May 2023



Moʻolelo: Ben Baker

Native Hawaiian Healing Practices

Exercises to Help Manage Diabetes

Recipe: Rainbow Cauliflower Rice Sushi

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Native Hawaiians & Pacific Islanders have higher rates of heart disease, stroke and congestive heart failure.


These statistics can be scary & overwhelming, but it’s important that we understand what it means & actively work towards strengthening our heart and body.


You can turn these statistics around for you and your ʻohana!

Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Health Research Study

  • 4 Zoom classes aiming to support healthy blood pressure (1 hour each, every other week for 8 weeks)
  • Small class size (4-6 people)
  • Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander teachers
  • Classes celebrate Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander culture & strengths
  • Health & wellness binder with lessons & resources
  • Peer support & goal-setting 

Are You Eligible?

Do you identify as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander?

Have you been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, or prediabetes?

Study participants may receive grocery credits, gift cards, and other items valued at up $350 for their time and effort!

Healthy Hearts Among Pacific Islanders, IRB #16600, has been approved for human subject participation by the Washington State University Institutional Review Board.

Email us to Learn More

HHAPI & MASC-UP teams traveled to Eugene, OR for a Native Hawaiian & Wellness event at the UO campus on Saturday, April 29th. We love meeting new people and serving our community.


Ben Baker

If you are involved with the Hawaiian community in Washington, you know the Baker ʻohana. I was lucky to grow up with Aunty and Uncle-they are good friends with my parents. I remember attending lūʻau, volunteering at Lōkahi’s hoʻolauleʻa or listening to Uncle Ben sing and play music. They are a dynamic duo, a Hawaiian powerhouse couple that has continued to inspire those that live here, and give Hawaiians living here, the opportunity to continue to perpetuate their Native Hawaiian culture. We’ll be highlighting Ben in this moʻolelo and focusing on all he’s given back to her community. He currently serves as the Moku ʻĀina A Wakinekona Hawaiian Civic Club President.

Ben was born at his Kanealii Grandparents home in Papakōlea homestead on Oʻahu. His Dad came to WA to find work in 1967. He stayed with his youngest brother, Uncle Manu who had already moved up. A year later Ben's mom moved up with the 3 youngest keiki. Ben and his four other siblings lived with Aunty Emma for a year so his parents had time to find a house and get settled. His first job was selling newspapers on the street by the Princess Theater, when he was 10 years old. Coming from a large family, earning this money meant he was able to buy a few treats that he otherwise wouldn’t have had.  

He was 12 when he left Hawaiʻi and moved to Tacoma, WA. They moved because of the cost of living in Hawaiʻi. With 8 kids, finding affordable housing was a challenge. It wasn’t until he moved to WA, that he learned to play music and dance hula along with several of his siblings as part of Keaka and the Serenaders, an entertainment troupe led by his parents.


 They played music and did Polynesian shows on the weekends at the Golden Doors in Seattle. After graduating from Lincoln High School in Tacoma, he joined a summer youth program working with the park rangers at Mount Rainier, which sparked an interest in law enforcement.


 He started working as a security guard at Peoples Bank in Seattle which led to being hired as a cashier and security at the Puyallup Tribal smoke shop. When he turned 21, he was hired as a police officer for the Puyallup Tribe doing both street and fisheries patrol. Except for working three years with the Point No Point Treaty Council tribes, he worked in law enforcement for the Puyallup Tribe, moving up in rank to Lieutenant for 43 years and recently retired. 

Share your name, your ʻohana/family names and your favorite ʻāina or wai...what land/water source are you most connected to and why. 


I am the 2nd oldest of 8, born at home in my grandparent’s house in Papakōlea homestead on Oʻahu. My name is Benjamin Kaeha Baker, I am named after my grandfather Benjamin Kaeha Kanealiʻi and lived with him and my grandmother Roseline Lokalia Chow (Kaʻai on the Hawaiian side) and with my parents Jack Napahuelua Baker Jr (Peka Kuieʻe) and Edna Maile Kanealiʻi, 3rd oldest of 15 kids.

Papakōlea is my ‘āina, and spent a lot of time at Ala Moana beach.

What are you grateful for and why? 

I am most grateful for being brought back to life. I’ve been told when I was a newborn I stopped breathing and was turning blue and was taken next door to our church and everyone prayed over me and I was brought back to life.

What brings you joy? 


I grew up in church hearing the pastor say, “Make a Joyful Noise,” and all of my siblings, mom, aunties, uncles and grandparents all sang and played music in church.

During difficult journeys, how do you heal and restore your health and mental well-being? 


