Recipes, News, and what's going on at Living Foods Kauai

What is our microbiome and how do probiotics help?

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New buzz words – microbiome and probiotics. I hear and see them everywhere, but the reality is, there is something significant going on here. So important that the Mayo Clinic published a primer about how physicians might incorporate research on the microbiome into their clinical practice. The Mayo Clinic has stated that,”understanding the basic concepts about the interactions between humans and their microbiome will be as important to clinicians as understanding concepts of genetics or germ theory.” Another highly respected medical research and treatment facility, The Cleveland Clinic, has weighed in with their opinion and they also see the importance of studying and understanding the role of the microbiome and human health.

So what is the microbiome and what are probiotics? Well first of all, the average human has 100 trillion microbes in the gut, which is 10 times more than the number of cells in the human body; hence, the bacteria and fungi known as our microbiome that inhabit our bodies vastly outnumber our human cells. These 100 trillion cells are made up of bacteria, eukaryotes, and viruses and they live in our gut, our whole digestive tract, our reproductive tract, on our skin, and even in our nose!! They weigh in at about 3 pounds total! And are involved in the health of our immune system, digestion, metabolism, appetite, and mental health. Not only do they help us to digest what we eat, in that process of digestion, they produce metabolites such as vitamins and neurotransmitters that our bodies depend on. Our gut is responsible for producing more of the neurotransmitter serotonin than is our brain. The problem is, the modern American diet has changed so much over the years that we don’t consume the microbes that we used to and in turn, are exposed to microbial-killing antibiotics and antimicrobials on a daily basis. Think of all the antibiotics that are prescribed, plus the antibiotics we consume from the meat we eat. On top of that, we are constantly exposed to all the different sources of antimicrobial soaps, hand washes, hand sanitizers, etc.  Another exposure to microbes most Americans don’t get is time spent getting up close and personal with the outdoors by gardening, working in the yard, etc. Those activities expose us to all the different microbes living in the soil. Enter probiotics. It’s a category of foods and supplements we can consume to help re-colonize our microbiome. There are probiotics in pill form that you can get over the counter and in prescription form, but there are also really great foods that contain the healthy micrboes our microbiome needs. Any fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles contain “live-culture” microbes as do cultured foods like yogurt and kefir. You can also maintain a healthy microbiome by consuming kombucha, which is a beverage that begins with a fermented base, called a SCOBY – symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.  It ferments for a period of time and, when it is ready to consume, is a cocktail of live microbes!

So that brings me back to Living Foods and what we have to offer in probiotics. We have lots of different beverages containing healthy microbes including our local Kauai Juices, We have a really great cottage cheese that is organic and contains live cultures, as well as yogurts, sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi. Here is a recipe made with kimchi for a soup that I love! Eat and//or drink any of these foods and you will be giving yourself a daily inoculation of healthy microbes!

To learn more about the microbiome, here are some great articles and websites:








4th of July Recipe Ideas

Independence Day is this Saturday and you know what that means…barbecues and beach parties! If you want to keep it simple, you can always come in for one of our prepared salads to accompany your barbecue items, or you can really wow your guests with one of these simple recipes. Everyone loves our fresh Kauai corn and grilling it is always a tasty option. If a cool refreshing salad is your fancy, then this watermelon concoction is sure to please.

Happy 4th of July and bon appetit!

Corn on the Cob

  • 6 ears of raw corn
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter
  • 1 finely chopped jalapeño
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Simply brush the butter and jalapeño mixture onto corn, wrap in foil and grill. Top off with the finely chopped cilantro.

Watermelon Salad

  • 4 cups cubed watermelon
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup pitted gourmet black olives
  • 1/2 cup of feta

Toss watermelon, basil and olives with 4 tablespoons of balsamic. Sprinkle with feta cheese and chill.



