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Asian American and Pacific Island brands to support during AAPI Month

From cooking sauces to books, there are a ton of great products from AAPI brands to check out

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month. It’s an excellent time to recognize the positive influences Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have had on the United States. One way to show your support is by buying high-quality items from people of these heritages. I’ve gathered some of my favorite AAPI-owned products below.

Best Choice for Adult Book: "Interior Chinatown" by Charles Yu

Author Charles Yu was raised by his Taiwanese immigrant parents in Los Angeles. He received the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 award and has written four books, with his latest being "Interior Chinatown."

The main character of "Interior Chinatown," Willis Wu, is a second-generation Taiwanese American (like the author). Wu doesn’t consider himself the protagonist of his own life, but rather a “Generic Asian Man.” Written much like a movie script, the book dives into Asian-American identity as Wu tries to make it as an actor while being stuck in stereotypical Asian roles like “Background Oriental Male.”

I only recently learned that he was nominated for two Writers Guild of America awards for his work on the show "Westworld" (I’ve watched every episode). But I didn’t learn about Yu or "Interior Chinatown" from the awards; it was recommended to me by my retired reading specialist mother.

Best Choice for Children's Book: "Cora Cooks Pancit" by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore

Lee & Low Books
Alpha XR
$9.86

Author Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore is the granddaughter of Filipino-Hawaiian and Italian immigrants. She has an MFA in Children’s Literature and has published three multicultural children’s books as well as a collection of poetry.

Her book "Cora Cooks Pancit" was named the Asian American Librarians Association’s Picture Book of the Year. In it, Cora helps her mother prepare Filipino dishes. When it’s time to make pancit, a spicy noodle dish with meat or seafood and vegetables, Cora takes on the more challenging, grown-up tasks, and nervously awaits the reactions to her cooking.

As someone with a degree in Elementary Education, I would definitely recommend this book to teachers. It’s also one my niece has requested to reread several times.

Trying out the Do Anything Foods Dinner Revival Kit.

Trying out the Do Anything Foods Dinner Revival Kit.

Hannah Kowalczyk-Harper for Hearst

Best Choice for Dinner Planning: Do Anything Foods Sauces

doanythingfoods.com
$45.00

Do Anything Foods is a female-founded business co-founded by Monica Salhotra and Allie Shanholt. Salhotra is of Indian descent and has stated their mission is to “bring healthy shortcuts to the kitchen through smart, accessible products. Do Anything Foods’ variety of sauces are flavorful and versatile.

I’ve tried all five of the brand’s available flavors, including Kale Pesto, Beet Lemon Pesto, Cauliflower Alfredo, Butternut Squash, and Tomato Veggie. It’s simple to serve these to anyone in my friend group because all of the sauces are vegan, organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and keto-friendly.

When my friend Beeshoua tried the Butternut Squash sauce, my favorite flavor, on some pasta, she immediately asked where she could buy some. I mainly use the sauces on pasta noodles and pierogies, but they also work well as dips. Recently, instead of on standard pasta noodles, I put the Beet Lemon pesto on Solely’s spaghetti squash noodles and felt I’d reached peak healthiness.

Best Choice for Dessert & Snacking: Highkey Cookies

Highkey was founded by AJ Patel, a first-generation Indian-American. Patel grew up in India and moved to the U.S. when he was 10 years old. He started his entrepreneurial career in high school and has never looked back.

Patel is currently on a mission to remove excess sugar from Americans’ diets. You'd never believe that from the taste, but his Highkey cookies have ZERO added sugar and are keto-friendly.

Don’t want to take my word for it? These cookies are rated the #1 Best Seller for Wafer Cookies on Amazon and boast more than 69,000 ratings.

Best Choice for Personal Hygiene: Blueland Hand Soap Tablets

Sarah Paiji Yoo, co-founder and CEO of Blueland, is the daughter of immigrant parents from Korea and Thailand. When the pandemic hit — a time when hand soap appreciation was seemingly at an all-time high — Paiji Yoo was receiving derogatory comments online for her heritage and the fact that some of her products are manufactured in China.

Blueland was formed from Paiji Yoo's mission to reduce single-use plastics, a mission that's easy to get behind. The brand creates hand soap tablets that dissolve in warm water inside a glass soap dispenser. After the tablet is dissolved, you can press down for foaming hand soap. No need to keep buying endless plastic soap bottles.

Best Choice for Jewelry: Kahili Creations

Marcia Asuncion Ricchiuti designs and handcrafts jewelry in her home studio in rural Hawaii. Her business was even able to flourish during the 2018 Kilauea Eruption in Leilani Estates. When you shop Kahili Creations, you’re not only supporting an AAPI business, but also a small, woman-owned business .

Asuncion Ricchiuti offers a stunning collection of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets made with quality materials, such as sterling silver and 14 karat gold. Don’t worry; you don’t need to fly to Hawaii to get this jewelry. Many pieces are sold on Amazon.

Best Choice for Pet Lovers:  P.L.A.Y. Lounge Beds

The brand P.L.A.Y., which stands for Pet Lifestyle And You, was founded by Deborah Feng and Will Chen. Chen wasn’t satisfied with the pet bed options on the market for his pug, so the pair began creating visually appealing, sustainable, comfortable pet beds with ergonomic support.

P.L.A.Y.'s beds are filled with 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, so they help eliminate plastic waste. The covers are hypoallergenic and you can toss them in your washing machine, too.

With the success of its dog beds, the brand has branched out to make dog toys, collars, and more with exclusive designs from around the globe.

Best Choice for Coffee: Bean & Bean

Bean & Bean is female-owned and co-founded by Jiyoon Han and her daughter Rachel. Jiyoon’s parents emigrated from South Korea and opened the first roastery in Queens, N.Y. This coffee is USDA organic, ethically sourced, fair trade certified, and traceable back to a small farm or cooperative.

Bean & Bean uses recyclable and compostable packaging, which is no surprise, as Jiyoon was the elected Social Accountability Coordinator of the Specialty Coffee Association (USA Chapter). As a bonus, the brand donates 1% of its coffee sales to The Sloth Institute in Costa Rica.