AlmondMilk Tasting Challenge + Almond Vanilla Maple Spiced Mocha



My newly homeschooled Colsie girl & I had some fun recently with a taste test of 2 different brands of almond milk. We participated in the Silk Almondmilk Taste Challenge and used a brand that we are familiar with against Silk Almondmilk. These are the fun things I get to do with her during the day & I love it!



We have been drinking plant-based milk around here for over 4 years. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, I read the book ‘The China Study.’ In it the authors link breast cancer to the long-term exposure to higher concentrations of female hormones and a high concentration of blood cholesterol. They argue that all these risk factors are linked to a diet high in animal protein, particularly casein from cow milk. The average Chinese woman is exposed to 35-40 percent of the lifetime estrogen exposure of the average British or American woman, and the rate of breast cancer among Chinese women is about one-fifth of the rate among Western women. {source}

Needless to say, because my cancer was estrogen fed, my ears perk up to findings like this. It makes me want to be more balanced when it comes to consuming animal products, and using plant-based milk in place of cow milk is a way we do that in our family.



Almond milk has been our milk of choice. It is super versatile in recipes, and has a really clean and light taste.


~It has 50% more calcium than dairy milk

~Is a great source of vitamin D & E

~It has no casein, no gluten, no lactose, no egg, no soy & no MSG–which makes it a great & healthy product for those with food sensitivities.




We don’t usually drink milk by the glass in our family. Never have. We use it over cereal, in oatmeal, in smoothies, in soups & to make warm, comforting drinks. When my girl saw that she was going to drink it straight from a jar, she was a bit unsure, as this is not the way we usually use almond milk. When she realized it was a taste test and would get to have an opinion (she is at that age where there seems to be an opinion on everything!) and that opinion was actually WANTED (grin), she was on board and eagerly gave both brands a try.

She took a sip of both brands of milk, and immediately pointed to her choice — Silk Almondmilk. I asked her why she chose Silk and she said it tasted more ‘real.’ I agreed with her. The texture was creamy but light, and had a ‘just-right-not-overly-sweet’ flavor.

I was happy she chose the Silk brand because Silk Almondmilk had a shorter ingredient list than the other brand, with no artificial colors, flavors or funny business!



INGREDIENTS: Almondmilk (Filtered Water, Almonds), Cane Sugar, Sea Salt, Natural Flavor, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Gellan Gum.

VITAMINS & MINERALS: Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E Acetate, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D2.




You are going to really love this one. Really, REALLY! This drink took just minutes to whip up, and has the flavor of a drink that one would pay way too much for at a fancy -schmancy coffee shop.

Speaking of coffee shops, a local coffee shop is where I got the inspiration for this ALMOND VANILLA MAPLE SPICED MOCHA. They have an Aztec Mocha that is chocolatey and has a bit of a bite at the end. They use cayenne pepper, and it gives the warm drink a super interesting taste sensation. A hot drink is already warming, but add a bit of heat to warm the palette and boy…is it amazing & addicting. Perfect for a chilly, fall day.

This recipe is super similar to the one at my local coffee shop. I had my little taste tester taste this recipe, and she loved it. She asked how much coffee was in it, and seemed pretty impressed with herself that she liked a drink with coffee in it! That made me smile. She is growing up and is simply adorable.



She would not let me take her picture for the taste test…she just was “not in the mood” for a picture. Luckily we had a photo shoot with her talented Aunt Laurie the day before so I have this picture to share with you.


Isn’t she lovely?




serves 1

1 cup Silk Vanilla Almondmilk

1/2 cup double- strength brewed coffee

1 Tbsp cocoa powder

1-2 Tbsp maple syrup

pinch of cinnamon

2-3 dashes of cayenne or a pinch of red pepper flakes

pinch of salt



Brew you double strength coffee. Heat the almondmilk until quite hot. Add cocoa powder. Whisk the cocoa powder into the milk, briskly stirring until all clumps have melted away. Stir in the coffee, spices and maple syrup. Adjust the sweetness and spice according to your own taste.


{for your pinning pleasure}



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This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

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.