For the past couple years, I have made my best effort to eat gluten free but, since I don’t have celiac disease, I give myself the liberty of eating gluten when the situation calls for it.  Like when there are cookies anywhere within reach.  Definitely my kryptonite.  And unfortunately I haven’t found a gluten free cookie I like, probably because they are all made with a funky flour like rice or corn substituted for wheat flour.  But I did find a recipe on the back of my oatmeal from Trader Joes and it contained NO flour at all, just oats.  So I thought I would try it.  So good!!  Not a replacement for an old fashioned, crispy-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside oatmeal cookie or an oatmeal scotchie from my childhood which, by the way, was mouthwatering for 2 reasons- the butterscotch chips and the fact that no one ever put raisins in oatmeal scotchies, but a whole new experience that is equally as perfect.  So if you’re craving a cookie and you’re trying to keep gluten out of your diet, I highly recommend this recipe.  A couple things I experienced- don’t overcook, 12:00 minutes seemed perfect and I noticed the chocolate chips don’t want to incorporate into the dough, which was very weird.  Almost like a science experiment where the dough repelled the chips but I persevered and overcame by pushing them back in to every scoop I put on the baking sheet.  I’ll be curious to see if anyone else has this problem!!

What is Gluten?

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If you haven’t heard of gluten by now, you have definitely been living under a rock. In Siberia. So what is gluten, why is it so bad, and why do people need to be free of it? I hate the term gluten-free. It sounds like you’re being held hostage by gluten. Why can’t we be gluten-less instead of gluten-free? On the other hand, anyone who has a real problem with gluten probably does feel as if they’re being held hostage because the symptoms are very uncomfortable and can be extremely serious, even life threatening for some.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and spelt, and the hard thing is, these grains are found in almost everything with carbohydrate in it. Although spelt not so much. Even if you try to use grains that don’t sound like these ingredients, you will find yourself eating gluten. Examples are couscous, tabbouli (bulgar), and triticale- these, which are all wheat products. Oats are supposed to be gluten-free but there can be cross-contamination in the facility where they are processed. Confusion. So you need to read labels carefully.

Why is gluten “bad”?

Well there is a condition called celiac disease and the simplest way to explain it is 2 different proteins make up gluten and can be identified by your immune system as invaders. This triggers an immune response that involves the digestive tract and can cause irreversible damage to your intestines over time. The symptoms of celiac disease are pretty severe and there are definitive tests to determine if you have it. The other condition that prompts people to go gluten-free is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This condition is much more vague and subjective but seems to be very real nonetheless. There is no real test for this, the best way to see if you might have it is to eat a gluten-free diet for at least 4 weeks and see how you feel. I did this about a year and a half ago and I did notice a difference but I would say it took about 3 months. My family says it’s all in my head but I have suffered from IBS my whole life and I do feel getting gluten out of my diet helped. The problem is, when I’m home in CA, raising our daughter and eating simply, I do fine eating gluten-free but when I go to Kauai, I can’t wait to try all the newest items at Living Foods and that includes pizzas, sandwiches, pasta, etc., all full of gluten! Fortunately we have a whole gluten-free section in the store filled with all kinds of gluten-free options. We’re even working on a gluten-free pizza crust but my absolute favorite gluten-free items are the crepes in the cafe. They are such a treat and they totally satisfy my craving for an ooey-gooey carbo bomb, especially the ham and melted cheese crepe.

The last thing I’ll say about a gluten-free diet is that it doesn’t mean you will lose weight. As a matter of fact, many people gain weight on gluten-free because, for some reason, they think that as long as a food is gluten-free, they can have as much as they want. The only way to lose weight is to expend more calories through activity than you consume. End of story. The other reason people gain weight is due to the fact that when you remove the grain that has gluten in it, it has to be replaced with something and frequently it is replaced with sugar, highly processed rice, potato, or corn flour, and fat. And because these flours are highly processed, they contain less fiber. So in going gluten-free, be sure to read labels to watch for the amount of fat grams, simple carbs, and calories if weight loss is your goal.

