Paula Deen’s Life

I’m a little behind in my reading with everything going on over here.  So, I’m just now catching up on a few of my Time Magazines.  This morning I read an article on Paula Deen from the January 30, 2012 issue and just had to sit down at my computer and say something.

The Time Magazine article, written by Josh Ozersky, starts with a picture of one of Paula’s burgers.  I remember seeing her make it and was kind of disgusted at the time… not by her, but by the idea of putting what had to have been at least a 2,500 calorie burger in my mouth.  The burger bun is a Krispy Kreme donut with icing glaze on it.  So, looking at the layers in the picture you see a donut, a burger patty, a fried egg, several pieces of bacon and, finally, another donut for the top bun.  (Perhaps it’s one donut cut in half like a bun.)  Phew!   The article talks about Paula announcing (after three years of knowing) that she has diabetes and goes on to discuss how Paula still hasn’t said anything very helpful with regard to any changes that she has made to her diet.  (As a new spokeswoman for an insulin company, on the website she evidently says that her change in diet is comprised of reducing the amount of sweet tea she drinks.)  Then the last paragraph of the article says:

No doubt Deen has made some enemies.  You can’t create a recipe for Krispy Kreme bread pudding without infuriating a few healthy-eating scolds.  But their smug sense of vindication could end up making people like her even more.  The U.S. is a strange and conflicted country when it comes to food.  We love our tacos, hate our scales and live in a state of perpetual shame.  Paula Deen, after cooking all the wrong things so well and for so long, doesn’t seem to feel any guilt at all.  And there’s something in us, I suspect, that can’t help but like her for it, even though we know we shouldn’t.

This article is straight-forward.  It’s not unkind.  It just addresses what the public sees as an issue and talks about the divide between her fans and those who are not her fans.

I like watching Paula Deen, not because of her cooking or recipes, but because of her personality.  She always has such a happy face and a carefree laugh.  In my opinion, there’s nothing more attractive than happy faces.  And Paula has the fun, bubbly personality to go with it.  She has a hint of mischief, a load of creativity, a hard work ethic (to get from where she started to where she is now), and a “no one can beat me down” attitude.  She loves her family, enjoys life, has a good sense of humor and loves food.

Anthony Bourdain, who is tall and not in the slightest overweight, who travels around the world talking about culture and food, heavily criticized her for knowing that she had diabetes for three years and still was showing people how to make high calorie, high fat, high sugar foods.  Blogs and celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon.

I find it interesting…  any time a person becomes well known, he/she has supporters and those who criticize.  It doesn’t matter what the situation, what the topic, what the focus of the person, there are those who like him/her and those who can’t stand him/her.  And the ones “fer” (as the old saying goes in the South) are highly supportive.  The ones “agin” are often just mean spirited in the way they critique anything and everything that person does or says.  Often it’s done in a way that holds them up high while bashing that person down.  I just don’t get that.  There is no reason to be nasty to someone just because you don’t agree with them.  It’s just uncalled for.   I don’t care what Paula has or has not done, what she eats or how she cooks.  Those are her personal choices.  Yes, she has an influence on people because she is teaching them to cook.  There’s no need to agree with her.  But, there’s also no need to harrass or be hurtful toward her.

I am not “Southern”.  But, I married a Southern Gentleman and love him more than anything in the world.  He likes me the way I am and has come to terms with the fact that I don’t cook Southern-style and never will.  If Paula Deen is the prime example of the Southern cook, then I can use her as a prime example of how I do things for my husband that he enjoys, but that isn’t “Southern”.  One time I saw Paula make collard greens.  Into the pot went a stick of butter, a ham hock loaded with fat AND some olive oil.  After that she put in a little bit of collard greens (in comparison to the amount of fat in there) that, when cooked down looked like they may end up making about 2 cups of collards.  Other than water, I don’t remember what else went into the pot because my brain stopped at all of the fat that was being loaded in.

When I make collard greens (something my husband loves and that I’ve learned to like over time), I melt a tablespoon of butter in the bottom of the pot and load the pot up with enough fresh (or frozen), chopped collard greens to make about 4 cups, cooked down.  I “fry” them down in that little bit of butter (little when compared to the previous Paula Deen version).  I add a little pepper vinegar, salt and pepper to the pot and keep stirring.  Any more liquid gets added a quarter cup at a time until it cooks down.  I don’t want soggy greens.  By the time I’m done, the greens are cooked, flavorful, and not loaded with fat.  My husband and boys love it.

