Chef AJ wants you to stop eating junk! The chef and cooking instructor battled her own body, and the food she was putting in it, until illness finally forced her to take her health into her own hands. In addition to teaching Los Angelenos how to prepare healthy food, she puts out weekly recipe videos with Julieanna Hever, called The Chef and the Dietitian. Chef AJ took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to give me the skinny on her cookbook, Unprocessed.
Chef AJ, health-wise, you’ve had more than your fair share of challenges: You were overweight, then anorexic, then obese; you developed adult onset asthma; your spine was crushed in an accident and you were paralyzed and in a body cast for a year; you contracted a life-threatening lung and liver infection on your honeymoon; you suffered from panic disorder and agoraphobia and didn’t leave the house for over a year; you had several miscarriages, and the first pregnancy resulted in complications that required surgery; and you had several large, bleeding colon polyps. You were a hot mess! But you turned it all around by changing your diet. How difficult was it to go from having 32 oz. Coke Slurpees with eight pumps of vanilla for breakfast and 48 oz. Big Gulp Dr. Peppers for lunch to eating unprocessed, whole, plant-based foods?
While it was difficult initially, I’m quite sure that if I’d let the polyps progress into full-blown cancer, it would have been far more difficult. Also, I had help. I went to the Optimum Health Institute [in San Diego], where I was able to detox without having the pressure of being at work at the same time. So while I did go through some withdrawal, I was in an environment where I was actively learning about what foods caused disease and being nourished with the foods that could reverse the disease.
How did you find the Optimum Health Institute?
I had a magazine of discount vacations, and it was the cheapest place I could find to go ($875 for a whole week). I had no idea it was a healing center and that I would have to put wheatgrass up my butt!!
Sounds like fun!
You say you’d rather see people eat 90% vegan and 90% unprocessed than 100% vegan and 10% unprocessed. Living in New York, it’s easy to be a junk food vegan; there are so many restaurants, bakeries and other goodies at our fingertips. What do you think poses the biggest challenge for people, eating plant-based or eating unprocessed? Continue Reading…