Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a food website/blog that views the New York City + Los Angeles dining scenes through the lens - and belly - of a highly opinionated, critical, adorably quirky, and culinary-obsessed thirty-something year old.

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Entries in Weight Watching (15)


The Lunch Belle interviews RHOA's infamous Mama Joyce!

Love her or love to hate her, Mama Joyce is the unofficial matriarch of The Real Housewives of Atlanta.  Personally, while I've always remained neutral in tiffs between her and famous daughter, Kandi Burruss, it wasn't until I actually got to speak with Mama Joyce, one on one, that I absolutely fell in love with her. 

Photo credit: Jessica from Reality Wanted dot Com Southern women, especially of the older school, are tough cookies.  They don't put up with a bunch of crap and are more than happy to gingerly put you in your place.  By the same token, you will never meet a more outwardly warm, gracious, polite, or welcoming woman than a Southern dame.  And Mama Joyce is no exception.   While she may come off as a fire cracker on television, she could not have been more lovely over the phone.  If I could describe my interaction with MJ (Mama Joyce) in one sentence, I'd say that she is like the grandmother you never had.  But always wanted.  Sweet and loving...with a dash of Southern sass.


TLB = The Lunch Belle

MJ = Mama Joyce

TLB:  "Hi MJ!  Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me!"

MJ:  "Hi!  You are welcome."

TLB:  "So I heard that you've lost quite a bit of weight.  Congratulations!  40 pounds, to be exact!  Can you divulge how you did it?"

MJ:  "Thank you!  I started a program called Dramatic Weight Loss about 2-years ago.  Actually, it was Kandi who first told me about it.  And, yes, I've lost 40 pounds!"

TLB:  "Well, congratulations again!  But I want all of the dirty details.  What did the diet entail?"

MJ:  "For the first 3-days, I had to drink a protein shake every 3-hours to prevent hunger.  Once I went in to ketosis, I was able to add food back to my diet like salads and fish."

TLB:  "Shakes, eh?  Were they gross?" 

MJ:  "Girl, no!  I still drink them - by choice - to this day!  I love the chocolate or vanilla flavor that I make extra sweet with Sweet 'N Low."

TLB:  "Interesting.  That really says a lot about the company's products if you drink the shakes now, in your maintenance phase, by choice!   Speaking of maintenance, don't you find it to be harder than the actual diet, itself?"

MJ:  "You know what's funny?  I hadn't had fried chicken in months until the other day and, wouldn't you know, it upset my stomach!  Also, I can now be around sweets without having to indulge in a piece of cake or candy.  I don't crave those things anymore.  It's crazy!"

TLB:  "That is crazy, because no matter how far in to a diet I am, I still crave donuts/cake/gummy candy/ice cream, etc. on a daily basis.  God bless you, MJ!  So, I have to ask, do you cook at home?  If so, how often per week?"

MJ:  "(Chuckles) Thank you, baby.  Yes, I do cook at home.  About two times/week."

TLB:  "On the off times when you aren't cooking, do you go out to eat?  If so, what do you order at, say, an American restaurant?"

MJ:  Girl, I love Red Lobster.  I usually order some kind of baked fish, salad, and either a baked potato or rice."

TLB:  "...and I love Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits!  Do you let yourself indulge in those?"

MJ:  "(Chuckles) Me too!  Well, mayyyyyyyyyyybe just one."

TLB:  "Switching gears now.  How's your granddaughter, Miss Riley, doing?  I haven't seen her on the show all season!"

MJ:  "Oh, she's wonderful, thank you.  She is doing great."

TLB:  "I loved seeing your sisters with you a few episodes back.  You can see the resemblence!"

MJ:  "Thank you.  Did you know that I am the baby of fourteen?"

TLB:  "No!  That is amazing.  And so interesting!  I love it.  Now, MJ, in closing, is there anything that you'd like for me to share with my readers?"

MJ:  "Just let everyone know that I am self-sufficient.  Kandi and I have rekindled our relationship and we're stronger and better than ever.  I love my daughter."



Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Reviewed: Gilbert Gottfried's "The Diet Show"

For someone who has the attention span of a fruit fly, you can only imagine how well I do at theater productions, movies, concerts, etc.  After about 15-minutes, I get bored and antsy.  Restless leg syndrome sets in and I find myself anxiously taking turns glancing between the exit door and my watch... 