So, yes… I watch Paula Deen from time to time because she really does cook Southern.  My husband loves the idea of what she’s making.  There are things that she makes that sound very good.  I watch what she does and then, if it sounds good to me, figure out how to make the recipe without all of the extra calories.  So, I get a flavorful version that isn’t loaded with fat and sugar.   I’m actually glad that Paula’s son, Bobby Deen, now has a show on the Cooking Channel called, “Not My Momma’s Meals.”  He does the same thing I do (and probably better).  I’ll have to pay more attention to his show and try some of his recipes.  If I can give my husband the flavor of Southern cooking without all the excess fat and sugar, I’ll sure give it a try.

But, going back to the Time Magazine statement that Paula didn’t have anything useful to say about changes to her diet… give her time.  I’m not walking in her shoes so I can’t even begin to say why she waited three years to say that she had diabetes.  I’m not even going to guess at her motives, concerns or thoughts about the situation because that’s not appropriate to assign motives to someone when you don’t walk in her shoes.

I do know that Paula’s had a lifetime of her style of Southern cooking.  This year I’m relearning some of my eating habits.  It isn’t easy.  Paula is going to have to relearn a lot of things as well and that doesn’t happen overnight.  It doesn’t happen until you’re ready to make the changes.  Perhaps she’s ready to do so and that’s why she’s finally made the announcement.  Perhaps cutting back on sweet tea is her first step.  I do know that making a drastic lifestyle and eating habit change just makes you miserable and you end up missing what you had.  So, taking this a little more slowly, learning about it, and making changes that will last the rest of her life is the way to go as long as her doctor is working with her on the medications to keep everything in balance while she’s making the effort.  Again, I don’t know what she’s doing so I can’t say.  But, I can say that I have empathy for anyone who has to make the choice to completely change the way they live their life.  It’s not easy.  And it is not being a hypocrite to try to change at a pace you know you can stick with for the rest of your life.

So, whether you agree with her or not, don’t go jumping on the bandwagon to be mean-spirited.  Just learn from her choices.  Learn from her experience.  And like me, learn how she does things and then experiment so that you can figure out how to make healthier versions of tasty things.

And most of all… be happy, smile and laugh like Paula.  She sure enjoys life and that’s what I like so much about her.

Have a blessed day.

Friendships

My mind sometimes takes a verse that I read and applies it to situations that have nothing to do with the topic at hand… just because it seems to fit.  For example, take the verse, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” Proverbs 10:4

Poor and rich doesn’t always apply to money.  A person can be poor of soul or spirit – unhappy, dissatisfied, always thinking the worst of everyone, making everyone around him or her miserable, and looking at the negative side of things.  Or a person can be rich of soul and spirit – seeing the blessings of life, joyful, choosing to think the best of people, looking at the positive side of things, and being a joy to be around.  One scenario pushes people away.  The other draws them.

If a person is unwilling to make an effort to be a friend, she will find that she has very few friends.   If she isn’t willing to put 100% into her marriage, whether or not her husband is putting in 100%, she’ll find that something is lacking in that marriage.  Some people take and take and there is no giving to any relationship.  So, “lazy hands” can apply to much more than earning money or bringing in food from a garden or other things like that.

Although “being a friend” can be a one-way street at times (perhaps you have a friend who needs support and encouragment and she’s not at a place where she can give back at the moment and maybe next time you are the one with the need), friendships are so important and they are a two-way street.  God is a relational being and created us to be relational beings.  Some of us are outgoing and have many friends.  Some are more introverted and have a few very strong friendships.  But regardless of the situation, it is so important to work at relationships.

What are some of the little things we can do to work on friendships?  There are so many things that I can’t really cover them all.  Listen… really listen.  Be there.  Do little things for each other.  Accept each other as you are.  (By the way, why is it that most of us can accept our friends for who they are, but expect our spouses to change?)  Pray for your relationships.  Take time to write a note, give a phone call, or spend time with someone.  Facebook certainly makes notewriting easy and I love getting special notes from people.  But, I have to say that the old fashioned, hand-written note is a gift – a gift of time, effort and thought.  People don’t do that very much any more so it’s special to receive a note like that.  Go out and get some cute cards.  Keep your eyes open for things like that in various book stores and buy them when you see them.  Keep them in stock.  You may not use them often, but it’s fun to have special cards on hand.  My favorite cards to date are a set that I purchased a while back.  Each card is a little tea cup.  Once in a while I use those to write a quick note, letting someone know that I’m thinking of them and praying for them.

