Maui Mandy

Very often I come across blogs that I like to read on a regular basis, but it’s not very often that I come across blogs that actually inspire me to do something with my life. That’s the case with The Grains of Paradise, run by Amanda Cansler, who in these few short weeks I feel like has become a good friend to me! This Maui girl is truly an example of balance in her health and lifestyle. Active everyday with surfing, hiking, or taking a brisk walk along the beach, she also doesn’t confine herself to eating 100% of anything. This aspiring raw vegan foodist knows that you can’t limit yourself to just vegetables, avocados and fruit. Although she focuses a majority of her meals on high raw foods, she also drinks her favorite wine, indulges in tacos when she pleases, enjoys cheese pizza and doesn’t sweat it. And I love that. So many blogs that I read are very adamant about following rules and things either being black or white. Rules are important, yes, especially when it comes to your health but living in the “either this or that” mentality is not. So let me introduce you to Amanda Cansler, a true inspiration who I hope to meet one day if I ever end up vacationing in Maui again 🙂

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Hi Mandy. Thanks so much for contributing to Pastries & Bacon! Your beautiful blog, The Grains of Paradise, is so  inspiring to me since you live in gorgeous Hawaii and you lead such a healthy and balanced lifestyle. In fact, reading about all your surfing and outdoor activities has motivated me to get my lazy butt off the couch and start being more active – just a little something every day 🙂 And I can’t wait to come to Hawaii sometime soon, it’s been waaay too long since I have been there!

Thank you so much Melissa! I’m still very new to the “Blog World” so being able to contribute to your awesome blog, “Pastries & Bacon” is such an honor! I’m so happy to hear that The Grains of Paradise has helped inspire you to enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle!

Where are you originally from and how did you wind up in beautiful Hawaii? I was born in Los Angeles, California. When I was around 3 yrs old my parents separated and my younger sister and I split our time between my mother’s house in the San Fransisco Bay area and my Dad’s beach house in Ventura County. I LOVED the ocean and the laid back lifestyle the beach house had to offer. So, when it was time for me to go to college I chose my school according to how far south and how far west I could get without paying out of state tuition. San Diego here I come!!
I was an avid dancer/cheerleader for 8 yrs prior to that and had planned on trying out for the San Diego Chargers Girls Squad once I settled in SD. Well, this never happened… My first semester at SDSU one of my classes was “surfing” ( I’m not kidding you, this was actually a 1 credit course! ) I got an A+ ( funny!) and I ended up trading in my pom poms for a wetsuit and surfboard and the rest is history….

Fast forward 5 years….the guy I was dating at the time was a Australian pilot and he was offered a job to fly island hoppers between American Samoa and The Kingdom of Tonga. We were both surfers and looking for some adventure so he took the job in Pago Pago and I followed him down there 2 months later. That was the end of my days on the “Mainland”.

Well…. Samoa didn’t work out for me. The last thing I wanted to do was go back to California at the time so I bought a one way ticket to Maui instead. I’ve wanted to live in Hawaii for as long as I can remember and I figured this was the perfect time to do it. I was 22 and I had no attachments so I took a leap of faith and I did it ( all by myself! ) 10 years later….I’m still here and I’m still surfing:-)

What’s a typical day for you like? Do you usually surf before work or do you save that for the weekend? I manage a large Art Gallery in Lahaina. Somedays I work at night and other days I work in the morning. So, it’s mix. I prefer to surf in the morning because this is ( usually ) when the wind is calm. However, if the surf is up I’ll bring my board to work with me and surf after work. I work right across the street from a great surf break so it’s pretty easy. There is no waiting for weekends in Hawaii. When the surf is up, you’ve got to be on it!

What’s your daily uniform? Is it pretty much swimsuits all year round? You know what that’s a funny question! Like I said, I manage a gallery so my daily attire is a lot of black, high heels, nice dresses and jewelry. You can imagine how funny I look pulling up to a surfbreak after work and changing into my bathing suit! On the weekends it’s all about bikini’s, Rip Curl sundresses and my slippers ( flops )!! I seriously think I have about 20 bikinis. I rarely wear a top and bottom that actually match each other. I just grab whatever and go!

