Sample Menu: For My Friends

I made this food plan for a couple of friends who were looking to start eating healthier.  Since I haven't posted a Sample Menu in a while thought I'd share.  This menu is not a detox and doesn't take personal food allergies into account.  However, I think it is a good place to start if you are easing your way into a healthier lifestyle. Remember every body is special and unique so always check with a medical professional before starting a nutrition program.  

-♥ J :)

P.S. Even though I am a vegan, my friends who I made this plan for are meat eaters so meat options are included.

  • The goal of this plan is to eat 4 times a day.  One fruit meal (breakfast), one carb meal, one protein meal and one snack.  Meals should be eaten about 4 hours apart.  I've included times, but they are just guidelines.  Simply space your meals four hours apart according to the time you eat your first meal.
  • Lunch meals and dinner meals can be interchanged as long as one of those meals is a carb meal and the other one is a protein meal.
  • Breakfast is always fruit.
  • And NO Dairy...


My Brain on Hot Yoga

6:45 a.m. My alarm goes off.  Oh, that's right.  I'm supposed to wake up now.  Today I am taking class at a new Hot Yoga studio that Liz told me a about.  "Hot" yoga is when the room is kept at a balmy 90 degrees.  I've never tried it before but have always been curious about it.  If I want to have enough time to drink coffee and still make it to class 15 minutes before it's start time,  I need to be out of bed by 7.  The website said they lock the doors when class starts.  NO latecomers. Can't be late.  
I'll just close my eyes for 5 more minutes.

6:50 a.m. For 5 more minutes.

6:55 a.m. For 5 more minutes.

7:00 a.m. For 5 more minutes.

7:10 a.m. John comes in. "Didn't you say to make sure you were up by 7?"  Hmmm…I vaguely remember telling him, "Whatever you do…DO NOT let me sleep past 7!!  No matter how much I beg and plead!!" He's not leaving until I'm up.  Alright.  I'm up.  I'm up.

8:15 a.m. Why, why, why did I hit snooze so many times?!  Now I'm late!  I'll never make it to the class by 8:45.  I'm such an idiot!  I'm going to get locked out!

8:30 a.m.  I'm early. No traffic.  Apparently the rest of Los Angeles are cozy in their beds or drinking coffee or eating blueberry scones….


You asked...

This morning I received this email from my friend Marysa:

I went to the store on Sunday with my list, spent about an hour reading labels, etc. and was super excited about starting fresh. So I get home, and I realize I don't have enough food, I don't know what to bring to work for lunch and the gluten free bread was awful.  I sort of ate the opposite of what I wanted to eat this past week, totally lost my focus.  I ate sandwiches, dairy, chicken.  I even buttered a bagel! What is wrong with me? 
I've decided I am going to try harder next week, but not gonna cut everything out completely. I think I am going to work harder at the gym and eat chicken and dairy (cream cheese on bagels) only once in a while. I don't know who I became when I touched that butter because I HATE butter.  I need to come up with a better plan. I want to be more vegetarian-ish during the week then let up on the weekends a little.  I can't cut out beer but I want it to be a once in a while thing. 
suggestions, thoughts, etc.


Have you ever started a diet only to find yourself at midnight frantically trying to fashion a dessert out of pretzels, mustard, whole wheat toast and honey?  No???  Then you are a stronger person than I.  My road to wellness is paved with many buttered bagels, frozen yogurt dinners followed by pizza desserts and cheese.  Lots and lots of cheese.  There have been many "Mondays", many "After the Holidays" and many, many "Tomorrows."  The way I eat today has developed over a 15 year span of trial and error.  (Sometimes lots of error…)  After years on the "health" roller coaster, a few principles regarding diets have finally seeped into this hard head of mine.


