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Hawaii: Olena Hummus & Healing

'Olena (turmeric) may be added to everyday foods—smoothies, salad dressings and even hummus served up with kohlrabi "crackers."On the central Hamakua Coast there are four Farmers' Markets within 30 miles. Yesterday we hit the Hawaiian Homesteads Farmers' Market in Waimea.

The exciting find of the day was Kai Kaholokai’s vendor booth. Kai is a Native Hawaiian Herbal Practitioner—a man with a gentle spirit, brilliant mind and well-versed in ayurveda. Along with his wife Linda Mae, he runs the Kai Malino Wellness Center in Kapaau and produces herbal healing products using Hawaiian medicinal plants.

Kai and his tinctures and powders.One of these sacred plants is ‘Olena. The root of ‘Olena is about the size of an adult thumb and was likely one of the two dozen or so plants brought to Hawaii by canoe by early voyaging Polynesians. It is best known throughout the world as turmeric—a member of the ginger family and when dried and ground into powder is what gives curry spice mixtures their brilliant yellow color.

Tumeric ('Olena) is a relative of ginger.For centures, turmeric has been cultivated as a dye, as a spice and for medicinal purposes. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin and is one of nature’s most powerful healers. Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties, research continues to reveal turmeric’s promise to cure. It is helpful in treating earaches, sinusitis, bronchitis, colds and asthma, and enhances the immune system by purifying the blood. Here are twenty reasons why you might consider adding turmeric to your diet. Please remember that I am not a doctor and that you should always consult your MD or ND before adding supplements to your diet.

The Kai Malino Wellness Center takes orders online. Kai's website is worth taking a peek at. You just might find the remedy you’ve been looking for! Not that I am looking forward to getting sick, but when I do, I will have his turmeric/awa-kava/chinese ginger/Alaea clay powder mixture on hand to blend with lemon and honey for a speedy recovery.

For everyday immune support I will continue to sneak turmeric into our diet by way of smoothies, salad dressings, dips and atop veggies. Lately I've been hiding it in a basil hummus that I smear on quesadillas to replace the cheese (for our non-dairy boy) and on sandwiches to replace the mayo. Until I get around to writing the recipe down, here is what goes in it: garbanzo beans, sesame seed, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh basil, turmeric and salt.

I'd enjoy hearing from you! Do you cook with or take tumeric regularly? What has been your experience?

Finally, I will end this post with a lovely Hawaiian mele (song) about the flower of the ‘Olena plant. Singing in her effortlessly pure voice is Diana Aki.

Pua `Olena Lyrics

Reader Comments (8)

Gosh Lexie I don't know which was more special - the song or the beautiful, graceful, dance. I don't know why but it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.
I try to sneak turmeric in things all the time, it's also supposed to be really good for your stomach which is reason enough to use it. I wonder if I could grow it here and thereby have a fresh supply which I'm sure is much more potent. Anyway, I generally add it to anything spicy I'm making plus when I make pumpkin seeds I add turmeric, cayenne pepper and cumin and if I look at a cookbook I'll add more Indian spices but I usually forget until too late. I always try to remember what else goes into my Indian curry paste - lots of garlic (brain dead). I don't think this would make it on your boys' top ten list though.
It sounds like you're having the time of your lives, too bad your DH couldn't make it.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaurel

Good morning Laurel! Thanks for the lovely comment and for sharing the ways you use turmeric. I am glad the hula and mele evoked such emotion in you. It did for me, too. I found myself singing the song as I went to bed. I am only half awake this morning. My little guy had bad bad gut problems last night. People have asked for me to blog about where to eat on vacation that is "safe." It is so hard. I just hope it all clears up so that we can enjoy vacation w/o diaper changing 8 times a day. Poor guy. Will give him a little extra turmeric and get back to our basic diet today to soothe his tummy : )

January 31, 2011 | Registered CommenterLexie

Why are we so similar?? LOL I use turmeric all of the time by sneaking it into things as well (including my hummus)!! I also give us all a GI healing herb support mixture that includes turmeric (as well as marshmallow root, cats claw bark, quercetin, slippery elm bark, and ginger root). What a wonderful post, Lex. And I am typing this comment while I am listening to this Diana Aki's beautiful voice. Thanks for sharing!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim @ Cook It Allergy Free

Beautiful song Lexie. So amazing that she sings with such passion about turmeric. Why have so many of us (well, not us, but us being the general public) gotten so far away from our passion for food? Know what I mean? If we were more passionate about our food I believe we'd be a more passionate people. Do I sound crazy?
We use turmeric in tofu scramble (yum!) and our curry dishes. But now that I've read your post I'm clearly going to add it to many more dishes. Happy travels. Hope your littlest babe feels well soon. Thanks for yet another great post.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie

Love this! The music, the herbal practitioner, the Hawaiian flavor and the turmeric. I'm a huge curry fan and one of my first posts back in my early blogging days was about turmeric. I'll email you the link as it has a chicken curry recipe attached. I love turmeric and I love this blog post of yours. We're often on the same page with food, Lexie. We have common likes.
I'm so envious of your visit to Hawaii. I've been all over the place, but never there. Love reading your updates and seriously, I want to take an R & R retreat in the Cowboy Shack. =)

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterglutenfreeforgood

Hi Lexie, I was actually just talking to someone about turmeric. It is supposed to one of the best anti-inflammatory spices. I've been using it in as many foods as possible since I think my son's gut is inflamed...soups, fried rice, roasted cauliflower, beans. It turns foods a funky color sometimes, but it's worth it! Hope you enjoy the rest of your vacation in Hawaii, my favorite place!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeanette

Hey Lexie, I was just reading about tumeric as being one of the best foods for relieving pain in an article in my Natural Awakenings magazine. I had no idea that it was a relative of ginger and looked so much like ginger. Neat. (Ginger was on the list of ingredients that relieve pain, too.) I admit I have never used it myself, so some experimenting is in order. Might have to be sneaky with Mr. GFE. Thanks for sharing everything. Love the song and dancing. Hawaii is very special that way. All the native songs and dance make you happy and relaxed. :-) Hope your little guy is better today. Sending healing hugs to him.


February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShirley @ gfe

I put tumeric in my tuna salad and to enhance the color of my Spanish rice or stewes.

February 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNilha

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