Upcoming Class: Wine & Sweets

Wine Tasting.  Sweet Treats.  Healthy Eats. . . do you need to read any further?

Friday, February 28th at 7pm (Georgetown, KY)


As much as I love wine and wish I were the knowledgable one, I'm not.  My descriptions would be something like, "I like this one. Drink it."  Luckily for me {and you}, I've found a lovely and brilliant wine expert who has chosen SIX affordable, delicious wines from around the globe for us to taste and enjoy! (*Please see Note Below)

Whatever you do, pour yourself into it
— Robert Mondavi


Did you know that some sweet treats can actually be good for you?  Would you like to get your chocolate fix without the guilt? There's ways to incorporate health-promoting foods that will actually taste delicious and satisfy your sweet tooth.  We’ll whip up some easy desserts and treats to satisfy everyone’s palate and dietary restriction (including sugar free, oil free, gluten free, dairy free, and egg free options!)

Healthy Eats

A light and wholesome dinner will be provided.  Make sure to save room for dessert!

What’s Included?

  • Cooking Class- How to make sweet, but healthy treats

  • Dinner and Drinks- Wholesome meal and beverages

  • Dessert- Taste a variety of Treats and Sweets

  • Recipes- What and how to make everything at home

  • Wine Tasting - Six Wines specifically chosen by our Wine Expert

  • A Fun Night Out!

Just $29

Class is now closed. 

* Please Note: The wine tasting is a personal gift provided for your enjoyment. We are simply providing it as we would for any guest.  You are responsible for ensuring your safe transportation afterwards. 


Double Team Detox: Two Week Health & Fitness Challenge

Are you ready to start the New Year off right?  

Join 2 Coaches {a Health Coach + a Fitness Coach} for 2 Weeks for the Double Team Detox

The Double Team Detox has everything that you need to get you on the right track to reach your  goals for health, weight loss, fitness, and feeling fabulous.  You won’t be calorie counting.  You won’t be starving.  You simply have to eat from the approved list of easy, satisfying whole food detoxifying recipes and you can eat as much as you want.  Add in the daily exercise plan for minutes and you’ll be right on track.  Amp it up a little with a few additional cleansing habits.  

** Registration is now closed.  Please contact me if you are interesting in a personalized detox program

Here's what's included

  • Kickoff Class {PARTY!} w/ both coaches (Friday 1/10 In Georgetown, KY @ 7pm)

    • Cooking Class- see how to prepare a few of the Detox meals

    • Dinner & Drinks

    • Detox Overview w/ Q&A

    • Fitness Plan Overview w/ Q&A

    • Bond with the Double Team Detox Community

    • Giveaways!

  • Daily Support via a special, private Facebook group for only the Double Team Detox Community  

  • Private (30 min) coaching session w/ Health Coach Wendy to address your specific needs & goals

  • Private (30 min) coaching session w/ Fitness Coach Blake to address you specific needs & goals

  • Menu plan w/ recipes specifically designed to aid in weight loss, detoxification, and cleansing. Seven options to choose from (for each): breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack.

  • Shopping list

  • Daily fitness plan - 4-16 minutes for a full body workout

  • Detoxification Adders - optional habits to add in for maximum impact

No diet pills.  No funky supplements.  No deprivation.  

This program is for a small, intimate group to ensure that you get ample support. Space is limited so reserve your spot today! 

Kickoff Class: Friday, 1/10 at 7pm

Detoxification Dates: Monday, 1/13- Sunday 1/26

* Registration is now closed.  Please contact me if you are interesting in a personalized detox program. 

 Q: Who are your Health  & Fitness Coaches?

I'm the Health Coach, the Broccoli Hugger! Read more about me, here.

Blake is your fitness coach.  She has been passionate about healthy eating and fitness since her mom passed away from heart disease at the early age of 48.  Not wanting to follow in her footsteps, she decided to make some changes so she did a lot of research, took classes, and became a certified Zumba and bootcamp instructor. (Note from Wendy: She is a fabulous instructor, btw!  Her classes are always packed and nobody leaves without breaking a sweat.  But it barely seems like exercise because it's so much fun!) She's on a mission to help everyone in her community to achieve their health and fitness goals as administrator of B-fit.  She's also a mother of two girls. 

Q: What results can I expect? 

A: Everyone is different.  Our bodies, our previous diets, our lifestyles all determine what results we might see.  A few common results are weight loss, clearer skin, increased energy, less constipation, flatter stomach, and better sleep (to name just a few). You can certainly expect to be fueling your body with nutritious and delicious foods that you might just choose to enjoy after the detox’s completion.  You’ll likely also develop some healthier habits that you can maintain for the long term.

Q: Can I expect any negative side effects?

A: It’s certainly possible to feel a little crappy whenever you make dietary changes. Some people can actually experience withdrawal-like effects when shifting away from their regular diets.  These side effects usually subside quickly and we’ll be here to coach you along the way. 

Q:  Do I have to give up any foods?  

A:  Well, yes, this detox program focuses on removing the foods that we are commonly addicted  to and the foods that hamper our body’s ability to detoxify naturally.  Don’t worry.  You won’t have to restrict calories, count fat grams, or feel hungry.  Instead of focusing on what you cannot have, you’ll be focusing on what you can and should have to help heal your body and expedite weight loss.  Plus, you can do anything for two weeks, can’t you?

Q: Can I eat out?  What if I have an event or party to go to?

A:  It is strongly suggested that you prepare your own foods.  Even the healthiest options out aren’t always the best, but if it’s unavoidable, we’ll give you some guidance on what to eat and what to do if you have to eat out.

Q: I have allergies or food aversions, can I still participate?

A: This detox plan is free from some common allergens such as dairy, wheat, and eggs, but if you have other specific allergies, please advise.  We’ll certainly encourage you to try some detoxifying foods that you might not have normally enjoyed, but there will be many meal options to choose from if you don’t like something in particular.

Q: I want to participate, but I don’t live in the Lexington, KY area?  Can I?

A:  The ideal way to participate is to be able attend the kickoff class in person.  You don’t want to miss that one!  We’ll have several hours together where we’ll have a cooking class, nutrition coaching, fitness challenges, and development of our detox community.  However, if you don’t live in the area, we are going to offer the detox program at a slight discount since you won't get to partake in the delicious goodies we'll have on Friday.  The cost for attending remotely is $60.  Please note that this option is only available for those that don't live in the area.  

