Tropical Paleo Granola

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Tropical Paleonola by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I’m back at the hospital burning the midnight oil, but I still have visions of sandy beaches, tropical drinks, and snorkeling alongside sea turtles dancing in my head. That’s the problem with vacation: it has an annoying tendency to end.

Tropical Paleonola by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I’m trying to hold onto as much island zen as possible, though. One of the vacation treats that I can’t get out of my head is an açaí bowl topped with crunchy house-made “Paleonola” that we enjoyed at a sunny vegan cafe the other day in Lahaina. Naturally, upon returning home, I felt compelled to tackle a grain-free granola recipe. (The rest of the açaí bowl’s on my list of to-dos, too.)

Tropical Paleonola by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Just for the record: Yes, I know “Paleo granola” is an oxymoron. There was a time when I thought that granola was a health food that I could and should eat on a daily basis, but the times they are a-changin’. I know granola—grain-free or not— is “treat” food that should be eaten only in moderation, and not an everyday breakfast superfood. But with that disclaimer out of the way, let me just say that just a handful of this stuff delivers a mildly-sweet, nutty, tropical crunch like nothing else.

As soon as we came home the other night, I started tinkering in the kitchen with different nut, seed, and sweeteners. It took a few batches, but I finally got it just right: crunchy, not too sweet, and with flavors that remind me of my favorite fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas stuck in ’em. Make a batch and share with your pals!

Tropical Paleonola by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Ingredients

Yield: 7 cups

  • 1 cup cubed fresh pineapple (approximately 1-inch cubes)
  • 5 large Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped (approximately ½ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3 cups raw almonds (I use a combination of raw almonds that are roughly chopped, slivered, and sliced.)
  • 3 cups raw coconut flakes
  • 1 cup raw macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

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Paleo Eats 9/28/13: Back to Maui

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After a hurried morning meal of baked eggs seasoned with furikake (toasted sesame and nori)…

Paleo Eats 9/28/13: Back to Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…we grabbed our bags and hopped on a plane bound for Maui.

Paleo Eats 9/28/13: Back to Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

If you’ve stuck around for a while, you probably know that once or twice a year, our family decamps to Hawaii—our home away from home. I love everything about the islands: the people, the pace, the climate, the beaches, the sunsets, the food.

Paleo Eats 9/28/13: Back to Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

{Photo credit: Lil-O. This officially marks the first time my five-year-old has contributed a photograph to my blog.}

This trip came at the perfect time. It’s been an especially busy year for us. And though we’ve done our best to juggle parenting, full-time jobs, blogging, and cookbook-writing—not to mention a good deal more traveling than usual—we’ve all felt the strain. (Our schedules aren’t letting up, either. In two weeks, Henry, who just got back from New York, is heading off to Asia yet again.) Hitting the “pause” button is exactly what the four of us needed.

Paleo Eats 9/28/13: Back to Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Well, okay…the five of us, if you include Cat Power. (Just to be clear: I’m referring to Cat Power, Lil-O’s ever-present stuffed cat—not Cat Power the musician.)

Paleo Eats 9/28/13: Back to Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Although my carry-on bag was crammed with meaty treats…

Paleo Eats 9/28/13: Back to Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…we were starving by the time we arrived on Maui.

Paleo Eats 9/28/13: Back to Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Even after polishing off a late lunch of Thai food and hitting the grocery store to stock up on protein and plants for the coming week…

Paleo Eats 9/28/13: Back to Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

9/28/13: A Vacation Day in Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…our stomachs declared that it was dinner time.

A return to Star Noodle was in order.

Paleo Eats 9/28/13: Back to Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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Paleo Eats: 11/12/11 (Departing Maui) & 11/13/11

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Our ohana reluctantly packed our stuff and flew off the island yesterday afternoon.

*sniffle* 

As is our annual tradition, we stopped for brunch at Mala Ocean Tavern before heading to the airport.

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We like to torture ourselves with the tasty food and gorgeous table-side ocean view so we’ll pencil in a return trip next year.

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I ordered the Great Start Breakfast with a couple of eggs over easy, lamb sausages, hash browns, and fruit instead of the bread.

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We also shared some Brussels sprouts (which, admittedly, was splashed with soy sauce)…

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…and a pineapple bowl.

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It makes me tear up to see the shot below of us enjoying our last meal on Maui. You can’t see it, but I now have a booger snail trail on my sleeve.

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Since our flight wasn’t leaving for a few hours, we stopped by the Maui Swap Meet and shopped for some knick-knacks and “trinklets.” Isn’t that the best made-up word ever? I learned it from T and I’m gonna try to incorporate it into my daily lexicon.

