Hello there! Is everyone ready for the weekend? I know I am. Now, as I mentioned in my first post, I have something of a sweet tooth. It has been a lifelong friend, but now it is something of a foe. One of the aspects of my clean eating plan is to cut out sugar, and I have been successful so far. But when I say cut out sugar, I don’t mean naturally occurring sugars like those found in fruits and vegetables. I mean added sugars, like those that come from sodas, baked goods, candy or simply adding sugar to your coffee or tea. Those are the things I am cutting out of my diet. No refined, ultra-processed white table sugar for me, or anything else with added sugars for that matter.


Honestly, I have wanted to cut out added sugar from my diet for a while. I have been reading too many articles on how bad it is for your health to want to continue using it. From what I have seen, you get no added health benefit from eating sugar—it is pure energy, can cause a whole host of health problems and diseases, and is highly addictive.

Having said that, most of you are probably wondering how in the world I am going to survive these 30 days without my sweet fixes. I was feeling the same way before this month began. But that was before I discovered some great alternatives to sugar and to the sweets I loved so much.

First of all, I can still add a little sweetness into my day without using refined white sugar. White sugar is basically pure sucrose and gets stripped of all of its good qualities, like vitamins and minerals, when it gets processed and refined. I found sugar alternatives to add to my food that are pure and unrefined, and therefore still have their good qualities intact. My favorite sugar alternative is honey. While it has near the same amount of calories that table sugar has, it is much sweeter. A little goes a long way. I use natural and organic honey, which is also said to have antibacterial properties.  Honey

While honey is the only added sugar alternative I have used so far, there are a few others that work for a clean eating diet as well. Agave nectar is a sweetener from Mexico that comes from the agave cactus. It is much sweeter than table sugar and also has a few less calories, if you are worried about that kind of thing.

Other popular sugar alternatives for clean eaters are date sugar, coconut sugar and Stevia. I am planning to try some of these throughout the month, and I will keep you posted on how that goes.

This first week, I have tried out a few great recipes to curb my hungry sweet tooth, and they have done the job perfectly! Most of them revolved around fresh fruit, which makes them nice and sweet while still being clean. In my previous post about eating clean on a budget, I talked about cooking big batches of baked applesauce.


The apples… pre-smashing.

This recipe was so delicious and tasted just like apple pie. It has been the perfect light dessert to get my sweet fix after dinner. I plan on making a big batch of this again this weekend to enjoy all next week. I also found a great recipe for almond butter cookies that I am going to try out this weekend. And for the ultimate easy sweet snack . . . honeyed oranges! You just throw some oranges and honey into a bowl and let it sit for a bit. So simple and so delicious.

So that’s my two cents on sugar and sugar alternatives! Here are a few more recipes that I have tried since the last time I posted.

Quinoa Jambalaya from He and She Eat Clean - This recipe makes so much. I have been eating this for lunch for the past two days. I am all about embracing leftovers. I also used fresh diced tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes and chicken breast instead of turkey sausage.

Zucchini Pasta with Spinach Pesto – I am trying to stay away from too much cheese this month, but I used some fresh grated Parmesan for this yummy recipe.

Honeyed Oranges - As I said before, this is as easy as it gets and very delicious.

Check back in this weekend for a progress report from my first week of clean eating and to see my meal plan for next week! And as always, feel free to send any questions, advice or clean recipes to me at lstroud@bestselfatlanta.com! I would love to hear from you. Have a wonderful day!

- Lizzy Stroud

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Recipe adapted from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean. 

Yields: 4 servings 

Honeyed Oranges


  • 4 navel oranges, peel and pith removed, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 tsp. honey
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon, optional


  1. In a large bowl, toss orange pieces with honey and cinnamon, if using. Let sit for 20 minutes so the oranges can release juice and absorb flavor.
  2. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Nutritional Facts: 67 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 g protein, 17 g carbs, 15 g sugars, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 0 mg sodium. Serving size: 1/2 cup


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Recipe adapted from Dishing Up the Dirt.

Yields 2-4 servings. 

Zucchini Pasta with Spinach Pesto 

Zucchini Pasta with Spinach Pesto


  • 2 zucchinis, peeled and cut into thin, pasta-like strips
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half length-wise
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • For Spinach Pesto:
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • A handful flat leaf parsley, stems removed
  • 3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • Pepper, to taste.