Healthy Habits Gifts for Under $30

I love to share my favorite things with you all.  I honestly believe that if you have some of the right tools for your time at the kitchen counter or at the dining table, it can be easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Check out the suggestions from 2011 and 2012 as well!

I do confess, however, that I am a fan of kitchen gadgets.  I certainly don't pull out a little chopper when one knife and 20 seconds does the trick, but a few things actually tend to spice things up in the kitchen.   

You can nab these items on Amazon Prime (links attached) and get them in two days.

Toss and Chop Salad Tongs

Want a salad, but don't feel like All. That. Chopping? Love when your salad is perfectly tossed with dressing sticking to every single piece?  These tongs are going to be your new favorites!  Seriously, I put in whole lettuce leaves, very roughly chopped peppers (cut in quarters, with stems removed), and all those other veggies with dressing and work my way to the most perfectly chopped and combined salad you could hope for.  If you get nothing else, get these!

EcoJarz- Mason Jar Lids

Who loves eating and drinking out of glass more than out of plastic?  I sure do.  Now, plastic is lighter and can be more convenient at times, but - even though you can get BPA free plastic - I'd much rather drink out of glass.  Water tastes better.  Juices look prettier.  Glass doesn't stain.  I've been digging all sorts of glass containers available nowadays.  These lids convert simple mason jars into attractive drinking containers.  Snag some stainless straws too while you are at it. 

BNTO - Small containers for Mason Jars

Again, I love being able to utilize glass jars for food and drink.  These are a great way to take a salad and keep your dressing separate, hummus and veggies, or even cereal with your non-dairy milk.

Citrus Reamer

I cannot believe that I only recently got one of these.  My cousin and I exchange kitchen gadgets with one another - continuously sharing our favorite things.  Squeezing one lemon or lime is no biggie, but if you want to squeeze more than a few, this baby comes in really handy. Plus it really extracts a lot of the juice.  I love this one because it catches the seeds. 

Vacu Vin Wine Saver

Every good cook deserves to enjoy a glass of wine if he wants while in the kitchen.  Only problem is what to do if you won't be sharing the bottle over dinner?  Enjoy one (or two) nice glasses and then save that wine from turning to vinegar by removing the air with this gadget.  Who am I kidding?  You already have one of these, I'm sure.

Don't forget to try some of my other recommended products for kiddos and grown-ups!


Wendy (The Broccoli Hugger)

Quite possibly the BEST salad ever: Grilled Caesar Salad (Vegan!)

Now, I LOOOOOVE salads.  I'm the type that can {and does} eat salads for breakfast, so for this to be a favorite really says something.  It means even more, though, when non-salad eaters scarf this salad down and come back for seconds. 


What makes this the type of salad that might just upstage your other grilled/ BBQ offerings?

- The crisp chill of the romaine lettuce that says protected from the heat

- The warm char of the of the wilted lettuce leaves that rest on the grill

- The absence of raw eggs or anchovies (even non-Vegans usually don't love those two recipe components!) 

- The chewy, crunchy taste of the fresh ciabatta croutons


Garlic Croutons

- 1 Loaf Ciabatta Bread, cut into large cubes (another crusty bread will do, but ciabatta has a nice amount of crust for these hearty croutons) 

- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced (I've used garlic powder in a pinch) 

- 2-4 T. Olive Oil, for tossing

- 1/4 t. Salt

Mix garlic, olive oil, and salt.  Toss bread in oil mixture and bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes, tossing once or twice to brown and crisp all sides.  Set aside.

Vegan Caesar Dressing

- 1/3 C. Tofu, drained (I've used both soft and firm tofu.  I prefer the firm, but soft will work too. Use Organic or Non-GMO)

- 1 Medium Lemon, seeded & squeezed, about 2-3T. juice

- 1 t. Worcestershire (Note: Lea & Perrins contains anchovies, opt for a vegan version)

- 1 Clove Garlic, roughly chopped

- 2-4 T. Capers, drained (use more or less to taste. . . these impart the salty flavor to replace the anchovies) 

- 1/4 C. Olive Oil (I try to use as little as possible. . . you'll be putting oil directly on the lettuce too) 

- Fresh Ground Pepper (to taste) 

Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and pulse until well combined and creamy.  Set aside.

The Salad

- 3 Whole Heads of Romaine Lettuce, rinsed, but left intact 

- 2-4 T. Olive Oil, for brushing

Slice the entire head of lettuce in half lengthwise, leaving the inedible stem intact.  Brush or drizzle the cut side with olive oil (to prevent sticking to the grill. Place the 6 segments of lettuce cut and oiled side down directly onto a hot grill, taking care to not let them catch on fire.  Remove after the lettuce is charred and slightly wilted on the underside, but still crispy topside.  This takes about 5-8 minutes, depending on your grill. 

Cut the lettuce leaves, removing the stems.  Toss with the dressing and croutons.  Serve immediately. 

Important notes: Leave the lettuce in the fridge until you're ready to stick it on the grill. You can use packaged croutons, but I think that the homemade croutons are so very worth that little extra effort.

Lemme know what you think!  How did it turn out?  


Love recipes like this?  Want to hear more about how to add in delicious plant-based foods to your daily diet?  Subscribe below. . .


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Weight Loss Foods & Tips: Mint

Tip #5: Add it in to Weigh Less

Mint! This little green herb is so powerful that you don't even need to eat it, just a mere whiff can help to curb your appetite, make you more alert, and jumpstart your energy. 


You certainly can & should eat it, however if ya like it! It will even soothe your stomach if you overindulge. . . 

Hmmm. . . maybe those Mint Juleps for Derby aren't such a bad idea after all. Sorry, Kentucky friends, I've searched high and low. The bourbon's not gonna help you to lose weight, however 

I like mint muddled into soda water or blended with frozen strawberries & dates for a simple smoothie. It's also commonly found in one of my favs, tabbouleh.

You can find all 20 tips at the Broccoli Hugger Facebook page.  Make sure to "Like" us to stay in touch!

Subscribe to the Broccoli Hugger Newsletter to get 5 More {Surprising} Foods to Add in to Weigh Less.  Enter your information below!


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Weight Loss Foods & Tips: Spicy Foods

Tip #4: Add it in to Weigh less

Heat things up with hot and spicy foods.

