a sweet dash of aloha

In a perfect world, we could all have our cake and eat it too. We could savor chocolate cupcakes and lick every bit of ganache off our fingertips without an ounce of guilt.

In the real world, even before we take that first bite, we often hear the tsk tsks of those ever present sugar police, lecturing us about fat, calories, cholesterol, and glycemic indexes.

A Sweet Dash of Aloha: Guilt-Free Hawai’i Desserts and Snacks (Watermark Publishing, 2011) is a wonderful guide for those of us who’d like to find healthier ways to satisfy our sweet cravings without feeling deprived or compromising taste.

Sweet Dash was assembled by the chefs and faculty of the Kapi’olani Community College Culinary Arts Department, and contains close to 100 delicious recipes, lots of expert tips, nutritional info, and suggestions for maintaining good health.

(l to r): Sweet Dash food photographer Adriana Torres Chong, chef authors Carol Nardello, Alyssa Moreau and Sharon Kobayashi at Whole Foods Market, Kahala (photo by Dawn Sakamoto for Watermark Publishing)

What I like most:

  • Convenient, spiral bound format with color photos of most recipes
  • Entire chapters devoted to gluten free, no refined sugar, egg alternatives, bread, cake, and family-friendly recipes
  • Nutrition Facts table for every recipe
  • List of alternative sweeteners like Stevia, Sucanat, Truvia and Agave syrup, explaining their sources and suggested uses
  • List of Alternate Flours for Gluten-Free Preparations
  • Nutritional Facts for Raw Fruits and Vegetables
  • Chapters addressing heart disease and diabetes myths by a doctor and dietitian.
Monkey Fruits

Although this cookbook was created to appeal to the Hawai’i-style palate, the recipes can be enjoyed by anyone who likes cooking with locally sourced seasonal produce and who has access to a good health food store. Except for a few ingredients like lilikoi (passion fruit), Kula strawberries and Okinawan Sweet Potatoes, I’d be able to get whatever I needed to make any recipe right here in Virginia. And with Farmer’s Market season just around the corner, I’m looking forward to finding new ways to enjoy mangoes, pineapple, strawberries, watermelon, melons and berries while being reminded of home.

Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies with Guava Jelly (photo by Adriana Torres Chong)

Looking for some healthy sweet treats you can share with your children? Some of the great kid-friendly recipes in the book:  Gingery Fruit and Nut Bars, Monkey Fruits, Blueberry Slump, Cranberry-Chocolate Crunch Cookies, and Crispy Rice Squares, a new take on the familiar favorite which calls for maple syrup, natural peanut butter and brown rice crisp cereal.

Gluten-Free Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares (photo by Dawn Sakamoto for Watermark Publishing)
Bliss Balls (photo by Dawn Sakamoto for Watermark Publishing)

Recipes I’m most anxious to try:

  • Quick Morning Glory Muffins
  • Quick Apple-Date Sticky Buns
  • Healthy Applesauce-Spice Cake
  • Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche
  • Amond Thumbprint Cookies
  • Key Lime-Avocado Pie

A Sweet Dash of Aloha just received this year’s Hawai’i Book Publisher’s Association’s Ka Palapala Po’okela Award of Excellence, the top honor in the Cookbooks category:

So many locally published cookbooks are mishmash collections of ‘local food’ recipes. A Sweet Dash of Aloha is a refreshing well-focused, well-written cookbook that offers a new angle on local flavors and ingredients, combining simplicity and clarity with a sophisticated understanding of food, nutrition and health.

Here’s a video featuring two of the book’s chef authors: Alyssa Moreau demonstrates how to make the Key Lime-Avocado Pie, and Carol Nardello demonstrates Gluten Free Lilikoi Bars. Their hosts are Melissa Chang and Ed Morita.

Special Coupon Offer!!

If you order Sweet Dash directly from the publisher using the code MAY12NEWS, you’ll receive 40% off the retail price of $15.95 (+free shipping on orders of $25+), now through May 31, 2012!

More Recipes from the Book

Healthy Applesauce-Spice Cake


Orange Couscous Cake


♥ Cool review of Sweet Dash at Hawaii Book Blog.

I plan to try some of these recipes soon and will report back! ☺


This post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where everyone is invited to share their food related posts (fiction/nonfiction/cookbook/movie reviews, recipes, photos, musings, etc.).


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

34 thoughts on “a sweet dash of aloha

  1. Wow–and so many recipes that would work well in the springform pan (which I’m currently experimenting with!). I’m going to check this out. We’re traveling to Hawaii in July with my extended family and we’ve all been tasked with coming up with a Hawaiian dish to cook in the evening. But really–those desserts just look too good!


  2. The video made this look easy, Jama. I like cooking with couscous, so that final recipe, orange couscous cake, looks divine, as do all the others. Thanks for telling about this.


  3. Yes, please do let us know how you liked the recipes after you try them. This sounds lovely, as does the savory companion “Healthy Hawaiian Cuisine and Lifestyle”.


    1. I miss all the great tropical fruits from Hawai’i — and love the seafood — definitely very healthy stuff.


  4. I NEED this cookbook! Perfect for summer! I am intrigued by the Orange Couscous cake…

    Great post, as usual 😀


  5. Okay, all of those desserts look FANTASTIC. I am much more likely to bake than cook, and I can see that this cookbook has a great baking section. I’ll have to look for it at the library.


  6. Ohhhhh! It all looks great! I really shouldn’t read Weekend Cooking posts at dinner time. 🙂


  7. I have a different avocado pie recipe I use that I got when I lived in Hawaii in the 1970s. It uses a traditional crust and a regular sugar. This sounds like a modern update.


  8. Now I understand what you mean when you noted having your cake and EATING it too! Healthy yet luscious feast, I’m in. Thing is, my husband is no fan of cookbooks. He’d rather watch everything happen on youtube and do his own interpretation of the recipe, using that as guide. Hmmm…. The key lime and avocado thing reminded me of my favorite computer game, SIMS. Hehe. You know you’re a good cook in Sims if you can make this dessert. Hehehe. 🙂


    1. I’ve never heard of SIMS,sounds interesting. So, it seems you’re a virtual cook! There’s no cleaning up after cooking in SIMS, is there? 🙂


Comments are closed.