For more info on gluten, here are a few articles with easy to understand explanations and interesting information:

This last link is to a website that promises to list national food establishments/restaurants with gluten-free options but they are still working on it so check back!


Kauai Vacation Activity and Auntie Phoebe’s Marinade Recipe

First, here’s a tourist tip for visitors on the south shore of Kauai. I was on Kauai with our youngest daughter to spend Easter with Jeff, Howard, and the rest of the family. It was great to be back and we had another fun field trip, but this time it wasn’t for the store. Our girls love to go to the Kauai Humane Society! I’ve been to a lot of animal shelters in my time but this is the best. It isn’t sad or depressing – the animals are so well cared for and the staff are very friendly. You can even adopt a dog for the day!! They give the dog a vest to wear so wherever you take them, everyone around sees they are adoptable and the best is taking them to the beach. I highly recommend single guys vacationing or living on Kauai pick out the cutest dog, adopt for the day, and go to the beach. It’s a great way to meet girls and an amazing way to give back to such a beautiful place and a wonderful organization. We weren’t able to do the adopt-for-the-day this time because we had too much going on, but we did spend a lot of time visiting with the dogs.

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We really had to work hard to maintain when we saw these guys! Not only are they brothers, I think they go to the same dentist. Haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. And one of them is named Keith! Ever met a dog-named Keith? And if you’re a feline lover at all, it’s so fun to go into the cattery (sounds creepy but that is what they call it!) to play with the cats. Fell in love with this guy because he was so sweet and loved his tail!! Anyway- going to the humane society doesn’t sound like a vacation activity but it really is on Kauai.

So on to my recipe – I think it’s best on pork and chicken both of which are available at our butcher counter at Living Foods. Our chicken comes from Shelton Farms and they have a really interesting history and story to tell. It is the best chicken I’ve ever had and I love cooking with it because it always seems to come out moist and tender. I think this result has more to do with the chicken than my cooking prowess. It’s hard to take credit for much when your nickname around the house is “Burn Girl.” We also have a great supplier for our pork and their meat seems to ensure a really great result when I cook with it as well. Plus it meets all our standards for quality. It always seems so easy to come up with marinades for beef but I seem to lose my creativity (as if I ever had any) when trying to come up with ideas for pork and chicken. It always seems to be the same – BBQ sauce – a million different types, or teriyaki.  I got the following recipe from my sister who of course is an aunt to our girls and my brother’s girls. Her name is Phoebe or Aunt Phoebe to our kids but on Kauai a better name is Auntie Phoebe. In Hawaii, the terms Auntie and Uncle aren’t just used for direct relations, they are used for neighbors, close friends and long time acquaintances to show respect, communicate endearment, and imply a familial bond. I love when I hear children use the terms because they are loaded with so much love and aloha. And so I’m calling the recipe Auntie Phoebe’s Marinade! She is the most creative cook and never uses a recipe as is. She always tweaks and bends it to fit the occasion. So the recipe she gave me years ago originally called for bourbon but in natural Phoebe fashion, she has decided, and brilliantly so, when on Kauai switch out rum for bourbon to make it more tropical and south-pacific tasting. And what better rum than Koloa Rum distilled right on Kauai and available at Living Foods (shameless plug!).

 Auntie Phoebe’s Marinade

  •  ½ cup Dijon-style mustard
  • ¼ cup plus 2 T bourbon, or rum, or tequila, or whatever!
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup minced scallions

Mix all of the above in a bowl, pour over meat and marinade for at least 2 hours or overnight in fridge. If you try this out, I think it will become one of your go-to recipes. We would love to see a pic on Instagram @livingfoodsmarket! – Liz Sacchini