Eating spicy foods can help you to shed weight by boosting your metabolic rate for awhile after consumption. Hot foods also help to curb your appetite so you might just take in less calories at that meal. 

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You can add in some cayenne or chili powder to soup. Toss some red pepper flakes onto your roasted veggies. Top your tater with salsa. Add some tabasco to your pizza. . . whatever you can tolerate (in terms of spiciness). 

There’s evidence to suggest that if you consume spicy foods regularly the impact begins to wear off. No wonder. . . I would have wasted away by now with the amount of spice I like to consume in my food (& Bloody Marys!)

Click Here for Tip #5


Weight Loss Foods & Tips: Wine

Tip #2: Add it in to Weigh Less


Its RED wine. . .

Now don’t get carried away. Studies show that women who have {just ONE appropriately sized} glass of red wine daily have trimmer waists. There’s several theories on why this: digesting the alcohol my trigger your body to burn calories & the antioxidant found in grape skin may help to inhibit fat storage.

I’ve got my own theory. . . Doesn’t sipping a glass of wine set the tone for a relaxing, slower paced meal- fully enjoying the smells and tastes associated with all that you are eating (& drinking). If a glass of wine DOES put you in a state of mindful consumption, it might be okay for you to add in. If it doesn’t, it might not be worth it.

 Friendly reminder - because I need it too - the beneficial properties of red wine fade away after more than one glass.

Click Here for tip #3


Weight Loss Foods & Tips: Movement

Tip #3: Add it in to Weigh Less 

Move More! This is a different take on "exercise," though, so I promise you will want to read on. 

We all know that if you exercise more, you might lose weight. That's NOT what I am talking about here, though. I'm talking about adding in just a wee-bit more movement when you can in your normal day.

I learned this from Ellen Degeneres's trainer, John Pierre, so it's a good one, promise!


Spend only one minute - 60 seconds - moving a wee bit more every waking hour. Here's what I propose: set an alert on your phone to remind you to do one minute of movement whenever the chime sounds. It might look something like this. . . Before work, the chime sounds twice. . . you do 10 squats, 10 pushups, and 20 crunches each time. At work when it sounds you simply get up and move around or go to the bathroom and do a few squats or pushups on the wall. At home the alarm sounds and you get three more sets of pushups, squats, and crunches before bed. At the end of the day, you've done a minimum of 50 squats, 50 pushups, and 100 crunches!!! And you haven't even gone to the gym or dreaded any workout.

Plan to do something so crazy-easy that you will happily do it every hour. I.e. I don't mind to do drop and give you ten every hour, but if I had to give you 20, I might dread it and skip. Nope! Keep it easy peasy. You'll likely get stronger and just want to do more reps each time or for a longer duration as time goes by. 

Click Here for Tip #4


Weight Loss Foods & Tips: Broccoli

Tip #1: Add it in to Weigh Less

But of course, first up is Broccoli!


The broc's got lots of the good stuff ya need to take off the L-B's. Vitamin C helps your body to absorb calcium which helps to speed up your body's metabolism. Broccoli has plenty of both, not to mention it's rich in fiber, low in fat, & low in calories. As an extra special bonus, some of the phytochemicals (nutrients only found in plant foods) have been shown to literally stop cancer cells dead in their tracks! 

Why don't ya add some raw broc to your salad, chop some up for dipping, or toss some into your stir fry?  Broccoli Hugs to you! 

Click Here for Tip #2


Secrets of Fit and Healthy People

I've been featured at the Secrets of Fit and Healthy People.  I'd love for you to read my story:  my "aha" moment and my top three tips for to be fit, healthy, and happy.  There's great advice from experts every week, so make sure to subscribe or/and like their Facebook page for regular updates.


Here's an excerpt. . .

I struggled with my weight my entire life, adopting diets as insane as the Diet Mountain Dew and Twizzlers Diet (it’s low fat, low calorie, right?) to the more socially acceptable low-carb or low-fat restrictive diets.  I had a love/hate relationship with food for 30+ years alternating between overindulgence with total disregard for the type or quality of food to extreme food restriction and borderline addictive exercise. I had a few moments in time where the stars were aligned and my health-abusive behavior paid off with a body that I would actually put in a bikini, but those days were always short-lived.  Never once did I think that the end of dieting would be the beginning of living at my ideal weight.

I lived in Singapore for four years where several things happened to cause me to examine my food choices.  I observed the diets of other cultures and began to rethink the so-called healthy American diet trends.  Why were Asians so thin, yet their diets were often opposite of the most highly practiced American diets for weight loss? Most importantly, I finally started to look at food as a friend rather than an enemy, exploring the link between disease prevention and lifestyle choices and the link between our food and our immune systems.

Read the rest here

Don't want to miss a post or Broccoli Huggin' News?  Subscribe below.

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Weight Loss Foods & Tips: Add it in to Weigh Less

Sounds counter-intuitive right?  Ever go on a diet and commit to cutting something out?  Without some pretty significant motivating factor or great willpower it often makes us want the forbidden item all the more. 

Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists.
— Eckhart Tolle

By nature, we tend to want what we cannot have.  If we focus on taking something out, what are we focusing on?  What if we shifted our attention to what we DO want?  What if we aimed to add in the good stuff? 

There’s many things that you can add in to your life to help you to weigh less.  Head on over to Broccoli Hugger’s Facebook page and “Like” us so that you tips like these on a regular basis. This series was originally posted daily in May to get bikini-ready by Memorial Day.

Click Here to get Tip #1

Want to know five more {surprising} tips?  

I won’t be sharing those extra five things on the blog, just with my newsletter subscribers, so register below to get that additional BONUS!

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Earth Month Challenge: Beans & Rice 4 Benefit


First up, don't skip this article because you aren't a fan of beans.  (It's not really about the beans and rice, but the bigger picture).  This challenge will allow you to:

- Save Money

- Help the Environment

- Support a Cause YOU Care about

- Promote Health (& Weight Loss)

No way? Yes way! 

April is Earth Month.  It's a great time to make some easy commitments that will provide benefit all around.  Here's what I propose - and it's so very simple. . .

Make a commitment to eat a simple, inexpensive, whole food, plant-based meal and vow to do something worthy with that money you save
— The B&R4B Challenge

Why should I?

