290: Kintsugi Wellness

Kintsugi Wellness

Kintsugi Wellness a highly-recommended book if you want to embrace the Japanese way of total wellness. It is a unique art of nourishing the mind, body, and spirit.  To explain what Kintsugi Wellness is all about, I’m thrilled to have its best-selling author Candice Kumai on this episode.

Early Love For Food

Candice Kumai is a classically-trained professional chef. She was a judge on Iron Chef America, a guest on the Dr. Oz Show, Wendy Williams, Today Show, as well as on Top Chef’s first season.

She traces her love for food from her Japanese grandmother and her Polish grandmother. Candice Kumai’s mother also used her Japanese tradition in the United States with California produce. According to Candice Kumai, her mother cooked the best meals so eating Japanese dishes on a regular basis was normal for her.

Going to Culinary School

When Candice Kumai got older, she enrolled herself in culinary school after college. She eventually gained ample work experiences at several restaurants.

Candice Kumai recalled the struggles she went through from her Top Chef stint in Los Angeles to move to New York. Now a writer in New York for eight years, Candice Kumai says it has been a painful roller coaster ride writing six books, magazine editing, producing, writing, and directing.

“But mostly, I think I found my niche and my path when I started helping other people learn how to cook better. And also live a better life with really simple solutions that everyone can do,” said Candice Kumai.

Clean Green Drinks Book

Candice Kumai’s Clean Green Drinks help people perfect their basic smoothie from a sugar bomb into something that is full of nutrition and tastes like a milkshake. She said she was always trying to find more realistic ways and approaches for the American consumer.  It has now even expanded to have a global reach. Ultimately, it’s all about knowing the real resources you can do at home.

Candice Kumai encourages people to eat more vegetables and fruits.  She says to make sure to include something fresh in your smoothie whether breakfast, lunch or dinner.  She also advises to drink water, and drink matcha tea instead of coffee.

Like what most experts say, sleep is essential.  That’s why Candice Kumai strongly recommends going to bed early to prioritize your body, mind and emotional well-being. Furthermore, regular exercise helps a lot.

Kintsugi Wellness

Candice Kumai’s latest book Kintsugi Wellness is based on her Japanese ancestors’ practices. She says she used their methods from the ancient which help her thrive now in the modern world.

“All the things I grew up with came back full circle. And after a very rough time in New York city, my Japanese grandmother passed away,” said Candice Kumai. 

She adds, “It took me three years to write this book. The book is a homage to my family’s heritage. I now take wellness seriously in a different format where I want everyone to learn the same Japanese practices I learned.”

Lesson Learned

The Kintsugi Wellness book stresses the following things:

  1. Always do your best.
  2. Continuously improve.
  3. Everything is perfectly imperfect with great resilience and endurance or just being a better service to others.

“So, although my life is not perfect, I always felt like I didn’t fit in because of the Asian Heritage I grew up with,” said Candice Kumai. “Finding myself and finding my true voice meant being broken, picking up the pieces on my own, and putting them back together. Kintsugi Wellness book is a celebration of wellness and heritage.”

Candice Kumai recalls that she didn’t think it would be her calling. But she was so attracted to learning from the monks, elderly people, learning from those who survived the war and escaped death. According to her, these were the people who taught Candice Kumai what real wellness was.

The Right Mindset

Candice Kumai always knew she was a hard worker.  She was very persistent. But she also didn’t realize that continuous improvement through Kaizen—a Japanese term for improvement, was a Japanese practice until she turned 36 years old. 

To illustrate the Japanese people’s values, Candice Kumai cites the 2011 earthquake. Despite the challenges, Japanese people didn’t complain, didn’t cry, scream or beg. They were very tolerant and resilient.  They endured great pain internally.

“When I started understanding Japanese as a whole culture or a homogenous culture, we were never really supposed to stand out in Japan. They wanted everybody always to be the same as a group culture,” explains Candice Kumai. “With the Japanese Americans, I realized I could write a book about the Japanese practices I was raised with because I am Japanese American.”


Candice Kumai says the average Japanese person would not think this is any special or different. So, when she learned about Wabi-Sabi, it taught her how to embrace her imperfections. It influenced her so much, to the point that she named her podcast Wabi-sabi.

“A lot of us have identity struggles. But learning that everything is perfectly imperfect, and accepting flaws are part of life and embracing them, is the practice of Wabi-sabi,” said Candice Kumai.

Purpose of Writing Book

The Kintsugi Wellness book is currently available in nine countries all over the world. Through her book, Candice Kumai wanted to open up a new window to wellness where every person can embrace where they come from. It is also to help them see life from different perspectives. Because according to her, if we don’t tell the stories of our ancestors’ practices, we will surely lose them.

Candice Kumai wrote Kintsugi Wellness in New York.  Among accomplishments like signing sixty different branding deals 2011 until now, she still wasn’t happy.

She had a relationship that was broken, and her ex-partner traumatized her with an unexpected breakup. Candice Kumai also lost her grandmother, and that left her tired, depressed, and not full of life.

