The Original Fusion Food

Aida Mollenkamp Easy Healthy Dinner Recipe Shrimp and Vegetable Saimin

I had a revelation this trip: food in Hawaii was fusion long before the term was ever coined.

Sure, some modern dishes are historically Hawaiian and others have been slightly tweaked from a distinct ethnic dish, but a good amount of food in Hawaii is the result of a mash up of numerous cuisines and flavors. One such dish is Saimin: it’s origin dates back to sugar cane plantation days when various immigrants worked and cooked together and saimin reflects all those influences. Saimin has a broth reminiscent of Japanese dashi, uses egg and wheat noodles reminiscent of Chinese chow mein noodles, and is garnished with an assortment of toppings hailing from Chinese, Hawaiian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Filipino cuisines.

My first taste of saimin was a late-night meal at the Hawaiian fast food chain, Zippys, which was forgettable, to say the least. Fortunately, I’ve had better tasting saimin since, but every one has been so MSG-filled that I walk away feeling like I’ve made out with a salt lick. Recently, my friends in Hawaii asked me to craft them modern, homemade, healthier versions of their favorite local grindz (aka only-in-Hawaii foods) and when I asked which to start with, one of them blurted out, Saimin!
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Roasted Sweet Potato and Toasted Sage Dip

Aida Mollenkamp Easy Healthy Snack Recipe Sweet Potato and Toasted Sage Dip

My healthy-eating mantra is if you begin your meal off with a fiber-rich appetizer, you’ll fill up on healthy calories and eat better over the course of the night. So, I put that rule into effect when developing The Biggest Loser Thanksgiving menu and started things off with this Roasted Sweet Potato Dip and Toasted Sage Dip. It’s just a few ingredients yet packs tons of flavor and can accommodate almost any diet as it’s vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, lowfat, and low calorie.


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