When you select wine at a restaurant, do you find yourself pointing at the print instead of attempting to pronounce the foreign names? Do you pick your wines based simply on price, or maybe a vague notion that you like reds more than whites? It’s time to stop guessing and start having some fun with your drink order.   Wine

Pop the Cork- Ease into things with a social group like the d’Vine Wine Club at d’Vine Bar & Shop in Dunwoody. Members and non-members meet monthly to taste seven carefully selected wines and cheeses. In addition to the fun atmosphere, members receive discounts on bottles, so you can take them home and impress your friends with the information you’ve learned.

Vintage Education- For a more structured wine education, visit a place like Atlanta Wine School, which offers novice classes for those who want to begin with the basics. Their “For Beginners Only” class held at Vino Venue will teach you about key flavors of various wines, help you learn to distinguish and describe what you’re tasting, and will include seven fine wines along with cheeses, meats, nuts and crackers.

Master the Merlot- Once you’ve got the basics and have sampled a variety of wines, you can take your wine education to the next level by becoming one of the experts. Atlanta Wine School can help you become a Certified Specialist of Wine in their comprehensive course. Registration includes four seven-hour instruction days, a 300-page study guide from the Society of Wine Educators, and of course, plenty of tastings and activities to learn the subject matter firsthand. After completing these courses, or even after a few friendly wine group meetings, you’ll soon be able to select each sip with confidence.

Details: www.atlantawinebar.com, www.atlantawineschool.com

 

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Ladies, prepare for things to get a little messy! The Dirty Girl 5K Mud Run and Obstacle Course hits Lake Lanier Resort on Saturday, April 12. Perfect for women of all fitness levels, the Dirty Girl Mud Run encourages ladies to have a great time with their friends and let go of the everyday worries of life.

Since getting it’s start in 2011, the run has become the premier women’s only mud run event and is held in over 25 cities in the U.S. Dirty Girl events hope to inspire ladies to run, walk, climb, jump and laugh their way, hand in muddy hand, to an unabashed sense of accomplishment. They even let teenage girls in on the fun, the minimum age to participate is 14.

Dirty Girl Mud RunAnd if you are worried about the obstacle course aspect, don’t be. Dirty Girl assures it’s participants that all of the obstacles are manageable for most fitness levels. But if you simply do not want to do one, you don’t have to! The run is not about competing with other women, it is non-timed and strictly about bonding with your friends and having a great time. You can participate as an individual or as part of a team with all of your pals.

Dirty Girl is also about giving back. Dirty Girl events has partnered with Bright Pink, an organization whose mission is to encourage and educate women to understand the signs, symptoms and risk factors of breast and ovarian cancer. Together, Bright Pink and Dirty Girl focus on empowering women to lead healthier, happier lives. So far, Dirty Girl has donated over $400,000 to Bright Pink, and they hope to surpass that number this year. Not only does Dirty Girl raise money for Bright Pink, but they also support and encourage cancer survivors. At each Dirty Girl event, up to 300 complimentary registrations are available to cancer survivors.

The registration fee is $85 but rises to $100 on April 2, so register today!

Details: www.godirtygirl.com, www.brightpink.com 

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Last week, Best Self staffers attended the city of Smyrna’s Community Day of Action for Ready Smyrna’s PrepareAthon! The Day of Action included a city-wide tornado drill and a full scale exercise at Emory-Adventist Hospital. At noon Friday, the city activated its outdoor warning sirens to simulate the tornado warning. The city has strategically placed 10 sirens throughout the city to notify citizens of approaching severe weather threats. EAH also practiced the evacuation of patients due to damage from a tornado. Smyrna PrepareAthon!

This is Smyrna’s first community-wide test in their PrepareAthon! campaign, which was launched in September. It is part of the nationwide campaign, America’s PrepareAthon! which strives to increase emergency preparedness, increase understanding of disasters and to teach citizens how to be safe and mitigate damage in the face of a disaster.

This was also the first test for the City of Smyrna and Emory-Adventist Hospital’s Joint Emergency Operations Center. Located on the EAH campus, the JEOC was developed in the fall of 2013 to serve as a single point of command for disasters and emergency management for the city and the hospital.   During Friday’s drill the JEOC was staffed by EAH Incident Command, City of Smyrna Fire and Police departments, Cobb-Douglas Public Health, Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Metro Ambulance.

