Cheery Cherry “Soda” recipe and 3 More Pop Alternatives

When you’re cutting out sugar, the best place to start is ditching sugar-filled soda. Do you need to see this post from Huffington, on how it destroys your health? Oh, but giving it up is harder to DO than it is to read about, huh? Create a doable plan such as drinking much smaller portions, or less often. I went “cold turkey”, and it was not easy, but if I can, you can too! The longer you go, the easier it becomes to live without it, I promise!  You may need some transitional drinks to get you through the hard days. I did.


Zevia (found at EarthFare, Healthy Home Market in Charlotte, and EarthFare and Whole Foods) was  a good way for me to get my “soda fix” as I detoxed off Dr. Pepper. I needed to hear the can pop open and hear that fizzy sound on those days I felt like I was being deprived (just a few weeks). But that stuff is expensive, and I couldn’t keep that much of it in my budget for long. Fortunately for me, I got over the hump in a few short weeks, and I’m quite happy with my daily tea now, instead. Perfectly happy, actually! And this is coming from a girl who drank 1 or 2 Dr. Peppers every day!!

Which brings me to my second suggestion for cutting the soda, try tea. There are only a bazillion different kinds to try, so later I will write an entire post on my love for tea. If you have any questions on it before I can post, please leave a question in the comments and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Tea is beautiful and I love it for so many reasons! Vanessa at Healthy Living How To has a post on her love for tea and how she got off Diet Pepsi. Below is a picture of some of the teas I enjoy, and will post about later.

misc teas

Another healthy suggestion is to try Kombucha. You will need to look at sugar content in the ingredients and decide which is best for you. You can buy it at most health food stores now (it’s all the rage!) or you can Google recipes for homemade kombucha. I have not made any myself yet, so I can’t recommend a recipe for you at this time. If you have a good recipe you would like to share with our readers, please leave it in the comments. It also has a zillion different brands and flavors you can experiment with. It has a fizziness to it, which I really like. Just like with tea, if your first try is one you don’t care for, don’t give up. You may need to try a few before you find one you like.


And now for my recipe for homemade Cheery Cherry “soda”. I was sooo excited to create this. The kids loved it, and it was fun to make in the blender, hence the name “cheery”. If you have a Trader Joes near you, you’re set. If you don’t, try to make it with similar ingredients and please let me know how yours turns out. You will need only 4 things to make sugar-free cheery cherry soda:

sparkling water and tart cherry juice in equal amounts, splash of aloe juice (may be optional), and powdered organic stevia to taste (see stevia explanation here). Throw it in the blender and blend for about 10 seconds. We made small batches of about 12 oz at a time. You could add ice or frozen cherries to make it a slushy instead. OOOOOhhhh, Cheery Cherry Slushy. Love it.

copyright 2012

The aloe juice can be a healthy addition, but it probably isn’t necessary for this recipe. We added it for a specific health benefit.  READ about it here.

Powdered stevia may be necessary to get that frothy head on top of this, which makes it seem so much more like soda. I used one tiny spoonful (spoon included in jar) for every 4 ounces. We tried liquid stevia and it did not work for us.

Dr. Oz has a video on the antioxidant properties of Tart Cherry Juice , which include decreasing inflammation, lowering cholesterol, and helping with sleep.

So, there you have it. So easy! So yummy! So fast! So fun! Cheery Cherry Soda. Yay! Happy transitioning.

You can use the printfriendly button below to cut the fluff and just print what you need.

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater

Easy Tips to Avoid Obesity from Dr. Mercola

The link at the end of this paragraph is the “Dr. Mercola version” of what I did (Advanced Plan at Maximized Living) to lose over 20 pounds of fat: drastically reduce fructose & grains, eat healthy fats, cut out all artificial & processed everything, eat organic produce & grass-fed meats, and do burst training type exercise. The bonus here is that it’s something I want to keep doing; it’s my lifestyle because I’m getting results I like. We don’t keep doing what we don’t like. For me, the rewards outweigh the sacrifices. Here are the details if you want them Easy Tips to Avoid Obesity from Dr. Mercola. Yes, they’re “easy”, but you have to go beyond just reading this article, and actually implement the knowledge into your life. Reading this healthy advice does not make you healthier, application of what you read does

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater


Why I’m here and why I’ll never go back! (aka My Health Journey)