Toward the end of 2012, I was invited to view "The Diet Show," Gilbert Gottfried, Sean Pomper, and Karen Katz's comedy production starring past winners, finalists and contestants of the hit TV show, The Biggest Loser.  Now, under any other circumstance, I wouldn't have even opened this email pitch had the word "Diet" not caught my eye.  After reading the press release, however, I did something very out of character:  I RSVP'd with a whole-hearted "YES!"  Because, aside from the fact that I'm obsessed with the digital number on the scale, for much of my life, I've not-so-proudly worn the "diet whore" crown.  So it's without even saying that I have a soft spot for anyone who struggles with their weight and appearance.

On Saturday night, I met my friend, Nicole, at Stage 72 for the 7pm performance of The Diet Show.  The first thing that stood out was the small, intimate theater space - located above a Turkish restaurant - that boasted ornate detail and dark, gothic colors (think red, black, gold). 

Photo by Stage 72As we filed in to the theater, an employee noted that there was a 2-drink minimum per person.  While that "rule" may annoy some, I was thrilled to hear that a) there was alcohol, and b) there was table-service! 

Nicole and I scored a great front-row seat.  Just as we received our cocktails - some chocolate-y martini thing for her, and a margarita for me - the lights began to dim.  Show time!

The production was incredibly entertaining, hysterical, and tear-jerking.  All at the same time.  Imagine, if you will, eleven personal, heartfelt monologues given by former winners and contestants of The Biggest Loser.  Not once did I look down at my watch...or yawn.  Instead, I laughed.  I nodded my head many times, both in agreement and in that sympathetic "I've been there before, too."  And I bawled.  The cast spoke about everything from food addiction, working out, and looking death in the eye to always making it a point to poke fun at themselves before anyone else could have the opportunity.  Pretty heavy stuff.  Especially when you, too, have been there.

I would recommend this show to anyone who appreciates a solid comedy routine and, on the serious side of things, has ever struggled with weight, dieting, poor self esteem, food addiction, etc.  Hey, isn't that almost all of us?  

For more information or to buy tickets, click here.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Running for my summer swagger

Blame it on all of the hot bodies I ogled in Vegas.  Or, perhaps it's the fact that I just looked at my calendar and realized...TODAY IS JUNE 1ST!!  Summer. Really. Is. Here.

While I'm on the topic of body envy, I had a little "come to Jesus," if you will, upon my return flight from 'Sin City':  If I want my figure to look as smokin' hot as all of those 20-year-old sluts that I spied pool-side at the Wynn, then I'd better shake-up my fitness routine!  Currently, my workouts consist solely of indoor activities:  Watching television, spinning, barre, and, occasionally, ballet.  While each is fantastic and, believe it or not, *fun*, deep down, I'm aching to get back to jogging outdoors...  

The last time I attempted to incorporate jogging in to my exercise routine, I was 40-pounds heavier than I am now.  Because of all of the extra weight that I was carrying, coupled with the fact that I had taken an 8-year workout sabbatical, I ended up fracturing my knee.  How sad and lame is that? 

It's almost been 2-years since that painful incident, and not a day has passed that I haven't thought about putting on my sneakers and hitting the pavement.  For me, running is the ultimate de-stressor (I imagine that boxing would also have similar effects.  Perhaps I'll look in to that, next?).  I tend to carry a lot of anger and emotional weight, so a good jog really helps me to refocus and gain composure.  It's the ultimate "me" time - when I can completely zone-out and lose myself in my music. 

"Run Forrest! Run!"...And, speaking of music, I'm in dire need of some kick ass tunes to add to my playlist.  See, it's for this reason, alone, that I love attending exercise classes instead of "doing my own thing."  Why?  Because having to download music and create playlists is overwhelming, time-consuming and, frankly, I'd rather have someone else to do it. 

Check out what's on my current "jogging playlist," below.  And, before you laugh at some of my out-of-date selections, a) shut up, and b) just remember that I don't have a car, so listening to the radio isn't really an option.

What do you jam to when you work out?  I'd love some great suggestions!


Rap/Hip Hop 

*This is my favorite type of music.  I've grew up in a Motown household - with a mother who went to more Michael Jackson concerts than anyone I know/have read about - so, for me, rap/hip hop was a very natural transition.

Red Cafe - Fly Together

Love the beat and the line about the "JetBlue stewardess"

Kanye West/Big Sean/Pusha T/2 Chainz - Mercy 

Completely, ridiculously obsessed this song!

