Need a dose of inspiration today? Read this article on Aunty’s Lil Green Hut.
“Dedicated to the Aunties who raised, nurtured, protected, and taught us well… Feeding us from their trees, offering magical remedies, stringing a lei while talking story about Laie’s taro patches, and making you feel like nothing was more important than sharing Aloha under the shade of a mango or ulu tree. Mahalo, dear Aunties.”
On the North Shore of Oahu is a food stand gem draped in plants and flowers. Aunty’s Lil Green Hut is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, serving up organic and gluten-free fare. The Hut has been an integral and healthy part of the community for four years now, but the family-run business has over 10 generations of healing practice. “My 29-year healing and counseling practice is what allowed me to support the truck and the kinds of foods we wanted to offer until we built up a following. It meant working 24/7 but it was worth it. We didn’t want to compromise when it came to organic, local, gluten-free, ethically-raised food. My daughter is highly sensitive to gluten-containing foods, (as are most people even if they don’t know it) so all of our foods are gluten-free and definitely always GMO-free,” says Aunty Aliitasi. “After months of rehabilitating an old bus, we painted our transformed “Hut” by the light of a blue moon 4 yrs ago. We moved the Hut onto a big muddy spot mid-field where we began planting an oasis around it. Everything in or part of it, was obtained via reuse/recycle. We fashioned the feeling of it after our family’s original green hut in Laie. We arrived with a trunk full of plantings, seeds, and a strong variety of noni and many healing elixirs we still make to this day. Using plants and food to heal and nurture has been a 7-generation family practice here on Oahu.”
Aunty’s Lil Green Hut, on the surface, is a secret spot so delicious and charming that it will make you feel like you found buried gold. But if you dig a little deeper, you will find that Aunty’s is actually far more than what meets the eye (and mouth.) Generation after generation, the family based their healing for the community in love and they are continuing the practice today. “Grandma, practitioner of Fofo or la’au lapa’ao and lomilomi, would sell her famous coconut bread and fresh-caught fish on her way to work as head chef in Laie’s 1st restaurant/ bakery. She always planted lemon trees to make her lemon tea. The ‘volunteer’ lemon tree that sprouted up in the lo’i patch in front of the Hut feels like she’s still watching over us. After she got off work, folks would seek her out for her strong healing remedies. She never turned anyone away. They’d leave singing her praises, but she’d never accept credit for any of it.”
The family is an inspiration, a true testament to living a healthy and love-filled life. Get to know more of their beautiful story below.
So! How did it all begin?
Aunty’s Lil Green Hut was an Aloha project. A way for our family to stay in step with one another, continue the practice of giving back to the community and encourage folks to harmonize their well-being with that of the aina (land). Sustainability isn’t just a word for us. I looked around at the generations being distracted by media, technology, and short-lived thrills and felt an urgency to pass onto my daughter the way of our ancestors lived. They were consciously in the present and genuinely cared about the people around them. My parents taught us to see the world as our “village” and to contribute however way we can. I take great pleasure seeing my daughter emulate those same philosophies and the attitude of service.
How local are the ingredients?
As local as the many gardens we maintain right here at the Hut and by co-oping with local organic farmers nearby. Our foods aren’t just organic, they are grown in nutrient dense soil we continually nurture and harvest daily as needed. If we want to add a new dish, we grow it! My mom, who has 10 green-loving thumbs, wouldn’t have it any other way. At 80, her day starts and ends – rain or shine – working in the lo’i patch and gardens, happily scaring off snails.
Your homemade kombucha is amazing! What should kombucha drinkers look for when purchasing kombucha?
It is difficult to maintain quality of probiotic in most commercial kombucha. I’d say, take a sip, then a deep breath. You should feel it oxygenating your cells immediately, as if you can suddenly breathe deeper. If not, the probiotic quality is lacking. There are many ways to brew kombucha. But if the result doesn’t knock your socks off, something essential is missing. I was taught 39 years ago by a master brewer from China to brew first for quality of probiotic, then taste. If you put quality first, taste is naturally there… like most everything in life!
Can you give us a little history of Aunty’s?
I wanted a way for my daughter, parents, my honey and I to experience and grow something together. To give visitors to the North Shore an authentic taste of what it was like for those of us who remember how Aloha was everywhere – and no one had money. Everything was recycled over and over, tied together with bits of anything they could find. They made do with what they had, yet it always felt like a lot when I’d visit my many aunties and uncles. In their homes and yards, we automatically felt protected, surrounded with love, warmth, humor, and generosity. I didn’t want to lose that to commercialism. We set about creating the same kind of experience for those who visit us at our Hut so they’d know “Aloha” isn’t just a word. A hut, anywhere in the world, is the perfect symbol for simplicity; a reminder that we really don’t need much when we have Aloha.
I love that! What is your favorite thing on the menu?
Our Mediterranean entrees, because my daughter makes an amazing babaganoush, and our sprouted live hummus is so unusual. We can’t get it anywhere else and that means we can’t stop eating it ourselves! Green drinks, because we use a wide variety dark greens and herbs, all fresh-picked. And of course, I love our live-cultured foods, especially our kombucha!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Up at 4am, meditation/mindful practice, then run, cook, run, farm, run, serve, talk story, clean… until 8 or 9pm when we all compare notes about the day and the fascinating people we met at the Hut.
What kind of customers do you have?
Wonderful, conscious people excited we’re here as a healthy option and a spot for “chill-vibes” as my daughter and her friends describe us. We love meeting folks from all over the world who are excited to experience the Hawaii we know and love, but also a way of life they love, too.
You are so busy! What is your favorite part of the day?
The moment a satisfied customer says, “Aunty, I love this place. I’m so glad I found it!” I feel just as grateful that we got to meet them, too. They so often open a window into their world and teach us something new, reminding us again that no matter where we live, or in what shape or size hut, we all have so much share.
Thank you for sharing your story, Aunty! Follow Anuty’s Lil Green Hut on Instagram.
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