How To Fill Up With Nutrition To Leave Less Room For Junk

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“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Aloha, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #myAloha and #AlohaMoment

Do you feel it?  Do you feel the New Year coming?

Our Christmas celebrations just started this evening, and let me tell you…my family can COOK!  We celebrated with my Mom’s side of the family & we partied pot-luck style.  I am sitting here feeling full and happy—and ready for the New Year.

I’m ready for the fresh start that the New Year brings–especially in the area of health.

You all know I live a pretty healthy lifestyle, but every year without fail, by the end of the year and all the holiday celebrations, I have let my MOST healthy habits slip a bit.  I still am eating pretty clean and healthy, but I feel off-balance.  I am not paying as much attention as I typically would to getting the nutrients I need and making sure my diet is balanced.  There are days when I have too many carbs, other days I wonder if I had enough protein, & getting those superfood and greens in happen some days, but some days not.

Usually I would wait until the New Year to evaluate where I am at and be more mindful of my health, but not this year!  I’m starting NOW!  This does not mean I can’t enjoy the holidays and all the great food it brings, but it does mean that I want to be purposeful about getting all the good, nutritional stuff in my body FIRST so that the not-so-good-for-me stuff does not affect me as much. If I am full of nutrition, I have less room for the junk.


Here are some of the best ways I have found to fill up with nutrition:


1. Start with a smoothie.

I know, I know. You have heard it a million times…but there is a reason why smoothies are so popular.  They are so versatile and such an easy way to get fiber, protein, superfood, greens, veggies & fruits into the body.  They are also really appealing to eat in the morning or as a snack, which are 2 times of the day that it really counts to fill yourself full of nutrition.  I am excited to share with you a new favorite product called Aloha that I have been using in my smoothies…keep reading!


2. Make SURE you are getting enough protein.

We eat a lot of plants in our family, and even did quite a long stint with going vegetarian as a family.  We have recently added a bit of animal protein back into our diet, as I found it pretty hard to get my kids to eat enough plant protein, but it is only a couple of times a week and I am very picky about where the meat comes from.   I have made friends with our local farmers to get that good, grass-fed, organic meat.  BUT plant protein is still my first choice, so we still eat lots of beans, quinoa, greens and use plant protein powder in our smoothies.

That new favorite product I mentioned above?  It is called Aloha protein powder and I am super excited about it. I was instantly drown to this product when I read that one of the main ingredients is plant protein from pumpkin seeds!  I am familiar with whey protein, soy protein & pea protein–but this was the first time I have heard of pumpkin seed protein in a protein shake product.  It made me excited because I know how stinkin’ healthy pumpkin seeds are for you, and I have been trying to find ways to incorporate their goodness into our diet.

I will tell you more about Aloha protein powder below.


3. Make carbs count.

If you are going to eat carbs, make sure they count by being whole grains & full of fiber.  The fiber will slow down the digestions of the carbs, which in turn keeps the blood sugar stable.  Carbs are needed for fuel and energy, but they should not make up the bulk of your meals.  If the majority of your plate is white or yellow with pasta, bread, mac n cheese, white rice; then some changes need to happen.  This is what was happening in my family when we ate vegetarian.  I found that we were unbalanced and eating too many carbs.  Some carbs are good and needed, but make them count by making sure they contain fiber.


4. Drink your fill of water before indulging in other drinks.

Lets face it. The holidays are full of calories, so a great way to cut empty calories is by being mindful of your liquids.  Holidays bring egg nog, amaretto coffee, hot cider, hot cocoa, and all kinds of fun, festive drinks.  Go ahead and indulge, but drink a nice big glass of water before you do.  The water will fill you up and you will be satisfied with sipping more slowly on all those empty calorie drinks, and you will go for refills a bit less often.


5. Eat breakfast

It’s a given.  If you eat a good balance breakfast, you will not be as hungry and over indulge the rest of the day.  You will find that your concentration will be so much better if you start out the day with good nutrition.


6. Eat plants. Vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

Plant food is full of phytonutrients & antioxidants–all those amazing things that snuff out inflammation in our bodies and protect us from disease.  Plant food is filling, so if you are getting your share of plants, you will be full and less likely to overindulge.  That fried onion topped green bean casserole? It does not count! Watch for those recipes that add junk on top of your veggies & avoid them or take a smaller serving. If there is a raw vegetable platter and dip at those holiday parties, have some dip–but dip dainty–don’t scoop!

