The Health Nuts
by Jen Russo
Not many restaurants have a nutritionist at the helm, and even fewer boast a staff with Ayurvedic and macrobiotic cooking skills. But Cafe Prana Nui in Haiku is all about being different. Chef Jason Skandunas and nutritionist Jessica Quinn operate out of a little reclaimed food bus, bringing a breath of fresh, healthy air to the local dining scene.
“We found the bus in Honokowai and three months later we were operating,” Skandunas says. “‘Prana’ means life force in Sanskrit, and ‘nui’ means abundant in Hawaiian. Those are the tenets of our cafe. We designed our menu to harmonize with the other restaurants, bring something to the table that others aren’t doing. Lots of local farmers contribute, and we have an incredible amount of community support.”
One of the first thing you notice when ordering is the Dosha chart, posted above the menu. It’s a list of attributes that distinguishes your body as kapha, pitta or vata, key components to understanding Ayurvedic eating. “Your dosha can change from moment to moment,” Quinn explains. “Different ways of cooking food affect your body. The idea is to balance yourself. We are breaking that down for you, and making it part of your experience.”
If all that sounds a little heavy, don’t worry—the idea is to make the menu approachable and to make health food accessible for everyone. “I’m not doing this for the money,” says Skandunas. “I’m sticking with my philosophy of food.”
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE from MauiTime’s January 13 cover story “20 for ’11: Who Matters on Maui?” featuring twenty movers and shakers in art, food and politics who are shaping our island’s future.