You'll eat a meal that costs a fraction of what you might normally eat - and not because it's subsidized or full of chemicals and fake foods.  You'll eat foods that have a minimal impact on the environment.  You'll enjoy foods that are similar to what might be eaten in the developing world so you'll have an opportunity to reflect on what a privileged life you currently lead.  You'll be giving money to a worthy cause of your choice.  You'll eat light and healthy meals.  Are ya game?

Easy Peasy.  Can ya commit to eating a wholesome, affordable, incredibly simple eco friendly meal, like rice and beans?  Envision what a person in the developing world might eat for dinner for only a dollar or so.  (It doesn't necessarily have to be beans and rice :-).  And now commit to doing something beneficial with the money that you save: either for a worthy cause outside your home or one closer to home, like your own health!

The Rules of the Game

- Whole plant-based foods only.  Although you can get meat and cheese on the cheap, those products don't come without paying a hefty environmental price.  It takes eleven times the amount of fossil fuels to produce animal-based protein verses plant-based protein (like peas, lentils, or beans).
- Commit to doing it regularly or under specific circumstances.  You could decide that you'll have a B&R4B meal every Monday night for Meatless Mondays.  Or you might decide that every day for the month of April, your breakfasts are going to be a few pieces of fruit.  Alternatively, you might decide that you will do it whenever you are tempted to eat fast food or reach for a processed microwave meal.
- Have your ingredients on hand. You want this to be so crazy-easy that you don't have to think about it when the time arises.  Simply choose at least one or more B&R4B meals and keep them in your pantry or freezer.
- Keep it super simple. Think of a meal that are made up of only a few whole, unprocessed, plant-based foods (three or less): beans and rice, quinoa and steamed greens, sweet potatoes and broccoli.  You don't need a recipe, you don't need to stress, you simply need to choose just a few simple foods and fill that belly up with the goodness.
- Do something beneficial with the $avings!!  This is my favorite part!  I cannot tell you how often I hear that people don't have enough money to buy healthy food.  Well, for one, you'll see that you can have a simple, filling, wholesome meal for cheap as chips by making a few B&R4B meals.  You'll also be able to save some bucks and you can put that money towards a worthy cause.  Commit to either donating the money outside your home to a cause that you care about or/and commit to putting your savings into a "Healthy Food Fund.”  Set this money aside specifically to allow you to buy and prepare healthier food on a regular basis.  Utilize that "Healthy Food Fund" when you are tempted to buy processed, packaged high fructose corn sweetened applesauce over a bag of organic apples because it's cheaper, for example.  Or you might save up for a particular kitchen item that would facilitate eating healthier on a regular basis.  Would you start your day with a nutrition-packed smoothie if you had the right appliance? Save up to make that investment in your health.

Wait, wait, I know you are wondering. . .

Won't B&R4B meals be incredibly boring? Yep, they might be to you.  This is a great time to reflect on how far removed we have gotten in the Western world from simply eating for nutrition and nourishment verses taste and temptation.  Now, don't get me wrong, I can now eat an incredibly simple meal such as plain broccoli and quinoa or beans and rice and feel 100% satisfied.  I appreciate the simplicity, but I'm reminded of a practice that Maria Shriver says her mother employed in their home.  She would offer a meal of only peanut butter sandwiches on occasion.  Although they clearly had enough money to eat more elegant meals and they had the means to employ cooks or to visit nice restaurants, Eunice Kennedy insisted that they purposefully eat a simple, basic, inexpensive meal to reflect on how lucky/ blessed they were in their everyday lives.  Sometimes we have to go without to truly appreciate all that we do have on a regular basis.

Will I be getting enough nutrients?  Chances are that you may be getting enough calories (perhaps too many) on a regular basis, but not enough nutrition.  In our quest for getting enough protein and calcium, Americans tend to over-consume meat and dairy and neglect all of the other necessary nutrients.  Unfortunately many meals (even homemade by well-educated and well-intending people) can be more damaging to a person’s health than they are helpful (cholesterol, saturated fat, sugar, sodium, trans fat, food additives, artificial sweeteners, etc.)  BTW,  beans are 22% protein (same as beef) and they are full of fiber (beef has none), they have no cholesterol or saturated fat (which beef has).  Rock on beanie!

Join me for the Earth Month B&R4B Challenge! 

You in?  Great!  #1 Write down the details of your commitment to the B&R4B Challenge: decide specific days or instances where you'll have a B&R4B meal, make a list of B&R4B meals you'll be using, calculate how much money you'll be saving each time (eating dinner out for two @ $25 - B&R4B Meal @ $4 = $21 Savings), and determine what you'll be doing with that savings: donating it or saving it for your family's health.  #2 Share the details of your very own B&R4B challenge with your friends and your network to encourage them to join.  Let me know what you plan to do and how it goes!  I'd love to hear it, sweetie peas!

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Natural Products Expo (Top Picks for Grown-ups)

drinkwel Geniuses (& Broccoli Hugger)

drinkwel Geniuses (& Broccoli Hugger)

Because Broccoli Hugger cares, I did the hard job of scouting out new products for big kids that you need to know about.  Now, let me be clear, I had no fun doing it.  None.  Well, maybe just a little, but that's just because the awesomeness factor goes up exponentially when you combine say a winemaker with an organic mission or a condom maker with a sense of humor and a social conscious.  Here are a few of my favs that you must know about.

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation
— Plato

Drinkwel's Vitamins for those who drink: So, I've been known to dole out the coconut water and pass out milk thistle to friends when we're headed out for the evening.  These guys figured out all of the stuff that you might need to take to ensure that you not only feel better, but that you also minimize the damage that you do to your body when indulging.  I love the concept, but I cannot totally tell you if they work or not since I went to ExpoWest for work :-)  I'll try it next time around!

LaRocca Wines:  I've never been good at describing wine beyond the very basics, but I know what I like! These wines are organic, vegan, and have no added sulphites.  LaRocca even suggests that you can drink two bottles of red wine and not get a headache from it, although I am not suggesting that you try.  I even found an appreciation for their Chardonnay.  I'm not usually a fan, but when the winemaker insists. . . 

Sir Richard's Condom Company: These guys are all about having fun and doing good too.  They make condoms free of animal products and harsh chemicals. PLUS they have their own one-for-one mission.  For every condom bought, they donate a condom to a developing country.  That made me feel okay about hanging out at their booth and watching the "Vagina Rules." 

