Dr. Soram: Welcome everybody! I am so delighted to have a very special guest with me today. Chef AJ is with us today and she is the author of the book, Unprocessed, which we are going to talk about today. She was the executive vegan pastry chef at Santay Restaurant, and has been a culinary instructor in Los Angeles for the past 12 years. She is the creator and co-producer of the annual Healthy Taste of LA in Redondo Beach, and she is proud to say that her IQ is her higher than her cholesterol. Welcome, AJ!
Chef AJ: Thank you, thank you.
Dr. Soram: It’s so good to have you on here. I met AJ for the first time about a year ago when we had an event in LA at the USC School of Medicine for Colin Campbell and AJ, you did the cooking for all of that of a lot of that you, didn’t you?
Chef AJ: Yes, except for the grilled vegetables that were brought in, I, my team and I actually catered the whole event. It was a very lovely dinner and a lovely event, and that’s the first time I met you, through the line. I actually put a piece of lasagna on your plate.
Dr. Soram: Well, the food was the best vegan food I’d ever had, and I was taken by AJ right away, and all the people there, many of them were not vegetarians or vegans, said they didn’t realize that vegan food could taste so good, and then AJ invited me a few weeks ago to a course she teaches at her house on vegan food, and it was like 8 or 10 recipes in 3 hours, wasn’t it, AJ?
Chef AJ: Yep, 9 recipes, 3 hours. Laughter.
Dr. Soram: And I’ve never been in a kitchen, but I was so inspired by how easy she makes it that I wanted to just share her with all of my listeners from all over, and if you’re in Los Angeles and you’re interested in vegan cooking, this course she teaches is absolutely a fantastic way to get started and jumpstarted. So and then in November, AJ, you’ve got the Healthy Taste of LA in Redondo Beach. Tell us, what is that.
Chef AJ: Yes, I’m really excited about that. It’s an event that I conceived 3 years ago, and I’m one of the co-producers.
Dr. Soram: Beautiful.
Chef AJ: It takes place in Redondo Beach, which if people are out of town, it’s actually very accessible. It’s about 10 minutes from LAX.
Dr. Soram: Beautiful.
Chef AJ: It’s actually, there are a lot of younger, sort of vegetarian or vegan health advice out there, but what we noticed, or actually I’ve noticed after being vegan for 35 years, is that if you read the Times study or hear an inspiring speaker like Dr. Barnard or Dr. McDougal, a lot of people are like, yeah, this is the healthiest way to eat.
Dr. Soram: Um-hum.
Chef AJ: But they don’t do it because they don’t know how. And so what we decided to do is so many of the wonderful advice have one medical or scientific speaker after the other after the other, but they do very little on the culinary side, so we decided to reverse what most of us do and have really more of a culinary event peppered with a little bit of the science. So we called Healthy Taste of LA where the finest in plant-based cuisine meets the best nutritional science. So every year we have one heavy-hitter scientific speaker. Last year, we had Dr. Colin Campbell, the author of the China study. This year we’re having Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Junior, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, so there will be somebody there to validate the science and explain why this body is such a powerful tool for preventing and reversing so many of the diseases of lifestyle like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, but really it’s a fun culinary event because what we do is we gather up really what I think are the best plant-based chefs in Los Angeles and I think sometimes in the whole United States…
DR. Soram: Fantastic.
Chef AJ: And they do – we have 5 culinary demos. So they’re doing a demo, they’re teaching you the recipes, they’re giving you the recipes, and after each demo, you taste the food. So this year, so far confirmed, we have Chef Eric Lechasseur and his wife Suki. They’re written several books and they have restaurant in Venice called Seed Kitchen.
Dr. Soram: Wow.
Chef AJ: Eric I think is the best if not one of the best plant-based chefs in the world. He’s been a chef for every famous person you can imagine, from Toby McGuire to Leonardo DiCaprio to Madonna, and his food is just really amazing. He’s a wonderful teacher. We have Phan Gentry from Real Food Daily, now with locations in Pasadena and soon to be at the Los Angeles International Airport.
Dr. Soram: Wow.
Chef AJ: He has a wonderful cookbook. He’s a delightful person and an amazing chef. We have, let’s see who else? We have me.
