Happy Healthy New Year!!!

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you from the bottom of my juicer for reading this lil' ole blog.  The fact you take time out of your colorful, busy lives to read about my nerdy obsessions warms the very cockles of my heart.  That's right.  I said "cockles."  Chatting with you has made my year so thank you, thank you, thank you…and thank you again!!!  Happiest of New Year's to you, my Veggies!!  May 2012 bring each of you joy, peace and buckets of love!!!

-♥ J :)

**I will be taking a little blogging break next week, but I will be posting again starting January 9th.  See you next year!!


The Year in Review

On the off chance that you are not my mother and therefore have not read every single post this year (Thanks, Mom!!!), here are some Happy Healthy Belly Highlights from 2011...

There were detoxes, detoxes and more detoxes.
Followed by cheating, cheating and more cheating.

I lost 20 pounds.  (Not those kinds of pounds…)

I made organic vegan meals for $2.36.
I bought juice for $92.43.

There was hot yoga, Nina's spin and lunch with Tracy Anderson.

There were workout videos.  Tons of workout videos.
And Lululemon fun. Tons of Lululemon fun.

I begged you to cut the cheese...
And the yogurt.
And the meat.

I told you about the easiest diet change ever.
And the hardest.

Erin won big.  Cara got Clean.  John was a good sport. 
A very good sport…

There were recipes, videos and bossy books.
As well as snacks, treats and, yep, more cheats.

We broke our bad.
We freed our minds.
We changed the world…one belly at a time.

-♥ J :)


Food for Thought

photo via Clean

What's the next chapter in your life, Veggies?? Are you starting 2012 with a bunch of New Year's resolutions or, like Leo, are you approaching the new year with no goals at all??  Hop on over to the Happy Healthy Belly Facebook page and tell me your thoughts. 

-♥ J :)


Sh*t Vegans Say

"Oh my God!!  They have vegan donuts!!"  Hilarious.

-♥ J :)

P.S. You know I love me some vegan donuts.



Whatever you worship, may your holiday season be filled with peace, love and joy!!!

-♥ J :)


Let there be light!!!

photos via A Cup of Jo*

Happy winter solstice, Veggies!  Two years ago, my good friend Sara had a winter solstice party at her home.  She explained the custom and its history in a wonderfully heart warming, life affirming way.  I will not be able to replicate that.  Instead, I will sum it up for you using a quote that I learned from my god...the god of musical theatre:

"In Ancient days…in winter…when the sun started to sink lower in the sky…man started to wonder if he would die.  'Look,' he said.  'The day is being eaten by the night.'  'Look,' he said.  'The darkness is devouring the light.'  And he was frightened."** 

Basically, it got dark and everyone bugged the hizzle out.  Then they ate and drank and hugged each other and sang songs and danced and prayed and partied like it was the end of the world as they knew it and they felt fine.  Then a miraculous thing happened!  The sun came back and the days got longer and there was more food and more drink and more babies and everyone continued on this wacky road called life, grateful to have lived to dance another day.  Then they did it all again the next year.  You see, ancient man/women never believed that they were entitled to the sun.  There was an understanding that while they were blessed with its favor, the sun was not theirs to harness.  The sun was theirs on generous loan, never to be taken for granted.  

In present day USA, it is very easy to lose the connection to the magic that is winter solstice.  We don't harvest in the same way.  We don't rely on the sun in the same way.  We sit in our artificially lit apartments and microwave a hot pocket and wonder why our internet connection is so slow.  Oh, silly humans.  How we have tricked ourselves into believing that we are in control.  Don't get it twisted, friends.  We may think that we run this show, but we are mere renters of our space on this planet and, as my friend Tommy once said, Mother Earth could shake us off like "a bunch of unwanted fleas" if she wanted to.  So today, as the darkness devours the light, raise your glass and bow your head out of respect for great lady Earth.  Thank her for her hospitality.  Be ever grateful for this beautiful, gift of a planet and vow to keep her safe from harm.  And for the love of Buddha, recycle already!!!

-♥J :)

*Seriously, how gorgeous are these photos from Cup of Jo???  My blog crush on her grows stronger by the day.

**Quote from the 1969 musical Celebration.  Big thanks to my dear friend Vera for reminding me which musical it came from!!


Nuts for Ballet

Last night John, Cara and I went to see The Nutcracker* at the Westside Ballet in Brentwood.  If anyone needs me today, I'll be hopping around my living room pretending to be a ballerina.  I think it may be time to get THIS workout video.  Santa??  You reading this???

-♥ J :)

*Yesterday was their final performance of The Nutcracker, but for info about future Westside Ballet shows click HERE.  