Belles Organics: These are fun blended organic vodka cocktails. I'm not one to drink fruity concoctions except on rare occasion, but I do know ladies that would LOVE these.  Broccoli Hugger likes that they are organic and that they don't have artificial sweeteners - a good thing -but treat them as you would any other juicy mixed cocktail.  The CEO is on a mission to bring some Southern charm to ladies who want to avoid consuming junk, but still want to play. 

Also check out Broccoli Hugger's Top Picks for Kids from ExpoWest and stay tuned for "Emerging Trends and Specialty Diets in the Natural Products Industry."

Broccoli Hugger only updates when I have something great to share so subscribe here.  (It's free and I promise never to share your information.)

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Natural Products Expo West (Top Kids' Picks)

Natural Products Expo West (Top Kids' Picks)

Like most parents, I cannot help but want to buy my children things that make their little faces light up.  What parent doesn't want to bring a smile to their child's face?  It's constantly a balancing act to give them what they want without harming them or some portion of the world around them, however.


I found several products at Expo West that delighted my girls AND that I can feel good about.  If a product isn't health-promoting, then I aim for it to at least not be health-damaging.  The same goes for the products that we use.  I wouldn't want my children to breath smog-filled air day in/day out so that another child can get a $1 toy on a whim (only to toss in the trash the next day).  I try to purchase things with a social and environmental conscious as much as possible.  Products that don't use junky ingredients and that care about the world around them are more expensive, however.  Remember, you vote with your fork (and your dollar), so support the products that you can feel good about.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world
— Gandhi

Arterro's Eco Art Kits and Journals:  If you have kids that enjoy crafts or you are looking for engaging activities to do with them, this is the ticket.  Ya know how you can pick up cheap little craft packets that your kids do and then you secretly toss them out the moment that they look away? These are just the opposite!  They really do have all the components to create some lovely keepsakes.  Most importantly, you can feel good about them, they are made from natural and recycled products and assembled in the USA. Plus the company founder is a true gem.

Don't Go Nuts Soy Butter:  Peanut butter and jelly is to vegans what B-O-L-O-G-N-A is to omnivores. There's just one problem- our school has a nut free policy due to allergies. Understandably. Nut allergies can be life threatening. The founders get it! They've taken great pains to ensure their product is safe.  So, even though a PB&J is just about the only cold lunch that my girls will eat (this health nutty momma makes a warm lunch most every day for her babes), I cannot prepare them for school.  We've tried other nut-free spreads and they just don't cut it.  This one is delicious!  At home I still prefer that my ladies eat the freshly ground, unprocessed peanut butter, but this is a good option for schools or for those with allergies. It's organic, low in sugar, and low in sodium.  Thanks to the lovely folks that founded this product to keep the world safe.  The co-founder Lily is only 12! 

It shouldn’t be so hard to find fun products and yummy food for kids that doesn’t harm the environment or their little growing bodies.

Drazil Kids Tea: My daugther just starting drinking Tazo's herbal teas and loves the ones that have hibiscus and rooibos. Did you know how good hibiscus tea is for you?  Chock full of antibiotics!  These little drink boxes have organic teas as their first ingredients. Now, they still have juice added (white grape, apple, and raspberry), but this is one of the better looking beverages for kiddos out there if you are providing juice or beverage boxes for an occasional lunch or party treat.

Susty Party Supplies:  Their party supplies are adorable, like throwbacks to the 1950's, especially with their paper straws. My girls went crazy for the few that I brought home.  Their products are simple and lovely with a conscious: compostable, non-toxic, renewable, and made in the USA. 

TreeHugger Gum:  With a name like that, how could Broccoli Hugger not love these?  It's so very hard to find gum that doesn't have artificial colors or flavors or - worse yet - aspartame. If the Easter Bunny hops in with eggs filled with these sweet treats, I wouldn't bop him over the head.  Surprisingly, my little sweeties liked the pomegranate flavor the best.  There's lots of other fun flavors like watermelon and tangerine in addition to traditional bubble gum flavor. P.S. they contain beeswax, so they aren't vegan.

None of these products are sold in my local stores, but you can order them all on Amazon by clicking on the photo images.  If you love these products as much as I do, tell your local stores to carry them!

Check back soon for "Top Picks for Grown-ups at Expo West" and "Emerging Trends and Specialty Diets in the Natural Products Industry."

Broccoli Hugger only updates when I've got great stuff to share.  Don't miss it! Subscribe here. (It's free & I promise never to share your information.)

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Buffalo Kale Chips


Kale + Spicy = :-)

I am just now getting into making my own kale chips.  I know, I'm late to the game, but I've got a dehydrator now and have been experimenting.  You can make kale chips in the oven- lots of folks do, but something about seeing an empty dehydrator, just makes me want to fill it up with more greens.

I had found a "cheesy" kale chip recipe that was a hit.  When I went to make it the next time, I decided to see if I could up the spice (flavor), diminish the damage (oil), and convert it to gluten-free.  Here's the yummy result!

Note: These are free of gluten, sugar, and oil*. They are flavorful and not very spicy, so don't be afraid.

  • 3/4 C Raw Cashews, soaked at least 1 hr in water (Whole cashews are better tasting than the pieces, I find. If you do use the pieces, you'll need less than 3/4C, I would go with 1/2C.)
  • 1 Bunch of Kale, stems removed, washed, and torn or sliced into large pieces (any variety, I've even used the bagged kind, however the pieces are awfully small and the stems attached are a wee bit chewy when dehydrated)
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, washed, seeded, and cut into big chunks
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 3 T Buffalo Sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce. There's a Hot Buffalo version that I bet would be great!)
  • 1/3 C Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 Lemon, juice and pulp

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or high power blender until smooth, but still thick.  Massage the sauce into your kale pieces. Place kale pieces separately on dehydrating racks for the dehydrator or on parchment paper lined baking sheets for the oven. 

Dreena Burton's recommendation for oven dehyrating is a good one.  Alternatively, other sites recommend setting the oven on the lowest possible setting and cooking for 2-4 hours, depending on your oven.  I find that kale chips in the dehydrator are the best - plus you can just set it and forget it.  I'm using a Waring that's probably 20 years old and it works like a charm. 