Just remember that in the overall picture, real friendship takes an effort.  I have a friend who is the dearest person in the world.  We live “worlds apart” now (literally in two different countries on opposite oceans), but we can always pick up the phone and chat.  We can write notes in Facebook.  We can pray for each other.  And, when finances and time allow, we can visit in person.  We always know that this is the kind of friendship where we can pick up where we left off even if we haven’t been able to speak in months.  She’s the kind of friend that I know would be there for me.  She’s the kind of friend that I would bend over backwards to help if she ever had a need.  She’s what I call a kindred spirit.  Our friendship is what it is today because we invested in it over the years, accepted each other just as we are, didn’t nit-pick or criticize each other, and never put each other down face to face or behind each other’s backs.  I respect her greatly and I know she respects me.  Those kinds of “kindred spirit” friendships are rare.  If you have one like that, treasure it.

Little Changes Make a Big Difference

I’m beginning to like Monday mornings.  It’s encouraging to see consistant weight loss week after week.  The best part is that I’m slowly incorporating changes into my lifestyle and eating habits.  There’s no sudden change in diet that I’d never be able to stick with for the rest of my life… no fad diets… no diet pills.  The things that I’m doing are things that can easily become habit over the long-term.  Here are my numbers for today.

Original goal:      78.6 pounds to lose
Current goal:       66.2 pounds to lose

I’ve lost a total of 12.4 pounds so far.  Am I on target?  Well, this is week 8.  At a goal of 1.5 pounds per week average, I should have lost 12 pounds.  Yup!  I’m on target.

A friend asked me yesterday what I was doing to lose the weight.  My first instinctive answer was, “I don’t know.”  It seems odd to me that such little changes can make such a difference.  But, then it also makes sense.  Seemingly little changes are what helped me to gain the weight over time.  Little choices make a difference.

So, how about things like cutting back just a little on the carbs and increasing the number of vegetables and fruits that you eat.  For example, homemade bread is my weakness… especially when it’s still warm.  It’s easy for me to say, “I can’t have just one slice.”  That’s literally giving myself permission to eat more than one slice.  But, all of those extra slices over time helped me to gain weight.  So, one slice of bread is great.  Maybe not once slice every meal of the day.  Maybe not even one slice every day.  Bread doesn’t last long in our home.  My boys love it, as does my husband.  So, I don’t have to be eating so much.  I can make one loaf at a time (or make several loaves and freeze the dough like a friend of mine does, defrosting, rising and baking when needed) and between us, that loaf will be finished before it stops being fresh.

Instead of that small salad and a slice of bread, how about a great big salad filled with all of your favorite vegetables with a diced apple and pecans or almonds on top.  Yum.  That’s what I did on Saturday and had no room for bread.  I enjoyed it so much.

Little changes can make a big difference.

Made In China

The Health of Our Famillies Is Important

For the most part, I have been a “made in the USA” kind of consumer.  It’s important to me to support jobs here in the US because I live in the US.  But, there are also products where the components are made oversees and shipped to the US for final production.  Buying those will also be supporting our workers in my opinion.  Sometimes I can’t find what I want from a US market.  Sometimes the US market is not what I want because regulations in the US for that particular thing (such as some food products) are lower in standard than in places such as Europe or Canada.

My point is that it’s important to be informed before subjecting the health of your family to something you wouldn’t want them to experience.  Don’t just take someone’s word on blind faith or assume that the government always has your best interests at heart.  Remember that money is often the bottom line and decisions are made by corporations based on what makes fiscal sense for the company and its shareholders.  I’m not saying that’s the case in every company.  I have heard of companies who want to do what is best for the consumer.  But, I am saying that you need to be an informed consumer.

