This year, the Plantd team were lucky enough to be invited to visit the Maui Moku Roots operation. And believe us – it’s more than just an awesome cafe. The owners Alexa and Erica were kind enough to show us behind the scenes, giving us a tour of the farm on which they grow an abundance of produce that serves the cafe. These guys are all about zero-waste, so all unused food scraps are returned to the soil as compost. We left this experience not only impressed but absolutely inspired, and we just had to share it with you!
It all begins at Alexa and her husband Bill’s farm Mala ‘Akala, located only 6 miles from the cafe in picturesque Launiupoko. Our tour of the farm began at the lush top garden and then moved through the lower garden beds (stopping for a quick cuddle with their pet chickens on the way through). We wandered in awe through papaya trees, baby pineapples, coconut-infused pitaya, sweet potato, taro, a rich herb garden, and so much more. Bill and Alexa were kind enough to treat us to the fresh, smooth and sweet flavour of hand-picked bananas fresh from the tree – yum!
These bananas are organically home-grown, so it would be an absolute shame to waste even the smallest bit! For the creative staff at Moku Roots, making the most of our natural resources is a large part of their philosophy. This is especially true for produce that takes time, energy, and resources to grow and transport – which is why they transform the banana skin waste into delicious Banana Peel Pulled Pork!
The Moku Roots team go to great lengths in order to live more sustainably. Other examples of this include using the sacred Hawaiian ti leaf as natural packaging to wrap up goodies-to-go, sipping smoothies from papaya stems, and serving meals in Coconut Bowls! We’ve left feeling inspired and empowered to make a change in our own lives. What’s more, their farm is close to becoming entirely solar powered, and all food travels just 6 miles from farm to table. It encourages us to become more aware of where our food comes from, and to ensure that we waste as little of our well-travelled produce as possible!
The sustainability of this operation is incredibly impressive, but what about the food? From plant-based burgers to burritos, fluffy pancakes to falafels, fresh salads and a plethora of other options, you’re guaranteed to leave feeling healthy, happy, and satisfied. We’d start some mornings with a cold-brewed coffee with a dash of home-made macadamia milk, and finish with a chocolate brownie or fruit popsicle – ahh, bliss.
Moku Roots requires a serious commitment to run. Not only do they work hard to produce awe-inspiring specials and seasonal dishes, but they also undertake a tonne of work behind-the-scenes work to ensure that their beautiful farm continues to flourish. Moku Roots deserves the support of the local community and tourists, and a little thank you for leading by example in demonstrating how our cafe culture can continue to improve. In return for your support, you will be greeted with smiles from ear to ear, relaxing Hawaiian vibes, and an amazingly appetising experience.
Pay them a visit on a significant day, and they might surprise you with a menu special – we only just missed their “Cinnamom Scroll” for Mother’s Day. We did, however, take some obligatory snaps of some of the dishes that we ate to share with you. Some standouts included anything with avocado, the falafel salad (ask for extra falafel as you will want more), the plant-based tarro burger with a fresh burst of sweet pineapple, and a noodle special that was made out of coconut flesh.
We managed to convince the Moku Roots team to allow us to share their secret Banana Peel Pulled Pork recipe with you. Just a hint: this recipe works best with bananas that are ripe, but not too ripe – if they are too ripe (think banana bread ripe), the peels may fall apart before the second step.
1. Wash organic bananas with peels still intact
2. Peel bananas and either freeze or eat bananas
3. Lightly scrape the white part out of the inside of the peel (the part that was touching banana)
4. Thinly slice the peel into long very skinny strips (about 1-2 mm wide), or run the prongs of a fork through the peel to separate it into strips
5. Cut strips into roughly 1″ long sections
6. Marinate in your favorite BBQ sauce or marinade overnight
7. Sauté up in a lightly oiled pan on medium/high heat, tossing frequently for a few minutes
8. Serve as you please: as a burrito, with fried rice, on top of a salad, with avocado, with noodles, on a bun with coleslaw, on potato salad – the possibilities are endless!