Three Things That Make My World a Simpler Place

1. C9 by Champion Women's Fitted Reversible Capri Pants
I mostly workout at home, so I don't really need a bunch of fancy workout clothes.  However, the weather has been so great lately that John and I have started going for runs in the neighborhood.  To avoid a reputation as "that weird lady who runs around with holes in the seat of her pants"  I bought these.  They are sturdy but not suffocating, a great length and have retained their color through many washes. (I hang dry them rather than putting them in the dryer.)  The best part is that they are only $32 dollars at Target.  Since they are also reversible, it's really like getting two pairs for the price of one.  

2. Crate and Barrel Salad Dressing Bottle with Stirrer
I usually make dressing fresh for each salad.  Sometimes, though, when a batch is particularly yummy (ahem...this flavor), I like to store what's leftover.  This salad dressing bottle is perfect for a several reasons.  The bottle has a wider mouth which makes for easy cleaning, it comes with it's own handy-dandy stirrer and it has easy to follow salad dressing recipes that are written right on the bottle.  The clincher...it's on sale for $7.95 (normally $9.95).

We all know that I think food combining is the easiest diet change ever.  However, when I explain the concept to people, they tend to look at me as if I'm trying to enlist them in a cult.  Now that the little black rectangle with all the answers is conquering the topic, maybe that will stop.  Thank you Kristen Suzanne (of Kristen's Raw and Green Mommy Blog) for helping to bring this app into the world.  It is super informative, user friendly and (at the bargain price of $4.99it is way more fun than Angry Birds.  Ok...AS fun as Angry Birds.  

-♥ J :)


Whoa. Now THIS is simplification.

This house makes my old Manhattan apartment look like Buckingham Palace (and my old Manhattan apartment was most decidedly NOT Buckingham Palace).  As you know by now, Veggies, I am just the tinniest bit totally and completely obsessed with simplification.  The tiny house movement is intriguing to me on so many levels.  
What do you think?  Could you live in 84(!) square feet???

-♥ J :)


Mama said there'd be days like this...

Remember this day??? 
Yep.  Today is another one of those.  
First I'm fueling up with this green smoothie...
Followed by a quick Tracy Anderson workout
Then I'm off to conquer the "To-Do" list.

While I'm doing all that, please enjoy this lovely video from this weekend's episode of Real Time with Bill Maher.  In it Bill is interviewing T. Colin Campbell of The China Study and Forks Over Knives.  The life changing Forks Over Knives is now available on dvd.  You can order that right HERE.  Your body and the planet thank you in advance.

-♥ J :)


Many A Truth Is Said In Jest

I love this book so much that when I finished it I hugged it.  For, like, a long time.

I love this book so much that I want you to read it.  And I want to stand behind you while you are reading it and wait for you to laugh so that I can say, "Wait, which part did you just laugh at??"  I tried to recreate a similar effect by reading passages that I thought were hilarious aloud to my husband.  This resulted in a lot of polite smiles followed by, "No, it's seems funny.  I just can't really understand what you are saying when you keep laughing like that."

I love this book so much that I think it should be mandatory reading for every girl over the age of 13.  And every guy.  And all pets that can do tricks….like reading.

If you like your feminism with a side of poop jokes then you are in luck.  Tina Fey's Bossypants is a feminist manifesto disguised as a hilarious autobiography.  Or as she describes it a how-to manual for raising an "achievement-oriented, drug-free, adult virgin."  In a world of not good enough, Ms. Fey not only challenges that paradigm but she makes you, little 'ole book reader in your pajamas, feel as though you can change the world simply by refusing to be anyone other than who you authentically are.  She also makes you laugh until you pee.  Those two things are what I call "a good time."  

Three cheers, Tina!!!  I am putting you in the Lady Hero Folder in my mind.  With Eleanor Roosevelt.  
And my Mom.

-♥ J :)

**Click HERE to buy Bossypants. (I am so jealous that you get to read it for the first time!!)


Getting an Oil Change and Other Fun Activities

Is it weird that I love getting my car's oil changed??
Not only do I get two hours of uninterrupted chill time, but my service center has free coffee, wi-fi and little cubbies where you can set up your computer.  I've often considered making this my office.  Today I brought this documentary to keep me occupied while I wait:

I've had the video for weeks, but haven't had the time to watch it until now.  Seriously, if this place had a salad bar, I could stay here all day.

