you will, but I dislike that word. I just don't like the word "bucket" very much. So, anyways. Stand-up board (a larger surf board that you stand on and paddle or row yourself around) always looked like it'd be pretty awesome. Approaching the surf shack though, I saw how large the board was, and how much larger the body of water was. So I almost opted for those little paddle boat things. But alas, I was in Hawaii standing just 5 feet from something I'd dreamed of doing for years. So fear-schmear. We rented one, got a two second "lesson" from a surf instructor that didn't even involve water and made our way to the shoreline. We didn't do it for very long, it was WINDY, but WE DIDN'T FALL OFF! So I count it a huge success.
After stand-up board, we went and lounged on the beach for a while and then we ate at an AMAZING little Italian Cafe at the village by our hotel. It was called Fresco. I recommend it if you ever visit Oahu. Great salads, (i got a pear and avocado spring mix salad) and AMAZING gluten-free pasta dishes. I ordered the grilled chicken penne with marinara. It tasted SO authentic Italian (I grew up in an Italian household so I'm picky.) Tip number 7: Visit cafes where you can order multiple courses if you can to stay fuller. Fresco had wonderful salads, Gluten/Dairy free entrees AND a dairy-free/gluten-free sorbet selection for dessert! It felt so decadent to be able to order MULTIPLE courses that I could eat. The afternoon/evening was spent at the International Marketplace, shopping, shopping and MORE shopping. For dinner we were invited to join Mr. Charmings work staff at dinner at Roy's. Roy's is also in Arizona and the waiters were SUPER accommodating They offered to make me any meat dish gluten-free/dairy-free. I unfortunately had eaten SO much of that amazing pasta dish and snacked on leftovers during hair and make-up that I wasn't even hungry when we went. But it was kind nonetheless. Tip number 8: Group outings can be a tough one. I have gotten used to not really going out to eat. Which does impede social engagements. A lot of my family/friends understand now what I am going through with food challenges, however a lot of people won't understand. To avoid awkward situations you can handle it a few different ways.
1. Offer to choose the restaurant. If you choose you'll be able to call ahead or search out menus online for something that is "you-approved".
2. Bring your own dish/sides. If you are eating somewhere casual, or a cafe' it's easy to discreetly bring your own dish, or sides/dressing etc. When my friends eat at places like Paradise Bakery, Chipotle etc, I can pack a little lunchbox that looks like a purse. I can bring my own salad or wrap. I usually match the type of cafe food everyone else is ordering so it kind of fits in. I also will bring my own small ziploc container of my own dressing, and many times I've carried an avocado in my purse to add healthy fat to a basic lettuce salad.
3. It's ok to say no thank-you. If you are put in an uncomfortable situation or you feel its a restaurant where you won't be safe, if you can't bring your own food along decline the invitation. Friends and family will understand. This was really hard for at first. I had friends get mad at me for "not hanging out" when all they did was socialize over food. The friends who do understand, we try to do other things to spend time together. We go on hikes, go play pool, or we get together at each others houses for "healthy pot-lucks".
Day two in Paradise we got up early so that we could beat the rush to go snorkeling at Haunama Bay. I of course grumbled a bit about getting up early, really early, on vacation but I'm so glad I did. It was so worth it. Tip Number Four: A healthy way to detox is exercise. Hiking down a volcano and snorkeling for four hours is the coolest exercise ever.
After snorkeling we made our way back to Waikiki since we had worked up quite an appetite and I went to my maps to search for a good gluten free locale to have some lunch. Cheeseburger Waikiki, while it sounds super-offensive for my careful diet they actually had a complete allergen menu! I ordered a plain burger patty, white rice, side salad with olive oil and fresh avocado. It was delicious and super filling!
After lunch we went and visited an old cemetery where my husbands great-grandparents were laid to rest. It was cool to see a connection between him and the island. We spent the rest of the day driving up close to the North Shore to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center and learning about all of the different cultures. (Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga, etc.) We picked up some awesome souvenirs and captured some breathtaking scenery on the drive up there. Remember Jurassic Park?