“So, when I started studying more on my heritage, I came across the practice of Kintsugi. Kintsugi is the Japanese art form of building repair. That’s why it came to be wellness. Because it was a guide for anybody who was going through trauma, sadness, anger,” Candice Kumai said. 

She adds, “There is a Japanese term in the book wherein it refers to pay attention and take great care. Sometimes we need to call to attention and be realistic in your goals. We may not all have the opportunity to be perfect, but we can change things to improve ourselves continuously every day a small bit at a time.”

Helping People

Candice Kumai says the Kintsugi Wellness book has helped so many people. Many people started sharing their pain, honorable struggles, and their past stories.

In the end, they ended up coming out of it better. You have to be aware that you are not alone in your struggle.

Recommended Diet

Food plays a big factor in feeling good inside and out. Candice Kumai says one thing Americans don’t have in their traditional daily diet is fermented foods. On the other hand, the Japanese utilize things like natto, soy sauce, miso paste, fermented pickled veggies throughout the day. They generally have more fermented foods.

One thing you can do is change things up with different flavors like miso, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar that contains some mother. It greatly helps gut health because it provides good bacteria. Also, try to cut down on sugar.

“We can all help prevent disease together. And cooking is the greatest resource that we all have to live our lives. That is what I’m here for in a nutshell,” said Candice Kumai. 

For breakfast, Candice Kumai usually eats a half avocado with miso paste.  Infusing your breakfast with lemon or apple cider vinegar is also ideal. She also loves doing a peach smoothie. Just mix frozen peaches, spinach, a touch of apple cider vinegar, almond milk, hemp seeds, berries, and collagen.

Lunch is usually a big giant salad for Candice Kumai. The greens range from romaine or red leaf lettuce, arugula or spinach. Then she usually mixes it with red onion, garbanzo beans, kidney, cherry tomato, cucumber, olive oil, curry powder, sea salt, soy sauce, lemon or apple cider.

For dinner, her favorite is eating salmon with miso paste, fresh greens, quinoa or brown rice.  She does indulge in a bit of chocolate or matcha cookies for dessert. Healthy drinks include matcha tea, hemp milk, almond milk or green tea.


Book Giveaway

As a special treat for the Learn True Health fans, Candice Kumai is giving away her Kintsugi Wellness book to one lucky audience! Details of the book giveaway will be posted on the Learn True Health Facebook group so make sure to sign up.

“One of my greatest hopes for wellness, health, and media is for more people to be empathetic, kind and compassionate,” said Candice Kumai.


Candice Kumai is an internationally-renowned wellness writer, chef & content creator, described by ELLE magazine as “The Golden Girl of the Wellness World.” She sat on The Well+Good Council and was recently named one of Arianna Huffington’s “Top 20 New Role Models in 2017.” 

Born and raised in California to a Japanese mother and a Polish-American father, in Carlsbad CA, Candice Kumai grew up in a mixed culture home – celebrating Japanese traditions & cuisine from a young age and honing a cosmopolitan perspective that continues to inspire her work today. 

Candice Kumai is a classically trained chef, former line cook, former TV host, former-model-turned wellness journalist, & five-time, best-selling author of Clean Green Eats, Clean Green Drinks, Pretty Delicious, Cook Yourself Sexy, and Cook Yourself Thin. Her next book, Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art of Nourishing Mind, Body, and Spirit is launching on April 17, 2018. 

Candice Kumai contributes to numerous, national wellness & lifestyle publications including ELLE, Cosmopolitan, Bon Appétit, Shape, Yoga Journal, Men’s Journal, Wall Street Journal, Well+Good, Pop Sugar, Girlboss and Byrdie. Top Chef alumni, Candice Kumai, has appeared as a regular judge on Iron Chef America & Beat Bobby Flay. 

Candice Kumai’s dedication to philanthropy + volunteer efforts includes partnerships with City Harvest, The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), Thousand Days, The Japan Society, Wellness in The Schools (WITS), Health Corps, The US-Japan Council, The Chef’s Garden, and The James Beard Foundation. She serves as a mentor for high school/college students through Health Corps & The Resolution Project. 

Candice Kumai has shared her message with global brands/institutions including Adidas, Nike, Chanel, Shiseido, Whole Foods, Samsung, Reebok, the NBA, The New York Times, Equinox, SoHo House, Lululemon, Yale University, University of San Diego, ABC Home Deepak Chopra Center, Thrive Global, & The Natural Gourmet Institute. 

Candice Kumai is a lover of vegan cake baking, matcha making & is a total sneakerhead. She loves her avocados, her cat Sisi, & a good-ass barre class. Candice Kumai lives in Brooklyn, NY and has been represented by WME IMG for 8+ years.

Get Connected With Candice Kumai!

Wabi-Sabi Podcast



Books by Candice Kumai 

Kintsugi Wellness


Clean Green Eats

Clean Green Drinks


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