Alohhhhaaaaa!!! Well, I’m back home finally, after 3 dreamy weeks of Kauai. I had every intention of writing weekly but a couple of things happened. Twice I started and lost my drafts because of the shotty internet connection at the resort and after the last time I couldn’t risk putting in that amount of time to only start again. So here I am re-writing for the third time and trying to piece back together my last two weeks of vacation.
I want to start with talking about the farmers markets on Kauai. We spent a good amount of time shopping and being entertained at them, and they really make the island interesting. Six days a week you can find a farmers market on the island. Many of the same vendors participate in all of them, traveling around the island to sell their produce, baked goods, unique grocery items, and crafts. I’ve been to a farmers market before on Maui, and also here in Tacoma but until this trip to Kauai I didn’t truly learn to appreciate them…more on that in a minute.
We started our second week with a trip to the FM in Koloa Town, about a 5 min drive from Poipu, where we were staying. This particular market is every Monday and hosts mostly fruits and veggies, some flowers and a few baked goods. Grandma and Grandpa were familiar with this market and made it clear that I needed to have a shopping list in hand and that we needed to arrive early. In all of my previous FM experiences I had never gone with a list, or been concerned about my arrival time, but they had been there before and seemed pretty certain that these things were important. So the night before I made my list for the week and we planned on arriving at 11:30, a half hour before it started.
The market itself was in the parking lot of a small baseball field. When we arrived the parking lot just had a few cars and a barricade made from yellow no crossing tape and two buckets. By 11:45 the parking lot was completely full, the crossing tape was down and people had started wandering thru the market “window” shopping. We went ahead and followed and I quickly entered into Produce Paradise…
Promptly at 12:00 a very loud horn sounded and it was like seeing pirañas attacking in bloody water…seriously…people were in a frenzy pushing their way into the tables, grabbing their items, waving their money and collecting their goods. I caught on quickly and knew exactly what vendors I was going to buy from because I had been scoping it out along with everyone else beforehand. This is where the shopping list came in very handy. The whole experience of actually shopping only took 7 minutes. That is the fastest I have ever shopped for anything! By 12:10 we were back in the car and heading out for lunch.
After we got back to the resort I was looking at the exquisite color and noticing the fragrant aroma of everything as I was putting it away. I could literally smell my radishes thru the bag. At that moment it hit me what a farmers market is really about. It’s the connect between you and the farmer. I started thinking about how the very people that I was purchasing from were the people who planted, harvested, transported and sold the bunch of cilantro in my hand. As I started looking at everything else I became appreciative of the labor and love that went into the growth of those very items. I planted my first garden with kiddo last summer. We spent every night outside watering, weeding, and nurturing our little plants. It was time very well spent together and the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when harvesting those babies and biting into our first little tomatoes was like none other. By supporting the farmers market earlier that day I was supporting a family, not a big name grocery store. I could make eye contact with the very person ( and some of their children) who nurtured the food that I was going to be eating that would nurture me. It really was something, and I made the commitment right then to shop at my farmers markets at home more often.
Here is some info on the farmers market schedule all over the island. We went to the Monday Koloa Market (above) the Wednesday Kukuiula Market and the Saturday Kauai Community College Market. They were all wonderful and slightly different. I would absolutely recommend checking them out if you visit the island.
Now the food….
So instead of boring you with all the things we ate over a two week period I’ll highlight a few of my favorite meals instead….
- The Vegan Pizza at Merriman’s Gourmet Pizza and Burgers
- Brick oven, Macadamia Nut “Cheese”, red sauce, wild mushrooms, greens = WINNER!! We actually ate this twice. They also subbed the macnut cheese on the Margherita Pizza for the mozzarella for us too!
- Veggie Sandwich from Kauai Food Truck
- Not on the menu, but I asked for a veggie option. Full of fresh and tasty veggies like sprouts, tomato, avocado and onions. Top if off with a smoothie from the Loco Coco Shaved Ice truck next door and you are set!
- Veggie Hotdogs from the world famous Puka Dogs
- Anthony Bourdain and other “foodies” have experienced a Puka Dog and loved it. With add on’s like coconut relish and lilikoi mustard you know you are in for an experience. Bonus…Non GMO veggie dogs and you can order fresh (like you can watch them squeeze the lemons) lemonade with 1/2 or full sugar.
- Veggie Burrito from Mariachi’s in Kaapa
- Claimed to be the best Mexican food in Kauai…it was pretty darn good and the tomatillo sauce took it to a whole new level.
- Bob’s Redmill Instant Oats (seriously though!)
- Bought this on a whim, added some fresh fruit and BAM! A hearty and delicious breakfast made in 2 minutes that kept me full thru my first paddle boarding experience.
- Macnut Crusted Coconut Milk Tofu from Caffe Coco in Kapaa
- A menu that can make anything on it veganized…yes please!! Bonus was that it was incredibly delicious and our service was some of the best that we experienced.
- Taro Burger and GIGANTIC pickle from Bubba’s Burgers
- I love pickles, kiddo loves pickles…it was crispy and tasted just right! The Taro burger had a nice texture, made with a lot of pinto beans and seasoned very well.
- Acai Bowl from our hotel
- Glad I didn’t find this until literally the day before we left…
- Curried Tofu Wrap from Olympic Cafe
- This place scored big again for us! It comes with chicken on the menu but they were happy to sub Tofu for me. We could have literally eaten every meal there. So many choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all vegan friendly.
