Christmas in Hawaii is magical. Many families choose to spend their holiday breaks vacationing in Hawaii. Indeed, it’s a great way to get away from the cold and bustle of the mainland. But while the holidays in Hawaii are great fun, they don’t always feel like, well, the holidays. Hot chocolate isn’t as appealing in 80 degree weather. Plus, many of your favorite holiday classics—apple pie, honey ham, green bean casserole—seem out of place in a tropical climate. And it’s hard to cook for yourself if you’re traveling, especially if you’re interested in organic cooking.
Thankfully, there are a few bright and flavorful dishes you can make that will bring some aloha to your holiday while still preserving the traditions and favorites of old. Here are a few unique Hawaiian foods that we like to incorporate into our holiday classics.
Purple Sweet Potato
Sweet potato casseroles and pies are considered holiday staples in most households. To upgrade the visual appeal of your sweet potato dish and add some aloha to your holiday dinner, try swapping classic orange sweet potatoes with their purple counterparts.
Purple sweet potatoes are an asset to organic cooking in Hawaii because they are so versatile. The purple sweet potato stars in stir-fries, French fries, potato salads, and desserts across the island. They’re slightly more starchy and candy-like than orange sweet potatoes. Thus, they’re perfect for sweet desserts and side dishes. You won’t even have to add the standard layer of marshmallows on top; the flavor of the purple sweet potato is similar to that of a marshmallow. If you’re looking to go the sweet and savory route, substitute purple sweet potatoes for regular white potatoes in garlic mashed potatoes.
There are lots of organic farms on the Big Island of Hawaii that raise pork, including Gingerhill. If you’re into organic cooking and want to have a classic Christmas ham, you will have plenty of options!
However, if you are looking to add a little cultural flare to a classic dish, try serving up Kalua pork. Kalua pork is a pork dish that Native Hawaiians traditionally cooked on celebratory occasions. The word “Kalua” actually refers to a cooking method wherein Hawaiians placed pork in an imu, or underground oven, to slow cook for several hours. The result is salty, smoky, and juicy flavored pork. You probably won’t have access to a traditional imu in Hawaii. However, you can find locally prepared Kalua pork or attempt your own aboveground rendition.
Tart and flavorful, the Surinam cherry is not unlike a cranberry. We have found the Surinam cherry a surprisingly delightful contribution to farm-to-table organic cooking. These small, juicy, bright red fruits make an excellent substitute for cranberries. Instead of buying a drab, canned version of cranberry sauce, make your own Surinam cherry sauce! All you have to do is boil the cherries with water and organic sugar. Cool until they achieve a gelatinous texture. And don’t forget to cut out the seeds before cooking.
If you want to add even more aloha to your Surinam cherry sauce, try adding crushed ginger or turmeric. Oranges and grapefruits are also plentiful on the island and blend well with the tart fruitiness of the Surinam cherry. If you want to cut the sour taste instead of brightening it, try adding a sweet Hawaiian fruit. Pineapple or star fruit are excellent options.
There’s nothing better than a good chocolate pudding around the holidays, but most recipes call for heavy cream and lots of sugar. If you’re looking for a delicious chocolate treat that wont leave you feeling sick for days, try making chocolate pudding with avocado!
We are truly blessed with an abundance of avocados in Hawaii. They are so integral to all of the organic cooking we do here at Gingerhill. Creamy and subtle, avocadoes are great for making sauces, sashimi, dips, and more! Though avocadoes are typically incorporated into savory foods, they complement sweet tastes as well. To make chocolate pudding with an avocado, simply blend the avocado with water, cacao powder, agave, and sea salt to your liking. You can eat it as a pudding or chill it in a piecrust for a unique dessert.
Banana Ice Cream
Pies, cookies, and cakes abound during the holiday season, and lots of baked desserts means lots of ice cream to top them off with. For many people, a slice of pumpkin pie or holiday cake isn’t complete without a scoop of ice cream. People who can’t tolerate dairy often turn to store-bought alternatives, but most are still filled with unhealthy sugars and fats. The healthiest ice cream substitution that you can make is banana ice cream.
Bananas grow extremely well in Hawaii’s rich volcanic soils. From the sweet apple banana to savory Cuban bananas and plantains, bananas are essential for organic cooking in Hawaii. We grow a wide variety of bananas on the farm and are always looking for new ways to incorporate them into organic cooking.
Making ice cream from bananas is simple. Just peel, chop, and freeze the bananas before blending them to a creamy, soft-serve texture. You can add frozen mango and papaya to create a delicious tropical ice cream, or add cacao powder, fresh coconut, and salt for a healthier twist on classic chocolate ice cream. For a super-food boost, try adding Matcha powder.
Because bananas contain potassium, fiber, and clean sugars, they’re far less likely to cause a sugar hangover than regular ice cream.
Pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup are both popular favorites during the holiday season. But it’s hard to make pumpkin based dishes when you’re concerned with local, organic cooking, as there aren’t many people growing pumpkins on the island.
There is, however, an abundance of Kabocha squash growing in Hawaii. Though most Kabocha squash is a deep green on the outside, its inside is quite similar to that of a pumpkin, as is its flavor. Kabocha is thus an excellent substitute for pumpkin. You can substitute Kabocha for fresh pumpkin to make a Kabocha pie, or blend steamed Kabocha to make a hearty “pumpkin” soup. You can even roast them with cinnamon, coconut oil, and a sprinkle of sugar for a clean and healthy holiday dessert.