Grandpa Kanealiʻi’s favorite songs is Prayer is the Key to Heaven. He was my example of a mighty prayer warrior, so prayer is how I seek peace and well-being.

How do you share your manaʻo and mana with your keiki? 


When my parents moved to WA they started playing Hawaiian music in Seattle and when we kids moved up we all learned to dance and play Hawaiian music as part of the Keaka and the Serenaders. I’ve danced and played Hawaiian music since then. So that’s been my example of sharing and as a family my kids grew up with the ʻohana and others dancing  hula and playing/singing Hawaiian music.  

I also shared stories I heard growing up about my grandpa Kanealiʻi and his encounters with Pele over the pali and the menehune.

What is your favorite way to move your kino (body)? 


I played football in high school, have danced hula, the Haka and Samoan Slap dance but nowadays, I’m at the gym on the treadmill.

What is a quote that empowers you? 


Aunty Manu Lono once told me what helps her to keep going is to “Think Hawaiian.” And that has always stayed with me. When in doubt or there’s a dilemma – Think Hawaiian – meaning live and apply Hawaiian values in your daily life.

Would you share an easy, healthy-heart recipe that your ʻohana enjoys? 

Well, I can’t cook except to make rice. One of my favorites is heat up a can of pork & beans and eat over hot rice…is that heart healthy?? 😊 (In moderation, uncle…but that is ʻono!)

(Marla, HHAPI’s Peer Educator with Uncle Ben at the Hawaiian Civic Club Convention in Seattle-November 2023)

Native Hawaiian Healing Practices Are Covered by Some Insurance Plans

One of Hawaiʻi’s largest insurance providers has started offering Native Hawaiian cultural practices as part of its suite of covered services.

AlohaCare, which serves primarily Medicaid and some Medicare clients, is offering hoʻoponopono (to make things right, a prayer and practice for forgiveness through repentance, forgiveness, gratitude & love), lomilomi (massage), ʻai pono (to eat and nourish) and hula to support what it calls “whole person care and wellness in partnership with community practitioners.”

The services are provided free of charge to AlohaCare’s approximately 83,000 members. The program, called Ke Aloha Mau, began last fall and is currently being rolled out across the Hawaiian Islands.

The pandemic was a wake-up call that focused attention on gaps in services and the need for additional ways to help people stay healthy.

Planning for the launch of Ke Aloha Mau started in 2020 during year one of the pandemic with “everyone having a heightened understanding that in our community we’re struggling to meet basic needs.”

The company organized listening sessions and got feedback from members and overwhelmingly the direction clients wanted to go in was to expand culturally rooted health practices.

One of those is hoʻoponopono, a Native Hawaiian healing practice that can help improve family relationships by allowing couples and other family members to resolve conflicts and improve communication. It involves spiritual discussions to restore bonds and heal wounds within a family.

Another practice is hula, the Native Hawaiian form of dance. It stimulates physical movement which research has shown to strengthen the immune system, lower blood pressure, boost mental health and provide an array of other benefits.

Lomilomi, a Native Hawaiian physiotherapy and massage form, is designed to stretch and realign the body and decrease stress. And ʻAi pono is the practice surrounding a traditional healthy Hawaiian diet centered around locally grown and prepared food items.

In 2020, a report from the University of Hawaiʻi’s John A. Burns School of Medicine highlighted the need for culturally responsive programs to address social and health inequities among the Native Hawaiian population.

The report analyzed data that shows Native Hawaiians suffer from coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes at a rate three times greater than other ethnic groups.

It also provided evidence-based research indicating that the health of Native Hawaiians will improve when their care is rooted in Native Hawaiian culture. 

Sheri Daniels, chief executive of the nonprofit consortium Papa Ola Lokahi, said AlohaCare is providing a “great opportunity for communities and residents” to have insurance cover Native Hawaiian services that target “some of our cultural values and beliefs.”

One of the Native Hawaiian health centers that is offering some of the services is in Waimanalo on the east side of Oahu and has seven Native Hawaiian practitioners on staff.

Waimanalo Health Center started developing its cultural medicine program in 2015 with the hiring of Kumu Leinaʻala Bright, the center’s director of cultural health services. The Native Hawaiian health practitioner brings over 30 years of lomilomi experience. She offers classes in, among other things, lāʻau lapaʻau, which is Hawaiian herbal medicine.

The traditional medicine and cultural healing programs have been wildly successful, Bright said.  


In response to high interest, Bright developed a series of educational programs, including Laws of Ola, Papa Lāʻau and Mahi Lāʻau Lapaʻau.

The goal is to teach people how to live healthy lifestyles and to grow and use medicinal herbs to treat a variety of conditions.