-♥ J :)


Like A Kid Again

The following will be another earthy-crunchy feel good parable.  It's about my friend Kaia.

Last week my husband and I joined Kaia and her parents for a picnic at the LACMA outdoor jazz concert.  If the picnicking were an Olympic sport, Kaia's Mom and Dad would be a shoe in for the gold.  They packed a scrumptious spread with sandwiches (on these globe size rolls), cheese, crackers, whole wheat quesadillas and FRUIT.  Glorious fruit.

Kaia nibbled on the quesadilla and sampled a few crackers, but mostly she was fixated on the fruit.  Watermelon, strawberries, grapes…she couldn't get enough.  Her mom even prodded her, "Kaia, have some more of the quesadilla."

But Kaia wanted fruit.

She didn't talk about how fruit was boring.  Or how she had read some book that told her that someone with her blood type really shouldn't be eating fruit.  She didn't mention that she was worried about having fruit for dinner because what if the fruit didn't fill her up and what if she got hungry later and she hates when she gets hungry late at night because she doesn't like to snack late at night because she read another book that said snacking late at night was terrible for you…just terrible…and did I think this fruit had too much sugar in it???

Nope.  She ate much fruit as her little heart desired.
And as soon as she had had her fill….


You say, "tomato." I say….

"What are these sweet orbs of happiness unlike anything I have ever tasted before?!?!"

That's what I said last night when I tried the tomatoes that our friend Jeff gave us from his garden.  Honestly, I feel wrong even calling them "tomatoes."  To call them tomatoes implies that they are somehow related to those mealy little salad fillers that are bruised and beaten from the hard life on the shelf.  Oh, no.  What Jeff gave us deserves to be in a category unto itself.  But calling them "Proof that God Loves Us" is such a mouthful…

I couldn't decide what to do with them.  These tomatoes deserved long candle lit dinners, moonlight walks on the beaches of San Tropez and late night chats cuddling by a fire.  They deserved  to be in a lush and indulgent meal.  John suggested pasta.

"Are you sure you want to put them in pasta??? I don't want to mess them up.  Maybe we should eat them straight from the bowl with spoons?!?"
"Just put them in pasta, Jen."

I tossed them with steamed broccoli, Trader Joe's gluten-free rice pasta, lemon, Trader Joe's Organic Garlic Olive Oil and lemon pepper.  I topped the dish off with a dash of Parma Vegan Parmesan**.  That's  all it needed.  No bells and whistles that would mask the tomatoes' natural beauty.

And the best part is...I have so much leftover!  

I'll be in tomato heaven for days!!
Thanks, Jeff!!!
-♥ J :)

**While we were working out yesterday, Charli and I had a debate about vegan parmesan.  She said that it is wrong to call it "parmesan" because it is made entirely of walnuts and doesn't taste like parmesan.  I said it does taste like parmesan and you have to call it that so people know how to cook with it.  If you called it "Walnuts in a Plastic Jug" no one would know how to use it.  Charli said at least it would be honest and if people can't figure out what to do with it then that is their problem.   (These are the things Charli and I ponder to distract ourselves from the fact that we're working out to Tracy Anderson videos after only 5 hours sleep...)  What do you think??  Would you rather food substitutes stop pretending to be something they are not or do you think that it makes the foods more familiar??  Just curious...


Want to peek in my journal???

I don't normally keep a food journal.  

While it's true that food journals can be useful in the beginning of a nutrition program to help a person become more mindful, the ultimate goal should be to find a sense of balance and calm when it comes to food.  You want to learn how to listen to your body's subtle cues and respond accordingly.  You do not want to spend the rest of your life making a PowerPoint presentation for the great calorie counter in the sky.

