As a chef, educator and blogger, Andrea Devon Bertoli is always sharing ways that people can eat and live healthier. She’s currently the Oahu-based brand manager for Maui-based health food company Life Foods. So we decided to pick her brain on tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Metro: I think there are two major perceived barriers people have about eating healthy — and those are time and money. Regarding cost, it seems sometimes that eating healthy can be costlier than buying other types of food. Do you think that is true?

Bertoli: One of my favorite expressions of the food movement is, ‘Pay the farmer now, or pay the doctor later.’ Eating homemade foods can seem more expensive than eating out, but the cost is really in the trade-off for true wellness. It’s no secret there is an epidemic of terrible health, and what’s most amazing is that the diseases we are struggling with are preventable and treatable with diet.

So, yes, it takes time to shop and cook foods at home, but the alternative of eating fast food or unhealthy, processed food wreaks havoc on our bodies, and we pay the cost in other ways: time lost to sickness, lack of energy and, eventually, bills for medical treatment and pharmaceuticals.

Food is seriously the strongest medicine we have to help our bodies heal and thrive.

Andrea Devon Bertoli blogs about healthy foods and all things green

Andrea Devon Bertoli blogs about healthy foods and all things green

Metro: What are some time-saving healthy eating techniques you use in your own life?

Bertoli: Eating well takes time, but there are ways to restructure your priorities in life so that you can find time for it. And maybe you can only make time for it once a week, and that’s OK, too!

Try adding just one home-cooked meal each week. Choose something simple, like fresh vegetables and pasta, a big hearty salad or some soup. Some weeks are busier than others for me, so my solution to a busy schedule is often Life Foods — we’ve created a whole line of delicious, healthy convenience foods for those nights you don’t have time to cook. The foods are convenient, but also loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals so it’s really a healthy, quick meal choice!

Here are some of my favorite techniques for saving time in the kitchen:

1. Cooking in bulk. Make a big batch of beans, grains, salads and soup to eat for dinner and take the leftovers for lunch.

2. Keep a well-stocked pantry. If you have to go shopping every time you want to cook, you will never cook.

3. Prep your veggies ahead of time. When you get home from the farmers’ market or store, wash your veggies that you will use for the week and set yourself up to use them quickly.

Metro: Can you share one or two of your favorite quick-yet-healthy dishes?

Bertoli: It’s been pretty hot lately, so we’ve been eating a lot of salads at my house. Our superfood salads have kale, mixed greens, naturally fermented Life Foods Aloha Kraut, nuts, seeds, mixed vegetables and sometimes some beans, grains or Life Foods Superfood Burgers on the side. This is a complete meal that is filling but light.

Experiment with wild toppings (strawberries, hemp seeds, or grilled veggies) to keep your salads interesting.

Metro: We all know that we are supposed to eat our fruits and vegetables, but I was hoping that you could give a couple of examples of your favorite healthy foods and their benefits.

Bertoli: I love a lot of foods, but none are more dear to me than kale and chia seeds.

Luckily for us, kale grows abundantly here in Hawaii year-round, and it has a myriad of uses! It can be eaten raw or cooked, and can be used in smoothies, fresh juice, soups, salad and even sandwiches. Kale is loaded with vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron and fiber; it has powerful anti-cancer fighting properties and is highly alkalizing, meaning that it helps our body heal from everyday stresses. What more could you want in a vegetable?

Chia seeds are from South America and are one of the most beneficial things you can add to your diet. They have calcium, fiber, healthy fats and protein. They can be sprinkled onto cereal, oatmeal, added to salads, blended into smoothies or just mixed into a drink.

Both kale and chia help to flush out toxins and all the bad stuff from our bodies!

Metro: I know that you have been involved in various events that promote farm-to-table meals. What are the benefits of maintaining a farm-to-table diet?

Bertoli: As a former farmer and as a chef, local agriculture is a huge passion of mine because farming can benefit the Islands in so many ways.

Most importantly, local farms produce food for us to eat. Everyone knows that we import a huge percentage of our food to Hawaii. Supporting our local farmers is a way to ensure food security for our Islands, but also economic security. Farms can create healthy, rewarding jobs that cycle money back into our economy, rather than sending it outside.

Supporting farmers that grow healthy food for the community builds a community of respect: for the land, for the people and for our bodies.

Finally, the food grown locally is often fresher, and thus better for you nutritionally, than that coming from afar. And we grow so much good stuff here.

For more from Andrea, and more on Life Foods, visit