Festivus for the Rest of Us

One year when my friend Jennie and I were in high school, her father declared that they were forsaking their traditional Christmas celebration to jet off to the tropical islands of Turks and Caicos.  They would purchase no gifts, but rather make funny hats for each other that they would exchange on Christmas morning.  I remember Jennie relaying this information to me and then showing me the (quite elaborate) funny hat that she had been working on.  My fifteen year old self was horrified.  "But..but..NO presents at ALL?!?!  NO tree?!?  What the heck is a Turks and Caicos?!?!"  In hindsight, however, I have decided that Jennie's dad was a genius.

Without exception, ALL of my favorite holiday memories are of the things that my family did together, not of the things that we accumulated.  I couldn't recount to you one gift I got the year a blizzard trapped us in a deserted motel in upstate New York.  What I remember from that Christmas, is the look of joy on my younger brother's face as we spent hours sledding on the freshly fallen snow.  I don't recall what was under the tree the year my mom couldn't get the tree to fit in it's stand.  But the hilarity that ensued as she marched into the house with a chain saw to fix it, is a gift that I will treasure always.  And of course, there is the food...I always remember the food.

We give presents to show that we love each other, but what if there was another way to express that??  What if we gave time together and memories instead??  Isn't that what everybody really wants, anyway??  Well, that and a funny hat...

-♥ J :)

P.S. A zero waste Christmas.


The 30 Minute Workout Theory (Part 2)

Good afternoon, Veggies!!  How are we all doing this fine Tuesday after Thanksgiving???  I hope everyone had a relaxing, food and fun filled weekend.  Hey…what's that I see in the distance??  Why…it's a wagon.  Let's hop back on it, shall we??

Now where did we leave off???  Oh, yes.  My favorite 30 minute workout videos.  I have certain criteria for a good 30 minute workout.  First and foremost, the video has to be a challenge.  If I am going to go through the trouble of changing into workout clothes, I need to break some sort of a sweat.  If I don't feel like the workout is doing anything, I'd rather drink my coffee and watch The View.  Next, the workout should require very little equipment.  If I have to spend fifteen extra minutes hauling out some contraption (I'm looking at you Fluidity Bar…) it's not worth it to me.  Finally, the video can't be annoying.  That means no annoying instructors, no annoying music and no annoying weirdo moves.  It should be noted that each person's "annoying" threshold is a very individual thing. What I find tolerable might make you want to punch the television.  That being said, the following DVD's are some of my favorites.

-♥ J :)

Best All Around: Metamorphosis by Tracy Anderson
Required equipment: yoga mat, 3lb. weights, sneakers
Price: $89.97

My love of the Tracy Anderson workout is well documented.  Her latest incarnation is a 90 day program consisting of nine 30 minute muscular structure workouts and one 30 minute cardio workout.  To achieve maximum results, Tracy wants you to do the muscular structure and cardio workouts together.  But just between you and me…when I am pressed for time, I'll do muscular structure one day and cardio the next.  At $90 Metamorphosis is pricier than the other videos, but for that money you get ten different workouts.  That breaks down to less than $10 per workout.  Besides this is the only workout where I have actually seen the shape of my body change.  I'll pay $90 for that!!  Can't recommend it enough. 

Best Butt and Thigh: Physique 57 Express 30 Minute Full Body Workout
Required equipment: high back chair, exercise ball (sold on website)
Price: $24.95

The express version of the one hour Physique 57 workout, this video is not for the faint of thigh.  I've been doing this video for over a year and I still have to take breaks during some of the moves.  Ballet inspired, this workout quite literally kicks your butt.  When Charli and I did this video for the first time at the end she shouted, "That was the short version?!?!  I don't even want to know what the 1 hour workout is like!!"  If you do want to know what the 1 hour workout is like, you can check that out HERE.

Best Yoga: Jillian Micheals-Yoga Meltdown
Required equipment: yoga mat
Price: $12.99

This workout is great, but don't come to it looking for yogi spiritual enlightenment.  Jillian doesn't even give you so much as a parting "namaste."  This is more "exercise" yoga.  Some of you may like it for that reason...some of you may hate it for that reason.  I like it because you work up a sweat, it has fantastic core work and you get two 30 minute workouts on one dvd.  As for inner peace…eh…not so much.

Best Circuit Training: Jillian Micheals- 30 Day Shred
Required equipment: 3lb. weights, sneakers
Price: $10.99

Some days you just want to do some old school jumping jacks, sit-ups and push-ups.   This workout is for those days.  Basic but not boring, this DVD includes three separate workouts.   Each workout uses a 3-2-1 circuit training method: 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio and 1 minute of abs.  This workout is Erin's favorite of the bunch.  She also wanted me to tell you that she loves Jillian Micheals-Ripped in 30 (which I haven't tried yet).