However, for those of you playing the Detox home game, I thought it might be helpful to see specifically what I've been eating.  Here is my food journal from this past weekend.  Recipes are included at the bottom.  Feel free to email me, tweet me, post on the Happy Healthy Belly Facebook Page or comment below with any and all questions.

-♥ J :) 

P.S. You will notice there is nary a margarita or vodka smoothie in sight.  That thump you hear is the sound of me patting myself on the back.

11am: 16oz. Green Lemonade

12:30pm: Almond Butter Smoothie

5pmPure Bar

6pm: 16oz. Green Lemonade

8pm: Jen's Popeye Power Spinach Salad w/ dijon vinaigrette

9pm: Trader Joe's Fruit Frenzy Bar

11am: Almond Butter Smoothie

12:30pm: 16oz. Green Lemonade

3pm: Pure Bar

5pm: 20oz. Green Lemonade and 1 cup (approx) breakfast potatoes (left over from John's brunch)

8pm: Jen's Popeye Power Spinach Salad w/ dijon vinaigrette

9pm: 1 Trader Joe's Dairy-Free Mango Mochi

Green Lemonade 
I just can not stress enough how energizing (and filling!) green juice is.  This weekend I used 1/2 Organic Mixed Greens and 1/2 Apple, Lemon, Ginger Juice from Beverly Hills Juice and mixed them together.  To make your own, juice the following in a juicer:
-2 large Cucumbers 
-Big fist-full of Kale
-Big fist-full of Romaine
-3 stalks of Celery
-1 Pear or Green Apple
-1-2 big Broccoli stems
-1 lemon
-1/2 inch of Ginger
Experiment to taste.
Makes about 32 oz. Make more and save in Mason jars up to 24 hours.

Almond Butter Smoothie
(a version of THIS smoothie)
-1 ripe banana
-1 hefty scoop of almond butter
-1 handful Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao 
-1 scoop Naturade Soy-Free Veg Protein Booster
-Half a packet of Nu Naturals Stevia 
Put all the ingredients into a blender.
Add enough almond milk to almost cover the banana.
Blend. Drink.

Jen's Popeye Power Spinach Salad 
(serves 2)
-1 package of pre-washed raw spinach
-Trader Joe's frozen artichokes (cook according to package instructions)
-handful of dried cranberries
-handful of cashews
-handful of almonds
-1 and1/2 cup of lentils
-1 large avocado
-1 cup peas
Put ingredients in a bowl and toss with...

Jen's (other) Stupidly Easy Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing 
-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
-1 tablespoon mustard
-2 tablespoons Trader Joe's Organic Garlic Flavored Olive Oil
-1/2 packet stevia
Whisk together.  Drizzle on salad.


Just 'Cause....

-♥ J :)

P.S. THIS made me laugh.  And so did THIS.
P.P.S. But THIS didn't.  And neither did THIS.


Mexican, Margaritas and Me...Oh, My!

Last night we went to Mas Malo in downtown Los Angeles for Sophie's birthday party.  This party was Matt's major objection to me starting my detox this week.

"You can't detox!!!  We're supposed to have mexican and margaritas!!!"

But my feeling is if you wait for your schedule to be perfectly clear before starting a nutrition program you'll never start one.  You will never find the perfect time.  Life marches on regardless of how many salads you've committed to eating.  Besides, I was actually curious to see if I could (sort of) stick to the detox and still have fun.  
Let's do a little Monday morning quarterbacking, shall we?

I could have eaten less chips.

Alright, a lot less chips.

And I could have not accidentally eaten the salsa with cream:
Me: "You tell me it's hot, but you don't tell me there is cream in it?!"
Matt: "Um...the menu does say Burnt Habanero and Creme."

I could have not had the margarita.  

Eh, who I am kidding??
I was having a margarita.  

I had a yummy chopped salad.

Which I was too stuffed from chips to finish.