Dr. Soram: Yeah, we have you.
Dr. Soram: So each of you is going to be teaching a recipe, you’re going to make it in front of us, we’re going to taste it.
Chef AJ: We’re going to make 3 recipes. Yes, and each chef always does 3.
Dr. Soram: So each makes 3. Okay, great. So in all there will be like 15 recipes for the day.
Chef AJ: At least, at the very least.
Dr. Soram: Fantastic.
Chef AJ: And it’s a quick-moving event. You don’t get bored because we break it up with lots of breaks after each demo. And then you get to eat. And then of course, you we have Dr. Esselstyn speaking. Oh I know who I who I forgot who is doing a demo. Oh, she is a kick. Anne Esselstyn, Dr. Esseltyn’s….
Dr. Soram: Oh, yeah!
Chef AJ: They call her Julia Child on steroids. She’s the most delightful person and teacher, and her food is amazing. She did the recipe section for her….
Dr. Soram: Yeah.
Chef AJ: And I think she’s going to making… oh, she makes these potatoes that look and taste like deviled eggs. I’ve asked her to do that, so hopefully she’s going to do that.
Dr. Soram: Fantastic.
Chef AJ: Very delightful and I think we’re going to have Lindsay Nixon again, the happy herbivore who has written 2 best-selling cookbooks who does all oil-free, easy to make recipes. She has not been confirmed but I’m pretty sure she’s going to be there. So we always have at least 5 chefs and at least 1 scientific speaker.
Dr. Soram: Right.
Chef AJ: It takes place on Sunday, November 4th. You can get information at www.healthytasteofLA.com, and people are welcome to come just to that the event for the day. It goes from about 9 to 5 and what’s unique about that day is we decided to always have it on the same day every year, which is the day after we turn the clocks back, so then people – if you get somewhere at 9 o’clock, you feel like it’s 10 o’clock.f
Dr. Soram: (Laughter).
Chef AJ: We also have a dinner the night before, and that is a private dinner with Dr. Esselstyn, which only about 80 people can attend because we limit the dinner because it is a full dinner and it’s a more intimate setting where whoever the keynote speaker will speak and you get to ask him questions, but they generally – what’s kind of interesting about the dinner before… The day of the event the keynote speaker presents all the scientific information that they know and that’s in their books and things like that, and it’s great. But what is really wonderful about the dinner is that when Dr. Campbell spoke, and we’re going to have Dr. Esselstyn do the same thing, is speak from the heart – no notes, no slides, no PowerPoint, they just talk about their — and it’s such a different kind of experience with these doctors, and of course if you want your book signed or your picture taken or just want to ask them a question, it’s a much easier place to do so because there are about 300 people that spend the day on Sunday and there are only about 80 people that come to the dinner, and it’s going to be a delicious dinner and just a lovely event. It really was, I think, the highlight for me last year was actually the dinner. I don’t want people not to come to the event, but the dinner is quite a special thing.
Dr. Soram: Fantastic. Well, I’m signed up and I’m very, very much looking forward to being there and participating actively. So let’s…
Chef AJ: And when people come, they can have dinner with you, too!
Dr. Soram: (Laughter) That’s true. So, let’s start into some questions about Unprocessed. AJ, what is Unprocessed?
Chef AJ: Well, to me unprocessed simply means eating whole food. What is found and grown in nature. Food that comes from a plant rather than being manufactured in a manufacturing plant, and I believe, and I don’t see any evidence anywhere to the contrary, that we as a species were designed to eat our food whole not processed. And while I am vegan and while I do promote the vegan message in the book, my main message really is what Jack LaLane’s message was over 80 years, which is if God made it, eat it; if man made it, don’t eat it. I don’t even argue with people anymore about being vegan or vegetarian because I’ve learned, as Margaret Mead has well said, that it’s easier to change a man’s religion that their diet. People want to eat animal products or feel they need to or should, I’m not going to probably be able to convince them in a 200-page book or even necessarily in a 3-hour class.
Dr. Soram: Right.
