Providing the people of Hawaii with healthy alternatives in dining, catering, nutrition and wellness.

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Azuki Beans – a traditional bean

azuki beans

Living in Hawaii, we are exposed to many cultures, especially the Japanese culture. As we welcome the New Year in Hawaii, many families  incorporate cultural foods in their celebrations, and in typical ‘Umeke-style, we are focusing on a particular food that is not only used in New Year celebrations, but is tasty as well as healthy for you.

One New Years dish is Sekihan or “red rice,” due to the coloring of the rice when it is cooked with the azuki bean. The azuki beans are cooked with sticky, sweet rice and topped with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds as a garnish. Sekihan is used at celebrations such as New Years, birthdays, weddings, etc. because the red color is symbolic of happiness in Japan.

Let’s look at the azuki bean itself. This small red-brown bean is sweet and nutty and “a nutritional powerhouse, rich in protein, fiber and folic acid” according to the Livestrong website. It’s used in many Japanese dishes like sekihan, as well as made into a paste and added to the center of desserts like mochi and manju. There is also a sweet dessert soup called zenzai, where it can be served either warm or cold.

You’ll see that we’ve added sekihan to our rice selection, if you haven’t tried it yet, give it a go!


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Japanese Soba Salad with a Twist

Soba SaladAt ‘Umeke, we’re known for putting a healthy twist on local favorites. One local favorite that flies off our shelves is the Soba Salad, and since we blogged about the Buckwheat Groat recently, we thought we’d continue the buckwheat trend by talking about our Soba Salad!

Did you know that soba is Japanese for buckwheat? Yup, many of us have eaten this yummy, chewy noodle (either hot or cold) all of our lives and know it’s made of buckwheat, but we probably didn’t know what the buckwheat groat looked like till we blogged about it.

Soba is a great noodle for those who are on a lower carb diet as well as those who just want a healthier noodle alternative (as opposed to spaghetti noodles). However, if you are on a gluten-free diet, Japanese brands of soba noodles are made with some whole wheat flour, so please check the packaging, especially if the noodles are from Japan.

According to the Livestrong website, “Soba noodles are a good source of manganese. Manganese helps you metabolize cholesterol, amino acids and carbohydrates. It also helps to form bones. Soba noodles also contain thiamin. Thiamin helps your body convert food into energy. It’s vital for a healthy brain, muscles, skin and hair.”

At ‘Umeke we offer a traditional cold Soba Salad, and we just added a Cilantro Soba Salad (see photo above). This new twist on the traditional soba salad comes with a cilantro dressing that brightens up the earthy noodle flavor. Cilantro is amazing, it has crazy amounts of vitamins A and K as well as some anti-cancer properties.  So dig in!!!



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Buckwheat Groats

Buckwheat Groat

Sometimes we like to experiment with our brown rice mixes to keep lunch interesting, so some of you may have noticed a new grain in our brown rice mix. 

This new grain is not really a grain at all, but a fruit seed related to rhubarb called BUCKWHEAT GROAT. It’s grain-like, plump like a small tapioca ball and tender with a mild nutty flavor. This complex carb is rich in magnesium and manganese, and is gluten free. Being a complex carb that is fiber-rich, buckwheat groats help promote a healthy digestive system, reduces cholesterol and can regulate blood sugar levels. 

If the term buckwheat sounds familiar (and no, not the character from that tv show about rascal kids), it’s because this is what is used in buckwheat soba. So the next time you come in for a healthy plate lunch, opt for the brown rice / buckwheat groat mix. 

Information provided by http://www.livestrong.com/article/291696-buckwheat-groats-nutrition/

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Amaranth Breakfast Bowl

Amaranth Breakfast BowlAre you tired of oatmeal for your morning hot breakfast cereal? Wanna try something new? How about our NEW Amaranth Breakfast Bowl!

You may be asking yourself, “what’s amaranth?” Good question! Amaranth may be new to some of you so here we go.

