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Hāmākua Mushroom, Eggplant, and Big Island Beef Lasagna with ricotta, parmesan and fresh mozzarella

This recipe was my first ever lasagna. I was looking for a way to use a lot of Hamakua mushrooms we were gifted along with a large container of ricotta, and of course get my iron fix in with fresh Big Island Beef. I am running out of time in general but trying to at least keep note of the basic of my recipes along with nutrition info so I can track how much protein, iron etc. I am feeding this growing baby oven. So this is a quick and dirty post. Hope you get inspired to make your own Italian creations!

Mushroom, eggplant and beef lasagna with ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella

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Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian


  • 1 32 oz container ricotta cheese or less
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella chopped
  • 4 oz Parmesan cheese grated fresh
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 25 oz jar marinara sauce
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 pounds eggplant sliced thin
  • 1 12oz package lasagna noodles about 14 noodles
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  • Cook mushroom well in a small amount of oil, set aside
  • Slice eggplant, salt, leave for 20 minutes and soak up the salt with a towel.
  • Roast in the oven on baking sheets sprayed with oil for 30 minutes at 350°F, set aside
  • Brown beef in large skillet with chopped onion and garlic. Drain fat. Add mushrooms, diced tomato and 3/4 of the jar of marinara sauce. Cook and add salt and pepper to taste. Add any fresh Italian herbs you have like parsley, basil, oregano, thyme.
  • Boil water for lasagna noodles, preparing them like the package as you do the next step.
  • Mix ricotta, 1/2 the parm and 1/2 the mozz, the eggs, salt and Italian seasoning.
  • Once all ingredients are prepared pour a little of the jar sauce on the bottom of a large baking pan. then over lap with noodles (About 4). Then add meat sauce, eggplant slices, and ricotta.
  • Make another layer with noodles, and repeat meat sauce, eggplant, ricotta. To use up all the ricotta and noodles I made another small baking dish with 2 layers because my large pan isn't that tall. The final layer should end with noodles, a little be of the jar sauce (no meat on top) and the rest of the sprinkled cheese.
  • Bake in oven at 350°F for 45 minutes, let sit for 5-10 minutes and enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Traditional and Easy Beef Chili

This beef and bean chili gets better the longer it simmers and it is even better the next day, but if you are in a pinch it could be ready in as little as 45 minutes of stewing. It goes great served with rice or fresh homemade cornbread. I also love an excuse to use my homegrown green peppers, hot peppers and green onion.

I just found out I am borderline anemic, which is no surprise because probably about 50% of pregnant women are low in iron stores. So inevitably I have to go on iron supplements. But I am really hoping that I can put a little more effort into consciously increasing iron in my diet so I can reduce the amount of iron supplements, and thus those pesky side effects. (Yeah that one, the one that increased fiber helps with).

So, I bought some beef, rounded up some beans and made a big pot of chili. The heme iron from the beef and the non-heme iron from the beans will both have enhanced absorption from the vitamin C in the tomatoes. Just make sure not to put too much cheese on there because calcium inhibits iron absorption.

In a perfect world I would throw lots more veggies in here, green beans and kale and carrots and and and! But my husband would not tolerate such an nontraditional chili so — that’s why this one is simply called Traditional and Easy Beef Chili. Made with many ingredients you are likely to have on hand. Enjoy!

Traditional and Easy Beef Chili

This is a easy, traditional beef chili recipe sure to please any beef and bean lover.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine American


  • 1 pound ground beef grass-fed
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 tbsp chopped garlic
  • ~14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • ~14 oz can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth or chicken, or veggie, whatever you have
  • 3 tbsp chili powder mix
  • 1 medium green onion
  • 2 cans kidney beans rinsed!, or black or pinto beans, or mixture
  • 1 small hot pepper or a few dashes of cayenne, a sprinkle of crushed red pepper, optional of course!
  • 1 large green pepper chopped
  • 2 tsp salt or more to taste, start with 1 1/2 and taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper


  • Brown beef, onion, garlic and 1 tbsp chili powder until beef is cooked through
  • Drain fat if there is excess
  • Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil
  • Turn to low-med heat and simmer 1-1½ hours stiring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to bottom.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve hot over rice with sour cream, green onion, cheese and avocado!
Keyword Beans, Big Island Beef
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Breadfruit Pancakes (Ulu pancakes)