Chef AJ: I’m going to leave that alone for a while. I mean, I still answer questions. I explain to people that I don’t think dairy is meant for humans, and I give research and things like that, and that I think if you are going to eat meat, you should definitely consider not, you know, definitely eating it certain ways or cutting down, and a lot of vegans get mad at me for that because, I mean…. The thing is not everybody is going to stop eating animal products, so if we can cut down as much as possible, that’s still a step in the right direction. But whether you think we need to eat animal products or not, or you should, nobody needs to eat processed foods.
Dr. Soram: Yes.
Chef AJ: Processed food – I have seen too much anything that comes in a bag, a box, a bottle or a can. Of course, I’m going to make a few exceptions because I believe that if you can make it in your home, it’s okay to eat in a can. So for example, I have a pressure cooker that I can make beans from scratch in 10 minutes. Not everybody has a pressure cooker, and I don’t think there’s a problem if you go buy some canned salt-free beans in the BPA-free cans. That is not what I mean by processed foods. I don’t care if people buy some salt-free or low sodium mustard that’s already been prepared. That’s not what I mean by processed food. I mean what people are eating, 70% to 90% of their calories, eat over 90% of their calories from animal products and processed foods and less than 10% of their calories from plants. Now if somebody’s a vegan, most people aren’t whole food vegans like me, so they’re eating at least 70% of their calories from processed foods, and by processed foods, I don’t care if it’s Kraft macaroni and cheese or Amy’s or Genta Vegan macaroni cheese
Dr. Soram: Wow.
Chef AJ: Because processed food isn’t food, and that people – the take home message is when you eat processed food, it causes inflammation in the body because we were not designed…. We’ve been on this earth for millions of years, and our ancestors were not designed and we are not equipped to really eat and digest processed food. You know, they have this unbelievable video, I believe I saw it on Huffington Post and if you need it I’ll provide you the link. What they did is that college students did this, or maybe it was a graduate student for their doctorate. They had somebody swallow a camera while eating processed food and then eating the homemade version of the processed food. For example, what was used in this study was Gatorade and ramen noodles. And what this showed, is that these things are so foreign to our bodies that our bodies can’t even digest them. It just sat in the stomach and the stomach didn’t know what to do with it. But then they made homemade versions of a sports drink and of a ramen noodle, and everything went fine. So, we get sick for many reasons, but one of the main reasons we get sick is because there is inflammation in our body. It can be inflammation in different areas which create different diseases, but when you use whole foods as found in nature: Fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans, whole grains, legumes, you don’t create inflammation in your body. Also, our bodies desire to be alkaline. Disease really only exists when we’re in an acidic state. Processed foods and animal products. So what I really am teaching is that we are not meant to eat processed food. And I know it’s hard because if you go into a supermarket, it doesn’t matter if the supermarket is called Ralph’s or Whole Foods, 90% of what’s in the store is processed food.
Dr. Soram: Yes, yes.
Chef AJ: You really can only get whole foods in the produce section and in the bulk section, like your grains. And if you really look at what our ancestors ate, I don’t even mean way back when, I mean in the last 200 years, how many people all the time would say well my grandmother ate ice cream. My grandmother ate fried chicken. She lived to 100. Our grandparents didn’t eat processed foods, it wasn’t around.
Dr. Soram: Wasn’t available.
Chef AJ: And the thing is, look – I understand that it tastes good, it’s delicious. I mean double-stuf Oreos, c’mon, who can resist?
Dr. Soram: (laughter)
Chef AJ: If you don’t understand from me saying this, you may actually have to read the book that got me really excited about this, a book called The End of Overeating by Dr. David Kessler. David Kessler was the that’s called? The doctor of, like – surgeon general.
Dr. Soram: Surgeon General of the United States, yes.
Chef AJ: He was something like that under Bush or Clinton, but he held a very high position like that, and in his first book he blew the whistle on the tobacco companies because the tobacco companies are really trying to keep their smokers, because even though they put that cigarette smoking causes cancer and heart disease and all kinds of things, these people still need to make a profit, so what they’ve done if put more harmful chemicals in addition to nicotine in their cigarettes and actually started adding sugar to their cigarettes.