A quick nut tip: Did you know that if you have a palm-full of almonds 20 minutes before a meal, that it will curb your appetite and you will in turn eat much less?  It is a great trick.  I often grab a handful while I am making dinner.


7. Take a Multi-Vitamin.

I know little pills can in no way do what plant food can do, but I do believe they are a great ‘fall-back’ or a ‘just -in- case’ you didn’t get all of the vitamins and minerals you might need through food during the day.  I am learning more and more just how important certain minerals are for digestion & brain health & energy & clear skin & shiny hair &…well…the list goes on and on!  Just one deficiency in one type of vitamin or mineral can really throw one’s health off.



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Aloha Protein Powder

A protein smoothie is a great way to accomplish a lot of the tips above, all in one swoop.

I have tried many, many types of protein powders and have even reviewed some here on the blog, and let me just say, they keep getting better and better!  Aloha Protein Powder has for sure given protein powder a powerful improvement, and after using it for the last couple of weeks, I personally won’t have to look any further for a protein powder. It is by far my favorite. It tastes amazing.

It is a plant-based protein and uses superfood components.  It is made with organically grown and wild-harvested ingredients and is tested far beyond government regulations. It made responsibly both socially and ecologically.

The nutrients in the powder are made with whole foods, and has a complete amino acid profile, with no added chemical amino acids, vitamins or minerals.  Each serving provides 18 grams of plant-based protein!  It has no sugars & no fillers which is super important to me, especially the filler part.  I cannot stand buying a protein powder and later learning that most of my money went towards fillers!

The plant protein comes from Sacha Inchi Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds & Peas.  I like that!

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Let me just list the ingredients for the Vanilla Protein Powder and see if you are as impressed as I am:


Sacha Inchi Seed Protein, Pumpkin Seed Protein, Pea Protein, Coconut Water, Coconut Cream, Coconut Sugar, Apple Juice, Wild-Harvested Vanilla, Madagascar Cinnamon, Sunflower Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Hawaiian Pink Salt, Monk Fruit Extract

That ingredient list makes me very happy.  Short, sweet, recognizable & quality ingredients.

The Chocolate Protein Powder ingredients are just as impressive, and uses fair-trade cacao.  The chocolate is my favorite. When I tasted the powder for the first time, what hit me what that it did not have an after-taste or a weird texture.  I am hooked.

My favorite flavor is the chocolate.  My favorite way to use it is by blending it with almond milk & adding a spoonful of peanut butter.  OH. MY. YUM.

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The Aloha website has a ton of recipe ideas if you want to get more creative with the powder.

Would you like to try it out for yourself?  Do what I did and sign up for a free trial .  The trial is 14 days with the benefits of becoming auto-enrolled into the monthly subscription –while supplies last.  You will pay a small bit for shipping, but I am telling you…it is well worth it!

You can also follow Aloha on:

Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Instagram // Google+ //


Are you in the habit of drinking smoothies?

What time of day do you drink yours?


Crunchy Toasted Quinoa Topping


{“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Pure Via®, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PureViaSweet”}

Crunchy Toasted Quinoa Topping!  You are going to love this. It is an amazing way to add a healthy protein crunch to the top of your daily oatmeal or a berry yogurt snack.  It would even be great on top of ice cream.


I have been thinking about this recipe for about 2 years now. Yep, it is about time I allowed my taste buds the privilege of tasting crunchy, roasted, toasted quinoa again.

The first time I had toasted quinoa, I didn’t even know what it was! We were enjoying an amazing family trip at Disney, and were at Boma, a restaurant in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Boma is known for their breakfast buffet, and I’m a huge breakfast fan, so I was pretty excited to wake up that morning and EAT!

 It was my favorite breakfast meal during the whole vacation, and by far the best breakfast buffet I had ever had.  All of it was amazing, but there were 2 things really stood out to me.  First was their super fun drink called Jungle Juice, which was a refreshing combination of pineapple, orange, mango & lemonade.   Second was their amazing crunchy quinoa topping they had at their oatmeal bar.

I remember being intrigued by the sign that read ‘Toasted Quinoa’ and sprinkled it on my oatmeal with a curious shrug.  Quinoa was just starting its journey into the world of ‘trendy’ food, and I had always seen it cooked and soft…never toasted and crunchy.