Long, long ago in a far away land…I was a nanny to 3 kids. I was a 24 year-old college grad looking for an adventure while I was still young enough and had few responsibilities. I found the position through a co-worker at my job and before I knew it, I was off to Switzerland. Zurich to be exact, where I was put in charge of 3 kids, the laundry, various cousins, Saturday tea service, walking Poppy the dog, cleaning both refrigerators every Friday, putting the breakfast spread out every morning, and generally being on call 24 hours a day except Sunday. My day of rest. I lived on the 3rd floor of an amazing home (small castle is more like it) on the banks of Zurichsee or what we would call Lake Zurich. I had the whole 3rd floor to myself with views of the Lindt-Sprungli chocolate factory directly across the lake. Can you imagine a better view? And I swear I’m not making this up. I’m sure the name Lindt is familiar. As in Lindor Balls? They come in different flavors, each flavor with a different colored wrapper. They weren’t available in the US back then, the olden days marked by no cell phones, personal computers, or internet. Cost Plus World Market was just starting to import and expose us to all the foreign goodies from far-flung places but no Lindor Balls or Nutella. So what does this have to do with Nutella?  Within 1 week of arriving, I had discovered 2 new loves, each competing for my attention, adoration, and appetite. I discovered Lindor Balls, the red ones were and still are my favorite, at the kiosk in the small town of Kusnacht where I lived, about 3 miles south of Zurich.

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And Nutella from the shelf in my new home’s pantry. I usually had a small break each afternoon before the kids got home from school so I would walk into town to get a USA Today as it was the easiest way to stay connected to home (remember, no internet) and I would buy a couple Lindor Balls, savoring them on the way home. I quickly became addicted but the good thing was, I only got to eat as many as I bought on my daily trip to town so as long as I managed to use my will power at the Kiosk, I never really over indulged. Nutella, on the other hand, became my nemesis. I was the first one up every morning because I was responsible for putting out the morning breakfast spread and also making the kids their lunches. I woke at 6 am and the first thing I did was start the coffee and put the rolls in the oven. Once those 2 chores were underway, I put out the rest of the breakfast items on the kitchen table for all to enjoy. That included jams, jellies, butter, and Nutella!! I had never had it or even heard of it because it wasn’t in the US yet unlike today where it is EVERYWHERE. I was really intrigued by the fact they considered it a breakfast condiment. I grew up eating the normal breakfast foods of cereal, toast, and the occasional pop tart on school days and then maybe eggs or pancakes on the weekends. But this was a decadent mousse of a chocolate hazelnut spread to smear on a roll at breakfast. Or if you were me, it became one with a spoon which went in my mouth. While standing in the small pantry. With the door partially closed. Numerous times throughout the day. It made peanut butter seem positively gauche. It called my name at all hours of the day. When I returned home from Zurich, it was all I talked about. Plus it helped to explain my new stature. Size large. And I managed to bring some home for all to try so I would be vindicated and they would understand my problem. Good thing I helped make the grocery list we called into the store every week because I could make sure we never ran out. We called in an order of food for the week and it was delivered. I had never heard of this, grocery delivery in the US back then wasn’t common at all, but it’s amazing the things you do while living with a very wealthy family. I knew they could afford a little extra Nutella to feed my new addiction. If the 15 year old daughter could wear designer clothes from Chanel and the like, purchased in boutiques on the Bahnhofstrasse in downtown Zurich, one of the worlds most exclusive and expensive shopping avenues, then I could order extra jars of Nutella. Which brings me to my Living Foods connection- finally! As you may know, we have crepes on our menu…delicious, savory, gluten free crepes. We have them because Jeff and Howard received another recent command from our Daughter #2 after she had been studying in London for a few weeks and had taken time to do a few weekend trips to the likes of Copenhagen, Barcelona, and Stockholm. She said Nutella crepes were on every street corner and that we needed to add them to our repertoire of crepes. I think you know the rest of the story…she is a daughter after my own heart and it really brought the past 27 years full circle. As a matter of fact, this is from my recent visit to see her in London. You would think it was from Asia but it’s from the streets of London, trying to appeal to everyone. The only thing we did differently was added chopped macadamias and bananas to put our Kauai/south pacific twist on the flavor and I think it perfected them. I am always looking for good gluten free dessert options that don’t taste like one big compromise and these crepes are perfect. For more fun facts about Nutella and ideas for how to incorporate it into your life, check out these websites where you can celebrate Nutella, read an authentic Italian blog’s Nutella stories, read all about the man who is responsible for bringing it to the masses and how he died recently, and my favorite because of the title! – Liz Sacchini