P.S.  For great tips from Leo about how to get back on track after the holiday click HERE.


Talkin' Turkey

photo via zazzle

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Thanksgiving, Veggies!!! I hope your holiday is filled with love, laughter and light!!! May your belly and heart always be full!!!

-♥ J

P.S. Some Thanksgiving chat from around the web…

-Thanksgiving survival tips.

-The turkey's point of view.

-In lieu of shopping on Friday, how about this??

-Thankful for farmers.

-Why Sarah Silverman will not be having turkey for Thanksgiving.

P.P.S. 30 Minute Workout Theory (Part 2) will be up after Thanksgiving. I figured there might be more interest in working out come Friday morning. ;)


The 30 Minute Workout Theory (Part 1)

For the past couple of weeks Erin and I have been testing out a little theory that we have aptly dubbed the "30 Minute Workout Theory."  It goes a little something like this:
  1. Workout first thing in the morning for 30 minutes.
  2. Live your life.
It all started because Erin didn't want to get off the couch. "I was cranky and miserable and sitting on my couch and I had like four papers to write.  I was angry and overwhelmed with stress because I had so much work to do and I hadn't made it to the gym all week which made me even angrier and turned me into a lump with no motivation.  So I called you."  After a good, productive bitch session, we determined that the problem was that Erin needs to workout to feel happy.  However, going to the gym after work, had become this huge burden.  She would spend all day lamenting the fact that after an already packed work day, she would have to venture out into the cold, dark (often wet) night, hunt for parking, workout for an hour, hunt for parking again, make dinner and then start 2 hours of homework.  Because working out had become such a chore, she was skipping it altogether.

Erin: "I wish I could just workout in the morning."
Me: "Why don't you??"
Erin: "Ugh.  I would have to get up at like 5."
Me:  "Well, what if you only worked out for 30 minutes and just did a video at home rather than going to the gym?"
Erin: "You know how I feel about working out at home.  Besides 30 minutes isn't going to be enough."

30 minutes is plenty.  Weight loss (or weight maintenance) is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. However, smart food choices are the direct result of feeling good about yourself.  If you are feeling depressed and don't want to get off of your couch, you are way more likely to inhale a bag of chips while you are there.  By waking up and banging out a solid 30 minutes, Erin would be done working out before she knew she had started.  She could begin her day with a firm dent in her to do list, as well as a sense of victory and accomplishment. 

So how did our little experiment pan out????  "It changed my life," Erin said.  "By working out in the morning, I freed up all this brain space that used to be occupied by me worrying about how I still had to workout.  Also, just changing my routine and trying something different made me feel happier." 

-♥ J :)

Up next: The 30 Minute Workout Theory (Part 2)... My favorite 30 minute workout dvds.


BabyCakes Donut and the Best Laid Plans

If I'm being honest, I had planned to share it with John.  If I'm being completely honest, I had bought it FOR John.  I meant to eat my vegetable sushi and call it a day.  I blame the donut.  It was just sitting there, all perfect looking with it's "Hello Jen, I'm vegan and gluten-free and soy-free and egg-free and full of goodness and light and how are you today???" swagger.  One bite turned to many bites and suffice it to say the BabyCakes NYC donut, that I so thoughtfully bought for my loving husband at Erewhon, didn't make it out of the parking lot.  I'm so ashamed!!!  Look away I tell you…look away!!!

Eh.  I'm not that ashamed.  I'll go buy him another one today.  This time I'll put it in the trunk for the long drive home.  That way I won't hear it's seductive voice calling out to me.  

For those of you unfamiliar with the crack heaven that is BabyCakes NYC, I'll sum it up like this:  BabyCakes NYC is proof that God loves vegans.  You can read all about them and their mission statement HERE.  BabyCakes has bakery locations in NY, Orlando and LA, but you lucky LA folk can also get your fix at Erewhon which just started selling their cupcakes, cookies and donuts galore.  BabyCakes does deliver (which would make a fantastic holiday gift, don't you think??), but you can also make your own using one of their COOKBOOKS (a great gift, too).  You will definitely be the most popular person at your Thanksgiving celebration if you waltz in with your own homemade BabyCakes goodies.  Assuming they make it out of the parking lot...

