Photography Jeff Lipsky
The smart, hilarious 33-year-old actress and new mum may have the pluck of Veronica Mars, the abs of Sarah Marshall and the ambition of House of Lies’ Jeannie Van Der Hooven, but the best character she plays is herself.
In the LA home she shares with 38-year-old partner Dax Shepard (Parenthood’s Crosby Braverman), she proves how lovable she is by extolling the virtues of what she finds irresistible and intriguing...
1. Forks over knives
Leave it to two actors to let a movie change their lives. This doco, which investigates the relationship between animal-based and processed foods and degenerative diseases, was the catalyst for turning Bell (a vego since age 11) into a vegan and Shepard from a carnivore into a (mostly) vegan.
“It’s more about the health benefits than the ethics,” she concedes. “But it’s compounded by the fact that I love animals and feel better not eating them.”
Chef Bell makes a mean vegan burger – from the heart. “Cooking is my love language. It’s the most amount of giving selflessly.”
3. Dinner parties
“When friends come over and I’m responsible for putting food on the table, I feel necessary and productive.”
4. Scissors instead of knives
To slice herbs and cut off broccoli ends. “I use scissors for everything in the kitchen because there’s less chance I’ll chop all my digits off.”
5. Weck jars
Bell uses “adorable” glass Weck Jars (find them at Redback Trading). “If the food is in some scratched, stained plastic, you’ll be like, leftovers again?” she says. “But if it’s in a chic little container, you’re going to want to eat it.”
6. Ballet barre classes
“They target exactly where every woman needs to focus – it’s just butt, thighs, abs, butt, thighs, abs.”
7. Giving unsolicited advice
“As women, it’s in our DNA to transfer information and help each other,” she says.
8. Baked sweet potatoes
Instead of 45 minutes in a conventional oven, Bell pops them into the microwave. Just a few minutes...done. “The sweet potato is a superfood – it’s got so many vitamins and minerals,” she says.
9. Furry little beasts
She has two rescue dogs – and she’s obsessed with sloths. (Haven’t seen her sloth video yet? Google it. Now.)
“My favourite things on the planet. I want two round cupcakes, always. I kicked my buns and abs sets into high gear when I knew I’d have to be in my underwear on House of Lies. But I don’t show my crack!”
“I love bubbly water so, so much. The SodaStream is like having a Pellegrino at your fingertips.”
The spicy pepper gets Bell fired up. “It’s got that smoky flavour you don’t get a lot of in vegan dishes.”
14. The web
For someone who claims she’s not an expert in any field, we think Bell has a PhD in googling. Well-versed on the benefits of baked sweet potato and the potential sun-protective quality of tomatoes, she repeats one phrase often, and only half in jest, “I read it on the internet...”
Last year, with the help of Farmscape, which employs organic farmers from the LA area, Bell allocated part of her yard to two dirt beds that impressively have yielded plentiful produce.
She proudly points to the plants, “You can see there’s cilantro [coriander], sage, baby greens, carrots, broccoli, kale, potatoes, cauliflower, strawberries, romaine [cos], butter lettuce, thyme... the spinach is coming up real nice.” But what she’s most proud of are...
16. Her sweet 100 tomatoes
“A store tomato is a ball of red water,” she says. This variety is “sweet and so yummy. We eat them like potato chips here.”
17. Meditating with Dax
The adorable lovebugs start their days with a 20-minute transcendental meditation session – sometimes holding hands. “We nauseate ourselves with how mushy we are,” she says. “It’s a wonderful way to connect.”
18. Neutrogena Naturals
“It has no phthalates, parabens or sulfates,” she says of Purifying Facial Cleanser, her favourite product in the Neutrogena Naturals line, of which she’s the face. “It’s just what you need, so you’re not sacrificing anything.”
Photography Jeff Lipsky
19. Taking direction from Shepard
In car-chase love story Hit & Run, Bell starred opposite her bloke, who was also the writer and co-director. “I would watch him walk back to the monitor and yell, ‘Action!’ or ‘Cut!’ and I’d just go, ‘And you expect me to work when you’re doing cute things around me all day? How am I supposed to focus?’”
20. The F word
“I have a potty-mouth – I’m not afraid to drop an F-bomb. I can love organic tomatoes and swearing – they’re not mutually
21. Eco cleaners
“Vinegar and water will clean anything,” Bell says. “If you want it to smell nice, add a couple of drops of orange and peppermint essential oils for a minty citrus.”
22. Sea salt
“So much more flavour than table salt!”
23. Lindy & Grundy
This LA butcher shop was Shepard’s go-to for ethical meat before he swapped animal flesh for pulses. “They know where they source their meat and how the animals live, and they buy it sustainably.”
24. The Vitamix
“You can do really cool stuff with vegetables.”
“I love quotes! I cannot speak for myself,” Bell jokes. In particular...
25. Eleanor Roosevelt
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” “It’s the one that I absolutely live by. If you really think about it, it blows your mind. I have to allow you to make me feel insecure? Well, I’m not going to. It’s just so deep.”
26. Abraham Lincoln
“Nearly all men can stand adversity. But if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” “That’s one of the best quotes in history. And this one…”
27. Mahatma Gandhi
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
“It allows you to isolate muscles, which I think is really important.”
29. Dangerous excursions
Think shark-cage diving in South Africa, underwater caving in Palos Verdes, California and hiking the treacherous Malibu Creek in the Santa Monica Mountains.
30. Coconut oil
Bell says, “I use it on my body after my shower, and I smell like a mai tai!”
31. Road trips
“When you come home, you have a new-found appreciation for the life you’ve created.”