Usher - Scream

Sexy lyrics and a great beat

Ice Cube - Check Yo Self

...Great video, too!

Rick Ross/Drake/Chrisette Michele - Aston Martin Music

I love everything about this song - this is one of the first times I had ever heard "Drake" on a track

Rick Ross - B.M.F.

As you can see, I have a lil' thing for Rick Ross.  This song makes me feel like I'm a force to be reckoned with - and that I could kick some serious ass.

Tupac - To Live & Die in LA

One of my favorite Tupac songs of all time - love this tribute to LA

Tupac - I Get Around

Funny lyrics - and I know every last one of them, by heart.  I could acapella the shit out of this song!

Tupac - How Do You Want It

A sexy classic with a killer beat

Nicki Minaj/Drake - Moment 4 Life

For me, the verdict is still out on Nicki, but I adore this duet w/ Drake

Positive K - I Got A Man

The lyrics are hilarious, and I can recite every last one of them.  An old-school classic!

Neyo - Closer

Wow, now if this song doesn't turn you on or make you yearn for the 'one that got away,' then I don't know what the hell to tell you.



Calvin Harris - Feel So Close

This song makes me want to get up from my desk chair and dance!  All-around awesome

Far East Movement - Like A G6

Ultimate dance-party jam.  Love.

Goldfrapp - Ooh La La

Sexy.  Great beat that makes you want to run faster

Anything by Girl Talk

This dude is a fcuking genius.  He doesn't have a boring jam out there

Alice DeeJay - Better Off Alone

Love the lyrics - reminds me of college and makes me smile

September - Cry For You

Euro-pop and totally cheesy, but it has a great beat



Pink - Sober

Whew!  These lyrics are intense, but the song is great and I love Pink's raspy voice

Empire of The Sun - Walking On A Dream

This song just sounds like summer - like California - and it makes me smile

Coldplay/Rhianna - Princess of China

Great beat - love the unusual combo of Chris Martin and Rhi-Rhi

David Guetta/Usher - Without You

Lyrics are sweet and you can only hope that someone feels or has felt this way about you

Britney Spears - Piece of Me

If this song doesn't make you wanna kick some ass, then I'm not sure what will.  It's one of my all-time favorite Britney tunes!

Kanye West - All of The Lights

The ballad of summer 2011 - amazing grouping of singers that only Kanye West could orchestrate.  Still cannot get enough of this one!

Florence & The Machine - Dog Days Are Over

This song radiates happiness and inspires change.  I absolutely adore it

Demi Lovato - Give Your Heart A Break

I have a lot of respect for Demi Lovato, as she's been through quite a lot and has had the balls to share her story.  This song is peppy and sweet, and I love the girl's voice.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Is this why you're fat?

After clicking through this slideshow and happening upon Chef David Burke's answer to his ultimate guilty pleasure, "A Kit Kat bar. I was never allowed to eat sweets as a child, so I find Kit Kats to be the ultimate guilty pleasure," I wondered:  Are parents, who restrict certain foods in their households, unknowingly setting their children up for weight issues/future struggles?

Speaking from personal experience, I'm going to have to say "yes."  I grew up in a household where sugary cereals, soda pop, packaged snacks, chips, etc. were not allowed.  So, whenever I went over to a friend's house whose parents did allow these products in their pantries, I would get so excited and anxious...that I would binge.  As a young child!  Fast forward 10-years:  In going away to college, I was left entirely up to my own devices and demises for, among many other things, my diet.  And just like so many other freshman students, I gained about 15-20 pounds.  But not over the course of one year.  Mine occurred over the course of that first semester.  Why?  Because I could literally eat whatever the hell I wanted.  For the first time in my life!  I didn't have Mommy or Daddy eyeing my every meal like a hawk.  They weren't planning and shopping for my breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners.  I was!  And you can bet your ass that my grocery cart consisted of chips, candy, ice cream, cheese, and Little Debbie cakes.  Man, I thought I was so suave and rebellious...until I went home for that first Thanksgiving and saw the horrified looks on everyone's faces.  I had blown up like a beach ball. 

So now, I turn the question over to you:  Do you think that parents, who restrict certain foods in their households, unknowingly set their children up for weight issues/future struggles?