One example of a concern that I have is regarding products made in China.   There seem to be endless products coming out of China that have had health problems because the health regulations for manufacturers in China are not the same as in the US, Europe, Canada and a number of other countries.  The list of problem products from the past is not by any means limited to, but includes children’s toys, dry wall, dishes, baby formulas and products, shoes, pet food and toys, jewelry, tools, tires, computer batteries, and even tooth paste.  And yet Corporations keep setting up operations in China.  I understand the fiscal reasons.  However, could it mean increasing health risks for their consumers?

I’ve discovered that this is not always the case.  If a company wants to do business in the US, they have to comply with the USA’s Federal regulations.  And the States also have regulations, sometimes stricter than the Federal Regs.  Since the different states also have varied regulations, a company wanting to do business in the US is wise to take the state with the strictest regulations and make sure that their products comply with those Regs.  So, it isn’t just a given that anything being shipped from China is to be avoided.  There are some very good products coming from China.  Just be sure to do some research.  Look up the company on the internet and see if they post anything about their products in that respect.  If you don’t find anything or have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact them.

This gives you options.  If they choose not to get back to you with an answer, you choose not to purchase their product.  If they respond with only half answers, you may want to keep the dialog open if it’s a product you really want, or write it off if it’s not worth your time and they don’t answer properly.  If they respond and the response isn’t what you expected, you can choose not to purchase their product.  If the response is reasonably quick (give them a number of business days, at the least) and they do answer your questions appropriately, you may decide to go ahead and purchase their product.

I’m going to use my latest purchase as an example.  I was concerned about the new Temp-Tations presentable Ovenware because it’s made in China.  I had not heard that in the sales presentation at QVC.  I wrote to Temp-Tations Customer Service.  Not only did Temp-Tations respond back within 2 1/2 business days, but the response came from the office of the President of Temp-Tations.  They answered my questions, gave me the name of the independent lab that does their testing so that I could check further into it, if need be, and stated that ALL products are tested before being shipped to the US.  Since I had very specifically asked whether ALL products were tested or just a sampling of products, their answer was pretty clear.

They let me know that they comply with FDA Regs as well as California’s Proposition 65, which I understand are some of the strictest in the nation, if not THE strictest.  (You can find a list of the products that are stringently regulated in CA Prop 65 at their site.  Lead, one of my biggest concerns, is found at the bottom of page 12/top of page 13.  Other potential toxins that could also be found in the paint and glaze are also listed there.)

Temp-Tations keeps compliance records in their QA department.  But, not only that, QVC has an extremely stringent QA department.  Every company working with QVC must comply with their requirements.  And they have to keep certification papers at the QVC QA Department.  So, Temp-Tations has three sets of strict regulations and requirements with which to comply.   I think I can go ahead and use the product without further concern about lead, eh?

The bottom line is that you want to be an informed consumer.   Your family’s health is worth doing some research on the safety of the products you want to purchase.

It’s a Great Day!

It is a gorgeous, ‘sun-shiney” day out today.  As I look out the window at the lake this morning, I’m almost blinded by the sunlight sparkling off the ripples of water.  It looks like there are a million diamonds out there.

I’m finally feeling a bit better, although I still haven’t fully recovered from whatever knocked me flat yesterday.  I believe in a lady sneezing daintily.  Sigh.  I used to do that.  But, I’m SURE that my neighbor across the way could hear my sneezes yesterday, they were so violent.  The sneezing has calmed down a bit, but my voice isn’t back.  No choir practice for me this morning.  It seems to me that a cold is no longer just a cold anymore.  Either my immune system isn’t what it should be or there are some mega-germs out there now.

Marlowe with Vaccuum
Marlowe with Vaccuum (Photo credit: msusser)

Well, I have allowed myself to get disorganized in the house again.  If you don’t keep up with things every day, it’s amazing how disorganized a house can become.  So, today I’ll be vacuuming, dusting, cleaning, doing dishes that I was too sick to do yesterday, laundry… and then there’s the office.  Oh, the list goes on and on and is too boring to write about.  Suffice it to say that I’ll have a busy day today.  (Isn’t this cat cute?  I didn’t have a picture of my cats with the vaccuum so I used this one from the media gallery.)

