The Luau: A Hawaiian Feast
Luau parties, or merely luaus for short, are a rich part of Hawaii’s history and it has become very trendy for those in other states to hold luaus of their own, especially during the summer months. Fortunately, for those concerned about their diet, luaus lend themselves to healthy eating as there is no shortage of healthy Hawaiian food. (In fact, it appears that Hawaiians know a thing or two about good food as they enjoy the longest life expectancy than do all of those of the other 49 U.S. states!) Some of the healthiest foods for a luau are presented in the following section.
Healthy Foods For A Luau
Here is a roster of several foods that are frequently served at luaus and that are healthy to eat:
Appetizers and Main Dishes
Poi: Poi is the quintessential luau food. Poi is the thick fluid that is produced when corn is thoroughly mashed. Poi that is minimally diluted by water can be eaten by hand. By adding lots of water during mashing, however, poi can be made much thinner. Thinned poi can be eaten by hand, but guests may find it much easier to eat with a spoon. Whether you prepare thick poi or thin poi is completely up to you as there is no traditional way to make it.
Lomi Salmon: Fish is a healthy food and salmon is one of the healthiest fishes to eat. In addition to salmon, lomi salmon includes tomato and sweet Maui onion, which not only taste good, but also healthy to eat.
Opihi: Opihi are limpets (snails) that are found on Hawaii’s rocky shores. You may need an acquired taste to eat opihi as they may not be for everyone. For those who do enjoy them, however, opihi provide an excellent source of protein.
Fresh Fruit: No luau would be complete without a large selection of fresh, healthy fruit. You simply cannot have too many kinds to choose from. Those fruits typically served at luaus include watermelon, mangos, bananas, grapes (both green and red), cantaloupe, apples, strawberries, and, of course, pineapples, papayas, and coconuts.
Chi-Chi: When you’re planning your luau menu, don’t forget the drinks. One particularly tasty and healthy Hawaiian drink is chi-chi, which is comprised of pineapple juice, cream of coconut, a slice of pineapple, and a cherry. (Note: Some enjoy an alcoholic version of Chi-Chi, which includes vodka. However, for those who are committed to healthy eating, the alcoholic version should be consumed only in moderation, if at all, as alcohol is high in calories.)
Tropical Plantation Ice Tea: Tropical Plantation Ice Tea is regular ice tea with an interesting twist. Specifically, it is ice tea combined with grapefruit juice. Spears of pineapple are added to the drink to give it a nice pineapple flavor.
Punch (Hawaiian-Style): Punch is another favorite luau drink. In a typical recipe, you can make punch by combining orange and pineapple juices, lemon-lime soda (e.g., Sprite), grenadine, and any one or more of several fruits of choice, such as cherries, strawberries, and pineapple.
Banana Guava Pie: Desert and healthy eating are words that generally do not go hand-in-hand, and this also holds true for many luau deserts. However, that does not mean that desert will need to be left off of your luau menu altogether. A popular Hawaiian desert that is healthy and a fan-favorite at many luaus is banana guava pie, which is made from bananas, guava nectar, lemon juice, and a moderate amount of sugar, among other ingredients.
Haupia: Another healthy luau desert is haupia, which is made of coconut milk, whole milk (but low-fat milk can be substituted), cornstarch, vanilla, and a small amount of sugar. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a luau that does not offer haupia.
Kulolo: Kulolo is a classic Hawaiian dessert that is made from thoroughly mashed taro corn and coconut milk. It is thick (such as like brownies) and is typically served in wedges or squares. One warning: if you make kulolo, make a lot of it as it is popular and therefore disappears quickly from the luau desert table.
These are just some of the many healthy foods and drinks that can be served at a luau. No matter what you include on the menu, I wish you the best in pulling off a great luau that will be the hit of the summer season.
J. Lee, Inside An Authentic Hawaiian Luau, The Atlantic: https://www.alohafriendsluau.com/recipes.html
Hawaiian Luau Party Supply, Hawaiian Drink Recipes: https://www.hawaiianluauparty.com/luauparty/tiki-bar-drinks.cfm
Honolulu Advertiser, Hawaii’s life expectancy longest in the nation: https://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2007/Jul/12/ln/FP707120359.html
Polynesian Cultural Center, Hawaiian Luau Food: https://www.polynesia.com/luau/hawaiian-luau-food.html