Dr. Soram: Oh, wow
Chef AJ: To keep the smokers they have. So Dr. Kessler blew the whistle on this and then he wrote this book The End of Overeating in 2009, he basically blew the whistle on the processed food industry. I realize I’m saying processed food industry. When a word ends – when a business ends – when anything ends in the word industry, whether it’s pharmaceutical industry or dairy industry, you have to understand that that’s a big business, and they’re designed to make money. They’re not designed to improve health, which is why probably there is no kale industry out there because food is the most powerful thing people can use to improve their health. So in this book – when I read the book The End of Overeating, I got so mad that I just said no more. My family and I said no more processed food. And it’s not – I’m not taking on Amy’s particularly. The reason I mentioned Amy’s is because when I did buy processed food, that’s what I would buy. I would buy her chili, I would buy.
Dr. Soram: Yep.
Chef AJ: She’s a very nice ethical person, but what I learned from The End of Overeating is that processed food is addictive. It’s addictive to our brain chemistry, and the reason it’s so addictive is because any time you have sugar, fat and salt, especially in combination with each other, you create a product that’s basically addictive to your brain chemistry. And we see television commercials for things like Lay’s Potato Chips and they say, “We bet you can’t eat just one”, they know what they’re talking about. We can’t help ourselves. And what Dr. Kessler says in The End of Overeating, is that when the processed food industry began, and I’m not sure the exact date it began, but it really started becoming more of an empire after WWII because our country became more affluent, women started going back to work, and so things like Betty Crocker and Swanson’s TV dinner were born to make things more convenient, but what they don’t tell you is when the processed food industry started, they actually intentionally took the very best doctors and brain scientists at that time behind closed doors, to figure out the exact combination of sugar, fat and salt to addict the average person’s brain chemistry to their product.
Dr. Soram: Wow.
Chef AJ: And when I saw that, I just got so mad. I said I’m not going to let them manipulate my brain chemistry for profit. I’m just not going to eat processed foot and I’m not going to eat sugar or salt anymore and excuse my language, but screw them. I didn’t like what they were doing. And look at the kids today. You see overweight, not only obesity, but type 2 diabetes,
Dr. Soram: Absolutely.
Chef AJ: Now come on, you know, you’re a doctor. You know genetics can’t change in 20 years. I can’t. What’s changed? It’s the food. We’re eating more and more sugar. Americans are eating 150 pounds per year. I don’t eat any, which means one of your listeners is eating 300
Dr. Soram: (Laughter).
Chef AJ: We’re eating more and more fat generally in the form of oil, and we’re eating more and more salt, and the thing is all 3 – I call this in my book the evil trinity: Sugar, oil and salt.
Dr. Soram: I want to talk about those 3, the evil trinity. What’s wrong with sugar? My audience wants to know – what’s wrong with sugar.
Chef AJ: Everything. What’s wrong with sugar. There’s nothing wrong with sugar if you’re eating it in its whole food form. In other words, when you eat the sugar in the fruit and it’s tied to the fruit, it’s tied to the fiber and it has water and vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals and antioxidants, there’s nothing wrong with eating it the way nature intended. The problem is when you process the food, whether it’s beets into sugar or olives into oil, we take every beneficial quality that that food has had, which is specifically the water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and you basically throw out all the beneficial properties in the sludge, and then you’re eating or drinking the non-nutritive portion of the food, which I calorie rich and nutrient poor. So if you understand the keys to the nutritional kingdom are micronutrients, these vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals with antioxidants, these are the things that not only prevent disease, especially the common disease of affluence like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, these things reverse it. These things are basically micronutrient-deficient food, oil and sugar.
Dr. Soram: So oil? What happens with the oil. I mean, olive oil? We just, you know, we take olives, we press them, we get olive oil. I’m being Devil’s Advocate here, AJ, because this is what my patients ask me all day.
Chef AJ: We press and we make olive oil. It’s not as simple as that. Have you ever taken a raw olive and tried to squeeze anything out of it? You could take an orange and even with your hands you could peel it and squeeze the juice out.
Dr. Soram: Right.
Chef AJ: You can’t do that with an olive. I haven’t been able to. So here’s the thing about olive oil. It’s obesogenic, diabetogenic and atherogenic, it means it contributes to obesity, heart disease and diabetes. We can get into the science in a little bit, especially
Dr. Soram: Yes, well The American Heart Association is telling everybody to eat olive oil.