Ripe breadfruit

In Hawaii, ulu is one of those food you should learn to love. This breadfruit pancake recipe is perfect for ripe ulu. Once picked breadfruit have a relatively short shelf life in their “green” or unripe state. After just a few days the flesh becomes mushy and soft and fragrant and sweet. Most recipes feature the green breadfruit as a starch like potato, ulu chips, fries, breadfruit flour, like a potato in soup, cooked in an imu until soft. However, fewer people choose to utilize the ripe breadfruit. I had a roomate that used to make a species of ripe ulu bread. While it was ok fresh and warm I liked it enough but, I found when it got cold I didnt care for it. It’s funny, according to my husband, the opposite is true for my breadfruit pancakes. He doesn’t like my ulu pancakes when they are fresh out of the pan. Instead he prefers them (if at all) when they are cold. I like them both ways. It guess, my point here is that ripe ulu can be somewhat of an acquired taste. It has a somewhat strange aftertaste that is pleasant if you decide that is it pleasant. Haha.

Breadfruit in Hawaii

Breadfruit not only grows easily here, can be found roadside, in gulches, and in tropic forests, but they are abundant. Each can produce 50-150 fruits a year that can range anywhere from 1-11 pounds. Some trees have even been noted as producing up to 700 fruits per year. So really, it is smart to have a small arsenal of ulu recipes for when your neighborhood tree starts going off. For a thorough history of breadfruit in Hawaii see this publication by the College of Tropical Agriculture and Nutrition at the University of Hawaii.

Tips for making breadfruit pancakes

I’ve been working on this breadfruit pancake recipe for a while. Originally, I made these without any added flour. But, they take a really long time to cook and a very very mushy still. So finally I’ve dialed in this recipe to include just a bit of cassava flour. Not tapioca starch, which is much more fine a gummy. Cassava flour is milled straight from shredded and dried cassava. That aside, you can use and flour you’d like. Just make sure you are familiar with how the flour reacts. For example, white rice flour is also very fine and a little gummy. This would have a total different effect that oat flour which is lighter and more airy. I also enjoy using eggs in this recipe for added protein and vitamins. But you could try using flax eggs to keep the recipe vegan.

Ulu Pancakes (Breadfruit Pancakes)

Delicious breadfruit pancakes recipe made with ripe breadfruit, eggs, spices. Can be make gluten-free and dairy free.
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Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American, Hawaiian/Polynesian
Servings 12 pancakes


  • 1 medium-large Breadfruit (Ulu) Very soft & Ripe
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 cup milk, dairy free milk like almond works great
  • 1/2 cup cassava flour or any other flour of choice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 dash nutmeg
  • 1 splash vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder aluminum free!


  • Scoop flesh out of ulu into blender (should be about 3 cups of gooey flesh). Look at your blender's measuring lines on the side. If its more or less you will want to adjust the milk and flour you add.
  • Add eggs, spices, milk, vanilla, baking powder to blender and blend until smooth
  • Remove batter from blender into medium bowl. Add Flour.
  • Heat large pan with coconut oil on medium or medium to low heat
  • Pour pancake batter into pan with heated oil. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side.
  • Pancakes will be a little gooey but as long as they've cooked for about 6 minutes eggs should be cooked through.
Keyword Breadfruit, Breakfast, Dairy-free, Gluten-free flour, Pancakes, Ulu
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Pumpkin & Ginger Beef Stew

It has been a while since I have made this ginger beef stew for my hunny. For some reason I was re-inspired. Maybe it was the fresh shipment of Big Island Beef stew sent to my corner grocery store here in Pāpaʻaloa. I used to make this ginger & squash version of beef stew almost weekly for my hunny. My method is pretty dialed. I hope you find this recipe easy to follow. It is pretty forgiving. The most important part is that you cook the beef long enough. If you use tamari instead of soy sauce, and a gluten-free thickener this recipe is gluten-free and dairy free.