*This is not technically 100% oil free since there is some oil in Frank's Buffalo Sauce. One tablespoon of Frank's has 0.0g of fat, so the oil quantity is very low, but there is some.  Also, Frank's has 460mg of sodium per tablespoon, so take note. 

Beat the Booze

While you are out buying beverages and snacks for New Year’s Eve, make sure you have these things in the house to help minimize your risk of a hangover or simply to counteract the damage that even a bit of booze does to your body.  I’d like to share a few natural ways to fight those demons brought on by your favorite cocktails. 


*It goes without saying that you can avoid a hangover by not drinking too much (or not at all).  You can also stick to the clear beverages, don’t mix alcohol types, stay hydrated, and make sure to eat enough food.  

Asparagus-  A new study says that you should eat some asparagus before indulging.  Maybe you can make that one of the New Year’s Eve appetizers.  The study found that asparagus can minimize the pain of a hangover and help to detoxify the liver.  

Coconut Water- When we drink, we become dehydrated and lose electrolytes. Coconut water helps to replace those electrolytes.  It also does so without any of the sugar, artificial dyes, and other junk you find in sports drinks.  Use this in your fruity cocktail or save it for the morn for your smoothie.

Foods rich in B6- B vitamins are depleted when we drink.  You can take a B complex vitamin or make sure to ingest foods rich in B6, which is impacted the most while imbibing.  Chickpeas, bananas, sunflower seeds, and potatoes are all good sources.  Eat some hummus and veggies, grab a handful of sunflower seeds, or snack on a banana before bed.  I wish that I could say that french fries would be a good option, but by the time you slice, fry, and salt those taters, you lose too much of the B6 benefit for it to be worthwhile.  Bummer.

Extra Vitamin C- Vitamin C helps your liver to process alcohol, so use OJ or tomato juice as your mixer of choice, have a big glass before bed, or/and first thing in the morning.  No wonder I love those Bloody Marys so much. 

Wheatgrass- Do a shot that's actually good for you! A one ounce shot is equal to 2.5lbs of leafy greens. Alcohol has an acidic affect on your body. Wheatgrass (and other leafy greens) are alkalinizing, thus helping to neutralize that acidity.  It also aids in detoxification and provides oxygen to brain and liver cells that are damaged when you indulge. 

Also wise man once told me that you won’t get hungover if you dance, so when all else fails. . . shake it (and burn some calories too!)

Broccoli Hugger's Favorites for less than $30

Here are a few things that I have really enjoyed using in my plant-based kitchen this year.  Treat a friend!  Treat yourself!

Garlic Rocker (by Joseph Joseph*).  This will blow your mind. Really! I use garlic daily and I've tried every press or mincing technique possible. This one "rocks!" Please don’t use the pre-chopped stuff that’s kept in preservatives. When garlic, and other things in the allium family, like onions, are chopped, allicin, the disease-fighting compound, is released.  If you use the pre-chopped stuff, you might kill vampires with your breath, but you won't kill as much bacteria. Fresh is best!  Garlic is one of the G-BOMBS, from the onion family and you should be having some daily for optimum disease prevention and health promotion. (*Every little thing they make looks neat!  If only I were just starting to stock my kitchen. . .)

Non-stick cooking pan.  I am sure that you already know that you can cook with these and avoid using butter or oil, but have you tried it?  I've been using mine every single day since I've started to cook no oil dishes (Thanks to the wise words of Chef AJ!)  Carmelizing onions, no butter necessary.  Sauteeing mushrooms, nope, the liquid from the 'shrooms is enough to wet the pan.

Wooden tongs.  You need some good tongs to toss your salad, right?  You must already have a fabulous wooden salad bowl and you certainly don't want to scratch it all up, do you? They flip backwards and fold up tightly in the drawer.

Potato ricer.  Did you know that you shouldn’t mix your potatoes up with a mixer?  It makes them gluey. While you're at it, add in steamed cauliflower to your potatoes.  It gives you some more cruciferous veggies in your diet.  (My kids do not even notice.  In fact, my daughter says mine are the best evvvveeerrrr!)

Books!! Books! And More Books. You cannot go wrong with your first or 500th book on plant-based nutrition or plant-based cooking. Really. I've started to list some books that I like at the Broccoli Hugger store's "Recommended Products" section, but there are many, many more that I need to list.  Essentially, you cannot go wrong with any books by Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Barnard, Dr. Esselystn, Dr. Campbell, Rip Esselystn, Kris Carr, Juileanna Hever, or Kathy Freston.  Some good cookbook authors are Chef AJ, Lindsay Nixon, and Dreena Burton.  Many of the authors that discuss the benefits of a plant-based diet also offer recipes in their books to get you started.


Effortless Four Day Cleanse

Three pounds in four days.  Yep, I know that some of you only care about weight loss, so you can stop reading here. . . NO please don’t. . . there is so much more to a cleanse or detox program than simply shedding a few pounds!!

I just completed Dr. John Douillard’s Four Day Short Home Cleanse and it didn’t even cut into my weekend.  It was easy.  I wasn’t hungry or tired.  I feel light and energized.  I have re-set my eating patterns and am better poised to make healthy decisions going into all of the Holiday celebrations in the coming weeks.

Free Short Home Cleanse eBook

I wouldn't recommend that someone embark on a particular program without first having done it myself.  I’ve participated in the Colorado Cleanse (14 day) program before, but wanted to give this shortened version a shot.   Ayurveda is a form of traditional medicine dating back to 2,500 BC.  It’s described as “the knowledge for long life.”  For the purposes of this cleanse, however, the most important things to understand are that Ayurveda advocates for creating an environment for the body to heal itself and detoxify naturally, eating only meals (no snacking), and eating seasonally.  In these four short days, I gained a newfound appreciation for those things. 