Mas Malo has a surprising number of vegan dishes on their menu.  I need to go back soon so that I can try the Vegan Menudo and the Vegan Soyrizo Pambazo.  They also have delicious sounding Cucumber Slices with Ghost Chili Salt to go with the guacamole.  I meant to order those but, in my chip frenzy, I forgot.

All in all not too much damage to report.  But, detox or not, I knew I would have fun at Sophie's birthday party.  Sophie is the kind of girl who turns everything into a fun time and generally makes the world a better, happier place to be.  Getting to have a margarita too is just the caramel on the flan.
Love you, Soph!!!  May this year bring you all that you want and more!!!

-♥ J :)


The Simple Way to Lose Weight

Eat less.

I could go on at considerable length about how the main principle of weight management hinges on food going in one end and then said food efficiently exiting the other end.  I could expound on the fact that certain foods help this process and that certain foods hinder this process.  I could site this post and remind you that the order in which those foods are eaten is also a factor.  I could preach that the more whole, raw foods you eat the less you have to worry about portion control because your body will naturally regulate it's hunger when it effectively receives the nutrients that it so desperately craves.

But I will leave all that for another day.  
Today is about simplicity.  Just eat less.  
Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Eat three meals a day.  
Yes, I know, we've all been beaten over the head with the propaganda that we are supposed to eat 5 mini meals scattered throughout the day to keep our "metabolism" burning like a raging inferno and keep our blood sugar stable and blah, blah, blah.  While that may (or may not) be true, the 5 meals that most people are eating are not "mini."  They are five regular size meals that people are forcing themselves to eat because they think it's going to result in some fat burning magic.  Try having three square meals and see how you feel. 

2. Eat those meals on 9 inch plates.
One of my favorite books is The 9-Inch Diet written by Alex Bogusky and Chuck Porter.  In the book, they talk about how the size of dinner plates in America has gone from 8.5 inches 30 years ago to 12 inches today.  They contend that it doesn't matter what you eat as long as you eat one serving of it on a 9 inch plate (piled only 1 inch high…don't get any crafty ideas).  While I disagree that you can eat anything just because it's on a 9 inch plate (a 9 inch plate of Twinkies is still a 9 inch plate of Twinkies), it is a good jumping off point.  As per my dinner suggestion yesterday, get a 9 inch plate fill half of it with veggies, 1/4 with vegan protein and 1/4 with a gluten-free grain.  For the meat eaters fill the plate with 3/4 veggies and 1/4 meat.

3. Give yourself a hand
Our ancestors didn't have Weight Watchers scales or measuring cups to figure out what a proper portion size was.  So nature, clever lady that she is, gave us our very own measuring tools right on our bodies….our hands.  Whenever you are at a loss about how much you should be eating simply look at your hands.  Your palm (not counting fingers or thumb) is the amount of protein or starch you should have in one sitting.  Your two full hands put together palms to the sky (Oliver Twist asking for porridge style) is the amount raw leafy vegetables you should eat in one sitting.  The amount of dark chocolate you should have for dessert is the size of your thumb.  Gotta love Lady Nature.  She's a smart one.

-♥ J :)

photo via The 9-Inch Diet


The Simple Summer Strip Down

That's right, Baby.  I'm taking it all off.

All the funk, bunk and junk in my trunk is going to be chipped, stripped and shipped to the land of "not gonna be needing this no more."  I am getting down to the nitty-gritty.
For the next 21 days my mission is this:


We make so many things in life more complicated than they need to be.  And it's exhausting.
Buy this.  Wear that.  Eat this.  Do this.  Don't do that.  The din of the never-ending stream of chatter in this world has reached such epic proportions that people no longer know what they want or who they are or why they do things.  We just march along, shuffled from one task to the next, completely out of tune with our own natural instincts and vulnerable to any snake oil salesman who demands our attention.

And beyond all that….
It's summer for the love of Buddha!  We need to chill-ax!

So, let's start here.
Or not.