We again were having such a great time checking out the island we didn't make it to a steakhouse for dinner as planned. We stopped by a little cafe at our hotel, grabbed salads and water and had a midnight dinner picnic on the shore (I brought an avocado in my bag I had picked up a whole foods, and grabbed a dairy-free dark chocolate and almond bar for dessert to share). An amazing way to end an amazing day. Tip number 5: Don't stress. Bring light snacks with you such as fruit, nuts or jerky in case you come across a place that's closed, such as we did, or to supplement a light salad if it's the only safe eat you can find. :)
So, we've arrived in paradise. It is absolutely beautiful here. A little humid, but who cares about humidity when you get to look at this:
Tip number one for traveling with food sensitivities, allergies, etc. Plan Ahead.
I did have some anxiety about traveling so far from home to an island where I don't know the stores, restaurants etc. I have been to Hawaii before, but that was four years ago, and though I remember the local fresh farmers markets and whole food, I didn't have the restrictions I have now so I wanted to be prepared so I didn't go hungry. We had a lot of fun excursions planned so I wanted to make sure I had fuel. So to plan ahead my husband pulled up Google Maps and we typed in our hotel and found it in Oahu, he then proceeded to show me that you can type just about anything in if you click "search nearby". I ended up finding a Whole Foods within 3 miles of our hotel, and 10 gluten free restaurants that ALSO had a dairy-free menu! I was so much more relaxed and was able to plan my trip and pack with excitement instead of hesitation due to food.
Tip number two: If you are traveling to a place where you are not finding the correct restaurants and you don't have the option of a Whole Foods, Sprouts, or to bring your own along, call ahead. Speak to chefs and restaurant owners/managers about your issues. If they are clueless or don't seem to care, MOVE ON. It's not worth getting sick on your vacation. Find a chef who will speak to you and who is knowledgeable about your needs.
Which brings me to Day 1 in Oahu: We left for our flight REALLY early in the morning (it was still dark out, so to me it was still the middle of the night) and though sometimes it's hard for me to eat that early I ate two organic hard-boiled eggs for protein since I didn't know what the plane would be serving. (Turns out it was NOTHING I could eat.) I also didn't take any food with me because of security. So I tried to sleep/entertain myself for six hours until we landed. Luckily, those eggs lasted a long time. So we have always DREAMED of visiting Aulani (The Hawaiian Disney Resort) because my husband and I are such HUGE Disney fans. I had looked up restaurants there ahead of time. MAKAHIKI at AULANI had a gluten-free menu listed on their website. The chef was so nice (Ask for Pu'u) and came out to my table to personally take my order and let me know that he would prepare my dish carefully as his daughter is celiac. (Disney chefs are THE BEST. I had a personal chef almost my entire trip to Disneyland last year, but more on Disney in another post.) At Makahiki I ordered a grilled chicken salad, with avocado, fresh tomato and olive oil for dressing and I DID cheat (just a little), they had gluten-free garlic fries that were AMAZING. I'm not suppose to have too much starch in my diet, but I decided to splurge since I had all fresh veggies and chicken. And I made my hubs take the bowl away half-way through because I would have scarfed them all. They were THAT GOOD.
After visiting Aulani for a couple of hours we actually went back to our hotel room and slept for a few hours (oops, stupid jet lag) and by the time we woke up almost all of the restaurants were closed! We went to Whole Foods and stocked up on groceries because our room had a fridge! Tip number 3. If you can't get a hotel room with a full kitchen or kitchenette, at least ALWAYS get a fridge! I was able to buy my natural lunch meat, hummus, fresh fruit and veggies which ended up being our dinner in the room the first night because even room service had closed. :( All in all a beautiful first day in Oahu!
Nosh & Nurture was born of this journey I am on to better the health of myself, my family and those around me. What started as a simple compilation of recipes has grown to a all-around lifestyle journal with ways to incorporate organic products into your home, pantry and beauty cabinet. I also include stories on pregnancy, new motherhood, travel, Proverbs 31 marriage, and spiritual health, as I am a Christian who couldn't do any of this without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. For more of my story you can click here.
All recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free with a lot of soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free options.