Venison: Maui’s Sustainably Produced, Local Source of Red Meat

Guest post written by Tucker Ballister

Most people that are visiting Maui for the first time have no idea that the island is home to tens of thousands of axis deer. These deer graze and roam in areas that are also home to wild cattle and other grazing animals that are native to the island.

As a visitor to Maui, you might be looking for local sources of meat and produce to cook for yourself during your stay. Fortunately, the island offers many great opportunities to find vacation homes with fully equipped kitchens.

The growing axis deer populations on the island have created an opportunity for an alternative, sustainable source of red meat for locals and visitors alike. For some, this has created a unique chance to distribute fresh, grass fed venison to vendors and individuals all over the island.

Royal Hawaiian Venison

Headed by Lokahi Sylva, a Maui native, Maui’s premier venison distribution company has been making great strides towards bringing a healthy, local source of red meat to restaurants and markets all over the island. Currently, Royal Hawaiian Venison is the only venison distributor on the island of Maui.

Sylva is adamant that we must find ways to utilize the precious meat, bones, and hides of these beautiful animals because they are such a valuable resource of this island paradise. “Venison is an exceptional alternative to beef, chicken or other red meats that are shipped to Maui from thousands of miles away,” says Sylva. “People simply need to be aware of the availability of venison on the island so that we can reduce our reliance on shipped goods.”

Sylva has been working with local chefs at a few beloved restaurants, have been creating unique and intricate ways to prepare and cook this fabulous red meat. The preferred method is a homemade teriyaki marinate on the prime sirloin steaks that is cooked quickly over the red embers of the invasive hardwood kiawe tree.

If you’re coming to Maui and you’re interested in finding local venison to add to your culinary dishes, there are several places you can find Maui’s newest source of sustainable red meat:


There are currently four stores in Maui selling USDA certified Royal Hawaiian Venison. The Morihara Store is located in Waiakoa, Kula. The Rodeo General Store can be found in the heart of Makawao town. Hanzawa’s store can be found in the poetic town of Haiku, and The Market by Capische is located in the Wailea Gateway Center.


Lokahi works hard to distribute local venison to a number of restaurants around the island. You should be aware that not all the restaurants indicated on their site will have venison available everyday. If you visit one of the restaurants on the list and don’t find venison on their menu, be sure to ask about it. You might even remind them that it’s time to order another shipment! Check out the full list of venison-friendly restaurants here.

Farmer’s Markets

Lokahi, the owner of Royal Hawaiian Venison, is usually on-hand at two farmer’s markets every week. The Makawao Farmer’s Market is every Wednesday from 9 am to 1 pm at Po’okela Church. The Upcountry Farmer’s Market is every Saturday from 6:30 am to 10 am at Kula Malu parking lot, just outside of Pukalani.

Maui is exceptional for its’ efforts in sustainable, organic sources of produce and meat. Be sure to check out the island’s newest source of red meat during your stay. To learn more about Royal Hawaiian Venison, please visit their official website here.

Author Bio

My name is Tucker Ballister. I grew up in beautiful Lake Tahoe, California area and have found a renewed passion for writing over the course of the last year or so. I recent completed the Master’s of Tourism Management program at Colorado State University and now reside on the magical island of Maui, writing and work trading on a developing sustainable homestead. I enjoy writing on a wide variety of topics, including, but not limited to, destination management, sustainable development, tourism policy, visitor motivations, and entrepreneurial development. I hope you enjoyed my writing and I can’t thank you enough for reading! Mahalo!


Oven Baked Veggie Fries

Veggie Fries  1

Who doesn’t love fries? They’re salty, deep-fried, crunchy and satisfy savoury cravings for comfort food. There is nothing quite like a generous serving of piping hot fries from your favourite spot. Fries baked in the over just aren’t the same, they don’t make the cut. [Have you tried those baked potato chips? Awful, right? I rather just go for the real thing when cravings hit.]

Or, perhaps you have a deep fryer at home and can indulge any time you want. My kitchen is small, though even if I did have a larger kitchen I still wouldn’t want a deep fryer in my house. It screams danger. Not for the fire hazard but rather for my waistline and my arteries. Having such easy access to fried food cannot be good for you.

The cold winter is officially upon us and so is our increased need for warm roasted dishes. I love roasting my vegetable. I find it brings out their natural flavour and caramelizes nicely, usually leaving them whole or in big chunks. This time I thought I’d try something different. I wanted fries to accompany my main (hello, steak-frites!) but didn’t want the pre-made frozen kind, which tend to be not so great. So why not replace the potato starch by some tastier (healthier?) alternatives: in come carrots and parsnip!

I pretty much eyeball the entire recipe, but it is fool-proof so I don’t feel exact quantities are necessary. However, should you find you need extra assistance, don’t be afraid to ask and leave a comment here!

Carrot and Parsnip Fries

Veggie Fries 2

  • Several carrots
  • Several parsnips
  • Olive oil, enough to coat
  • Breadcrumbs, enough to lightly coat
  • Herbes de provence, a generous pinch (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.