-♥ J :)


There Will Be Blood

Back when I was a young co-ed living in New York City, one of my favorite things to do on a Friday night was to meet my friends Sarah and Erin at Barnes and Noble.  We would hunker down in a corner and read all of the books that we were too broke to buy while pounding decaf lattes until we got bored and/or kicked out of the the store.  Ah, the wild life I have led…

One night Sarah, a criminal justice major, was reading a book on serial killers.  I was reading something by Deepak Chopra and Erin was perusing a diet book.   Throughout the evening, one of us kept screaming out in horror.  "No!!  This is SO terrible!!  Why, God?!  WHHHYYYY?!?"  You might assume that the girl gobsmacked by the world's cruel underbelly would be Sarah.  You would be wrong.  Sarah was contentedly flipping through her serial killer book with only the occasional, "Hmmm…he put him in the freezer."  No, the anguished shrieks were coming from Erin.  You see, the diet book that Erin was reading claimed that, depending on your blood type, there are certain foods that you should eat and certain ones that should be avoided. She was not pleased with what the book had to say...


Happy Healthy Belly TV

I am very excited to announce the launch of Happy Healthy Belly TV!!!  This quick snippet of Nina and me at the Lululemon event last week** is the first of what I hope will be many more fun videos to come.  Stay tuned!!!

-♥ J :)

**I like how Nina and I are waving at the camera as if the technology has just been invented.  Lol!!


Happy HALLOWEEN Belly at Lululemon Part 2: The Recipes

Let's get right to it, shall we???  Without further ado...the recipes.

Vegan Caramel Corn
(recipe courtesy of www.chooseveg.com)

The following recipe is SO good but don't be fooled…it is not good for you. It's a have-a-little-popcorn-with-your-sugar recipe.  However, here is me looking the other way because it's the holidays and this is a de-li-cious, fun way to fancy up your popcorn with very little effort.  It would be a great snack to make for holiday parties…or a cozy night in watching movies…or a thursday…

-1/2 to 3/4 cup vegan brown sugar
-3 tablespoon water
-1 tablespoon Soy-Free Earth Balance Vegan Butter
-1 bag (3.5 oz) popcorn
  1. Combine brown sugar, water, and butter in saucepan; bring to a boil. 
  2. Cover and boil (over med-low to low heat) for 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, pop popcorn.
  4. Let caramel sauce cool just slightly, stirring constantly with spoon. 
  5. Poor over popped popcorn in a BIG bowl, and toss/fold with wooden spoon until well combined and glazed. 
  6. Let cool (it helps to put it in fridge), and it gets nice and crunchy.
  7. Eat and enjoy!!!

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups
(recipe inspired by this one from The Vegan Stoner)

Nope.  This one is not healthy either.  It is vegan, but "vegan" doesn't always mean that it is good for you.  Vegan means that it is good for the cows and the chickens. I thank you on their behalf.  This recipe is definitely candy and therefore all the negative ramifications that come with candy consumption will follow…i.e. greedily eating all the leftovers before one's husband has a chance to get any.  (Sorry, John.)  There are two ways to make it…the "easy" way and the "take-that-Martha-Stewart!!" way.  Both are equally delicious it's just a matter of how much effort you are wanting to exert.  You can find the easy way (complete with adorable illustrations) HERE.  The "TTMS" way is not that much harder, but you will need a few extra accessories.

-1bag vegan chocolate chips
-handful of organic powdered sugar
-1/2 cup organic unsweetened peanut butter
-a splash of vanilla coconut milk

TTMS Accessories:
-2 decorating bags
-mini muffin tin
-mini muffin liners
  1. In a sauce pan, melt 1 bag of chocolate chips.  Stir in a splash of coconut milk to thin out the chocolate.  When fully melted, set pan aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix 1half cup of peanut butter with a handful of powdered sugar.  Stir until smooth.
  3. Scoop melted chocolate into one decorating bag and peanut butter into another.  Be careful that your chocolate is not too hot when you do this so as not to melt the bag.
  4. Fill mini muffin tin with paper mini muffin liners
  5. Fill the bottom of liners with a layer of chocolate.  Put in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  6. Next fill a layer of peanut butter on top of the layer of chocolate.  Freeze for another 10 minutes.
  7. Fill in one more layer of chocolate on top of the peanut butter.  This doesn't have to be a full layer.  Just a swirl of chocolate will do.
  8. Freeze 1 hour to overnight.  
  9. Eat and enjoy!!!

Pumpkin Smoothie
(Makes 2 servings.)