Pineapple Express March Coupon

Mahalo for all of your support of Living Foods Gourmet Market and Cafe! Below is our March coupon for Pineapple Express Members. The coupon can only be used for one visit in March, and has no cash value. Please bring a copy of the coupon along with your Pineapple Express card and you will be on your way to great savings! You can download the 10% off coupon here.

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Fieldtrip to Hanalei


A couple weeks ago, Susan and I drove to the north shore for what I would call one of the nicer adventures I’ve had on Kauai. There was no red dirt, no sand, and no clean up involved. Although we did hit the usual commuter traffic. Isn’t it funny that we have commuter traffic on this small island?! Howard and Jeff thought they were escaping the notorious traffic in California. Not so much. On the East side of Kauai is the town of Kapaa. Pronounced Kapa-a with the accent twice: on both a’s. I think Kapaa is Hawaiian for traffic jam. We drove to the workshop of one of the nicest, sweetest woman I’ve ever met on Kauai and she makes soap by hand. We were only slightly challenged directionally which is huge for me. For some reason, it’s easy for me to get turned sideways and upside down on our teeny island and apparently Susan shares the same affliction. With only one wrong turn, we arrived almost on time. I first met Jenny at The Kauai Marathon Expo. She was picking up her race packet and I was working the info booth. She asked me a question about what time she should leave the north shore to get to the start line on time, taking road closures and traffic into consideration. After coming up with what seemed like a reasonable answer, I asked some questions about life on the “other side” of the island, and in doing so, I learned about her soap-making business. The more she told me, the more intrigued I became. Her daughters and her husband are involved and everything is done by hand. I talked to her a little bit about our store, how we like to support local businesses, and asked her to bring in some samples. I was really curious about her product. The marathon came and went and I made sure to tell Jeff about my chance encounter with Jenny and that she might be dropping some soaps by the store. Fast-forward 4 months to the Xmas holidays. It was my first visit back to Kauai since the marathon and there were some beautifully packaged, amazingly scented soaps in my bathroom and by my kitchen sink. Jeff explained that a really friendly woman from Hanalei had brought them in for he and Howard to try. I don’t think he remembered anything from our conversation during the marathon week. But who cares. He agreed to carry the soap and the rest is history! We can’t keep it on the shelves. Or actually the table because the soaps have front and center placement on the table when you first walk in the door. It is so beautifully packaged and the scents, from essential oils, are like music to my nose. Scents like cranberry and fig, orange blossom, lavender mint, and the requisite mango, plumeria, pikake, and various and sundry other scents. If I’ve piqued your interest but you have no plans to travel to our beautiful island, you can find Jenny on Etsy under the brand KopaKauai. And in keeping with our beliefs, it’s all organic! – Liz Sacchini

Getting to Know Acai and Pitaya


I had no idea what these were until our college-age daughters educated me. I had heard of the acai berry but not pitaya, and I had no idea what these had to do with a bowl. I like noodle bowls and rice bowls but acai and pitaya sounded like a fancy name for a bowl of fruit. And a bowl of fruit is fine, but not something that I get all excited about like I would a warm, soothing, steaming bowl of carbs in a salty broth or smothered in a sweet, salty teriyaki. Salty. That excites me. Frozen fruit, not so much. So our middle daughter who goes to school in LA, land of juicing, blending, raw food, yoga, and acai/pitaya bowls, informed us that we were lacking in the bowl arena. She worked at Living Foods last summer and was so irritated we didn’t have acai or pitaya bowls. So what does a father do? He told her to look into it and figure it out. Lo and behold, we had acai bowls on the menu! Then last month at the Fancy Food Show (I love alliteration), we met a vendor from Maui who was selling frozen pitaya pulp to make pitaya bowls. I still had yet to taste either one of these bowls because I live mostly in the Central Valley of CA (where potatoes are a vegetable) while our youngest daughter finishes school. Back to topic. We tasted the pitaya, loved it, and now it’s on our menu as well. Needless to say, our daughter feels vindicated.