We’ve been trying to keep my boys healthy so no hugs yesterday from Mommy.  My oldest step-son, who is a special needs child, could get quite sick.  But, it’s hard.  He doesn’t quite understand the “no hugs” and “don’t get close to my face, honey, I don’t want you to get sick” statements.  My baby (6 years old already) understands with his head, but not always with his heart.  Since I’m feeling a bit better and don’t think I’m contageous anymore, I told him.  He ran to me, gave me a huge hug, and said, “I love you SO much Mommy.”  That’s medicine to my heart.  🙂  I’m enjoying all of the sweetness, loving comments and compliments while he’s young and still thinks Mommy is one of the smartest ladies on the planet.

And so, it’s time for me to get moving.  There’s a lot to do and I’m so thankful to the Lord to have the health and ability to be able to do it.

Have a blessed day!

Busy and Oh, So Tired

My intention has been to write every day in my blog, but some days I just can’t get the time to do it.  Today I was exhausted from not sleeping well the last couple of nights.  So, I definitely had writers block.  The time I had intended to use writing was used reading some really great blogs and trying out a recipe that I found.  So, I thought I’d share some of them with you.

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I am learning more and more about whole foods and came across a 17 1/2 minute lecture by Robyn O’Brien.  If you want to know why so many of us have developed food allergies, check this out.

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Another blog I found is about helping leaders and organizations find their true potential.  He linked my Learning How to NOT Multi-Task as related reading in his Leadership Thought #303 blog entry.  He has a lot of good things to say in his blog.  It will be worth your time checking it out.   You may even want to follow it.

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No Comments From the Peanut Gallery was a well written blog that talks to bloggers about reading and commenting on other blogs.  I found it interesting… and effective.  I had to comment on his blog.  His blog entry made the Freshly Pressed list.

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I have to say that one of my favorite blogs for great photos is Photobotos.comGo there and scroll down.  Make sure that you click on “Other Entries” on the left as you reach the bottom.  As of today there are some amazing photos on the second page.  Every day there is a photo from somewhere around the world.

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I never took time to read blogs before I started writing my own blog.  There are a lot of insightful, interesting blogs out there.  Our world is filled with creative people.  I’ve really enjoyed spending time reading new blogs for a while this afternoon.  I hope you enjoy these as well.

Have a blessed evening.  I believe I’ll try to get to bed early.

Soft Drinks vs. Other Options

Français : Une cannette de Coca-Cola italienne...
Image via Wikipedia

OK, I admit it.  I love Coca Cola.  Not that diet stuff, though.   I’m talking about the real Coke.  (Any kind of diet soda pop has a bad after-taste to me.  Remember Tab?  That was the first diet soda I ever tasted and I swore off of diet sodas from that point on.  I haven’t found one yet that I can enjoy.)

In fact, my “discerning tastes” in Coca Cola go so far as to believe that it tastes better from a glass bottle than from an aluminum can.  If given the choice, I buy the glass bottle.

But, alas, I have read and have been told on many occasions over the years that soda pop is bad for us so I have seriously limited my intake of any kind of soft drink for a number of years now.  However, I still do like a Coke now and then.

For years I have heard that Coke can disolve nails.  I just read an experiment by “Josh” that I thought was a bit humorous in it’s serious dedication to the truth, but it does prove two points:

1.  You can’t believe every chain e-mail you read.  (He debunked an e-mail that has been spreading a rumor I’ve heard for years.)

2. Coke does not disolve a nail in 4 days.  Myth debunked.  (I’m sure that the Coca Cola company is happy about that.)

To read about his experiment go to his blog, Will Coke Disolve A Nail” Experiment.  Thanks, Josh.

Similarly, if you have read or heard that Coke disolves teeth or a penny or meat in a short period of time check out what Snopes says about it.  Snopes talks briefly about the origin of these rumors.

Now, having said that…  Is soda pop GOOD for you?  Not likely, even if it tastes good to those of us who enjoy it.

Bone Density Problems

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a 2006 clinical study showed that colas (not other sodas) are linked with significantly lower bone density.

Excessive Amounts of Sugar With Zero Nutrition

There is such a high concentration of sugar in soda pop that there are studies that talk about diabetes, hyperactivity and so much more.  It doesn’t matter what kind of soda.  For example, one 20 ounce bottle of Coke has 65 grams of sugar.  They label 20 ounces as one serving.  So, in the time it takes to drink one can of Coke, you have just loaded your body up with 65 grams of sugar.  Got that?    And there is no nutritional value in Coke (or other soft drinks) at all.  The companies making them don’t claim that they’re good for you.  They just say that they’re refreshing and stuff like that.  (Quite frankly, I’ve come to find that a glass of cold water is far more refreshing.)