We did our usual dinners in as well throughout the last two weeks. Mostly stir fry with rice and veggies, pasta with red sauce, tacos, grilled pineapple and veggie burgers and sandwiches and leftovers for lunch. I made tofu scramble a couple times for breakfast but mostly stuck with smoothies.
I did make some delicious homemade Pina Coladas with a can of coconut milk, fresh pineapple, coconut rum, ice and little agave syrup. We had those a few nights while cooking dinner and man were they tasty! I can’t wait to make them at home for our next shindig.
What I learned eating a whole foods plant based diet on this trip is that everywhere I went I had options, and not just a boring salad. I ate some of the best food I have had in a long time. Everything tasted super fresh, was full of vibrant color and looked so appetizing. We introduced the grandparents to some new dishes as well and while they are not vegan, they did enjoy a lot of the same foods we were eating and I think were pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was. And let me be clear…I did indulge quite a bit. More so the second and third week. I had Bloody Mary’s a few mornings, french fries and onion rings a couple of times, chips and guacamole way too may times, beer and Mai Tai’s too. The great thing is, because I eat balanced, whole foods the majority of the time I only gained a few pounds over 3 weeks that I will easily shed over the next week of being home. I never felt sick or bloated and I stayed relatively active for most of the trip.
Besides the food….
I did want to mention a few of the things that we did while we were on the island that were pretty cool to experience with kiddo.
- Paddle Boarding- We rented two and Hunny Bunny took Kiddo out on his while I had my own. Poipu Beach is on a relatively protected cove so we payed attention to the surf and talked to the rental place before taking them out to make sure conditions were good for first timers and a toddler riding. We put kiddo in a life jacket and he sat happily on the board as my husband paddled around with him. It was incredibly fun and very easy. I was standing up by the second day and having a ball. Check out Kauai Beach Boys if you are staying near Poipu.
- Waimea Canyon– This was a totally unplanned trip. Hunny Bunny and I went on our honeymoon 5 years ago and loved it, but we were’t thinking that kiddo would get much enjoyment out of it. He declared that he wanted to see the big canyon when he heard the grandparents talking about going so we decided to drive up and check it out again. Our last trip there was in late September so it was pretty dry and barren, this time it was painted with luscious greens and a huge waterfall was visible to the northwest of the lookout that we were at. Kiddo did great, and while he wasn’t blown away by any stretch, he had fun and it was cool to get pictures up there with him.
- Kauai Coffee– Another place I didn’t think kiddo would really care for, but he actually really enjoyed. There is a really nice covered tasting area that has a concession stand selling ice cream, sandwiches, coffee drinks and other snacks. It’s situated on patio that overlooks acres and acres of coffee trees and beyond those you can see all the way to the ocean. It really is beautiful. After getting our fill of coffee we went to check out the self guided tour of the plantation. Kiddo loved seeing the scarecrows and harvesting equipment along the path. We got to check it out and he got to blow off some energy.
- Kilohana Plantation Estate– I mentioned this in the week 1 post, but it is definitely worth mentioning again…the train ride was super fun, especially for kiddo, but the best part is feeding the animals along the way. Here’s a bonus! If you are traveling with grandparents or without kids, there is a tasting room for Koloa Rum right on sight that does rum tasting every hour. You can get off the train and enjoy some really fantastic rum! The train ride had several people riding without kids, it really is fun for all ages.
- Anahola Beach– This beach now has a special place in my heart. The story of the beach is really beautiful and has some pretty significant meaning to the grandparents. They invited us to come along with them (it’s a bit of a drive up the east side of the island, just pasted Kapaa) and I’m so glad we did. It a half moon shaped bay of crystal clear blue water, white sandy beach and lush greenery. To the north you can see gorgeous mountains covered in green and it looks straight out of a movie set. I found some really unique coral pieces and kiddo found a bunch of coconuts that had washed up on the beach. There are lifeguards on duty, picnic tables and bathrooms. It appeared to have some great snorkeling too.
We had an amazing trip. Honestly, most of our time was spent at the pool and the beach. We did a little snorkeling, kiddo mastered the boogie board, hunny bunny got to play golf, I had a massage, and we celebrated our 10 year anniversary. There were lasting memories made with the grandparents and we are looking forward to coming back again in a few years. Being able to eat most of our meals in our room was great. It allowed time for us to connect a lot more, spend more time playing and less time trying to “get ready” to go out. Most nights we ate in our PJ’s actually 🙂 This was our first major vacation on a whole foods plant based diet and I would call it a major success. We ate healthy, delicious food and had no trouble eating out. This lifestyle is easy to maintain at home and while on vacation.
I hope to leave you inspired to try something new…maybe next time you eat out at your favorite restaurant look for something plant based or order something you really love without the meat. Or maybe you might consider picking up a book on how eating a whole foods plant based diet can literally change your life and health within a week, or possibly checking out Netflix and the abundance of documentaries on this lifestyle. Now that you have seen our family do it for 3 weeks on vacation you might consider trying it in the comfort of your home for a few days or even a week…I’m a resource if you have questions! Feel free to email me or leave a comment below! Thanks for reading!!
I’ll leave you with a few more of my favorite pics from our trip…