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WARNING! The stand that sells coconut candy must be avoided at all costs because these toasty, crunchy, and sweet treats are my kryptonite. 

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After wandering the aisles for an hour, we bid farewell to D,T, and the Triple-A’s…

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…and went to the Whole Foods to pick up food for our flight. Little did we know that we’d have the opportunity to scarf down a free Thanksgiving dinner. The samples at the store were insane. People were lining up to get plates of roast turkey, roast goose, and all the trimmings. Plus, there were other non-Turkey-Day-related freebies, too!

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We munched on the complimentary Paleo-friendly fare and, out of guilt, purchased a pound of seasoned ground beef from the burrito bar, a package of pre-sliced crudities, and raw coconut slices.

The super slow security lines at Kahului airport were infuriating, as usual, but luckily my sugar levels were stable and I didn’t hulk out. I finally relaxed when our butts were in our seats and the boys had in-flight entertainment in their hands.

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On the flight, I ate some beef and veggies along with some nuked Okinawan purple sweet potato (you must add water to the dish when microwaving these dense spuds). I also snacked on coconut slices, dark chocolate, and macadamia nuts. I may not have blogged about it, but I totally overindulged in all three of these items all week. Really. Every. Day. I gotta take a small break from them starting…now.

We didn’t get home until close to midnight so we all hit the sack as soon as we got home.

This morning, I was super stoked to find a few non-rotten avocados and half a dozen eggs in the fridge. Fitbomb and I transformed these humble ingredients into plain egg omelets topped with guacamole in less than 10 minutes.

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After breakfast, we piled into the car to drive to the East Bay to celebrate Fitbomb’s granny’s 91st birthday.

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There was a buffet of various meats and carb-y sides for lunch and I picked out a bunch of meat and veggies for my meal. 

Since my fridge was now empty of eggs and avocados, we stopped by a Whole Foods on our way home.

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There was no free Turkey Day meal at this location. I may have made us shop here — even though the Double-O’s were tired — just to double-check. Man, Maui really is paradise and I’m a selfish mommy.

For dinner, I dunked a packet of duck confit legs into the SousVide Supreme

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…fried some cauliflower fried rice

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…and roasted some sliced and peeled Delicata squash in the toaster oven.

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When the veggies were finished, I crisped the duck legs in a cast iron skillet and dinner was ready.

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Time for some zzz’s!

Paleo Eats: 11/11/11 (Maui Day #7)

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Man, how does a week pass by so quickly? 

For breakfast, I cooked the last of our bacon and veggies, and fried up what was left of the three dozen eggs in our fridge. I picked at the bacon while I was cooking, so by the time I thought to photograph my plate, it was already bereft of bacon.

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The rest of our day’s eats were less than stellar because we chose proximity over quality in order to spend more time chilling in the pool.

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We ate lunch at the poolside bar and grill…

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…where I ordered an expensive bun-less burger with an extra side salad.

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D & T have watched the kids all week while we’ve escaped to Lahaina CrossFit, so the least we could do was allow them a date night in Maui. So after a relaxing afternoon indoors, Fitbomb and I took the five — yes, FIVE — kids out to an early dinner.

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We decided to wander down to Duke’s for supper because we could walk there and because…well…that’s the only reason, I guess.

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Fitbomb and I both ordered the tasting menu ($25.95 for three courses if ordered between 4:45-5:45 p.m) just ‘cause the Asian in me can’t pass up a deal. Our eats at Duke’s were fine, but the portions were smaller than expected. And since we ate around the non-Paleo stuff on our plates, there was even less that ended up in our stomachs. 

We started with a teeny arugula salad…

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…and a micro nicoise salad.

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For our entrees, we got the baked fish (which came with a side of risotto)…

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…and the petite filet. This was a case of absolute truth in advertising because the steak was indeed petite; it couldn’t have weighed more than about three ounces, even with a bunch of caramelized onions piled on top.

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I ordered a side of macadamia nut roasted broccolini which, unfortunately, came covered in panko breading.

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Dessert was included in our tasting menus, so at the end of the meal, the server brought over some creme brulee and sorbets. The kids half-heartedly picked at the sweets, but were too busy chatting to even bother much with dessert.

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In the end, I can’t really complain because we were in-and-out of Duke’s in less than an hour, and back on our couch by half past six. Plus, the kids were happy as clams, and none of ‘em turned to pumpkins. We’re totally thankful that D & T are total rockstar parents because their munchkins were super-well-behaved and easy to babysit. (Maybe the kids felt sorry for outnumbering us?)

