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.
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.