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


My Lunch Date with Joy Bauer, plus a Summer Slim-Down Challenge

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining author-extraordinaire and nutritionist for the Today Show, Joy Bauer, for lunch.  A handful of her website's partners and other health/food bloggers were invited to Nios, a restaurant that's located within The Muse (a Kimpton Hotel property), to celebrate the launch of her completely revised and updated book, Joy Bauer's Food Cures

In her latest edition of Food Cures, Joy brings readers up to date on the most current science regarding nutrition and diet, and how everyday foods can help prevent, treat, and sometimes even cure common health concerns.  Joy goes the extra mile by providing menus, grocery lists, and recipes for nearly twenty popular conditions, including the most delicious remedies for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, combating migraines and insomnia, boosting memory, enhancing mood, and much more!

Since Joy was responsible for creating the deliciously light choices behind Kimpton Hotels' In Room Dining menus, it was only fitting that she select the array of dishes, specifically designed to beautify skin and hair - boost mood and energy, for our luncheon:

  • Cocktail: Pomegranate Prosecco
  • Appetizer: Clams "Casino" & Mussels "Rockefeller"  almonds, spinach, cantaloupe and bell pepper relish, guava cubes
  • Entree: Green Tea and Rosemary Spiced Arctic Char  lentil and carrot puree, broccolini, cherry tomato confit, leek coulis
  • Dessert: Espresso and Chocolate Mousse  berries, cocoa nibs

Throughout every course, Joy addressed the audience and explained nearly every ingredient's key nutritional role in each dish.  Although I was only able to stay for the appetizer course, I was thrilled to have learned that my beautifully re-constructed plate of Clams "Casino" and Mussels "Rockefeller" was rich in vitamins, nutrients and, most importantly, flavor.

Even though I had to scoot out on the earlier side of the luncheon, I was able to walk away having met the incredible woman and mentor that I'm proud to say I have the honor of working with (I'm pinching myself as I'm typing this.  No joke.).

Joy Bauer and yours trulyAnd, speaking of health, I wanted to share an exciting challenge to kick off the final two-weeks of summer: I Heart Summer Slim Down.  This two-week plan begins TODAY and includes a combination of exercise and eating tips.  Just think: by Labor Day, you could be a couple of inches and pounds smaller!  Hey, I just signed up, why don't you?


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


The Lunch Belle partners with TODAY SHOW nutritionist, Joy Bauer - plus, a reader contest!

Dear readers,

I have some really exciting news to share!  A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by the Joy Bauer website team - the online home of the TODAY SHOW nutritionist and best selling author, Joy Bauer - asking if I'd be interested in a possible partnership/collaboration!  As you can imagine, my hands were shaking with excitement and my heart was racing.  I was familiar with Joy Bauer prior to receiving this flattering offer but, to be honest, I'd never had the chance to catch Joy on the TODAY SHOW.  Why?  Because I've always had to be at work at or before 7:30am...and we all know that the TODAY SHOW doesn't air until 7am, when I'm already en route to the office.  I do work in finance, after all, people. 

So, before responding "yes, of course!" immediately, I wanted to learn even more about the country's most famous nutritionist, Joy Bauer.  Here are some factoids that I just can't help but brag about:

Joy is the...

Impressive resume and credentials, no?  I can't tell you how flattered I am that Joy Bauer's team asked me to become affiliated with them.  Whew! 

Obviously, I agreed to partner with JoyBauer.com and, because of my overwhelming enthusiasm, the team shipped me two of Joy's most popular books: Joy Bauer's Food Cures, and Slim & Scrumptious.  After having received and briefly skimmed through each, one thing is congruent in both books: Joy's nutritional and weight-loss methods are realistic, cost-effective, and uncomplicated - as are her recipes, which are free of artificial sweeteners, ingredients, and exotic, "healthy" crap.     

On that note, I couldn't not "share the wealth" with you, my dear readers.  So, I've decided that we're a little bit overdue for a contest, don't you think?  I'm offering not one, but *both* of the brand new books that I just received - Joy Bauer's Food Cures and Slim & Scrumptious - to the first person who responds correctly to the following question:

  • True or false: Ounce for ounce, sardines contain as much heart-healthy omega-3 fat as salmon.

Think you know the correct answer?  Hey, you've got a 50/50 chance!  Leave your response in the "comments" field of this post.  Best of luck to you!


Until we eat again...let's get healthy together!

The Lunch Belle