For Pesto: 

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

For Zucchini Pasta: 

1. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, cherry tomatoes and garlic. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, until zucchini is tender and warmed all the way through.

2. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 of your pesto to the pan and toss until zucchini is evenly covered. Top with Parmesan and serve hot.

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Dr. Thomas Lyons from DeKalb Medical Physicians Group answers a reader’s question about pregnancy and birth control.

Dr. Thomas Lyons

Q: I’ve been on birth control pills for five years. How long do I have to wait after stopping the pill to try for pregnancy and how long will it take to get pregnant?

A: The overall effect of the pill is to suppress ovulation, but the hormones in the pill don’t stay in the system beyond a day. This means you can start trying immediately after stopping the pill, but it will take about a week of no pill to allow the potential for ovulation and therefore pregnancy. If your cycle is regular after stopping the pill, your most fertile cycle will be the second one after you stop the pill. If you have six regular cycles and are not successful with getting pregnant, see your gynecologist.

Do you have questions for our doctors? If so, please email your questions to editorial@bestselfatlanta.com. 

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Brighter Tomorrow Hypnotherapy’s Valerie Cobbin is here to give you her best advice about toxic relationships.

Valerie Cobbin

How would you define a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship is any relationship that is very negative in nature and drains your energy rather than boosts it.

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

The subconscious mind is always listening and recording everything, so a toxic relationship can cause you to act out negatively in future relationships.

Why do people allow toxic relationships in their lives?

People allow toxic relationships in their lives because of the fear of letting go of the relationship.

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

My advice for removing a toxic relationship form your life is that it is always best to deal with the problem and understand why you are attracting negative energy into your life.

Where can people go for support?

One of the best supports for people in a toxic relationship is prayer and meditation. Prayer affects the subconscious and allows deep emotional healing if asked for.

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When you’re stuck in traffic, it may be hard to appreciate the beauty and landmarks of our city so get a different perspective by joining Atlanta Running Tours. Go on three-mile or six-mile group runs that take you jogging past fun areas of the city. Atlanta Running Tours Tour guide Kristy Duckworth will point out Atlanta facts and history as you pass landmarks like the CNN Center, the state capital, the World of Coke, the Aquarium and the Fox Theatre. Each tour includes a T-shirt, water, snack and digital photos taken throughout the tour that will be emailed to you afterward. $35 for three miles, $50 for six miles.

Details: www.atlantarunningtours.com  

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Hey guys, I hope everyone is having a great week so far and having a great Fat Tuesday! Okay, now I am going to be totally honest with you. The first few days of clean eating haven’t been the most fun days in my life. I didn’t wake up after eating clean and feel like a whole new girl. In fact, I felt a little funky for the first two days. I did my research, and I am pretty sure this is just my body getting used to eating all of this clean, healthy food. It misses its processed junk food, but it will get used to my new diet eventually. However, I feel much better today and hopefully will feel even better and more energetic in the coming days. Now with that disclaimer out of the way, I have some tips on how I have planned to eat clean while on a budget.

One of the biggest reasons that I have put off eating clean and healthy for so long is because I thought it would be too costly and time consuming. While it can be a bit time consuming, I did not spend any more than I usually do at the grocery store this week. Something that has been really helpful for me has been to take advantage of deals. Two for one bags of baby spinach? Yes, please. Two for $5 containers of strawberries? HerbsYes again. While these deals won’t be available every week, there will always be something new on sale. I plan on taking advantage of those deals as much as possible. Another little way to save some cash is to plant your own herb garden. Fresh herbs can get a little pricey when you are buying them every week, so I started a little makeshift herb garden on my balcony with basil, rosemary and thyme to help with those costs. Hopefully I can keep them alive in this ever-changing Atlanta weather!

One of the budget benefits I have found from eating clean is that since I have my meals and snacks planned for the week, I have an exact grocery list to shop from. I don’t go to the grocery store and get distracted by the gourmet cheeses or the goodies in the bakery anymore. I know what I am in there for, and that is all I get. Meal planning has all but eliminated my impulse shopping, at least in the grocery store.