Dana 9/2011How the heck did this middle-aged Southern girl get here anyway?  I grew up with parents who had both been raised on farms, but I grew up in suburban Charlotte.  I was a typical kid of the 70s and 80s with a (mostly) working mom, and plenty of Fruit Loops, Little Debbies, and Stouffers. But I had these grandparents who loaded us up with fresh vegetables from their gardens all summer long, and canned veggies in the winter months. That probably sparked something in my little heart. I grew up loving fresh vegetables, but never really appreciated their full value & importance until my own children were born. Like so many moms, when that first baby came along, I was all over my books and the internet (although it wasn’t quite the same internet in 1999), looking for information on feeding my baby. That’s when the organic passion started for me, but the passion waned into mere interest as #2 came along and there just wasn’t as much reading time any more. I know many of you can relate. For about 7 years, organic & natural living was a reading interest; enjoyed, but not fully capturing my heart to a level of full implementation. I read and studied, but I knew way more than I applied. The busyness of life with kids, moving, home schooling for 3 years, and ministry life, must have over shadowed my reading I suppose. It’s somewhat of a blur to me, so I can’t say for sure (let’s blame it on the sugar & gluten brain fog). I’m just glad I am more intentional NOW.

In 2010, I had a lot of hip pain (sciatica) and plantar fasciitis. I started seeing a chiropractor, Dr. Tony Hyser, at Providence Health Center. I immediately knew I was “home”. He had a “let’s try natural first” approach to healing, and his incorporation of food & exercise for total health made sense to me. His healthy living classes/seminars were captivating, and I was taking it all in, stirring up all those organic interests I had years before! My little organic light was beginning to shine again.  My hip and foot were feeling so much better (pain is completely gone now) and I was renewing all my old healthy interests. It felt great, there were changes happening, but I was not making huge changes with my food (remember …. j o u r n e y ...) Then it happened.

The event was a contest in spring of 2011. (Yes, a freaking fitness contest! NO, I had never entered a fitness contest before in my entire life!) My husband’s boss at that time created a fitness contest at work (called Best Bod Now) and invited the spouses to participate.  Staff were required to enter,  spouses were voluntary. The incentive was a trip to Aruba and that was enough motivation for me! I went after it full force! We could choose our own diet and our own exercise plan, but we were supposed to log our food and activities into a website journal every day.  I had discussions with my doctor about the “healing diet”, which was essentially a grain and sugar-free diet. I had seen others in his practice achieve great results. He also suggested a raw vegan plan for the first three weeks of the diet, just to drop noticeable weight very quickly (remember, it was a contest!),  so that’s what we did.  Three weeks of raw vegan cleanse, which was literally raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds ONLY, for three weeks.  After the three-weeks, we switched to the Maximized Living Advanced Eating Plan/Healing Diet: sugar and grain free diet, which also limits root/starchy vegetables,  high sugar fruit, and beans.  It encourages organic veg and grass-fed meats. We continued with that diet for the last nine weeks of the contest. During the process, I realized the importance of food journaling. I can’t explain how, but it motivates healthier choices.  I also started the MaxT3 burst training exercise DVD, 6 times per week. We lost about 20 pounds of fat (we gained muscle) each, and although we did not win the contest, we won a whole new life!

After the 12 weeks were over, we just kept going and haven’t stopped since, with a few adjustments for our family. I became so passionate about what we were doing, I wasn’t about to stop! I had NEVER ever been on a “diet” before, and considered this to be a LIFESTYLE change, not a diet. I knew I could keep doing this. We could keep doing this. We had gotten through the (seriously) hardest part, the “hump” of detoxing. And once you get through THAT, it’s so much better on the other side.  I hated cooking before, like literally hated to cook. I could do it, but never enjoyed it. Again, I cannot fully explain why, but once I started learning how to cook truly healthy foods that my family loved, it made me start to love the whole cooking idea! This grain and sugar-free world was brand new to me. No one in our family had food allergies or any health crisis. We were just “coasting along”, gaining the “normal” 40-year-old weight, feeling the “normal” aches and pains of aging. Slowly killing ourselves without even realizing it! Not long after implementing some changes, the way I started feeling and the “things” that were happening to my body were noticeable and exciting!  I started a list of improvements, things I didn’t even know were “wrong” with me before. I thought those (old) things were normal! OH, how wrong I was! My eyes were opening to this new world. It was so thrilling, and I had to share what I was experiencing! I was so encouraged with the results I was getting, by cutting sugar & grains and enjoying exercising for the first time ever. I started to tweet about it as @organiceater. Shortly after that I created the Organic Eater Facebook page, and then the blog.

And here I am today. Applying and implementing the knowledge. Creating the life I know is right for me & my family,  and encouraging you towards health too. I know if I can do this, so can you. Remember, I hated to cook and grew up eating fast food like everyone else.