These practices, bridge Western medicine and Indigenous knowledge, appeal to many who would otherwise shun the doctor’s office.

“It’s been very healing and supportive,” Bright said.

Honolulu Civil Beat

I hope some of these cultural health services will one day be available to Native Hawaiians living on the mainland.

We need equal access to our indigenous health knowledge and (medical insurance) to support these traditional practices for our kanaka, our `ohana living off the islands, as well.

-Marla Alohilani Barhoum (HHAPI Educator)

Five Exercises That Can Help

Manage Diabetes & Sugars

Diabetes is a chronic illness that affects many people around the world. People with diabetes can experience symptoms such as thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, or fatigue. Exercises allow people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes to stay active, manage their calories, and reduce the risk of developing further complications. A few physical activities or exercises can help patients with diabetes play a more active role in their disease management.

1. Swimming

Swimming is not only satisfying and fun, but it also strengthens muscle groups in the back, legs, and core. It can help maintain your body’s glucose levels. Before you begin, it’s essential to warm up to get your muscles limber for doing laps or aqua fit; this will reduce the risk of muscle cramps while you’re in the water. Remember that most people with diabetes can enjoy swimming safely as swimming puts very little stress on the joints.

Interval training is a way to get people with diabetes more active and improve their fitness levels. It consists of short bursts of intense exercise separated by rest periods. It can help increase your cardiovascular fitness and stamina and minimize the risk of developing heart disease, arthritis, or high blood pressure.

2. Interval Training

3. Yoga

Swimming is not only satisfying and fun, but it also strengthens muscle groups in the back, legs, and core. It can help maintain your body’s glucose levels. Before you begin, it’s essential to warm up to get your muscles limber for doing laps or aqua fit; this will reduce the risk of muscle cramps while you’re in the water. Remember that most people with diabetes can enjoy swimming safely as swimming puts very little stress on the joints.

Cycling is a light exercise that is an excellent way for people with diabetes to control their blood glucose levels, and you can cycle at your own pace. It can improve your cardiovascular health and help you lower your blood sugar level after eating. You should always wear a helmet when biking, and ensure the bike is in good riding condition. Avoid riding in dangerous places, and ensure you have rear and side reflectors on your bike to make you more visible to other vehicles at night.

4. Cycling

5. Strength Training

Strength training is an excellent form of exercise that can help people with diabetes manage blood sugar and stay strong, flexible and energized. Resistance training involves lifting weights or using body weight as resistance to increase muscle strength, allowing for improved flexibility and glucose control. Following the correct workout program is essential for diabetics, for instance, avoid time-intensive exercises that put a lot of stress on the body. Instead, start slow and easy and progress as your body gets used to regular exercise.

Exercise has an essential role to play in managing diabetes and blood sugars effectively. Before you start any exercise program, you must be aware of your body’s needs and limitations. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program to help you manage your diabetes. Finding an exercise program that best meets your needs may take some time, but it’s worth it in the end.

Recipe: Rainbow Cauliflower Sushi

This sushi is so delicious and uses cauliflower rice instead of traditional white rice. White rice can spike your blood sugar and does not provide many nutrients. You could most definitely use brown rice but I decided to do a health swap and use cauliflower rice. Cauliflower is filled with vitamin C, potassium, folate, and is great for gut health. Cauliflower is also a great option if you’re trying to lose weight or to not have as many refined carbohydrates. 

HealthyGirl Kitchen

(Skip to the 3-minute mark)


  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • Rice vinegar
  • Seaweed sheets
  • Coconut aminos (healthy soy sauce alternative)
  • Avocado
  • Peppers
  • Mango
  • Cucumber
  • Purple cabbage
  • Carrots

*Having a bamboo mat for sushi helps but you could use a towel.


1.  Cut up all of your veggies into sticks to fit nicely in your sushi rolls

2.  Pulse 1 head of raw cauliflower in food processor until its broken down into rice sized pieces

3.  Put cauliflower in nut milk bag, cheesecloth or in a towel to ring out some of the moisture

4.  Transfer cauliflower to bowl and add 1 tbsp of rice vinegar and stir.

5.  Lay out your seaweed and cover the seaweed with a thin layer of cauliflower rice, leave about an inch of space at the top and bottom of your seaweed

6.  Add your fillings of your choice to the roll and start rolling! Wet the top of the seaweed a little to seal the roll in place.

7.  Gently cut the sushi into pieces with a very sharp knife, this is key! Clean the knife off between every cut, it will help.

8.  Serve right away. This is best when eaten fresh.

9.  Dip in coconut aminos and ENJOY!

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