Smyrna is home to over 52,650 residents from all walks of life and Ready Smyrna’s PrepareAthon! aims to help them take steps towards personal preparedness, to increase their ability to survive a disaster and reduce economic devastation following a major crisis. According to a national survey conducted by FEMA in 2012, 54 percent of the U.S. population does not believe their community will experience a natural disaster. Only 39 percent have discussed a plan with their family members and almost 50 percent do not have supplies set aside in their home for use in a disaster.  Hopefully by making people aware of community alerts and warning systems, both the national and  Ready Smyrna’s PrepareAthon! can help change those numbers and teach people to be prepared in the case of an emergency, weather related or not. Smyrna PrepareAthon!

Not only is Smyrna one of two cities in Georgia with their own Emergency Management Agency, they are the first community in Georgia to launch a preparedness and emergency alert app for their residents. The app is currently available for Android users and will be available for ITunes users in April.

“The first step in being prepared is being informed,” said Smyrna Deputy Fire Chief Roy Acree. “By simply downloading this free App, the users will be notified of emergencies including severe weather.”

For more information about Ready Smyrna’s PrepareAthon!, visit www.readysmyrna.com.

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Hello all! Is everyone having a good week? This week has flown by for me. And I have a confession to make: my no wheat or dairy attempt lasted a day! I woke up late Monday morning—shocking—and the fastest breakfast option was to toast some Ezekiel bread and eat it on the way to work. Then I realized I was out of green tea yesterday and was in desperate need of an afternoon caffeine boost, so coffee with some milk was a must. But hey, I gave it a shot! Now I know that to stick to a diet with dairy or wheat, you definitely have to be prepared! If I would have had the time or the dairy-free and wheat-free resources maybe I would have stuck to it. I will let you know if I ever give it another shot!

Coffee

Guilty as charged.

With that said, I think there is a misconception out there about a clean eating diet. Before I decided to do this and did a fair amount of research on it, I assumed it was just some crazy diet where you were deprived of the foods you love, which sounded terrible to me; that turned out not to be the case at all. Clean eating is not about depriving yourself, it is about finding delicious and healthy foods you love. It is about substituting the good for the bad, whether it is applesauce for dessert instead of a bowl of ice cream or olive oil instead of canola oil or butter.  There are so many healthy and clean alternatives to unhealthy foods out there; there is no reason to ever feel deprived while eating clean.

I have already talked about clean eating substitutions when cooking, but for this post I have compiled some of my favorite clean eating food swaps.

Chick Peas

Put out a bowl of chickpeas instead of a bowl of chips!

First up . . . the potato chip! I have always been a huge fan of the potato chip. With its satisfying crunch and salt-covered exterior, the chip has always been one my favorite snacks. I even like to put them in my sandwich for a wonderful added crunch. While those days may be over, I can still get my salty, crunchy fix. During my 30 Days of Clean Eating, I have taken to eating baked sweet potato fries, popcorn, chickpeas or my trusty almonds (of course) when I am craving something salty.

Another smart and easy clean eating swap is to eat quinoa instead of rice. Not only is quinoa one of the most protein- and fiber-rich “grains” you can eat, it is also great for when you want something crunchy and filling. It is my favorite new side dish for dinner and also an easy and transportable lunch to take to work. And even though it is often called the “super grain of the future,” quinoa isn’t a grain at all. It is actually a seed from a spinach or Swiss chard like vegetable.

Almond Butter

Now back to my huge fail when it came to not eating dairy or wheat: my daily morning toast. I used to be a strict buttered toast girl, and I still am. But now it is almond butter instead of dairy butter. I can’t say enough about how filling and perfect a slice of whole wheat toast with almond butter in the morning is. It keeps me full for hours and can be eaten in the car, which is where I usually eat mine. Almond butter is also a great alternative to peanut butter. They are about the same calorie wise, but with almond butter you get all those “super food” health benefits you would get from eating raw almonds. Just make sure you get all-natural almond butter and not full of crazy ingredients. Make sure the ingredients list is limited to raw almonds.

