Oven-roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, aunty’s famous haupia pie… all the ‘ono food your heart could want. Yes, it’s that happy holidays time of year again.
These months are often a blur of family gatherings, festive meals, and celebrating life’s blessings. They are also usually marked by gaining a few pounds, or more. While the occasional indulgence for most people is fine, Aunty Edna Baldado, a registered nurse and long-time health educator for Hui Mālama Ola Nā ‘Ōiwi (Hui Mālama), reminds us that the key to being healthy is maintaining balance. Aunty Edna, who has about 50 years experience in the health field, sat down with us to provide some insight into having healthy talks during the holiday season.
The topic of health is not always a fun one, and in fact is one that is often avoided. You may know that an uncle was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and yet, he’s finishing his fourth cookie. Or you may have a cousin that says time and again, “I like lose 10 pounds,” but she never does anything different. It is hard to watch someone making unhealthy choices, but what can you say or do?
If you have concerns about the health of a loved one, it can be hard to know how to talk to them about it. Aunty Edna put it simply, “It’s basic human nature. If you tell somebody, ‘No, you can’t eat that,’ they’re going to do the opposite. No one likes to be told what not to do.” Instead, Aunty recommends having a conversation about health with your ‘ohana using a talk story approach. “While you’re eating, it’s easy to talk story about what you like, what’s ‘ono,” she says. “Try adding in a thought about what could make that dish healthier and what changes you can make to the recipe.”
Aunty Edna also suggests that people share their personal health stories: “Speaking about our own health challenges and successes can sometimes be more effective in reaching your family or friend.” She recalls one man who told a story about sneaking sugary treats, “His wife had some ice cream in the freezer that he wasn’t allowed to have because of his diabetes. One day she went to have a scoop and the whole thing was empty! She asked her husband about it and he said, ‘No, it wasn’t me.’ A couple of days later the wife overheard her husband laughing with his friend, ‘I wait until she goes to sleep, and then I go to da freezer and I whack da ice cream!’”
That man eventually came to a diabetes management class at Hui Mālama where he met Aunty Edna. He shared his story with the rest of the class. At first, he didn’t take the diabetes seriously, but he kept wondering why his blood glucose numbers were so high. He realized eating all the ice cream was not so funny when it came to his health. He did not want his diabetes and side effects to get worse. Smiling, Aunty shares, “It’s that type of personal story that is so powerful.”
Similar to sharing personal stories, it’s impactful to encourage changes by living a healthier life yourself. Sometimes words are not the way, but seeing your healthy actions may be what some loved ones need to start their own changes. If your family knows you love soda and you cut back on soda, or switch to something healthier, they’ll notice. When you regularly go for a walk before dinner or start a new workout routine, they’ll notice. When it’s dinner time and you make your balanced plate with healthy portions, they’ll notice.
It’s not always easy to make those healthier choices during the holidays. In a time of good company and having fun, many people do not pay attention to what they’re eating. Aunty Edna advises, “Be mindful. Have fun, talk story, enjoy the food, but be mindful of which foods you choose and portion sizes.”
Of course we all know that when your mom, grandma or aunties make you food, you eat it. Aunty agrees, however, she has a trick, “I eat some, but I don’t overindulge. I make my plate and while we talk story, I eat slowly. I still get to eat and talk story with everyone, but I am mindful of how much I eat.”
Health is a serious topic and sometimes a serious conversation is what is needed. Other times, approaching the conversation from a fun, light-hearted angle can make a bigger impact. Aunty Edna encourages everyone to live a healthy lifestyle, “Make healthy choices this holiday season. Eating well, regular physical activity, and being supportive of our ‘ohana in their journeys will help us all to live healthier.”
Hui Mālama Ola Nā ‘Ōiwi is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and wellness of Hawai‘i island. Services are offered island-wide and open to the community. Interested in learning more? Visit HMONO.org or call (808) 969-9220.
Slow Cooker Portuguese Bean Soup
Submitted by Hui Mālama Ola Nā ‘Ōiwi staff
1 cup dried kidney beans
8 oz. Portuguese sausage,
sliced in small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, sliced
3 carrots, halved lengthwise then sliced
1 large potato, chopped
2 cups chopped cabbage or kale
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 1/2 quarts water
1/2 cup elbow macaroni, small
In a small pot, bring 2 qts of water to a boil. Add kidney beans. Return to a boil, turn off heat & cover with lid. Let sit for about 1/2 hour, then drain and remove to a bowl. Saute Portuguese sausage & onion until onion is tender. Place all ingredients (except macaroni) into a 4 qt slow cooker. Cook on low for 10 hours or until vegetables are tender. Skim fat. Add macaroni and allow about 12 min. to cook. Top with more chopped parsley for flavor.
Homemade Turkey Patty
Submitted by Mabel De Silva
1 pound ground turkey
1 bunch green onion
1 small round onion
2 slices of wheat bread
2 tbsp. Hawaiian salt
2 tbsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 cups water
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Hawaiian salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. soy sauce
In a bowl mix all turkey patty ingredients together, then cook in cooking oil until brown.
Use drippings to make brown gravy. Put 3 cups of water in pan. Bring to a boil; add cornstarch, mixing until it gets a little thick. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, black pepper and Hawaiian salt.
Coconut Custard Mochi
Submitted by Marjorie Elia
1/2 cup of butter
2 1/4 cups sugar (granulated)
4 eggs (room temperature)
1 box mochiko (sweet rice flour)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 can coconut milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Beat together butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well.
Add mochiko and baking powder; mix well.
Add wet ingredients, coconut milk and vanilla.
Mix thoroughly until smooth.
Grease and flour 9”x13” pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool and cut.
Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Submitted by Hui Mālama Ola Nā ‘Ōiwi staff
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts, sliced in strips
1 cup seedless grapes, sliced in half
2 tbsp. minced sweet onion
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 – 1 tsp. curry powder
Black pepper to taste
Place chicken, vegetables, and grapes in a large bowl.
Whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry powder, and black pepper.
Pour over salad and toss well.
Allow about 1/2 cup of mixture per sandwich.
Makes 8 sandwiches.