Amaranth is a whole grain popular in Central and South American countries and other developing countries around the world. It’s only recently becoming better known here in the United States. According to the Whole Grain Council website, “Amaranth contains more than three times the average amount of calcium and is also high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.” It also has more protein than most other grains. Not to mention that it’s perfect for gluten-free diets.

If you are wondering about the texture, unlike standard (and even steel-cut) oatmeal which can be a little soggy and mushy, amaranth is more like grits, cream of wheat or quinoa. It’s a little grain that slightly “pops” which gives it a bright texture.

What about taste? There’s really no distinct taste, except when you add yummy fresh or dried fruit and honey to the cereal. Amaranth is great that way, you can have a different flavor depending on how you dress it up.

So if you want something new that’s packed full of nutrients, give our Amaranth Breakfast Bowl a try!

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Beet, Parsley & Thyme Raw Salad

Beet salad


We totally get it. Most people are not fans of this root veggie, but our beets be fierce at ‘Umeke, because we only use fresh beets in our raw Beet, Parsley, Thyme Raw Salad. Your tastebuds will awaken with this sweet and slightly tangy raw salad.

Beets are a great source of energy. They are low in calories, but high in natural veggie carbohydrates. Your body processes it more efficiently as opposed to say the doughnut from your morning meeting. Studies have shown that it also helps prevent colon cancer and is high in vitamins and minerals (including iron … ladies …)

Let’s look at the herbs we use in the salad. Most people toss the parsley on the side when it’s used as a garnish on their mac salad, or maybe eat a small amount before tossing it as a natural “breath freshener.” But parsley is a super herb. Did you know that parsley is an anti-inflamatory which helps with joint and muscle pain, supports kidney function, aids in digestion and reduces bloat, and is rich in vitamins C, B 12, K and A.

Thyme is just as amazing as parsley in terms of all the antioxidant properties and levels of vitamins and minerals. In addition, according to The Worlds Healthiest Foods site, thyme has “been shown to have antimicrobial activity against a host of different bacteria and fungi. Staphalococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli and Shigella sonnei are a few of the species against which thyme has been shown to have antibacterial activity.”

The next time you want a quick pick-me-up, side salad to your sandwich, or feel adventurous, try our Beet, Parsley & Thyme Raw Salad. Get it when you see it because we’ve made many beet skeptics into beet converts with this salad and they go FAST!

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‘Umeke’s UltraGreens

UltraGreensIf only we could eat as much green foods as we should. But the reality for some of us is that we either lack the time to either shop or prepare fresh organic greens, question spending the money to buy fresh organic greens, can’t consume the volume needed, or simply, can’t stand the taste of most greens.

Well if you identify with any of the above reasons, you’re in luck! Our ‘Umeke brand UltraGreens is the greens-on-the-go solution for you!!! Our ‘Umeke brand UltraGreens are free of salt, dairy, yeast, corn, preservatives, artificial colors, flavors or fillers. Imagine getting your greens in a tasty drink (just add apple juice).

Besides the nutritional benefits you get from consuming green super foods like kale, spinach, collards, chard, etc, drinking a green drink like UltraGreens gives you a boost of energy, cleans out your blood (detox), balances your body’s PH, and for those of us watching our waistline, “cleans” out your system (heh, if you know what I mean…) and curbs your appetite.

If you are interested in getting green, stop in or call us at 522-7377 and ask for Judi, our resident Supplement Manager.


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Salmon Fried Rice

Our Salmon Fried Rice makes a great addition to your list of grab-and-go options. This tasty alternative to the standard fried rice (i.e. spam, Portuguese sausage and white rice) is usually available only in the morning because they fly out the doors really fast! You can find them next to our baked goods by the registers.

Made with fresh salmon and brown rice, it’s simple yet nutritious. Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acid, vitamin D and selenium, which helps with joint, cognitive, eye, cardiovascular, skin and hair health, and may help with cancer prevention.

Try our Salmon Fried Rice and let us know what you think, cause we already know it’s a winner!