Peel the desired quantity of carrots and parsnip and cut off the ends. Slice them lengthwise to cut them into the shape of thin fries.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I do this to facilitate clean-up). Evenly spread the carrots and parsnip, season with herbes de provence, salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and use your hands to combine and coat evenly. Ensure that the vegetables are spread in a single layer on the baking.

Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes, tossing once or twice. The vegetable should be cooked and starting to crisp on the ends. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs to ever-so-lightly coat the carrots and parsnip. Return to oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes to crisp-up the fries.

Remove from oven, dish-up and serve quickly! You don’t want to let them get soggy… nobody likes soggy fries.

Fifty Shades of Pomegranate

I was surfing the interwebs looking for some inspiration of what to do with pomegranates I had sitting in my fridge and came across a video on how to remove the seeds from a pomegranate. Usually I would go about breaking the pomegranate into smaller pieces and removing the seeds bit by bit. The process was long but I wouldn’t mind it that much. I found the process to be therapeutic of sorts. After de-seeding one half of the pomegranate, I would have had about enough of therapy and would leave the other half for later.

The technique in this video not only freed up some time spent in the kitchen but demonstrates an even better form of therapy!

The introduction to this video is irritatingly long, so skip to the 1:26 minute mark and begin your viewing from there. I was skeptical that this would actually work, but it does remove the pomegranate seeds amazingly well. If you do watch the video from the beginning, then this technique will also help relieve some frustration. Grab a pomegranate, your wood spoon and get smacking!

I do have to credit my friend Robin who came up with the Fifty Shades of Pomegranate idea. I thought it was perfectly brilliant  and I had to share!

Pomegranate Salsa and Seared Salmon

This recipe serves two:

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds, using spanking technique shown above
  • 1 small red onion finely diced, about 3 tbsp
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Small bunch cilantro, about 1/4 cup loosely packed, then chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce, easily found in the Asian food section of grocery stores
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • Pepper to taste

Pom salsa

In a bowl, combine the pomegranate seeds, onion, lemon juice, cilantro, fish sauce, olive oil. Season with fresh ground pepper to taste. Set the mixture aside. You can make this salsa ahead of time and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Pom and salmon

Pat dry the salmon fillets and season with cumin and pepper. Drizzle a pan with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. When pan is hot, place the salmon fillets spice-side down and cook until you get a nice sear, about 3 minutes. Flip over the fillets and cook the other side until the salmon is just opaque, about another 3 minutes.

Remove from the pan and plate the salmon with a side of vegetables, topping with a generous serving of the pomegranate salsa.

The next morning…

Pom and Yogurt

Here is a great breakfast idea if you happen to have some pomegranate seeds left over: spoon some Greek yogurt into a bowl, drizzle with honey and top with pomegranate. Voilà!

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Following the copious restaurant meals I’ve had in the recent week(s) and amidst the laziness which ensued on Sunday, I was struggling to decide what to make myself for lunch. I could no longer ignore the hungry pleas of my stomach and succumbed to making a sandwich. Trying to find the easy way out, I fumbled in my fridge and noticed some leftover roast chicken – that’ll do.

Why argue with a classic or put up with an industrial version of a chicken salad sandwich, especially when one like this is so easy to make? Simple, tangy and a great way to use up leftover chicken. Serve on whole grain bread with some salad, and you have a healthy balanced lunch (or dinner) in no time flat. Here’s my version of chicken salad (quantities are for one).


Chicken Salad Sandwich

  • ½ chicken breast, cooked and chopped
  • 1 tbsp apple, finely diced (snack on the rest of the apple while you make your sandwich)
  • 1 tbsp celery, finely diced (I had zucchini leftover, so I used that instead)
  • 1 tbsp onion, finely diced (any onion of your choice will do)
  • 1 ½ tbsp plain yogurt (because it’s a healthier choice than mayo)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spread between two slices of your bread of choice, stuff in a bun or pita, or even roll up in a tortilla, and garnish with lettuce.

Sandwich in hand, I proceeded to return to the warm spot waiting for me on the couch and curled up in front of another episode of […]. Come on, I can’t confess all my secrets here… but if you guess right, I’ll tell you which show I was indulging in. 😉

Tomato Soup to Comfort the Soul

Wow, has it really been 12 months since my last post?! It always amazes me how much time flies. I have no excuses to make, nor do I feel like I need to justify anything. The past year has taken me through a full spectrum of emotions and experiences, none of which I would change. In spite of everything that has happened, I been battling creative block.

But, here I am today, facing the same screen and blinking cursor which has been haunting me for months.

It’s February and we’re in the middle of winter. Snow storms and below freezing temperatures drag us towards heartwarming meals and into cozy blankets, in search of comfort to console our lack of sunshine. To heal my soul from the harshness of winter and my emotional-creative-rollercoaster, I was craving a wholesome tomato soup.

Completely ignoring the fact it is not tomato season, making a soup with these pasty winter tomatoes we get here in Quebec is probably the best way to have them, second only to oven-roasted. This recipe is my own and I hope it brings you warmth as much as it did for me.