What’s your favorite outdoor activity right now that you find yourself doing every week on a consistent basis? Well, besides surfing ( which can get inconsistent out here in the summer months ) the other outdoor activity I love is Stand Up Paddle Boarding. SUP boarding ( as the locals call it ) started years ago in Hawaii. It involves a very large, thick surfboard and a long carbon or wood paddle. The idea is to stand up on the board and use the paddle to move through the water. You can SUP on flat days and paddle “Down Wind” or you can Stand Up paddle into waves and then surf them. I’ve noticed in the last years the amount of SUP boarders has increased considerably and I finally broke down and bought one early Spring( they are pretty pricey! ). I am so happy I did! It’s great for flat months ( like August!!) and it can get you in ripping shape! It works your whole core as you try and balance on the water so I’ve noticed a huge difference in my abdominal muscles just in the last few months from using it! Gotta love that!

How would you describe your diet/eating lifestyle?
I’m a wannabe Vegan LOL!! No, seriously… In reality I’m proud vegetarian for over 20 years. However, I’m fascinated with the raw food and vegan movement and would love to move into that more someday. I’m very lactose intolerant so over the years I’ve had to decrease my dairy intake. I’m having a difficult time giving up cheese. I think this is really the only thing holding me back from being a full blown vegan today. As for the other dairy products like milk, yogurt and ice cream… I think there are plenty of great vegan substitutes out there now so I don’t miss these items anymore. However, I have yet to meet a vegan cheese that can do the same for me.

As for my eating lifestyle, I give myself a lot of space. I know it’s cliche but moderation is key. If I want a big gooey dessert or nachos I’m going to eat it. I just don’t do it everyday or even every week but when I do splurge I don’t worry about it one bit!

What are some kitchen food items that you stock up on every week? I am a huge supporter of the morning “Green Smoothie” so I would say that I stock up on a lot of Kale, Spinach, Almond Milk and Coconut water. I also LOVE quinoa, Lemons/Limes, Avocados, goat cheese, won ton wrappers, AK-Mak Crackers, Kalamata olives and WINE!! I also have a garden so I eat a lot of herbs, tomatoes and chilies. I’m a hot pepper freak! I’m currently growing 6 different varieties.

Favorite cookbook at the moment? Heidi Swanson’s, “Super Natural Cooking”. She’s also the author of www.101cookbooks.com I love her style. Her recipes are based on vegetarian, whole and seasonal ingredients. Her photographs are gorgeous too!

Favorite recipe? I’m obsessed with Pot Stickers. I make huge batches at a time and then freeze them for quick dinners. Recently I’ve been making a lot of simple “Indian Dim Sum” inspired from a recipe in Monica Bhide’s book “Modern Spice” I altered her recipe to make a vegan version. I also make Asian versions stuffed with Tofu, shittaki mushrooms, chard and carrots. Pot Stckers are great….there are no rules so stuff them with what ever you want!

Favorite pair of flip flops? Gold, thin strapped Havianas. They are my staple.

If I were to come out to Hawaii, what are some good eateries you’d recommend? Mala Ocean Tavern in Lahaina, Flatbread and Cafe Des Amis in Paia Town. My house is good too:- All located on MAUI.

What is your most favorite cuisine? This is a toughy because I’m still a California girl who LOVES her Mexican food! However, I have to say over the years my tastes have gotten “lighter” I’m now a HUGE fan of Thai and Vietamese food! And, I’m also a big supporter of the “Okinawan Diet”.

What are your top three advice pointers to people trying to break into the whole “exercise/workout/physical activity” world?

  1. Use your gym membership as a “filler workout” if you are not a big gym fan. This is what I do! I try to get most of my exercise doing things that are fun and outside. I understand that I live in a place that offers pretty decent weather year round but getting active outdoors feels like less of a chore to me.
  2. Mix it up! This is sort of an add on to #1. In a week’s span I’ll try and do a variety of workouts. One day I’ll surf, the next I’ll paddle and then do an hour of yoga, the next I might take a 2 hour hike up in the mountains. I don’t have a “routine” per se. This way, I keep things flexible for when the surf is up or if it’s raining out.
  3. Do what you can….if all you have is 30 minutes then take a brisk walk around your neighborhood. Somedays I’ll be in the water for 4 hours and other days it’s a quick 30 minutes on the treadmill. Try to fit some sort of exercise in 5 days a week. By giving yourself options you will be more likely to stick with it 🙂 Good Luck and Aloha, Amanda
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