Chef AJ: Well, you know, if the American Heart Association told everybody to jump off a… I mean (laughter). I’m sorry, some of their recommendations are not the most health promoting, especially for the population that’s already overweight or obese. Let’s just look at it non-scientifically first, because I’m not a doctor, I’m just very interested in the science. I always say to people, either you believe my basic premise, is that we’re designed to eat whole foods or you don’t. And if you don’t, that’s okay. Maybe I’m not the right teacher for you. But if you do believe that we were meant to — created and designed to eat our foods whole and that’s what’s best for the planet and our health, then you wouldn’t eat olive oil because it’s a highly processed refined food. You would eat the olive. Now, I think olives are tasty and I include them in recipes, but generally when I eat olives, I don’t sit down and eat 44 olives in a sitting. But that’s about how many olives there are in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and people are using way more than 1 tablespoon a day. Now, if people were using 1 tablespoon a day, maybe the world wouldn’t come to an end, but still, 120 calories, pure fat, 14% saturated fat, the kinds of fat that our own government says we don’t have the minimum daily requirement of, but we have right now a population in American that is two-thirds overweight or obese.
Dr. Soram: Yes.
Chef AJ: So, they project, and Sanjay Gupta, that in the year 2015, 3 years, that 50% of Americans will be obese. Why would we want to feed them a food that is 4000 calories a pound, whether it’s fast oil or fish oil or olive oil or avocado oil, corn oil, all oil is 4000 calories a pound, it’s the most calorically dense food on the planet. Basically, it has no nutrients. It has no fiber. It doesn’t fill you up. So, I would suggest that instead of eating the processed oil that people eat the whole food from which it came. Eat the flax seed, not the flax oil. Eat the corn, not the corn oil. It takes 16 ears of corn to make just 1 tablespoon of corn oil, and I don’t know many people that could eat 16 ears of corn. One day, I sat down to try and on my third piece, I was pretty full.
Dr. Soram: Right.
Chef AJ: The fiber in the food is really important. It fills you up, it helps rid the toxic waste from the body, so that’s the thing. Number one, it’s highly processed because to say that we just pressed the olives, if that could be done then anybody could just buy some raw olives and take a little press that we picked up and squeeze the olive, it doesn’t work that way. These are highly, highly processed and refined products. It’s very, very calorically dense, 4000 calories a pound. No other food on the planet has as many calories are oil, and it’s addictive to our brain chemistry, but it’s also very deleterious to our health, so most of this information is available free. You can go to YouTube or Google and you can download Dr. Esselstyn’s lecture on food, or go to his website, heartattackproof. com, where he talks about the brachial artery tourniquet test and how through this very simple test they discovered that a single meal with a drop of olive oil was as injurious to the endothelial lining of the blood vessels, which are like the life chassis of the circulatory system, as eating at McDonald’s. You can go to YouTube and Google Dr. Esselstyn and see how to become diabetic in 6 hours, where basically he draws his blood and his triglycerides and his LDL are all favorable. He takes some olive oil and even just…
Dr. Soram: I know, I watched that video. It’s pretty, pretty impressive.
Chef AJ: Yeah. So here’s the thing. I believe that olive oil, agave, dairy, a lot of these things that Americans feel that they must have or their health will suffer, is really a triumph of what I call marketing over science.
Dr. Soram: Yeah. You mentioned agave. Now, agave, I thought agave was a good guy.
