Vegan Cauliflower Shawarma | Foodnista Soul, 2021
Dining Out Dinner Food for Bettering Emotional & Mental Health Food Health

Vegan Cauliflower Shawarma at Istanbul Hawai’i

Foodnista Soul

Vegan Cauliflower Shawarma is a Hit!

I love Mediterranean food, specifically Turkish food. Istanbul Hawai’i at Ward Village is one of my favorites on O’ahu. I believe they are the only Turkish restaurant on the island. They started as a food truck several years ago. I tried their food at a Honolulu Night Market at SALT at Our Kaka’ako. After many years as a food truck, their restaurant was launched. And they are always busy! I highly encourage you to make reservations in advance.

One of the dishes I enjoyed was the cauliflower shawarma. The pita bread and vegetables were fresh. The cauliflower filling was tasty and filling in itself. I definitely needed a take-out container.

Because Istanbul Hawai’i has so many yummy dishes on their menu, it’s advised to order family style and share with everyone. It’s a great way for everyone to sample their delicious foods.

Istanbul Hawai’i
Ward Village
1108 Auahi St.
Honolulu, HI 96814
**Women/family-owned and farm-to-table establishment.

Turkish Trips of a Lifetime

I had the privilege of visiting Türkiye (formally known as Turkey) twice in 2008 and 2010. They were trips of a lifetime. In 2008, during my first trip abroad on a Mediterranean cruise tour, I visited Ephesus. I was so excited to see the ancient city. After witnessing the ancient ruins, we visited a carpet factory, where we learned how Turkish carpets were made. We ended the day walking through a bazaar (pictured). That was so much fun! I got to experience bargaining. The Turkish sellers welcomed negotiations. I bought a lot of souvenirs at a reasonable price.

Bazaar in Türkiye
©Foodnista Soul, 2008

The second time I traveled to Türkiye was for an academic conference in 2010. The 5th World Youth Congress (WYC), which originated in Hawai’i in 1999, was a two-week event held in İstanbul at Yıldız Technical University.

At the WYC, the delegates were split into many groups, and we traveled to the outskirts of Türkiye, throughout the east and west, to spend time with smaller communities and do some charity projects. My team and I went to Düzce, a few hours from İstanbul. It was very rural, different from city life. We went to a factory where we painted some artwork and made some jewelry. We planted some trees. Lastly, we were invited to an authentic Turkish wedding. It was so kind of the couple to include us to be part of their special day.

One of the special memories of my trip was visiting a mosque for the first time. And not just any mosque, the famous Hagia Sophia. It was stunning. A breathtaking moment.

The entire trip was unforgettable and worthwhile. I made many new friends from across the globe, some of whom I’m still in contact with.

The Mediterranean Diet

To continue with the theme of the Mediterranean, I’m sure many of you heard of the Mediterranean diet. Research shows that the Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and depression. Moreover, it improves mental and physical function (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019).

The Mayo Clinic (2021) shares tips on starting a Mediterranean diet.

  • Build meals around vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Eat fish at least twice a week.
  • Use olive oil to cook foods.
  • Serve fresh fruit for dessert.

Harvard Health Publishing goes more in-depth about a well-balanced Mediterranean diet (Harvard Health Publishing, 2019):

  • Use extra virgin olive oil as your primary fat. Use this oil in cooking, salad dressings, and in place of butter.
  • Eat nuts and olives. Consume a variety of raw nuts and olives every day.
  • Add whole-grain bread or other whole grains to the meal. Choose bread without added sugar or butter. Try bulgur, barley, farro, couscous, quinoa, and multi-grain rice, whole-grain pasta.
  • Pair salads with every meal. Dark greens and seasonal vegetables are preferred.
  • Add more diverse vegetables to your dishes. Encouraging three to four servings per day of different vegetables.
  • Eat at least three servings of legumes or beans weekly. For instance, lentils, chickpeas, beans, and peas.
  • Eat less meat. Choose lean poultry in moderate, 3-4-ounce portions. Save red meat for special events. If eating meat, accompany it with lots of vegetables, stews, stir-fries, and soups. Eat canned or fresh fish two to three servings every week.
  • Substitute wine in moderation for other alcoholic beverages. Replace beer or liquors with wine. No more than two 5-ounce glasses daily for males and one glass every day for females.
  • Cut out sugary beverages. Drink water! Always. And lots of it!
  • Eat less high-fat, high-sugar desserts. Poached or fresh fruit is advised. Shoot for three servings of fresh fruit a day. Save cakes and pastries for milestone celebrations.

To healthy eating!

FS x


Harvard Health Publishing (2019). A practical guide to the Mediterranean diet. Retrieved:

Mayo Clinic Staff (2021). Mediterranean diet for heart health. Retrieved:

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