I had my first acai bowl a couple weeks ago while I was on Kauai. I’m not one to eat ice cream, sherbet, or smoothies. I have sensitive teeth and those foods are freezing but I also feel like it’s a lot of calories for something that I don’t get to chew. I don’t like to drink a meal, I want to chew. So that’s where these bowls come in.  They have fresh fruit and a granola-like topping that totally satisfied my need to chew. And the frozen acai on the bottom was like ambrosia. Disney word. It was sweet, tart, smooth, and totally delicious. Our daughter said she likes the pitaya even better but I have to wait to try it when I go back at spring break.

So what are acai and pitaya? Well, acai is a berry that grows on a palm tree in the Amazon rainforest. Doesn’t get any more exotic than that. Pitaya, also known as dragon fruit, is a fruit that grows on a cactus mostly found in Nicaragua, or so I’m told. Both contain high amounts of antioxidants, which as I mentioned in the chia article, are responsible for fighting free radicals in our body. Here is a good article on antioxidant activity in our body and the benefits. They are harvested and then processed into a frozen pulp. We buy the frozen pulp and then blend it with coconut milk to make the slushy bottom part of the bowl. The granola mixture goes on next, that is topped with fresh fruit and voila, a pitaya or acai bowl. Seriously yummy, lactose and gluten free, vegan, and can be breakfast, lunch, dessert, or snack. I wouldn’t have it for dinner because it probably wouldn’t compliment my wine. But that’s just me. – Liz Sacchini

Organic vs. Non-GMO

I am Liz Sacchini, the wife of Living Foods owner Jeff Sacchini, the sister of owner Howard Warner, and thus I suppose by default or marriage, another owner of Living Foods!  I also happen to be, by way of University of California at Davis, a retired nutritionist with strong opinions and beliefs on what we should and shouldn’t be eating.  That said, I am also a strong believer in the 80/20 rule.  Make good choices and eat well 80% of the time so you can throw caution to the wind 20% of the time.  My 20% usually starts on Thursday night and slows down Sunday afternoon but this doesn’t mean I don’t make good choices during that time as well!  And so I’ve asked Jeff and Howard (or rather told them) that I would love the chance to periodically express an opinion, of which I have many, on topics relating to Living Foods and our philosophy around good food and good living.  Which brings me to the topic of organic vs. non-GMO.

Jeff, Howard’s wife Susan, and I just attended the West Coast Fancy Food show in SF last week and we had a blast, but I was frustrated with the number of products labeled non-GMO, as if that’s the way to inform consumers a food item is healthy for consumption.  It’s definitely better that products come from non-GMO sources, but it’s far more important to buy organic because organic means so much more.  According to Maxwell Goldberg, author of LivingMaxwell, Your Guide to Organic Food and Drink, organic means grown without the use of:

  1. Synthetic fertilizers
  2. Chemical pesticides and insecticides
  3. Growth hormones or antibiotics

It also means it cannot:

  1. Be irradiated
  2. Contain genetically engineered organisms
  3. Contain genetically modified organisms- known as GMO’s!!!

See his entire article here.  In other words- buy organic and you are also getting non-GMO.  We do the best we can to source organic products and when we can’t, we look for non-GMO.  This is especially important when buying corn, soy, and wheat based food items.  So we found some really cool new products at the show and hope to have them in the store soon!