I happened upon this smoothie recipe while browsing the Engine 2 Diet Facebook page.  Correction…I misread the recipe on the Engine 2 page and then created this recipe.  The Engine 2 recipe was for pumpkin ice cream.  That would explain why Charli's response to my first test batch was, "tastes like pudding."  Adjust the amount of pumpkin and almond milk to your own taste.  Keep in mind that a little pumpkin goes a long way.  Also, this smoothie is infinitely better when you freeze the pumpkin the night before and then let it thaw a tad before you use it.  I used canned organic pumpkin, which is readily available everywhere.  At Trader Joe's today, I saw that they had a whole wall of it.  Oh, and guess what…This recipe is actually good for you!!!  Make as many smoothies as your little tummy desires!!

-1 cup frozen organic pumpkin puree
-2 cups almond milk
-2 dates
-cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup to taste.
  1. Put all the ingredients into blender.
  2. Blend
  3. Drink and enjoy!!!
Once again, a big thanks to Nina and the Lululemon team for having me over.  Can't wait to do it again soon!!!

-♥ J :)


Happy HALLOWEEN Belly at Lululemon Part 1

This past Sunday the lovely folks over at Lululemon Athletica Beverly Hills were kind enough to have me back for another after yoga snack session.  Since it was the day before Halloween, I decided to make the yogis some of my favorite vegan Halloween treats. 

I made Vegan Peanut Butter Cups and Vegan Caramel Corn. 

  We drank Pumpkin Smoothies and raffled off the cookbook that inspired the recipe. I also raffled off this festive Happy Halloween Belly T-shirt. 
Congrats Tilita and Cheryl!!!

I've said it before, but I'll say it again (and again) hanging out at Lululemon is one of the coolest ways to spend a Sunday morning.  Lululemon's in store events focus on nurturing strong ties to the local community.  Whether it's Run Club or FREE yoga or nutrition lessons, these events foster a sense of communal wellness that stretches far beyond the store's perimeter.  And they have the most adorable clothes.  I mean, have you seen this top???  Ridiculous.  Be sure to like the Lululemon Beverly Hills Facebook page to stay up to date on their latest events.  And...umm...while you are on Facebook...maybe give the Happy Healthy Belly Facebook page a "like", too.

-♥ J :)

*Next up:  The recipes!!!
**A VERY special thanks to Charli, Steve and John.  You get up early, carry heavy things, taste peanut butter when you don't want to, agree to do crafts on the same night as game seven of the World Series and I love you for it. 


Happy Halloween, Veggies!!!

-♥ J :)

P.S.  I had such a great time serving up vegan Halloween treats at Lululemon yesterday!!!  Big thanks to everyone who came out to say hi!!  I'll have pictures and the much anticipated recipe for Vegan Peanut Butter Cups up tomorrow. 


Budget Detox: The Simple Answer

Oh, Veggies, if you could see my computer. I've been sitting here for over an hour (hmmm…more like 3 days) trying to write your Budget Detox.  After starting eight different versions, three separate shopping lists and procrastinating on Facebook** twice (maybe more than twice...) I have come to the conclusion that this topic is much larger than one post.  Therefore I have decided that I'm going to write you a bunch of posts.  Yippee!!!  Yay for posts!!!  So, where should we start???

You want to detox.  You want to do it on the cheap.  Well, then let's start with the principle of Occam's Razor that generally recommends when selecting among competing hypotheses the one that makes the fewest new assumptions is correct.  In other words…the simplest answer is the right answer.  Let's keep it simple...


Criss Cross Applesauce

It was a cool, cloudy day in LA**,  so I decided to curl up with a cozy cup of tea and my nutrition books.  I was fixin' to get a move on some good 'ole fashioned blog work.  A couple of hours in I was feeling equal parts peckish and lazy.  I wandered over to the kitchen to see what I could rustle up.  Pickins was slim. (It occurs to me that I am inadvertently writing this with what appears to be some sort of western accent.)  All we's had in the mess (now I'm doing it on purpose…) was apples, frozen blueberries and halloween candy. (Thanks, Mom.)  What's a lass to do???  Well, this lass made blueberry applesauce.

Blueberry Applesauce

-2 apples (cut and cored)
-1 cup frozen blueberries
-1/2 cup almond milk
-1 tsp. chia seeds
-1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Put all ingredients in blender.  Reserve some of the frozen blueberries for later.
2. Blend.
3. Garnish with frozen blueberries and more cinnamon.
4. Eat.

That's it.  Easy as apple…sauce.  This recipe is detox friendly (since I hitched me-self back on ye 'ole detox wagon...) and would be a great snack for the youngins as well.  Happy eatin' partners!!!

-♥ J

**Upon John's arrival home, I was informed that it was no longer cool nor cloudy outside.  He cranked on the air conditioning and said, "Why are you wearing a wool hat?!"
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