I have never really been a big fan of mayonnaise, but sometimes it is nice to add a little something to your sandwich. For those times, try mashing up an avocado instead of using mayo. Avocado will add the familiar texture of mayo plus all of the great and healthy benefits that avocados bring to the table. Another cool food swap idea is to make avocado chicken salad. In place of mayo in any chicken salad recipe, use mashed avocado and Greek yogurt. Another great use for Greek yogurt is to use it instead of sour cream. It is as simple as that to eat a little cleaner in your everyday life!

So those are a few of my tips about how to easily add a little more clean eating to your lives. As always, feel free to email me with any questions recipes or advice you might have at lstroud@bestselfatlanta.com. Check back in later this week for a new post! Have a great day!

-Lizzy Stroud

And to catch up on 30 Days of Clean Eating, here is what you have missed! How to Eat Out and Clean! Let’s Eat Clean!  Get Started Eating Clean  Budget Bites  Pour Some Sugar On Me…Or Not  Week One Progress Report  Snack Attack  Out with the Bad, In with the Good  Week Two Progress Report  Super Foods to the Rescue!

 

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Certified associate pranic healer and licensed minister Ursula Lentine is here to give you her best advice about toxic relationships.

Ursula Lentine

How would you define a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship is usually about a controller and a controllee. There is likely an unequal power dynamic that makes one party feel trapped.

What are the pitfalls of allowing a toxic relationship to continue?

The pitfalls of staying in a toxic relationship is that there is a daily wearing away of the soul.

Why do people allow toxic relationships in their lives?

When we are in the pattern, we can’t see the pattern. It’s a familiar way of existing.

What is your advice for removing a toxic relationship from your life?

Identifying the level of toxicity is the first step to removing a toxic relationship from your life. Are you afraid of this person? Do you lie? Does addressing an issue become a war? Is the relationship “my way or the highway”? Do you not have many friends? Does this person bring out your best self?

Where can people go for support?

The work I do can help you get clear and empower yourself to break free. The answer lies within.

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Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you are all having a great weekend and enjoying the first few days of spring! This post marks my last week of eating clean and I have really enjoyed this experience. I have learned so much about clean food and my health and plan on sticking to a lot of the practices I have learned.How to Eat Out and Clean!

Whole Roasted Chicken

My first whole roasted chicken was a success!

In order to gain the full clean eating experience, I have decided to cut out wheat and dairy from my final week of clean eating. Wheat and dairy are processed foods, but, if you eat the right kind, don’t contain a ton of unknown ingredients. I have cut down on both a lot already, but I love having Greek yogurt or whole wheat toast for a quick breakfast. It is just going to take a little more planning, and getting up a little earlier, on my part, but I think I can do it. I see a lot of egg whites and fresh fruit in my future. And I also think it will be really good for me to get the full clean eating experience. With that said, I know there are people out there who love to cook but have that one night where cooking is the last thing they want to do. Even while eating clean and having my meals planned, this has definitely happened to me over the last few weeks. And I also want people to know that just because you are on a clean diet doesn’t mean that eating out is not an option. You just have to be smart and prepared about it! Here are my tips for how to eat out while eating clean! 1. First of all, like I said before, be prepared! Check out the restaurant’s menu online before you go. This way you can get a feel for the options you will have and go ahead and pick the cleanest item on the menu. Today with all of the gluten-free and vegan eaters out there, some restaurants have started to specify those items on their menu, which is a nice place to start. 2. Secondly, modify your order to be clean. If you order a salad, ask for the dressing on the side and if you order a meal that usually comes with fries get veggies or fruit instead. One of the local restaurants I have gone to while eating clean is Farm Burger. It was easy to eat clean there with their great veggie burgers and  gluten-free buns. 3. I also suggest anticipating the items that some restaurants bring to your table automatically. For example, if you go to a Mexican restaurant, ask your server to not bring you a basket of chips and salsa. Or if you are know you are at a restaurant where they bring you bread, pass on that. But if you are eating with a group of friends who want chips or bread, just use your self-control. But let’s be honest, not having the offending chips or bread there to tempt you is a lot easier than resisting them when they are right in front of you! 4. My final tip is to enjoy your night off of cooking and try to find something clean on the menu that you actually want to eat. Another favorite clean eating spot of mine is Zoe’s. They have a ton of chicken entrees that you can tailor to be clean. I love getting their chicken kabobs with a Greek salad on the side. I hope those tips will help you out the next time you just don’t feel like cooking! And for when you do feel like cooking, here are a few of my favorite recipes I made this week!