Let’s see… for the equivalent of that amount of sugar you can have things loaded with nutrients such as:

  • 5 cups of canteloup
  • almost 3 oranges (who eats three oranges at a time?)
  • 3 large apples
  • almost 4 bananas
  • slightly more than 4 fresh, juicy, delicious peaches
  • more than 9 cups of strawberries
  • 3.6 cups of watermelon
  • 7 cups of pineapple

The list goes on and on.  Double or triple those numbers if you load your body with 2 or 3 sodas worth of sugar in a day.  It’s unlikely that anyone would eat that much at one time.  But, you get the idea.  When you think about it, would you REALLY choose coke that has absolutely no nutrition rather than load up on amazing nutrition that will keep you healthy, taste delicious, keep your brain sharp, give you real energy (not caffeine induced energy), and so many other things?  I like my Coke, but I’d much rather drink water and enjoy peaches or strawberries or pineapple or canteloup, loading up on lots of nutrients and taking in much less sugar in the process.   (I mean, who in the world can eat 7 cups of pineapple or 9 cups of strawberries.  But you could eat plenty and have your sugar fix filled with nutrition from whole foods.)

Another study from the Karolinska Institute of Sweden was written up in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  This study concluded with this:  High consumption of sugar and high-sugar foods may be associated with a greater risk of pancreatic cancer.  This is serious, folks.

Artificial Sweeteners

So, what do you do?  Do you choose the diet sodas instead?  Are you kidding?  I did research on these and was completely turned off.  Please check out my blog on artificial sweeteners.  Again.. there is zero nutritional value in soft drinks.  So, take that zero nutritional value and add something man-made (not natural) which also has zero nutritional value that many clinical studies have shown to be harmful in various ways?  Do you know what they’re made of?  Again… Check out my blog on artificial sweeteners.  I won’t touch them after the research I did.

So, here’s my question.

Why choose soda pop at all if your only choices are high sugar without any nutrition or high artificial sweeteners without nutrition?   There are so many things to drink.  If you’re like my husband, you want variety.  (He’s not ready to give up soft drinks yet… and he drinks the diet stuff since he’s diabetic.  I’m working on him.)  But, here are ideas if you want a variety of types of things to drink.  Keep a couple of them in the fridge at all times.

  • Pour a glass of water over ice and add a lemon slice to it.  That can be quite refreshing.
  • Make your own fruit flavored water.  See this E-How article on How to Make Fruit Water for ideas.
  • Make sweet tea with your own sweetener.  Try throwing in a leaf of stevia when you brew your tea if you’re diabetic… just remember that it’s quite sweet and adjust to your taste.  Use a number of natural choices if you’re not diabetic.  (Remember that if you use coconut sugar, it has a caramel taste that affects what your sweeten.  That may go well with coffee, but not necessarily with some of the herb teas.  It depends on your tastebuds.)
  • I have a mint garden and like to freeze the leaves in little packets.  In the middle of winter, I pull out a packet (which holds enough for a pot of tea) and brew mint tea.  Yum.  In the summer, it’s delicious cold.  (I can drink it sweetened or not.  But, if you have a sweet tooth, iced sweet mint tea is very refreshing on a hot summer day.
  • I have a variety of Celestial Seasoning tea in my cupboard.  I brew it by the pot full and enjoy it hot or cold.  They have such a variety of natural herb teas and other types of tea (such as green tea) that it’s hard to get bored with it when you keep a pitcher of different kinds of brewed teas in the fridge.  At night I enjoy a cup of unsweetened sleepy time tea.  It has a mild, pleasant flavor.  How about choices like cinnamon apple spice, country peach passion, lemon zinger, cranberry apple zinger, or raspberry zinger.  Click on their link above to see the many choices they offer.
  • Use your imagination… the possibilities are endless.

Start making healthy choices.  Make soda an occasional treat if you must have it.  But, wean yourself off as much as possible for your own health’s sake.  There’s only one you.  You have to take care of yourself.

Have a blessed day!