Having A Ball With Cheese, Nuts

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - March 25, 2009
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Ana Kumai-Harley, a Kalihi resident, was born on Oahu and raised in Seattle. She worked in the Head Start program for six years and says her University of Hawaii West-Oahu degree in psychology with a sociology emphasis has served her well.

Ana runs the lei stand just outside Tiki’s Restaurant in Waikiki, and does hand-beading and makes flower leis and shell jewelry. It’s a family tradition; her Aunt Leinaala (Auntie Lei) has the lei stand at Duke’s with her Uncle Woofer.

Ana has four children who live in the Islands, and is proud of her two new grandsons, Manu and Kelakona.

This column is dedicated to Ana, a nurturing and caring woman!


Spring has sprung and, with warmer weather, outdoor entertaining will be in full force quickly. This is great to bring to potlucks (make sure to keep it chilled properly), or as an easy snack to whip up when friends or family drop in. I like to serve it with carrot and celery sticks, or whole-wheat snack crackers, or all three!

Nuts are heart-healthy in moderation, and it’s easy to include a few ounces of nuts in your diet.

To keep nuts fresh, you can purchase as much or as little as you need in health food stores fresh from their bulk bins. I keep them in plastic bags in the refrigerator so they are ready to use anytime. Here are a few suggestions on how to include them in your daily diet:

* Sprinkle on your favorite salad for crunch appeal.

* Sprinkle a bit of nuts on your morning cereal or mix into yogurt.

* Use pecans or walnuts in baked goods, such as muffins, cakes and breads.

* Sprinkle sliced almonds, pecan pieces or chopped almonds on fresh sliced fruit.


* 2 (8-ounce) packages light cream cheese, softened (or may use 1 fat-free cream cheese and 1 light)

* 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

* 1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper

* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

* dash salt

* 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained well

* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

* 1/2 cup chopped pine nuts (toasted)

Note: To toast nuts, spread on baking sheet and place in preheated 350 degree oven; stir around until lightly toasted.

In mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, red and green pepper, cayenne and salt until blended. Add crushed pineapple and mix until evenly distributed. Divide the mixture in half and form two balls. Mix nuts together and roll each ball in the nut mixture. Chill for about an hour.

Makes about 16 servings.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving (using only light cream cheese):

Calories: 130
Fat: 4.2 grams
Cholesterol: 29 milligrams
Sodium: 200 milligrams

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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