Spag. Squash Primavera

This Spaghetti Squash recipe is a must try!

Sweet Potato Oven Fries – You all know I love these; this is my favorite way to prepare them. Abbie’s White Chicken Chili – A friendly blog reader sent me this yummy and healthy chicken chili recipe. This recipe makes enough to last a week, so your lunches are covered! Spaghetti Squash Primavera – This is one of the most delicious spaghetti alternative recipes I have tried yet! Ina Garten’s Whole Roasted Chicken– I am a huge Barefoot Contessa fan. I made this last Sunday night. Then I used the leftover chicken in the White Chicken Chili and made chicken broth from the bones.     And here is my dairy free and wheat free menu for my last week of clean eating! Y’all have a great day and come back in a few days for my favorite clean eating food swaps. See you soon!

Menu

- Lizzy Stroud And to catch up on 30 Days of Clean Eating, here is what you have missed! Let’s Eat Clean!  Get Started Eating Clean  Budget Bites  Pour Some Sugar On Me…Or Not  Week One Progress Report  Snack Attack  Out with the Bad, In with the Good  Week Two Progress Report  Super Foods to the Rescue!

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Sweet Potato Oven Fries: 

Sweet Potato Oven Fries

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into “fries”
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Cumin to taste

Method: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Spray a 9 X 13 inch baking sheet with olive oil.
  3. Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt and cumin.
  4. Spread in a single layer in prepared baking dish. Don’t crowd them or they won’t be crispy.
  5. Cook for 15 minutes. Take them out and turn them over.
  6. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until slightly brown and crispy.
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Abbie’s White Chicken Chili 

White Chicken Chili

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tsp cumin
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup salsa verde
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 15 ounces white beans
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 Tsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • Diced avocado to top
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Soak beans over night.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the onion and jalapeno peppers. Cook until tender, for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cumin, cook until fragrant.
  4. Add the broth, salsa verde, chicken, beans, quinoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken and shred, return to soup along with lime juice and celery.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  7. Serve with diced avocado on top.
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Jessica Shops Pick of the Month

I recently had the privilege of visiting our hometown tea company, Teavana, and the tasting room inside their Buckhead headquarters where I spent the afternoon learning about and tasting tea. teavana

Tea is a delicious and healthy beverage, but if you aren’t sure it’s for you, stop by any Teavana store and ample their loose tea. The multitude of tea leaf flavors and combinations offer endless choices. I recommend the Silver Needle White Tea for its smooth flavor. Also, CocoCaramel Sea Salt Herbal is the perfect no-calorie treat that will satisfy a sweet tooth and is my personal favorite.

As the newest member of the Starbucks family, Teavana plans to reinvent the way we enjoy tea. It is rumored that tea will soon rival coffee and tea bars will be as popular as coffee shops. If you collect star rewards on your Starbucks card, you’ll be happy to know the card is now accepted at Teavana stores.

Details: www.teavana.com 

For more info on Jessica visit www.jessicashops.com 

 

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Single Atlanta‘s Lisa Lyngos is here to give you her best advice about toxic relationships.

Lisa Lyngos

How would you define a toxic relationship?

Toxic relationships are draining, stressful and inauthentic. These are relationships that do not allow people to be truly open and honest. They sadly rob you of the freedom to be yourself.

What are the pitfalls of allowing a toxic relationship to continue?

By allowing a dysfunctional relationship to continue, you set yourself up to endure an ongoing series of emotionally painful experiences.

What is your advice for removing a toxic relationship from your life?

Begin my admitting that you are participating in a toxic relationship to yourself and to other you trust. Admitting it is the first step in taking the power away from the relationship and separating yourself from it. The next step is to create a positive plan for moving forward.

Where can people go for support?

Seek the help of neutral professionals like counselors, life coaches, matchmakers and clergy. Experts who do not know you intimately are able to give honest and objective advice about your situation as well as the tools necessary for change.

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