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

How to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally


This is a topic near and dear to my heart because my husband suffers from White Coat Hypertension. Ever heard of it? It’s the phenomenon that occurs when having your blood pressure taken during a doctor visit. Just being at the appointment can cause anxiety and thus blood pressure to rise. Anyway, Jeff is very disciplined about diet and exercise, other than the occasional Bubba Burger! In fact, most mornings he can be found running 5-7 miles in and around Poipu! As a result of his mostly-good habits, he has rarely needed to go to the doctor. But on the few occasions when a trip to the doctor or hospital is required such as a check-up or stitches from an errant elbow during a basketball game, he is a wreck. He even hates visiting friends or family at the hospital. So funny for a fearless guy!! Well, funny to me but not funny to him. So when he has his blood pressure taken, it’s higher than 120/80, he flips out because his BP is high, and then it goes higher!!  This is obviously not an uncommon problem or it wouldn’t have a name. It might also be genetic as our oldest daughter also suffers from White Coat Hypertension.

How does White Coat Hypertension differ from clinical Hypertension? Clinical Hypertension is where your blood pressure exceeds 120/80 in a non-agitated state. The upper number, which is always the larger number, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle contracts as in a heartbeat, and the lower number measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest, between beats. The upper number is called systolic pressure and the lower is the diastolic.

Which brings me to how you can lower it naturally. According to the Institute of Medicine, most American women consume less than half the recommended amount of potassium, men just a bit more than women. Potassium can lower systolic blood pressure by anywhere from 3-7 points as well as blunt the effects of salt, reduce the risks of kidney stones, and decrease bone loss.

Adults should consume at least 4.7 grams of potassium/day to achieve the above effects and some potassium rich foods include:

  • Bananas
  • Potatoes (include the skin)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Halibut
  • Tuna
  • Tomatoes
  • Oranges and grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe and honeydew

I want to focus on bananas because we carry the best bananas grown on island from Kapaa Banana Company! They are smaller, sometimes half the size, of the bananas seen on the mainland and they’re called apple bananas because they have a faint green apple flavor. They are the perfect size for a snack or a kid’s lunch with no leftover banana to turn brown and mushy. I like to take the really ripe ones, peel them, cut them up into 1 inch segments, and then put each cut up banana in it’s own ziplock bag in the freezer. All ready for smoothies and then I don’t have to add ice, which waters down the taste, to make it thick.

Fun facts about bananas:

  • Mai’a is the Hawaiian word for banana
  • Early Polynesians introduced bananas and they were taboo for women.
  • It was considered bad luck to dream of bananas, to meet a man carrying bananas, or to take them in fishing canoes.
  • Bananas don’t grow on trees, they grow on giant perennial herbs.
  • A bunch of bananas is called a “hand.”
  • They are available year round on Kauai.

Lastly, if you want to learn more about how potassium can lower your blood pressure, help prevent bone loss, and why it’s better to get potassium from foods instead of supplements, here’s a great article that’s easy to understand and is found in one of my frequently read science nerd publications.



Caffeine and Body Fat

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Kind of a loaded title but I can’t think of anyone who isn’t interested in losing, or at least not gaining, body fat! And there is something I learned in school many semesters ago and that is that caffeine, through a fairly simple metabolic process, helps our body mobilize fat and encourages working muscles to use this fat as a fuel source. In other words, while exercising under the influence of caffeine, the body derives a greater percentage of energy from fat than from carbohydrate, which is stored in muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. This works for me because I have to start my day with coffee, I am a morning exerciser, and coffee is a great source of caffeine. So there you have it! So simple. And we, at Living Foods, can help you!!

We buy our coffee unroasted from different islands – Kona coffee from the Big Island of Hawaii, a reserve coffee grown exclusively on the North Shore of Oahu, Peaberry Coffee from Maui, and Kauai Coffee from right here on Kauai. Kauai Coffee, with 3,100 acres and 4 million trees, happens to be the largest coffee plantation in the US!! Anyway, we then roast the beans in our store, bag them, and put our Living Foods labels on them.

We also carry roasted and packaged coffee from Kicking Horse Coffee out of Canada and Roger’s Family Organic from the San Francisco Bay Area.

An interesting fact: if you’ve ever heard of peaberry, it’s a coffee where only one of the beans inside the fruit gets fertilized and grows. Normally two beans grow in the fruit, side by side, which is why coffee beans have a flat side. Not peaberry! It gets its name from its round shape that occurs because it doesn’t grow next to another bean. Normally about 5% of beans harvested are of this form.

A few more interesting facts about coffee and caffeine I’ve come across as I indulge my nerdy science brain that loves to read medical journals and scientific studies are:

After you drink coffee, the caffeine is absorbed in the bloodstream and travels to the brain. From there, it blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which increases the amount of other neurotransmitters, which in turn increases the firing of neurons. This has been shown to improve memory, mood, energy levels (duh), reaction times, and general cognitive function. Who wouldn’t want all that?

  • Coffee contains essential nutrients: Vit B2, Vit B5, manganese, potassium, magnesium, and niacin.
  • Observational studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a 23-50% lower risk of developing Type II diabetes.
  • There appears to be an ingredient in coffee that helps protect against cirrhosis of the liver.
  • In several studies, it has been shown that there is a 32-60% lowered risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in coffee drinkers due directly to the caffeine.
  • Coffee has been found to have protective effects against certain cancers ie. liver and colorectal.
  • And lastly- coffee has been found to be the biggest source of antioxidants in the western diet!!

So brew yourself a cup of coffee and start burning more fat, preventing yucky diseases, and antioxidizing your body!!







My Mango Story


My mango story goes like this: I’ve revealed before that many years ago I was a nanny in Switzerland. I have also mentioned that it was my job to be first out of bed to get the coffee on, make the kid’s lunches, and prepare breakfast. The youngest of my charges was Sascha and he insisted on having a mango in his lunch every day. I had never tried a mango because back then they weren’t shipped around the world. However, the family I worked for had the resources ($) to get these juicy treats year around.  Needless to say, it was love at first bite! It was so hard when I came home because it was a few years before I was able to consistently find mangos in the US.  And then we bought a home on Kauai where mangos grow all over! The trees are so beautiful – big, shaggy, majestic trees that look like the fruit is dripping from it. And mango season is now! It started at the beginning of summer and will continue through about October. We have local mangos every day and we also put them in our smoothies.  So a few reasons to eat mangos, besides the taste, are:

  1. They are rich in prebiotic dietary fiber that is necessary for a healthy microbiome.
  2. They are an excellent source of antioxidants that have been found to protect against colon, breast, leukemia, and prostate cancers.
  3. Mangos are is a good source of vitamin-A, vitamin-C, vitamin-E, and B-6.
  4. They are also an excellent source of potassium, which is an electrolyte that is important in the control of heart rate and blood pressure.

One last fact that I really like is that apparently mango is the fruit least likely to contain pesticide residue. And finally I want to help with cutting up a mango. I had to be taught how to do it many years ago, and I still do it the same way. Click here for video #1 and here for video #2 that show the best methods to cut up a mango. I included the second one because I thought she was hilarious and I had never seen this method. Enjoy, Liz Sacchini!

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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