8 Things I Love To Do On Maui

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It’s getting chilly outside. Instead of complaining about the cold, let’s dream of laying out on a warm, sunny beach out in the middle of the Pacific instead. What do you say?

8 Things I Love To Do on Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

For my fellow dreamers out there (including those of you who are planning a trip to Hawaii), here’s a list of my 8 favorite things to do whenever I’m on Maui. (Confession: this is also the perfect excuse for me to bore you to death with my vacation photos.)

1. EXHALE.

8 Things I Love To Do on Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Seriously. As soon as I get off the plane, I blow out all the air in my lungs—along with all the tension and worries of Real Life. I then proceed to suck in a long, deep breath of sweet vacation air.

Hawaii isn’t New York. Everything’s slower, mellower. (Traffic included.) I don’t fight it. Whenever a bit of stress creeps into my shoulders or neck, I take a deep breath and remember how lucky I am to be here.

2. LOAD UP ON GROCERIES

Dining out every meal on the island can get expensive fast—and finding Paleo-friendly foods on restaurant menus can be a challenge.  You can save a bundle by just cooking breakfast every morning and a few suppers.

8 Things I Love To Do on Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

As soon as we leave the airport, we always hit the Costco and/or Whole Foods to stock up on everything from purple sweet potatoes and fresh pineapple to grass fed meat and farm-fresh eggs. Down to Earth is another great place to stock up on natural foods in Kahului. Produce from the mainland is definitely more expensive, so try to get locally-grown stuff from Kula.

And to replenish throughout the week, we usually head to the Foodland Farms in Lahaina and the (vegan-friendly) Honokawai Farmer’s Market.

3. GO RESTAURANT HUNTING.

Cooking is awesome, but it’s not vacation if you find yourself in the kitchen preparing all your own meals.

8 Things I Love To Do on Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Our restaurant excursions have ranged from special-occasion joints (Mama’s Fish House, Lahaina Grill, Pineapple Grill, Sansei, Honu)…

8 Things I Love To Do on Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…to cheap plate lunch spots (Da KitchenAloha Mixed Plate).

8 Things I Love To Do on Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

8 Things I Love To Do on Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

8 Things I Love To Do on Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Vacation’s the perfect time to visit out-the-way eateries (like The Hali’imaile General Store) and food trucks (like Shark Pit), too.

8 Things I Love To Do on Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We’re not always Paleo-compliant while on vacation, but we’ve found that most places are super-accommodating to dietary restrictions.

For example, longtime readers know that I can’t get enough of Star Noodle – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve eaten there in the few years since it opened. We don’t order from the “noodles” side of the menu, but there’s plenty of other dishes to enjoy. There are gluten-free items, too.

8 Things I Love To Do on Maui by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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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: 11/11/11 (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: 11/7/11 (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: 11/5/11 (Maui Day #1)

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The Nombomb family is officially on vacation!

As is customary for all our trips, Fitbomb was in charge of packing the clothes and electronics and I packed the toiletries and in-flight snacks. Hubby does the bulk of the packing because his skillz are legendary. Case in point: all our crap for a weeklong vacay fit into two carry-ons and two backpacks – one backpack was even tucked inside a carry-on! We each have one change of clothes that we’ll be wearing over and over and over…

In the morning, I crisped some coconut flakes in the toaster oven (300 F for 2-5 minutes) and stored the cooled chips in a LunchBots pico container. When you’re toasting the flakes, watch them like a hawk because they will turn into cinders and ashes in a blink of an eye! 

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Other chow for our plane ride included grass fed Paleo Kits, Primal Pacs, grass fed jerky packets, SeaSnax seaweed, nuts, applesauce, and Lara bars. The place we’re staying at has a kitchen so I also packed garlic sea salt, seasoning sea salt, and volcano grind. I’m not crazy, just prepared.

Even though we were leaving the house in a couple hours, I really wanted to try out our new airtight, reusable silicone cooking and storage bag. Unlike plastic, silicone is totally inert and doesn’t leach any dangerous compounds into your food. Although the bags are labeled for microwave-use, I tested one out in the SousVide Supreme by making scrambled eggs.

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For our preflight breakfast, I ate sous vide scrambled eggs, bacon, leftover sous vide beef tongue, and sliced tomatoes.

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I think it’s obvious I wanted to make sure our bellies were stuffed with fat and protein before our long flight.

We arrived in Maui mid-afternoon and our first pit stop was at the Costco near the airport. We filled our cart with organic eggs, local mushrooms, avocados, Kalua pig, Lau Lau, spinach, purple sweet potatoes, salad greens, ground beef, and fruit. Next, we stopped by the massive Whole Foods and bought some coconut oil, butter, sausages, and bacon.

Here’s a shot of the inside of our fridge:

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By the time we unpacked our things, we were too tired from traveling to make dinner. When I write “we” I’m referring to the adults because our kids were super perky and alert.

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For dinner, we headed to one of our old favorites, Star Noodle.

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When we were last on the island a year ago, we ate at Star Noodle multiple times. Yes, there’s soy, sugar, vegetable oil — and who knows what else — in most of the dishes, but we tried to stay as Paleo as possible. (We’re probably the only folks who have dined at Star Noodle a half-a-dozen times without ever ordering any noodles.)