Benefits of Natural Healing & Detoxifcation

  • Feeling light (and actually achieving some weight loss)- I’m more of a girl that goes by how I feel verses what the scale says.  I do feel lighter and leaner, but for those of you that measure success on the scale, yes, I did lose a few pounds.  Although you can also lose weight on the Diet Mountain Dew and Twizzler diet (I know this from my crappy-eating-but-looking-good-diet days), this is a healthy approach to feel leaner and lose a bit of weight. You aren’t starving yourself, you aren’t eating anything fake.  You are eating warm, balanced, wholesome meals. . . my kinda "diet"!  
  • Increased mental clarity and focus- By day two I experienced a stronger mental clarity than I had in a long time.  I felt like a fog had been lifted and was able to concentrate and get work done more quickly than otherwise.  Don’t get me wrong, I still get lost in thought and pass up my exit or accidentally put frozen food away in the fridge, but that’s a personality trait that I cannot detox away, unfortunately.
  • Stress Reduction- For one, I do sometimes stress about food.  What are all the ingredients, are there any animal products, I don’t wanna clean the flippin’ mess in the kitchen, etc.  How fabulous was it to eat just one thing for four days and not worry about anything else.  Reminding myself to incorporate the other detoxifying strategies into daily living were also a nice plus.  “Um, kids, don’t bother mommy while I soak in the bath for awhile as an integral part of my detoxification.”  Okay, so I didn’t say that, but it’s funny how we think we need an excuse for any sort of self care.

Eating Only Meals / No Snacking

During the cleanse, I had to stop myself frequently from snacking on things.  Now, they were not necessarily things that I needed to avoid since my home is pretty much a haven for healthy food (almost everything is something you should be eating, not something that you should be avoiding), but I was now cognizant of how often I just snack on stuff.  I was about to grab a handful of nuts, eat up that last piece of mango that my daughter didn’t finish, fill up ANOTHER cup of coffee, without even really a second thought, mindlessly eating when I wasn’t really actually hungry.  So what happens when you don’t give your body a break?  Yeah, yeah, I know, you all have heard that you should eat small frequent meals to keep your metabolism up.  Is that working for you?  Maybe it works for some people, but there are also some dangers: you eat too much, your mindlessly eat, you lose your ability to understand true hunger, you don’t appreciate food!  Dr. Douillard suggests that you might not even be burning fat as efficiently as you could or that you might be conditioning yourself to need frequent meals. 

When you eat every 2-3 hours, your body becomes dependent on a constant supply of food. The body will lose its built-in ability to tolerate missing a meal, and the blood sugar will crash and often crash hard. ~ Dr. John Douillard

So, this may sound contrary to what you typically do and what you hear touted by, well, just about everyone.  Maybe it’s not right for you, but one thing I love about cleanses in general is the ability to try new things out.  Don’t knock it until you try it.  You can always make a decision that eating small frequent meals is right for you OR you may discover that snacking is not working after all.  But, by all means, please make an INFORMED decision.  

When being fed every 2-3 hours the body will not be encouraged to burn any of its stored fat for energy, either. Why should it bother digging out the fat stores for energy when it is being spoon fed all day long? When you eat 3 meals a day and have ample time between meals, the body is forced to burn that stored fat. Once the fat is restored as an active fuel supply you will see better energy, more stable moods, greater mental clarity, better sleep, less cravings and of course, natural and permanent weight management. ~ Dr. John Douillard

For more information, see Dr. Douillard's "Dangers of Frequent Eating"

Eating Seasonally  As much as I looooove juicing, blending, and eating raw for detoxification, energy, and overall health, those things do not feel right for me in the colder months, nor are they recommended according to Ayurveda. Think about the foods normally associated with the colder months. . . soups, stews, root vegetables, etc.  Think also what is locally available to you in the colder months. Now, while we may have once needed to build our fat stores to survive a long, hard winter, we don’t need to do that any longer, but our desire for those heavier, more grounding foods is still innate.  Fortunately, you can still enjoy warm, filling meals without fattening yourself up for a winter of hibernation.  Eating the khichadi (a mixture of dahl, rice, and detoxifying spices) felt easy and effortless.  A juice cleanse right now would have been detoxifying and rewarding, of course, but it wouldn't have seemed natural, nor would it have been effortless.

For more information, see Dr. Douillard's "Winter Grocery List"

The Logistics

Go ahead and download the free ebook so you can see all of the details and here are a few answers to a couple questions or issues that might arise:

  • Drinking Ghee (clarified butter)- A plant-based alternative to the ghee is coconut oil (which I used).  You could also use flax oil.  In general, I am not a proponent of purposely including oil in your diet.  In fact, I try to avoid it as much as possible.  I try to get my healthy fats from whole plant food sources.  (For more information, see President Bill Clinton's Doctor, Caldwell Esselystn's, position on oil).   For the purposes of this cleanse, I did, however use the oil for the oleation process.  Oleation is a key aspect to Ayurvedic cleansing which uses oil to cleanse internally (via ghee or a vegan substitute) and externally (via lymphatic massage with oil). Consuming the oil first thing in the morning - followed by a NO fat diet -is said to put your body into fat metabolism for the rest of the day, releasing fat and the toxins stored in fatty tissue. Be cautious, you may become sick to your stomach as you increase the amount of oil that you consume upon rising daily.  I felt quite sick to my stomach on day three and had to consume less oil on day four.  In hindsight, I felt off on the second day and I should not have progressed to consume more.  If you feel at all uncomfortable after consuming the oil, I suggest not consuming more on the subsequent day. Don’t be a hero.  One goal of this cleanse is to allow your body to rest and work naturally, so you certainly don’t want to be imposing stress.
  • Eating- I chose the most cleansing option, eating only khichadi. I made all of my khichadi from scratch, but an easy alternative is to order packets from Lifespa.com.  I don’t love it - and I like Indian food.  If you aren’t a fan of Indian food, I would suggest going really light on the spices.  The spices do help to aid in the detoxification process, but if you are going to quit because you cannot stand the taste, then by all means, it’s much better to cut back.  Dry roasting enhances the flavor of the spices, so you could also skip that step.  My first batch of khichadi had fennel seeds in it.  Not a fan.  On a subsequent batch I excluded the fennel.  I also tried another batch where I actually used Madras Curry Powder which contains fenugreek (along withe the other suggested spices) that I had not been able to find on its own.  One batch of khichadi was more than enough for a full day for me.
  • Blood sugar balancing meal plan- Dr. Douillard suggests adding whey or lean protein to this diet, if necessary.  Although I am a proponent of a vegan diet, I know that many of you are not be on a plant-based diet.  In these four days, I would suggest that you try to avoid animal products entirely.  Meat is not a cleansing food, as Dr. Douillard attests. 

