The Islander Lively Bowl by Haile Thomas

This recipe from activist, plant-based influencer – and now cookbook author – Haile Thomas draws on flavors inspired by her parents' Caribbean upbringing

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“Both of my parents are from the Caribbean, so I’ve grown up appreciating the magic that happens when sweet and savory ingredients come together,” Haile Thomas writes of the Islander Lively Bowl in her cookbook, Living Lively. “The combination of smoky mushrooms, sweet pineapple salsa, coconut undertones, and supporting acidic and savory pops of flavor is what makes this bowl so divine. And don’t you dare skip out on the cilantro aioli – it is cooling, creamy, and simply the real deal.”


Islander Lively Bowl

Reprinted from Living Lively by Haile Thomas


Pineapple salsa

  • 1 1⁄2 cups small-diced fresh pineapple
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1⁄2 cup small-diced red onion
  • 3⁄4 cup diced cherry tomatoes 
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Shiitake mushrooms

  • 1⁄2 cup tamari
  • 1⁄4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1⁄4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha
  • 5 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 13 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil 

Bowl components

  • 2 to 4 cups cooked brown rice (cooked according to package instructions)  
  • Cilantro Aioli 
  • 1 medium avocado, sliced
  • Grilled pineapple
  • Quick-Pickled Red Onions 

Cilantro aioli

  • 3/4 c vegan mayo
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 2 tbl fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1. To make the pineapple salsa: In a medium bowl, combine the pineapple, cilantro, onion, tomatoes, jalapeño, and lime juice, and toss to mix. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

2. To make the shiitake mushrooms: In a large bowl, whisk together the tamari, sesame oil, maple syrup, and sriracha. Add the mushrooms and toss to com- bine, making sure all mushrooms are coated with marinade. Cover the bowl and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

3. Drain the marinade liquid from the mushrooms. In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sear on one side without stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, until crispy. Flip the mushrooms with a spatula and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are crisp on both sides.

4. To serve: In each of four bowls, place 1⁄2 to 1 cup coconut rice, one-quarter of the mushrooms, and a scoop of pineapple salsa, with a dollop of cilantro aioli on top. Placed sliced avocado and pickled onions on each bowl as well. Enjoy the harmonious smoky savory sweetness of this bowl!


In a small blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust the seasonings as desired. Cover and refrigerate in an airtight glass container.

From Living Lively by Haile Thomas Copyright © 2020 by Haile Thomas. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.