Now that everyone’s tucked into bed, I’m gonna catch some zzz’s so I’ll be able to deal with the cluster-bleep at the airport tomorrow. Aloha!

Paleo Eats: 11/10/11 (Maui Day #6)

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We’re so sad that our time in paradise is like sands through the hourglass…

(Days of Our Lives shout-out!)

As a result, we packed a lot of fun activities into our second-to-last full day of vacation.

Before heading to Lahaina CrossFit, Fitbomb and I chowed on some cold, leftover mini burgers and mac nuts. You can read about our workout here

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I’m not crushing on Cindy as much as my husband. He likes that she’s a quick and breezy affair, but I think she’s just a bee with an itch. I might, in fact, sort of hate her.

When we came back to our place, we gobbled up the yummy breakfast that D & T had saved for us (fried eggs, sausages, and shredded chicken and bacon)…

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…before heading out with the family to try our hand at paddling in an outrigger canoe.

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Then, we hung out at the beach and took turns snorkeling and making sure our kids didn’t get washed away to the open sea.

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Did I mention all this took place before noon?

We headed back to our place and washed the sand off everyone…

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…before I threw together the ingredients for a make-your-own nori wraps lunch buffet.

This time, I bought regular roasted nori and cut the sheets in half…

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…mashed a bowl of guacamole

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…sliced some local cucumbers…

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…tossed a quick crab salad with canned crab, garlic salt, volcano grind, lime juice, and extra virgin olive oil…

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…and fried Keoki’s Kalua pork.

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For the veggie side dish, I stir-fried some spinach with onions and garlic salt.

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Here’s my lunch:

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After lunch, we all relaxed until dinnertime. We were resting up so everyone would be alert and perky for our date at the Old Lahaina Luau

The girls had never been to a luau before — despite being members of a halau for a number of years in the Bay Area — so even though it was a touristy thing to do, we jumped at the chance to attend.

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Did I mention that there’s an open bar, too? I nursed a tall glass of water all night. I’m wild and kerazy like that.

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We even bumped into S & K, two badass members from Lahaina CrossFit who work/dance at the luau! 

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The nosh is traditional luau fare and includes Kalua pig slow roasted in an imu, the Hawaiian underground oven.

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Since the food is served buffet-style, you can eat relatively Paleo — or at least grain-free — because you choose your own dining adventure.

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Here’s my dinner plate:

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I even ate a couple squares of haupia for dessert. Note to self: I need to develop a Paleo version of this treat.

The dancing and music were awesome and it was so much fun watching the kids mesmerized by the entertainment.

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I’m so tired I’m nodding off at the keyboard. Good night!

Paleo Eats: 11/9/11 (Maui Day #5)

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Egads! Our Hawaiian vacation is almost over! 

Since we’re leaving on Saturday, I tried to cook off a lot of the perishables in our fridge. For breakfast, I fried up two pounds of mini burgers; sautéed cabbage, onions, and Alii mushrooms; and sliced the rest of our tomatoes. I put hubby in charge of mashing up some guacamole and he delivered a big bowl of yumminess, as usual.

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In the morning, we ventured to touristy Old Lahaina Town to act like a bunch of annoying mainlanders.

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We hit the Wo Hing Museum and Banyan Tree Park, and wandered into a bunch of tchotchke shops lining Front Street.

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Avert your eyes! Here’s photographic evidence that we served our kids sugary poison:

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At noon, we stopped at Cilantro Grill to grab some lunch. We split a whole rotisserie chicken and a side salad with extra avocado.

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Afterwards, we came back and lazed by the pool.

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We ate dinner early tonight because we had tickets to see Ulalena, a stage show about Hawaii’s history filled with singing, dancing, and aerialists.

I made a quick crab salad with canned crab, lime juice, seasoned salt, guacamole, and diced avocados…

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…fried some egg omelets, and we assembled our own nori rolls with SeaSnax seaweed sheets.

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Fitbomb also cut up a pineapple for dessert.

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The show was lots of fun and the kids were so excited to take pictures with the actors and dancers. “Mommy, look! Famous people!”

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Good night!

Paleo Eats: 11/8/11 (Maui Day #4)

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Boy, I’m beat. I’m gonna make this post short ‘cause I wanna catch up on my zzz’s. I am on vacation after all…

For breakfast, I didn’t have to cook! Yippee! Fitbomb’s cousin, D, made us a yummy breakfast of fried eggs…

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…sausages…

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…and leftover cabbage and beef stir-fry.

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My measly contribution to the meal was a simple fruit salad.

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Here’s my breakfast plate:

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Even though I was stuffed, I still chowed a couple of Kalua pigs in a blanket (egg omelets).

