Choice Health Bar
1087 Limahana Place, Lahaina Maui Hawaii 96761
I like to think of Choice Health Bar as my food reality check. There are so many things I eat that do not pass as vital fresh nutrient dense food and yet i still put them in my stomach and expect my body to function well. At Choice there is no compromise. Kathyrn Dahm and Emily Kunz have designed their menu of smoothies, acai bowls, juices and health elixers to use seasonal fresh produce, superfoods, housemade almond milk and coconut water, and superfood additives that feed your body and mind.
Sitting in their casual dining room is fun, I perch myself at the bar and peruse the menu that has a playful twist on the names of their drinks, insane maca-chino, wow maui, manGoes coconuts, green buzz bowl, and force field are just a sampling. People sitting on the sofa digging into acai bowls filled with blended frozen fruits, acai, and fruit juice with granola and fresh fruit shout out, “mmmm, the chronic made into the bowl is the bomb.” Translation, you can change up any of the smoothies to be made into an acai bowl and any bowl can be made into a smoothie. In fact Choice welcomes any special orders or customizations.
I was sort of lost among the options, so I started out with the wow maui, a fresh tropical fruit smoothie medley of papaya, pineapple, strawberries, banana and orange juice. Their smoothies are thick, icy cold, and organic. Its morning at Choice, and Kunz is making almond milk to go into The Chronic, a smoothie of hazelnuts, hemp protein, banana, coconut, cacao nibs, vitamineral greens, and mint. It is a green color, and there are lots of nibs and seeds to keep your mouth busy, but the flavor is incredible and satisfying.
Some regulars come in and Dahm asks if she should get some Insane Maca-Chinos going for them. This smoothie comes off of their health elixer menu and is filled with maca, cacao, shilajit, ashwagandha, lucuma, banana, tahitian vanilla, coconut and their almond milk. I dive into a sample the color of cafe au lait, thick and creamy, it tastes like a mocha only better. I ask Dahm what the hell is shilajit, and why should we be eating it? Dahm’s background as former general manager for Honokowai Farmers Market who also managed the wellness section of the store, is also an encyclopedia of superfoods. “Shilajit is nectar of the mountains. It is the most amazing dirt on the planet. Its insane minerals, but not a plant or an animal. It is an ancient medicine like a lot of the other superfoods. We can learn so much from the ancient way of healing using superfoods like spirulina, goji berries, maca, and bee pollen.”
Kunz also formerly worked at the Honokowai Farmers Market, running the produce section. She works with the Maui farmers directly in finding the best produce for Choice, saying, “I buy individually from those who we think are doing it best. Our ultimate goal is to go hyper local, and get produce from the West Side only, but that is not an option yet.”
Dahm explains, “We really got a lot of encouragement from the community. Miranda and Kea of Beeline were customers at the health food store and we would get together and host our own acai bowl throwdown showdowns. This is where the inspiration and excitement for this started. We want to be a magnet for learning.”
A few construction workers come in guided by a regular, who says eating here has been life changing from him. Choice has a “plate lunch” a salad, a healthy grain, and a bowl of soup with a raw dessert for $12. Soup of the day is a red pepper soup, grain is quinoa, and salad is crunchy beet. The newcomers aren’t convinced, Dahm says, what are you hungry for? What does your body feel it needs? She comes up with a new custom item for them, “the hungry man bowl” and throws it together for them. They admit to never eating healthy and having the urge to run to Taco Bell across the street. They finish lunch with a new outlook on cuisine. Kunz says, “Its great that you tried it. You ventured out of your comfort zone. That is a big step. We learn from our customers every day.”
Dahm says, “People ask me if we are going to open up more locations on the mainland. I don’t think you could do it in another location. Are papayas falling into blenders in Seattle? No.”