What’s Cooking: Leila Hurst’s Favorite Go-To Treat

What’s Cooking is ASN’s series dedicated to what we and our fellow adventurers love to eat. Get recipes, camp food inspiration and health and wellness tips to incorporate into your daily life.

There’s something so down-to-earth and easily relatable about pro surfer Leila Hurst.

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Hurst in her element. Photo: Russo

Hailing from Kauai, Leila is someone who is tied to her roots, her family and is humbly proud of where that’s taken her career and defined who she is today.

Her relationship with surfing was born from the belief that “the ocean heals everything,” and the strong influence the Garden Isle continues to have on her every day living.

We caught up with Leila to hear more about what inspires her, some of the wellness tips she lives by and the scoop on one of her favorite go-to healthy treats.

How has growing up on Kauai shaped who you are today?

Kauai is my everything, it has made me exactly who I am today. I feel so grateful every single day that I was able to grow up on a little rock with such a sweet little, loving community.

On Kauai, all there is to do is surf and be at the beach. It’s so mellow and so special because there is beauty all around you.

I live in California now at least half the year and love it. But there is something about being in the tropics, it’s so easy to run out for a surf, take my dog for a run on the beach, go on a hike. I really do appreciate California and Kauai for different reasons, I am so grateful to experience both.

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Some solid frontside rail work by Hurst. Photo: Russo

Talk about your relationship with surfing.

My relationship with surfing is my happiness. I’ve always felt like the ocean literally heals everything. If I stayed home from school for being sick, my dad would make me go surfing with him just to jump in the ocean and brush it off. My mom hated it! But It’s true, the ocean makes me a better person.

What do you draw on as a source of inspiration?

I get inspired by so much. My peers, the girls I surf with — we inspire each other to surf our best and encourage one another. I get inspired by being with a company like Vans because they motivate me to be creative and have self-expression. I thrive off of that stuff!

How does surfing influence the way you train and the way you eat?

Well, I’m that annoying person you travel with that can’t eat anything. I am allergic to dairy, so that’s a tough one. The boys at Vans ALWAYS order pizza on the road. The struggle is real, but I make it work.

I make sure when I travel to stay active. It’s easy not to do, trust me! I love to run and usually when I’m on trips I’m surfing. So that’s just perfect for me.

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Hurst after a sunset session. Photo: Russo

Share some of your food and wellness beliefs with us. What has worked for you, what have you stuck with and seen results with?

When I was younger I broke out (like any teen). My sister told me to stop eating sugar, so I stopped and I can’t tell you how quickly my skin cleared up. I eat sugar now, but if you are struggling with that I highly recommend reducing the sugar intake.

I don’t eat dairy and that also works well for me. For the most part, I love food, I love snacks and I love coffee. I try to eat as well as I can … most of the time.

Has your relationship with the ocean affected the way you think about what you consume? Not necessarily just the food you eat, but also your lifestyle, what you buy, etc.?

I guess it has! I am in a bikini everyday so I guess I’m a little conscious. But you know what, I love my body and that’s all that matters.

Leila’s Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies

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Um, yes please. Photo: Charisse Kenion

“This is my favorite healthy desert. It’s too easy, that’s why I do it,” Hurst tells ASN.


1 cup of peanut butter or almond butter, or both!
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
(Sometimes I add chocolate chips)


Heat oven to 375 degrees, combine all ingredients and put on a cookie sheet. Bake for 9 minutes. Enjoy!

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