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An even better treat than a home-cooked meal was that T & D offered to shuttle all the kids to the beach while hubby and I got our WOD on at Lahaina CrossFit.

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The WOD was tough and I slogged through all four rounds in the hot, hot sun.

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Everyone at the box was supportive, friendly, and SUPER FIT. When we arrived, members were practicing butterfly kipping pull ups. Hot damn. I can’t wait to come back on Thursday — but at an earlier time ‘cause I was melting, yo!

After cooling off in the pool with the kids…

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…we drove to Aloha Mixed Plate, one of our regular dining spots, for a casual lunch outdoors. I ordered a side of Kalua Pig, grilled Ono, and a large side salad. 

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The time change and lack of sleep finally caught up with Lil-O this afternoon, so the two of us took a catnap before dinner.

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We ended up at Star Noodle again for dinner and ate basically the same items as the other night (and all the other times we dine here).

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Good night, Paleo pals!

Paleo Eats: 11/7/11 (Maui Day #3)

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Another relaxing day in paradise – made even nicer ‘cause the kids slept in until 6:30 a.m. and more family joined us on vacation.

For breakfast, I made some omelets stuffed with Keoki’s Kalua pork and leftover sautéed spinach and mushrooms. image

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Then, we wandered to the Farmers Market of Maui… 

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…before returning to the beach where Fitbomb and I took turns watching the kids while the other snorkeled.

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Fitbomb’s cousin’s family flew into town to stay with us this afternoon and we were all excited to greet them. The Triple-A’s are the most adorable three girls and my two boys become unbelievably giddy when we all get together.

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At luchtime, I made us a simple lunch of reheated Keoki’s pork lau lau (a traditional Hawaiian dish that consists of pork and a piece of butterfish wrapped in taro leaves), green salad with carrots and tomatoes, and a big bowl o’ chopped-up fruit.

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Afterwards, we hung out poolside before getting ready for our early dinner at Honu Restaurant.

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Wow. Look at that spectacular view from our table…

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Good eats, great view, better company.

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Eating Out Paleo: Honu Restaurant (Lahaina, HI)

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Mala Ocean Tavern is one of our favorite beachfront restaurants in Maui, so we were happy to discover that owner Mark Ellman opened up a new restaurant, Honu, right next door. A bigger restaurant that features local seafood and organic produce— we’re there!

Honu is located in the old Local Motion site but all signs of the former surf shop are long gone.  The space now has beautiful ocean views, exposed beams, high ceilings, and a huge bar.

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The restaurant features local seafood and, er, pizza baked in a 900 F brick oven. There’s a bunch of Paleo-friendly options on the menu if you avoid the pizza and sandwich sections plus the complimentary fried garbanzo beans.

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A couple years ago, I’d only be ordering from those sections and I’d be demanding more beans, please! 

For dinner, we shared a bunch of appetizers and starters because I think it’s more fun to eat that way.

We started with the special soup of the day, butternut squash and cocout… …

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…lamb riblets…

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…fried pig ears (yes, there’s some breading on it)…

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…grilled rock shrimp and asparagus…

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…steamed mussels…

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…and kale salad with seared ahi.

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Yummy bites, great view, and the kids were fed and entertained. Win cubed.

Paleo Eats: 11/6/11 (Maui Day #2)

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The Double-O’s were up before sunrise this morning and I, of course, had stayed up really late blogging the previous night. I don’t always like being right.

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Today, I cooked all our meals in our less than awesome kitchen. We stayed around the property and played in the surf…

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…and splashed in the pool.

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The kitchen tools in our place stink — dull knives, cheap rubber utensils, light aluminum pots and pans, wonky microwave/oven combo unit that sounds like it’s gonna explode every time I press start — so I just pan-fried all our food in a scratched up non-stick skillet. I know I’m sounding like a spoiled brat…fifty lashes with a wet noodle!

For breakfast, I made a cabbage, mushroom, and onion stir-fry and served it with some bratwurst and sliced tomato. 

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After a morning spent on the beach…

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…we returned home and I nuked some Keoki’s Kalua pig and made a salad with greens and tomatoes — all of which was purchased at Costco.

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After lunch, the boys fed the Koi fish in the pond before we went swimming in the pool.

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At dinnertime, I fried some mini burgers seasoned with garlic sea salt

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…stir-fried Alii mushrooms with volcano grind seasoning and lime juice…

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…and sauteed spinach with garlic sea salt.

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Here’s my dinner plate:

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 Another meal where everything (except the spices and cooking fat) was purchased at Costco.

Time to go to sleep!