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Enjoy Healthy Choices at Big Island Goodness

March 9, 2018, 11:08 AM HST
* Updated September 8, 10:57 AM
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Big Island Goodness Chef Gytis Litvaitis. PC: Rabindra Singh

Big Island Goodness kale chips. PC: Marla Walters

Big Island Goodness kale chips. PC: Marla Walters

 

Big Island Goodness flavored mac nuts. PC: Marla Walters.

Big Island Goodness flavored mac nuts. PC: Marla Walters.

 

Big Island Goodness flavored mac nuts. PC: Marla Walters.

Big Island Goodness healthy snacks. PC: Marla Walters.

 

Look for the blue banner at Big Island Goodness. PC: Marla Walters.

Look for the blue banner at Big Island Goodness. PC: Marla Walters.

 

Satisfy your sweet tooth at Big Island Goodness. PC: Marla Walters.

Satisfy your sweet tooth at Big Island Goodness. PC: Marla Walters.

Chocolate macaroons from Big Island Goodness. PC: Marla Walters.

Chocolate macaroons from Big Island Goodness. PC: Marla Walters.

 

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Are you a between-meal snacker, or a fan of desserts? Feel guilty when you give in and eat treats that aren’t very nutritious? Have I got a solution for you!

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I found Gytis Litvaitis out at the Maku‘u Market in Hawaiian Beaches doling out samples of snacks under the banner of “Big Island Goodness.”

Now, I’m not a vegan, but I’m a fairly adventurous eater, so thought I’d give his healthy snacks a go. Feeling cautious, I took a small bite of a chocolate macaroon.

As the saying goes:  “Hook, line and sinker.” I bought a box.

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They are a delicious combination of cacao, coconut, dates, apricots, raisins, sea salt and almond/amaretto extract.

We ate them at home for a couple of nights for dessert—and they really “felt” like dessert—rich and decadent.

Big Island Goodness is owned by Rabindra Singh, who used to own a vegetarian restaurant in Toronto, Canada.

“I was cooking vegetarian back when tofu was new,” Singh joked.

I asked him about his biggest challenges in starting a vegan food company on the Big Island.

“You wouldn’t think it,” Singh said, “but finding some local products, like the mac nuts, can be a challenge. Most producers only sell to big companies.”

He also cited the difficulty in obtaining packaging materials, which can mean ordering a pallet from the mainland.

Foods at Big Island Goodness are organic and locally sourced.

Litvaitis, his chef, is a testament to healthy living (check out his series of YouTube videos).

I asked Litvaitis how he ended up becoming a vegan.

“I wanted to improve my well-being mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually,” he said. “The food that I was putting into my mouth started the process of trying to be a better person.”

While I admire his outlook, I’m not that motivated. I was really interested in tasty snacks, to be honest. So, I continued tasting; here are a few of the other delicious items that Big Island Goodness makes:

“Cheezy” Kale Chips These are a winner. I fed my husband one and he had the same reaction: “Mmm—cheesy!” Nope. No cheese. Nutritional yeast, lemon, garlic, and other flavors, all natural, somehow taste remarkably like cheese. The chips are good on their own, but also a nice topper on creamy soups or even as a crouton.

Mac Love Slice This is a raw strawberry macadamia nut cheesecake and I have no idea how it is made, but it will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Sun crackers, also delicious as both a snack or topping a salad.

Flavored mac nuts: smoked paprika, olive oil, smoked chipotle, garlic, cayenne and aminos.

Flavored cashews: lemongrass, ginger, garlic, date.

Flavored almonds: pineapple, tamari, dates, garlic and ginger.

They also make cakes, bread, chutneys, achars, soups, salad, pickles and tempeh.

Intrigued by these healthy snacks? You can find Big Island Goodness’s products at the following locations:

Maku‘u Farmer’s Market: Sundays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., 15-2131 Kea‘au-Pāhoa Road, Pāhoa

Naalehu (Ka‘u) Farmer’s Market: Wednesdays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., 95-5663 Māmalahoa Highway, Na‘alehu

Kea‘au Natural Food Store: 16-586 Old Volcano Road, Ste. 109, Kea‘au

Punalu‘u Bake Shop, Highway 11, Na‘alehu

Bee Boys Honey Shop, 95-5656 Māmalahoa Hwy., Ste. 2, Na‘alehu

Loved By The Sun, 12 Furneaux Lane, Hilo

I laughed about their product placement at Punalu‘u Bake Shop (a sugary, baked-goods paradise). Singh said that their products do very well there—because people like choices, and Big Island Goodness offers healthy ones.

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