But this process has changed me, it is changing me. And the “improvements” in my life make it easy to keep doing this. I WANT to do this, and the “sacrifices” are well worth it. The benefits far outweigh those sacrifices.  I think all the elements (food, exercise, sleep, chiropractic, spiritual, environmental) all work in synergy and are ALL important, and ALL contribute in some way to the following list.  Although, I do believe food is probably the main key to these changes.  Here are some of the reasons I’ll never go back to my old ways:

1. weight loss – loss of over 20 pounds, a slow healthy weight loss

2. clean teeth – shocked by this one! I’m past due for a 6 mo checkup as I write, but my teeth are as smooth as the first week after a cleaning.

3. clearer mind, less fog, more energy and feel more positive

4. moods of the entire household are improved

5. hardly ever have a stomach ache anymore, and if I do, I have had some kind of junk food that day

6. clearer sinuses, big time (husband snores a lot less too) Seriously, I can breathe like never before. I had no idea how poorly I was breathing through my nose before this.

7. less (almost never) aches in elbows and joints

8. better *** (since this is a rated G site, I’m leaving that one right there). Just TRUST me. And along with that, female issues resolved. (females, only,  may msg me for details)

9. better self-image, more confidence

10. brown spots on hands and face fading

11. no more “tonsilitis” white stuff that used to come out of my tonsils (I know it’s gross, but it has completely STOPPED now!)

12. my sweat is not as stinky (I know, but it’s true)

13. no colds, improved immunity. Can’t remember the last cold I had.

14. softer clearer skin, even on the backs of my arms where so many have those “little white bumps”

15. more muscle strength in general, not out of breath when going up stairs, more active/fit and feel better, no aches when I get up after sitting for a while, no aches after driving for over an hour for carpool. I can sit on the floor for long periods of time again (anyone under 40 may not have any idea what I’m talkin’ bout here). I can jump out of bed like a normal person and walk across the room as soon as I wake up. It’s the little things….

16. stronger and longer eyelashes and hair. I didn’t realize before how often/much they were falling out, but today it dawned on me that my eyelashes never fall out anymore, and they seem longer and stronger. And there’s not nearly as much hair on the bathroom floor after brushing,  either!

17. updated 4-28-12: just realized this week, I don’t get those tiny little blisters on the edge of my eyelids anymore.


18. updated 5-25-12: my skin is tanning differently, more brown (instead of red) and more even overall (less freckles) and I did not burn when I accidentally sat in the sun with no protection for over an hour.

19. updated 8-1-13: no more holes in my tonsils and they aren’t large/swollen like they used to be (goes along with number 11). I just discovered it this week, when I looked at my tonsils and realized they are completely changed. This could have happened a year or more ago,  since I never look at my tonsils anymore (used to a lot when they caused problems). So glad I realized this!

20. Updated 8-1-13: Also realized this week that I do not get those pre-period “rages” where I want to strangle everyone in my family anymore! Oh, they can get on my nerves those few days before, but it’s nothing like what I used to feel! YAY for happy hormones!! Most months I don’t even know I’m getting ready to start my period and the pain is minimal now. Wow, that’s big news.

21. Updated 12-23-13: I realized this week I do not have swollen/enlarged glands on my neck (under my jaw) that I used to always have. Did not realize back then that they were enlarged, but just this week realized they are small now! I can barely find them on my neck now.

So, WHY WOULD I EVER WANT TO GO BACK TO MY TIRED, STINKY, HOBBLING, FOGGY, WEAK, PMSy, STUFFY NOSED, BUMPY, SORE THROAT CONSTANTLY, FUZZY TEETHED, BROWN SPOTTED, HORMONE RAGING, FAT FEELING SELF? I would not. Nope. Not gonna go back to any of that. I’ve got a purpose to fulfill, and this new life is helping me get there! You have one too. How you gonna get there?

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater

PS: I know everybody LOVES to see before and after pictures. I realized today, when I started looking for a “before”, that I wasn’t taking too many pictures of myself  back then, as I had snuck up into a size 14 pants….. I cannot believe I am publicly posting a picture like this.  Not because size 14 is so terrible, for some that would be amazing, but for me, it represents a discouraging weight gain and all the negative associations listed above. I am thankful this picture was taken (gulp), so I have a reminder of what I do not want to go back to. Ever.

Spring 2011 “before”

Dana "in process" picin process


I had no business taking off the jacket I was wearing that day(haha!), but I’m glad I did now, so you can see what was really there! The pic is that same shirt in an updated picture, so you can see what this lifestyle has done for me! The pants have been thrown out:) I will NOT consider that my “after” picture because I’m still in process, and have a way to go! I intend to be able to post an “after” later in 2012.

Christmas 2011, making progress. Size 8 shirt.

see my page My Sugar and Grain Free LIfe for more explanation on the details of what I eat and why, specifically the links to explain my mostly-grain-free-life choices.