Ingredients for Pumpkin & Ginger Beef Stew

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound grass-fed beef stew meat
  • 3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, sliced in whole, thin rounds
  • 1 medium onion roughly chopped
  • 1-2 inches thick ginger, peeled and chopped in big slices
  • about ½ cup dry red wine
  • ½ medium size tropical winter squash like Kabocha.
  • 2 potatoes, washed, skinned, quartered and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons organic soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • salt and pepper
  • about 2 tablespoons flour or thickener of your choice (I alternate with whatever is closest to reach – tapioca starch, cassava flour, rice flour)
  • fresh herbs of your choice – I use whatever I have growing which right now was rosemary, oregano, stick thyme, and parsley. I skipped the basil because the others were more potent spices when cooked down.
  • 2 Hawaiian chili peppers if desired

(optional: more veggies like red pepper, herbs, green beans, peas, etc).

Steps for Ginger Beef Stew with Pumpkin

  1. Sauté onions, garlic, and ginger until aromatic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot
  2. Add stew meat and stir consistently until the meat starts to brown
  3. Once browned and sticking to bottom, deglaze pot with ¼ cup red wine and scrap brown bits until pot is clean.
  4. add 6 cups of water bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and bring to simmer for about 2 hours, adding more water as need to keep the beef stew submerged.
  6. add the squash in one whole piece and potatoes quartered
  7. simmer another 30-45 minutes until beef begins to fall apart
  8. add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  9. add salt and pepper to taste
  10. stir in fresh herbs and finish for another 10 minutes, making sure beef is tender and easy to cut in half with fork.
  11. Remove some of the broth and taste it for flavor. Then, stir in 1-2 tablespoons flour with a whisk into hot broth to dissolve.
  12. Add flour broth mixture to pot and allow to thicken for a few minutes before removing from heat.

Enjoy over a scoop of rice!

If you like this recipe maybe you will be interested in my Big Island Beef Shepards Pie.





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Paleo Baked Meatballs with Fresh Herbs

On top of spaghetti, All covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, When somebody sneezed. I love this little rhyme, it makes me smile every time I make meatballs. The below baked meatballs recipe was created when I went on a brief paleo diet. It features coconut flour or almond flour instead of wheat flour to thicken the meatballs.

Another special part of this recipe is that they are baked.  I started making my meatballs baked instead of pan-fried because it requires much less attention than constantly turning them in a pan. This means you will plenty of time to prep a nice big salad to accompany your meal 🙂

Also, key to this recipe is the use of a lot of herbs. I think using fresh is the best way to go. I highly recommend growing a few of your herbs own for the amazing difference in flavor and nutrients that these so many recipes benefit from. If you don’t have fresh herbs you can use dried herbs, just scale back to 1-2 teaspoons total depending on the herbs you use and their strength.

I also recommend using grass fed beef.  Look for 100% grass-fed beef that has no unnecessary added antibiotics and hormones.

You can try serving these meatballs with my chunky basil and garlic tomato sauce and manchego cheese. My favorite accompaniment is spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash with pale meatballs and homemade sauce is the perfect dinner to treat your family and friends to. It is gluten-free and includes so many beautiful veggies, nutrients and proteins. Check out my basic cooking instructions for  spaghetti squash. 

Recipe for Paleo Baked Meatballs with Fresh Herbs

Yield: About 15 meatballs


  • 1 pound grass fed beef (or bison!)
  • 1/4 cup onion diced or minced
  • 1 small garlic clove chopped, minced or pressed to preference
  • 1-2 large handfuls of fresh herbs chopped (basil, rosemary, parsley, oregano, etc.)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup organic gluten-free almond flour  or coconut flour for paleo diet (or you can substitute other gluten-free flours or try a flour blend being careful that none of them dominate the flavor too much). Alternatively, you could just use regular white flour.
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or a little more to taste
  • fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In medium bowl, beat egg, add onion, garlic and herbs.
  3. Add ground beef and mix well.
  4. Add flour and mix well (a few heaping tablespoons at a time so that you can mix it evenly).
  5. Form into 1 to 1 and ½ inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets or shallow pans and place in oven.
  6. Turn every 10 minutes for 25-40 minutes until cooked to your tastes (e.x. medium-well).