That is how low key this detox is going to be.  
I'm not even going to do my usual grovel and beg routine to get you to do this with me.  
I'm just going to tell you what I'm doing.  And then the choice is yours…

Do it.
Don't do it.
I'll love you anyway.

And, as always, please remember that, because we are all unique snowflakes with unique bodies, hearts and minds that have very unique needs, one should always consult with a medical professional before undertaking any new nutrition program. 

Alright, Veggies.
Let us begin with my favorite topic…FOOD.

Poor misunderstood Food.  Talk about a subject that has been overcomplicated.  Everyday there is a new study, press release, talk show chat devoted to what we should or shouldn't be eating.  And yet most of this "helpful"  discourse only leaves us mired in confusion and angst.  Many an ice cream binge is born from the frustration of trying to do the right thing only to be met time and time again with failure.

Let's stop all that.
Let's just eat food.

You remember food. 
It doesn't have an ingredient list or a fancy package.
It doesn't have a PR agent to convince you of it's "health" claims.
It looks the same on your grocer's shelf as when it was pulled from the ground or picked from a tree. 
It can save your life.

Yeah, let's eat that.
A typical day of eating on the detox will look like this:

20-40 oz. green juice or several low sugar fruits (berries, apples, pears)
BIG salad with avocado and all the veggie toppings my little heart desires
1/2 a plate of vegetables, 1/4 plate vegan protein (beans, lentils, tofu, chickpeas), 1/4 plate gluten free starch (brown rice, quinoa, potatoes)

This food map is simple, cheap and even easy to follow while eating in restaurants.

"But what about snacks?!?  Dessert?!?!   Jen, I eat meat!!!!"

If you want a snack, try a handful of nuts or some raw veggies with hummus.
If you have to have dessert, try a small piece of dark chocolate or 1/4 cup coconut ice cream.
If you eat meat, have your dinner meal be 3/4 of a plate of vegetables and 1/4 meat.

But aren't we all just a tad obsessed with those things.  We act as if we can't live without snacks and dessert and meat.  Like we have to have those things everyday.  Maybe we don't.  Maybe if we simplify our palate and actually nourish our bodies, when we have those things once in a while they will become even more pleasurable.  
It's worth a try....

Ok, I've yabbered enough for one day.  I'll leave you with this recipe (a.k.a. my dinner tonight) from Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Diet.  And don't forget to LIKE the Happy Healthy Belly Facebook page so that we can chat, swap recipes and share ideas.  Happy Veggin'!!!

-♥ J :)

Kris Carr's Buddha Bowl
-1 cup cooked quinoa
-chopped garlic 
-braggs liquid
-black pepper
-a touch of flax oil
Mix ingredients together and enjoy with a side salad.

*For a detox shopping list click HERE.
**Mark Bittman lost 35 pound just by eating vegan until 6pm.  Now that is simple.  Read more about that HERE.


The Right To Bear Vegetables

"To safeguard democracy the people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect, and their oneness."
-Mahatma Gandhi

Happy Fourth, Veggies!!!
-♥ J :)


If we took a holiday...

Illustration by Jessica Hagy via Cup of Jo

Three day weekend is here!!!  Woo-hoo!!!  Anyone have any fun weekend plans???  

I have a barbecue on Sunday, to which I'll be bringing Alicia Silverstone's Vegan Artichoke Dip from her book The Kind Diet and the Peanut Butter Squares from The Vegan Stoner.  I'll be sure to post the pictures next week.

Have yourself a debaucherous 'ole time this weekend, Veggies, because come Tuesday we are getting ser-i-ous.  Our Simplicity Detox will be all systems go.  Don't forget to LIKE the Happy Healthy Belly facebook page so that you can join in all the detox chatting fun.  You can do that right HERE.  I want to hear from you!!!  
I need more people to yap about juice with...

Have a great holiday weekend, Veggies!!!

-♥ J :)

*More vegan recipe ideas for the 4th right here.
**Remember this post?  Well, look who else doesn't like yogurt.
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