March 2023



Moʻolelo: Alexander Niuatoa

Hawaiian Youth & Vaping

Article: 13% of Americans over 50 are addicted to processed foods

Recipe: Rainbow Drive-In Shoyu Chicken

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March is National Nutrition Month, where everyone is invited to learn more about making informed food choices, developing heart-healthy eating habits and adding physical activity every day.

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Alexander Niuatoa

Alexander (Coach Alex) Niuatoa, a California native from the Bay Area, is the President and Founder of Toa Strength Non-Profit Organization. With a passion for coaching and fitness, he has 10+ combined years of experience as a physical education teacher, football coach, strength & conditioning coach and a certified personal trainer. 


Coach Alex grew up in Hayward, CA and graduated from Hayward High School. He then played football and attended Laney College before transferring to Kansas Wesleyan University where he also played football and earned his bachelor's degree in Sports and Exercise Science. After earning his Bachelor's degree, he pursued his Master’s degree in Kinesiology from California State University-East Bay. 

Coach Alex has been coaching high school football since 2018. He's worked as a strength and conditioning coach at Holy Names University and as a Master Personal Trainer in San Francisco since 2015 before becoming a physical education teacher in 2019. Coach Alex currently works as a PE teacher, strength & conditioning coach and assistant football coach at Hayward High. He started Toa Strength in 2022 to help give low-income youth in his community access to free sports performance training and competitions. His belief is that sports and fitness can be used as a vehicle to help youth develop the necessary skills and experiences to be successful in life. 

Share your name, your ʻohana/family names and your favorite ʻāina or wai...what land/water source are you most connected to and why. 


My name is Alexander Niuatoa. I am a Panamanian and Samoan American. Son of Lucy Hoyos of Panama and Aifaí Niuatoa of Samoa. Grandson of Fautua Niuatoa Sr. and Mata'u Niuatoa of Olosega, American Samoa. My family originates from the villages of Manuá in American Samoa. I am most connected to the Bay Area, especially Hayward, CA. Hayward is home for me and where I have spent the majority of my life, but have made many memories throughout the Bay. 

What are you grateful for and why? 

I am grateful for my partner Michelle. Michelle is the reason I am able to do everything I set out to do. She holds things down at home and all other aspects of my life. I wouldn't be able to serve my community without her. She has shown me a love that I haven't experienced before. We have a 2-year old son together and she is the best mother to him. I look forward to spending the rest of my life with her and growing our family. 

What brings you joy? 


My son, Mako Niuatoa, brings me so much joy. Becoming a father has been one of the best experiences I've had in life. It is the best feeling to have a miniature version of yourself look up to you and see only the best in you. Mako is smart, funny and loves to bring joy to anyone he encounters.

During difficult journeys, how do you heal and restore your health and mental well-being? 


Weight lifting has been an outlet for me to help me heal and restore my physical and mental well-being during difficult times. When I lift weights, it is an escape.

I'm able to get away from what is bothering me during a workout and able to take my emotions out on the weights. Weight lifting also allows me time to process situations and emotions during a weight training session.

I'm able to think things through clearly and gain a better perspective. Physically, I have always been obese and did not have confidence when I was younger. Weight lifting has helped me build self-confidence over the years, as I have developed strength. There is nothing like the feeling of a post workout pump!

How do you share your manaʻo and mana with your keiki? 


I share my mana through fitness and sports. I use fitness and sports as a vehicle to help my keiki develop the necessary skills and values to be successful in the world. So many life lessons can be learned through sports and fitness. Skills such as time management, organization, resiliency, accountability and so many other skills are skills that many keiki lack, especially post COVID. Fitness and sport are a fun way for keiki to learn these skills that can transfer to the real world. 

What is your favorite way to move your kino (body)? 


My favorite way to move my body is through sports. I played little league baseball, was a 3-sport athlete in high school and played football and rugby at the collegiate level. I love to compete whether it's in an organized sport or pick-up basketball with friends. Playing sports has always been a fun way for me to stay active throughout my life. I´ve always been good at sports and take pride in being a bigger person who could perform as good as the smaller athletes.

What is a quote that empowers you? 


¨The only easy day was yesterday.¨


My coach and mentor Tommy Turner Sr. was a Navy Seal and would always tell us this quote while putting us through difficult workouts. One day we asked him, ¨Why?¨ His response was, ¨Because it's over.¨ He told us that each day there will be new challenges that we will face and that life doesn't get easier. We must learn to be resilient and persevere through life's obstacles. This quote has helped me push through many situations whether it was a difficult workout or a tough time in life. 

Would you share an easy, healthy-heart recipe that your ʻohana enjoys? 