Winter’s Tomato Soup

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 4 cups Italian tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
  • fresh sprigs of thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot on medium-high heat, add the olive oil, onions, pepper and thyme. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions and peppers are soft. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, turn the heat down to medium, cover and allow them to cook down for a few minutes.

Once the tomatoes begin to soften, add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Add the sundried tomatoes and water. Once the water reaches a soft boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Once the tomato soup is cooked, remove from heat and let it cool a bit before puréeing it in a blender.

To serve, simply reheat the tomato soup and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, butter or cream, with grilled bread, a spoonful of plain yogurt or sour cream, or even topped with some cheese. Whatever it is you’re craving, go for it!

Chocolate Pot de Crème

Well well, look at that… it’s that cliché time of year again: Valentine’s Day. With the pressure to have a date, be a date or make a date with your mate, I say it’s bullshit. What is not bullshit however, is the need for chocolate. Regardless of the situation, chocolate will never disappoint.

I am all about no-bake desserts. I’ll say it again, I cannot bake. Also, I am obsessed with the combination of avocado and chocolate. Avocado is a healthy way to tap into that craving for something fatty, and chocolate – well, enough said.

Vegan-No Bake Pot de Crème – a.k.a. Avocado Fudge

Makes 3 portions, ⅓ of a cup each

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 6 tbsp cacao powder
  • 6 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tbsp mesquite powder or vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  If you do not have a food processor,  using a fork, mash the avocado until  you get a smooth texture. Using a whisk, alternatively adding the dry and wet ingredients, until well incorporated and smooth. Spoon into cups and garnish with seeds, nuts or berries.  Refrigerate  until it is time to serve.

Or just put on a movie and curl up with a spatula and the mixing bowl.


A little side note. I was visiting with my friend K. this weekend and was lucky enough to get treated to some fantastic vegan cupcakes. She used this recipe from Vegetarian Times but substituted the all-pupose flour with spelt flour and the soymilk with homemade almond milk. I contributed to the recipe by making the icing, and I used this avocado fudge as the icing. So chocolatey, it was the perfect pick-me up after a long work-week.

[I have pictures to go with this post but I have temporarily misplaced my camera cable to download the pictures.]

When there is no time to cook…

Sometimes there is just no time to cook. I had aspirations of creating and writing about about all sorts of dishes that dreams are made of. Recipes that challenged me, and expanded my repertoire. Concoctions that required that I put my brand new Creuset to good use, for something other than soup. A new Creuset calls for a braised meal for me to truly say that it has been broken in. I’m over zealous, need to be consistently over -stimulated, that it is difficult to back off from overdrive. Amongst numerous parties and events  that have kept me out of the house, I still need to eat good food made with my own two hands. Coming home late, tired and lazy, sometimes the last thing I want to do is cook. Yes, it happens to me too. You know when you open up that fridge and the only words that come to mind are: “there is nothing to eat!” Even though you know perfectly well that there are plenty of healthy ingredients, that should be used up and converted into food before you are forced to toss them?Yup, I do that too; but I hate wasting food. That is how I put this dish together.

It was 9pm and I was just walking though the door. Opened up my fridge felt completely uninspired and tired at the thought of having to be up at 6 am for the 6th day in a row after going to bed way past my bedtime more than once in the last week. Changed into sweats, considered skipping dinner but my tummy was growling. Went back into the kitchen opened up every single cupboard, drawer,  and door for inspiration. I thought of my wilting spinach and abandoned bell pepper, caught a glimpse of the opened package of rice noodle vermicelli and settled on an idea. Twenty minutes later I was eating this:

Red Curry Veggie Bowl

Makes one portion, ready in less than 20 minutes.

  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 cup of raw vegetables
  • 1 cup of leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard or kale
  • 1 handful of rice vermicelli, softened in boiling water (or about 1 cup cooked)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red curry paste
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
    1 tbsp hot water (take from noodle soaking water)
    1 tbsp coconut oil
    Salt and pepper to taste

Use an assortment of vegetables, whatever you have leftover in your fridge is fine. I used some zucchini and red peppers. In a pan on medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil and sauté the garlic, onions and ginger until soft. Since discovering coconut oil I always have some in my pantry. It gives a great flavour to any dish and is great for sautéing. If you do not have any on hand, simply use a vegetable oil and add a dash of sesame oil when serving to add a nice nutty flavour. Add the remaining vegetables, sprinkle with the turmeric and sauté until cooked. Add the leafy greens, cover the pan and allow to wilt, about a minute.

In the meantime, dissolve the red curry paste with the hot water and the fish sauce. Strain the soaked and softened vermicelli. Uncover the pan to toss in the red curry mixture and noodles, until everything is well mixed.

Serve piping hot and you can choose to garnish with fresh chopped cilantro, a wedge of lemon or lime, or even some nuts or seeds for added crunch. I had none of these on hand, and my bowl was just as tasty.

You can also add some cooked shrimp, meat or a scrambled egg. Play around with what your fridge has to offer. We rarely ever make a fuss over our everyday meals, but nothing is stopping us from making something tasty and bright in no time flat.