Needless to say, I am still thinking about that bowl of oatmeal 2 years later! It made a big impression on me. It was DELICIOUS!

In searching for recipes of this Crunchy Quinoa topping, I have found a recipe that suggests at Disney, they cook the quinoa then sweeten it and deep fry it.  NO WONDER I loved it!

I was not about to put my precious, healthy quinoa into a fryer, so I went on a mission to create the same sweet and crunchy taste without the frying or calories.

banana quinoa oatmeal

I hit the jackpot in creating this recipe, and it tastes exactly like the toasted quinoa topping I remember at Disney.  It is crazy easy to make, and a jar of it sitting in my pantry makes me very, very happy!


There is a reason why quinoa has become the ‘it’ food.  This little grain packs a punch.

What is quinoa?

“Pronounced “keen-wah,” this protein-packed grain contains every amino acid, and is particularly rich in lysine, which promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body. Quinoa is also a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber. It looks a bit like couscous and is as versatile as rice, but quinoa has a richer, nuttier flavor than either of them.” {source}

It is a go-to protein source for vegetarians, has more calcium than milk, is great source of magnesium (which is the calming mineral–yes please!) zinc, and iron. It is also gluten-free! No wonder it is trendy… and I think it is here to stay!

One thing to know about quinoa is that it has a naturally bitter coating – which is a natural insect repellent -called saponin that needs to be rinsed off before preparing.  It needs a good soak  for 10-15 minutes before using.

I skip this step and make sure the quinoa I buy says ‘pre-soaked’ on the box.  I’m all about efficiency in the kitchen, and this saves time.  I still give it a quick rinse to remove any remaining saponin dust.


A key way I kept this toasted quinoa recipe healthy and low-calorie was by adding Pure Via ® to sweeten.  There is much I love about this brand of stevia, but the fact that it is non-GMO was the tipping point for me.  I’m sold.  It comes in handy packets to throw in your purse, and tastes really great with no bitter aftertaste.  It is made from the stevia plant and is a great way to add sweetness to food without adding sugar or artificial sweeteners. I found it at Walmart at a great price, but to make it even better, you can download a coupon to save .55 cents on a 40 packet count box, while supplies last.


This recipe has just a few ingredients – quinoa, cinnamon, coconut oil, salt, honey & stevia.  It only uses 1 tablespoon of both the oil and honey to a whole cup of quinoa, so calories are minimal. The honey is a great bonding agent, and adds a nice cinnamon glaze to the surface of the quinoa.  I wanted more sweetness than 1 tablespoon of honey provides, so Pure Via® stevia came to the rescue.



It’s a cute little grain, isn’t it?


Here is what it looks like with the ingredients all mixed in.  It comes together easily.  Just throw all of the ingredients into a bowl, and use the measuring spoon to give it a quick stir.


Simply spread onto a baking sheet (no need to grease the pan) and roast.  In just a few minutes, you have an amazingly healthy and tasty topping.



I used it along with bananas and coconut to top my morning steel-cut oats, and I also used it to top my afternoon raspberry yogurt snack.



Yesterday I put the yogurt in a mason jar, topped with raspberries and toasted quinoa, threw on a lid, grabbed a spoon and a couple of packets of stevia, and had the perfect to-go snack. Talk about a protein punch!



{for your pinning pleasure}

Crunchy Toasted Quinoa Topping

1 cup quinoa, pre-washed

1 Tbsp coconut oil (use refined coconut oil  if you don’t want coconut flavor, heat to liquid if solid)

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 Pure Via® packets + more to taste

Put all ingredients into a bowl. Stir well. Spread into a non-greased pan.  Roast at 375 degrees for 10-15 minuets, stirring once or twice.  Be careful not to over-toast.  Cool.  Taste.  Sprinkle with more salt or stevia if needed.

Top oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream or whatever your heart desires!


Want to know more about Pure Via® ? 

~You can find it at Walmart, where you can save $.55 on ONE (1) Pure Via® Non-GMO, All Natural, Zero Calorie 40 Ct. Packets

~Did you know Jewel is a fan of Pure Via®?  You can download her cookbook and free song here.

~Follow Pure Via® on Facebook for great food & recipe ideas.

~Do you tweet?  You can follow them at Twitter, too.