Koko rice might not be very healthy, but is definitely a comfort food that my ʻohana enjoys. It is a simple dish, yet satisfying and delicious. It can be served as a main course or as a dessert. It is best served on a cold day with a side of buttered French bread!


1 cup rice

8 cups water

1 can coconut milk or evaporated milk

1/2 cup sugar or to your taste

1/2 cup Nestle Quick or Koko Samoa 

A Case for Us to Mālama ʻŌpio & End Vaping in Hawaiʻi

Tobacco has long been targeting people in Hawaiʻi. Our community has seen Big Tobacco's tactics shift as they’ve gender-targeted their marketing and added subversive methods to get even younger people to pick up the habit. In recent years, there's been a marked rise in ʻōpio (youth) vaping and e-cigarettes usage across the pae ʻāina.

Papa Ola Lōkahi, along with their partners, is releasing accurate information about the chemicals found in vape products, better understanding vaping's impact on one's kino (body), and ways to stop vaping. Below is a preview of some of that information.

In a world where our very survival depends on the transmission of ʻike from kūpuna to the next generations, it's vital that we ensure our moʻopuna are around to take that ʻike and perpetuate it for future generations.

No ka ʻōpio (For the youth):  The pressures and curiosities of today are not the same as those generations before you. You have the power to forge your future, without the influence of nicotine. I ola no ke kino; life for the body. Be steadfast toward your future goals and don't let tobacco use cloud your pathway.

No nā mākua (For the Parents):  Raising your keiki isn't always the easiest. We know it can feel like you're making it day by day. Be makaʻala. Vaping is not safer than cigarettes for your child. We, as a community, need to make sure our kids have the best shot in life, and that must be a future without nicotine. Keep raising your kids right, and make sure you're modeling the best behaviors possible.

Whether ʻōpio, mākua or kūpuna, if you're ready to stop smoking (cigarettes or vaping), we are here to help. There are resources available, so you don't have to walk that path alone. 


click to download

Hawaiʻi Island: Hāmākua-Kohala HealthHawaiʻi Island: Hāmākua-Kohala Health: Start your journey to stop using tobacco and electronic smoking devices (vaping)
Hard Facts About Vaping Among Native Hawaiian Youth
My Life, My Quit – Quitline. Text “Start my Quit” to 36072 or call 1-855-891-9989
Escape The VapeCDC Quick Facts on the Risks of E-Cigarettes for Kids, Teens and Young Adults

13% of Americans over 50

are addicted to processed foods

How are you fueling your body? Your keiki? How did your ancestors eat? Try to model that, at home, by adding more fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meat and fish and less package, processed foods with ingredients we’re not familiar with.

Thirteen percent of the over-50 population, or about 1 in 8 people over 50, cannot control their consumption of highly processed foods — such as sweet or salty snacks, fatty foods and sugary drinks, according to a report from the University of Michigan’s ongoing National Poll on Healthy Aging.

The report’s findings were based on a nationally representative sample of 2,163 people ages 50 to 80. The 13% were found to have two or more symptoms of addiction to highly processed foods, but nearly half of the participants (44%) had at least one symptom.

The most common symptoms were intense cravings, along with unsuccessful attempts to cut back on consumption and signs of withdrawal, such as irritability, trouble concentrating and headaches. Those with a food addiction also reported distress or problems in their daily life caused by their eating behavior.

More women than men met addiction criteria, and the percentage also was higher among those who were overweight or felt isolated from others, and those who described their physical or mental health as fair or poor.

Addiction to highly processed foods was found to be more common among adults 50 to 64 than those 65 to 80. The researchers wrote that the addictive nature of such foods might stem from their ability to trigger the brain’s release of dopamine, sometimes called a feel-good chemical, “at levels comparable to nicotine and alcohol.” The release of dopamine sparks good feelings as well as the desire to continue or repeat the feeling.

Addiction to processed foods found in 13 percent of Americans over 50 - The Washington Post

Recipe: Rainbow Drive-In Shoyu Chicken

This was our first stop when we traveled back to Oʻahu with my ʻohana! Rainbow Drive-In opened in 1961 and is a local classic! “I like one mix-plate with a slush float, please.”


5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

Shoyu Chicken Sauce:

1 cup Aloha shoyu

¾ cup sugar

2 ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 ½ tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ teaspoon minced garlic

1 oz peeled ginger

Slurry (to thicken):

3 tablespoon flour

3 tablespoon water

How to Make Rainbow Drive-In Shoyu Chicken - Hawaii Magazine


1. Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

2. Add the chicken to a large sauté pan over medium heat and pour in the sauce. Bring to a boil.

3. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, skimming off any fat that rises.

4. Bring to a boil again and add in the slurry. Lower the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes to thicken.

5. Remove from heat and arrange chicken in a deep serving platter and cover with the remaining sauce.

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