Another way that I have found to eat clean on a budget is to make big batches of things I will eat throughout the week. This weekend, I spent a few hours making homemade applesauce, hummus, beans and soups that I can eat throughout the week. Also, making these things on your own instead of buying them will save you some money. A bag of dried beans is very inexpensive and makes a ton of food. White Beans I made White Beans with Rosemary and they will be a great side dish or small snack to have all week long. On the subject of hummus, a can of chickpeas is less than a dollar, and making your own hummus ensures you know exactly what is going in to it. I love hummus because there are endless combinations of flavors you can make. This week I made spicy hummus with cumin and parsley, and next week I might make garlic hummus or red pepper hummus. It is a great way to keep your snack game fresh so you won’t get bored.

Another thing to consider is the cost of eating out versus cooking your own meals. It is too early in my 30 days to tell, but I think that cooking all my meals will eventually end up saving me some serious cash. While pizza and drive-thru restaurants seem cheap at the time, they can add up over a month.

So those are a few of my tips for eating clean on a budget, and I am proof that it is possible not to break the bank in order to eat a clean and healthy diet.

Last but not least here are a few of the things I have made so far and loved:

Greek Chicken from He and She Eat Clean - I loved this recipe. I served it with a spinach salad with garlic and olives.

Salsa Chicken from He and She Eat Clean - I love a good crock pot recipe. They are another way to make weeknight cooking easy.

Carrot Soup from Myrecipes.com - If you love carrots, this is the soup for you.

Lentil and Kale Soup - This makes a huge batch and will last at least a week!

Homemade Apple Sauce - I have been eating this for a sweet treat after dinner.

Homemade Spicy Hummus- This recipe is super versatile. You can add any of your favorite flavors.

White Beans with Rosemary - This also makes a ton of food, and I can snack on them all week.

Tonight I am making Quinoa Jambalaya in honor of Mardi Gras! Check back in later this week for more recipes and clean eating info!

-Lizzy Stroud

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Recipe courtesy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean 

Yields: 12 servings 

Lentil and Kale Soup

Kale and Lentil Soup


  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 3/4 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 lb bag of dried brown lentils, rinsed and checked for stones
  • 6 cups of low-sodium chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 TB. fresh basil, chopped


  1. Heat olive oil in a 4-quart stockpot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, celery and carrot. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add lentils, chicken stock, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Add kale, tomato, pepper, salt, lemon zest and basil. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
  4. Serve hot.

Nutritional Facts: 188 calories, 3 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 14 g protein, 30 g carbs, 2 g sugars, 0 mg cholesterol, 13 g fiber, 236 mg sodium. Serving Size: 1 cup

Recipe courtesy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean

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Recipe courtesy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean 

Yields: 12 servings 

Homemade Baked Applesauce 

Baked Applesauce


  • 7 or 8 medium Fuji apples, peeled, cored and roughly sliced
  • 4 TB. water
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 TB. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TB. honey
  • 2 TB. fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. In a large bowl mix apples with water, cinnamon, lemon juice, honey, orange juice and vanilla until all pieces are coated.
  2. Pour into 13×9-inch roasting pan and spread evenly. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Take out of oven, uncover and stir. Cover tightly again and bake for another 45 minutes.
  3. When done, remove from oven. Let cool for a few minutes. Mash with a potato masher or a fork until chunky. Use a food processor for a smoother texture.
  4. Serve warm or cold. Will keep in fridge for 2 weeks.

Nutritional Facts: 73 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 19 g carbs, 15 g sugars, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 1 mg sodium. Serving Size: 1/3 cup.

Recipe courtesy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean.

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Recipe courtesy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean. 

Yields: 14 servings 

White Beans with Rosemary 

White Beans with Rosemary


  • 1 lb. northern white beans, dry
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 8 rosemary stems
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper


  1. Rinse and sort the beans. Be sure to pick out any dirt or rocks. Soak overnight in 5 cups of water.
  2. The next day, drain beans. Put beans, 4 cups of water, garlic and bay leaves in a 4-quart sauce pot. Heat over medium-high heat until beans come to a gentle boil. Lower the heat to simmer and partially cover. Cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. After an hour, add rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook together for 20 or 30 minutes until beans are tender. Serve hot or store in the fridge.

Nutritional Facts: 110 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 7 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 1 g sugars, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 88 mg sodium. Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Recipe courtesy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Clean. 

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