Broccoli Hugger Detox

For me, a detox (or cleanse) is not necessarily about dieting, although I may lose a couple of pounds.  I use the time to rejuvenate myself (body, mind, and spirit), reset my eating patterns, find new, healthy foods, cut cravings and get back on track!  If all or any of those things sound good to you, why don't you give it a try.  Ideally, you cleanse for 21 days (to really ensure that you change your habits, develop your tastebuds for whole unprocessed foods, etc.), but go ahead and give it a shot even if you only have a few days.

Getting Psyched

I. Consciousness. . .

Surrounding Food- This is two-fold.  When most people think of eating consciously, they think of mindfulness, paying attention to what they eat, not just scarfing down food in front of the tv, without paying attention.  This is important, of course, however there is another aspect: really understanding the impact of the food that you eat. . . to your health (and to the environment around you).  You can always decide to keep eating something, but wouldn’t it be nice to understand if it really is detrimental in some way?  This sort of analysis helped me to give up certain foods and led me to think more about others without just absent-mindedly consuming them.  There are still some things that I eat and drink on occasion that may not be good for me, but informed decisions are always better in my opinion.


In Life- It’s quite easy to go on autopilot, going through the day without appreciating the moment and passively reacting instead of consciously deciding what we want to accomplish.  This is a good time to set intentions on what you want to accomplish in any given day, interaction, relationship, etc.  

II. To Simplify. . .

Food- Over time, people get out of touch with what simple, real, whole food is.  There are brilliant minds and billions of dollars spent on falsely manipulating food so that it tastes good and we want more of it.  How else could a combination of a ton of chemicals taste good to us?  If you free yourself from the artificial and processed food for awhile you might come to find simple whole plant-based foods make your heart melt.  (FYI, I do think organic tastes better!)

Life- Everyone is so incredibly busy, but is all the busyness necessary or does it keep you from focusing on what’s more important?  Too much stuff going on or too much stuff surrounding you can actually weigh you down more than it lifts you up.  This is a good time to see what things you can do without for awhile to see if you feel better.

With these goals in mind, you can cut out the foods that are harmful and those that you are too reliant on.  Add in the foods that are healing, detoxifying and rejuvenating.  What areas of life need to be simplified and de-cluttered?  Set some goals for how you can be more conscious.  Oh, and set some exercise goals, of course.  Sweat is one way that our bodies detoxify.  Exercise also serves as a pump for your lymphatic system which is driven by movement.  Unlike the heart, it does not have it’s own pump.  The lymphatic system aids in your immune system and also helps to filter toxins from your body.

Here’s an overview of the foods to add in.  This is not an all-inclusive list.  Organic if possible.


Yeah Baby Yummies

  • Warm lemon water- lots
  • Veggies- particularly leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, garlic, onions, artichokes, cabbage, seaweed, beets, ginger, celery...
  • Fruit- particularly oranges, lemons, limes, apples, pears, berries, avocado (think it’s officially a fruit)...
  • Seeds and Nuts- particularly walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds...
  • Unprocessed Whole grains- particularly brown rice and quinoa (not whole grain bread or whole grain flour- that's technically processed)
  • Tea

And the things to take out or limit.

Not for Now No-No’s

  • Processed Food/ Fast Food
  • Sodas/ Sweetened beverages
  • Artificial Flavorings/ Additives/ Sweeteners
  • Dairy Products*
  • Meat/ Fish*
  • Eggs*
  • Alcohol
  • Gluten
  • Coffee

*If I had to recommend that you only abstain from only one animal-based product, I would suggest dairy, but you decide for yourself.  If you aren’t ready to go meat-free, try to limit it as much as possible with NO sandwich or processed meats and choose organic.  If you are curious about the dangers or the implications of certain animal-based foods, please ask me.  For the purposes of the detox, animal products are acidic and carry with them a host of toxic substances that will hamper your detox efforts rather than help.

Doin' It

So, think about these things and see what seems reasonable to you.  The plan is for you to carry some of these things forward after the detox.  It would be a shame for you to miss certain foods so much that you OD on them once the detox is over.  What works for you?

If you are trying plant-based eating for the first time, you might not want to try to cut out everything.  Maybe now isn’t a great time to cut the gluten or your morning coffee.  Heck, you might still want to enjoy a nice glass of wine with your newly designed dinner menu of whole plant-based foods.  Your plan should be a challenge, but not so challenging that you fail after one day.  

Try focusing more on what you are putting into your diet than what you are taking out.  If you try to eat as much as possible from the “Yeah Baby Yummies” list, you’ll be full and satisfied before you can consume too much or any of the “No-No’s.”  I defy you to try to eat a donut after you’ve just had a big green smoothie. 

Here’s an example of what you might eat on any given day:


    • Green Smoothie- Greens, berries, seeds
    • Fresh Fruit or Fresh squeezed Juice
    • Steel Cut Oatmeal with fresh or frozen fruit as a natural sweetener (I love dark cherries), cinnamon, nuts or seeds


    • Big Ol' Salad- Greens, oranges, nuts, tons of other colorful veggies. (Shredded beets and carrots are detoxifying, crunchy and delicious!)
    • Vegetable Soup or Stew
    • Steamed Veggies and Brown Rice or Quinoa 

    Basking in Your Glory

    Take it Slow- DO NOT immediately jump back into your old habits (I speak from experience on this one!)  You will feel like crap. . . particularly if your diet pre-detox was vastly different from your diet during the detox.  You have given your body a nice break and it’s not used to the stress of digesting some of those “No-No’s.”  If you are going to go back to some of your old habits, do it slowly.  Choose one thing to add and only in a small quantity.  See how your body reacts before adding in another.  If you feed bad, do a bit of research and soul searching to see if it really should be a part of your life long term. 

    Keep some healthy habits- Did you add in some meditation, more exercise?  If you’ve done it for 21 days, keep the momentum going and stick with it! 

    Decide what you can do without long term- Did you feel better without some of those “No-No’s”?  And why are you going to add them back in? 

    Summarize your experience-  Maybe you’ll want to do another detox in a few months.  Did you tackle your sugar cravings in this detox and next time you want to aim for cutting the caffeine?  A debrief will help you to get some clarity and it will help you to be able to go a bit deeper next time.  It will also help you to celebrate how well you did.  Focus on the positive!  Maybe you didn’t manage to cut dairy out completely, but maybe you had many dairy-free days where you typically had none.  

    Please give yourself a pat on the back for what you accomplished: large or small.  Cheers to you!!