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Eat “Local”

By Office of Communication Services    Published on 07/28/2016 More stories >>

hawaii foods

*How much is there, you ask? Visit the site at to find out.

The Hawai‘i Foods website’s tagline is “Nutrition with Aloha.” This might be more succinct and inclusive than “One of the few places to learn how much calcium is in tree fern shoots,”* but they’re equally true. And that’s only the start of what’s available: the site is even more satisfying than a three-choice plate lunch—and contains more nutritional content as well.

The project aims to improve Hawai‘i’s health through diet, offering the nutrition information to help people make wholesome choices. The website covers all manner of local foods—including those, like musubi and mountain apple, rarely found elsewhere. Hungry searchers can find information and recipes for Hawaiian, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and other foods, from lu‘au and lomi salmon to li hing gummy bears. There are videos and downloadable publications, some designed for particular cultural groups, like tips on reducing salt in Asian cooking. Mainland and international users also access Hawai‘i Foods, and its materials have been disseminated at health fairs locally and in other states.

Cyndy Kahalewale aims to improve Island diets
with the interactive website.

Cyndy Kahalewale aims to improve Island diets with the interactive website.

For those worried about their diets after discovering the calorie and fat content of that last plate of Portuguese sausage and kimchee fried rice, Hawai‘i Foods offers “My Diet,” an interactive portal where users can enter what they’ve eaten and get a personalized analysis of their food intake. UH dietetic interns help to develop nutrition fact sheets on topics identified by a survey of site users, with expert guidance from Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) from the Hawai‘i Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Like local cuisine, the site is a product of a variety of influences. Cyndy Kahalewale of the Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences Department (HNFAS), who was honored by the Hawai‘i Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2013 with the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year Award, launched it in 2007 and now is senior nutrition project coordinator. Former interim Dean Sylvia Yuen received the grant to begin it, and faculty and staff contributed to the initial conceptual framework, including present interim Dean Rachel Novotny; Joannie Dobbs, Alvin Huang, Naomi Kanehiro, and Steven Spielman (all HNFAS); and webmaster Kathy Lu. Along with the interns and RDNs, the project partners with UH’s Cancer Center, Kapi‘olani Community College, and CTAHR’s Children’s Healthy Living project. And like local cuisine, it’s colorful and appetizing—with something for every taste.