The hubby and I shared some housemade kimchee…

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…Ahi avo…

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…pan-roasted local mushrooms…

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…pan-roasted Brussels sprouts with kimchee puree…

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…and the rib eye special topped with a tomato salad.

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I’m pooped and gotta catch some zzz’s ‘cause I’ll bet the bank that the Double-O’s will be up at 4:00 a.m. Thankfully, we put ‘em in another bedroom, so hopefully, they won’t wake us up. (Wishful thinking, I know.)

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Fourth Time’s Not the Charm: Mala Ocean Tavern (Lahaina, HI)

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I guess going to Mala for brunch two days in a row was a little too much.  After our meal here this morning, I’ve fallen a little out of love with Mala.   Why, you ask?  Well, we discovered the hard way that if you decide to order things separately (eggs, bacon, etc.), you’ll get ripped off.  For example, I ordered the Great Start Breakfast ($12): 2 eggs cooked to order, hash browns, grilled health bread, jam, butter, and your choice of bacon, prosciutto, or lamb sausage. 

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I chose 2 eggs over medium, lamb sausage, and subbed out the hash browns with some fruit salad (for an additional $2 charge) so my final cost for this breakfast was $14.   Expensive, but a price I’m willing to pay for good food.

Fitbomb didn’t want to the hash browns or bread so he ordered a side of bacon ($7), a side of 2 eggs ($5), and Alii mushrooms ($12). 

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Yes, we should have asked how much the items would cost by themselves (it wasn’t listed on the menu) but we didn’t think his breakfast would be $24!  Next time, we’ll just get the Great Start Breakfast and waste the hash browns and bread.

Plus, we had to wait a long time for our food, our portions were smaller, and our waitress was really ditzy.  Maybe we were cranky because we were leaving Maui but our final experience here left a bad taste in my mouth.

Oh well, all will be forgotten when we return in a year.

Star Noodle, Take Three (Lahaina, HI)

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I’m happy to report that we ate at Star Noodle three times during our stay in West Maui and we didn’t eat noodles once!  We definitely have a crush on this restaurant so we chose it as our last dinner on the island.

I spied Sheldon Simeon in the kitchen (I don’t think he was there our other two times) and wondered if dinner would be even better tonight given his presence. I was happy to say that it was, and the platings were especially nice and polished.

Tonight, the new dishes we ordered were:

Spicy Namasu (cucumber, daikon, and carrot with a spicy, Vietnamese-y vinaigrette):

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Charbroiled Miso Salmon (alas, a tad over-cooked for my taste):

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The oldies but goodies we ordered again were the Ahi Avo, the Rib Eye, Yakitori, Steamed Pork Buns, and Brussels Sprouts.

Fitbomb liked the food so much that he purchased Star Noodle shirts and a baseball cap.  Now he can look like an official Star Noodle waiter!  

Brunch at Mala (Lahaina, HI)

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Yep, this is the third time this week we’ve dined at Mala Ocean Tavern.  This time we came for brunch and the setting and vibe were perfect for a lazy Saturday in paradise.  Before leaving the Bay Area, we had checked the 10-day forecast and had braced ourselves for rain on our last two days here.  Lo and behold, today we have nothing but sun and clear skies.  Woo hoo!

After a lazy morning spent snorkeling at the beach and building sand castles under the direction of a very pitiless taskmaster (5 year-olds are real slave masters), we headed to Mala for some grub.  Here’s what we ordered this time:

Fresh Maui Gold pineapple boat with baby coconuts and balsamic vinegar:

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Teddy’s Loco Moco: Kobe beef patty, 2 eggs fried over easy, green onion, and mushroom gravy.   Fitbomb requested no organic brown rice and the server visibly balked.

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Omelette of the day filled with Kula cherry tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese.  I asked to sub out the hash browns with a small side salad.

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Side of house made lamb sausage:

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I found these patties a tad under-seasoned but I’m a salt fiend.

Our favorite side on the island: BRUSSEL SPROUTS!

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Mala really is one of favorite spots here in West Maui.  We’ll definitely return – maybe one last time tomorrow for brunch!

Make Your Own Paleo Kalua Pork Salad @ Aloha Mixed Plate (Lahaina, HI)

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It’s nearing the end of our weeklong stay in Maui so we’re re-visiting a bunch of our favorite restaurants for second (and third) meals.  Tonight, our kids seemed too punchy to eat out at a restaurant so we opted for take out from Aloha Mixed Plate.  I’m not sure why we were being so selfless.  If our kids are shits we ain’t coming back for another year anyway. 

In all honesty, the food at Aloha Mixed plate is really only mediocre at best.   Most of their items are really sweet (e.g. teriyaki beef) or too tough (e.g. kalbi) but one item that really shines is their kalua pig.  It’s tender, moist, and seasoned just right.   I thought the only way to order it was to get the Hawaiian plate lunch but then you get a bunch of stuff I don’t like (e.g. poi, tough haupia, rice, macaroni salad).   When I called in my order tonight, I learned that you can order just the kalua pig as a side and it would only cost around $5.  As a result, we cobbled together our own Paleo kalua pork salad with some take out items and things in our fridge/freezer.

From Aloha Mixed Plate, we ordered a garden salad (split between Fitbomb and I):

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Three sides of kalua pig (split amongst 3 of us):

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Add some nuked frozen broccoli and sliced avocado and VOILA:

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Tasty, healthy, and cheap Paleo kalua pork salad!