Chef AJ: Yeah, yeah. The dumbest thing about oil and then I’ll tell you about – people hate m- anyway, let me just say this about oil. You know, people say well we need fat, we need good fat, we need healthy fat. Okay, I’m not arguing with that. But first of all, there are other ways to get fat. You can get it in its whole food form. You can eat avocadoes, number 1, but here’s the thing, and I know that Dr. Oz says eat olive oil and Rachael Ray says it’s heart healthy, but it’s really not, because if you look at the Mediterranean Heart Study, and you can Google this, you can actually read the study, you’ll find when this study was done, I believe it was the late 50′s, early 60′s, done on the isle of Crete, what happened is that these people were very physically active. They were farmers, and eating a lot of vegetables, and what they did was stop using butter and switched to olive oil. Cholesterol went down, but their cholesterol didn’t go down because they were adding olive oil. Their cholesterol went down because they took a worse product, butter, and stopped consuming it. If you take somebody like me, who has an LDL of 57 mg/dL and start for me to eat olive oil, my cholesterol is going to go up. So we take home a message from this study that the cholesterol didn’t go down because of the olive oil, but in spite of it. The other thing to consider is again, we have to either agree or disagree that we are meant to eat our food whole, and if you agree with that, if there really truly is some beneficial compound in the olive oil, in the flax seed that you feel you need or your doctor says you must have on a daily basis, wouldn’t that compound also be in the whole food? Wouldn’t it be in the flax seed, wouldn’t it be in the olive? Do you really think there is something magical that happens in the processing of olives to olive oil or flax to flax seed oil that puts these compounds in? No! The answer is it’s in the whole food. Eat the food, the whole food, and nothing but the whole food so help you God. You’ll live healthy and live long. So agave. Here’s the thing. And listen, I was a pastry chef for 4 years. We used agave and people that manufacture agave or that use agave in their products, they don’t like me too much, but I’m just telling you what the science says. UCLA 2010 did some research and they found that it was the fructose in sugar, and I don’t mean fructose like if you eat an apple or an orange, but when you isolate it out of the whole food that caused cancer cells to proliferate, the glucose or sucrose. But the thing is, high fructose corn syrup is only 55% fructose. Agave is actually 90%fructose. So if you believe the research that shows that it’s the isolated fructose that causes cancer cells to proliferate and that agave is 90% fructose, I would personally avoid that product.
Here’s the thing. Sometimes it not like what but how much. I mentioned that Americans consume 150 pounds of sugar a year. Let’s see what the government says how much we should have. First of all, refined sugars. As far as I’m concerned, sugar is sugar is sugar and oil is oil is oil. You’re not going to improve your health from switching from white sugar to brown sugar to agave or switching vegetable oil to olive oil, because they’re all bad in my book. But here’s the thing, our government, which is hardly a group of liberals, USDA, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, says first of all there is no minimum daily requirement for processed sugars at all. In other words, you don’t have to include them in your diet if you don’t want to, and not only will your health not suffer, it will probably improve. But what our government says, if you decide to include some refined sugars in your diet, you should include no more than 5% of our calories. Now for somebody eating a 2000 calorie a day diet, that would be roughly 2 tablespoons or 6 teaspoons. Now, not everybody can eat 2000 calories.
I actually had my basal metabolic rate tested by this very sophisticated machine at Loma Linda, and I was shocked to find that in order for me to either gain or lose weight when I add some vigorous exercise, I can only 1584 calories a day.
Dr. Soram: Yeah, I think that’s true.
Chef AJ: Think about it, if you take sugar cane. I had a friend who grew up in Cuba and her dad would cut her off a piece of sugar cane. She said it would last the whole month. Three feet is a lot. It takes about 3 feet of sugar cane just to make 1 teaspoon of processed sugar. Most of us would never be able to eat 3 feet of sugar cane. Same thing with beets. You would never eat – be able to consume in a single sitting the amount of beets as you would to make that processed sugar. And so anytime you process a food, whether it’s beets into sugar, olives into oil, brown rice into brown rice flour, you take a whole natural food that has water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and micronutrients – you now take this natural food and you make it calorie rich and nutrient poor and you’re consuming only the non-nutritive portion of the product. And so I just don’t believe we are supposed to eat our food processed. Does that mean we should never have a piece, that’s not what I’m saying. It’s not once or twice a year even what we do 10% or 20% of the time that matters, but you have to understand, that Americans if you drink soda, you are well over the 6 teaspoon limit. There are at least 12 teaspoons of sugar in a soda. So if you’re doing that, you’re already 2-1/2 times over the limit our government has set for refined sugars. I mean, I think sugar is highly addictive. The sugar industry will tell you it’s not, and so I say to the sugar industry, if your product isn’t addictive, then why do you feel the need to put it in every single processed food out there, starting with infant formula, and going all the way to after formula. It is addictive because the thing is the more sugar you eat, same thing with salt and oil, the more you want. It really is very, very addictive to most people.
Dr. Soram: So let’s come back AJ to the sweeteners, because I know my audience and my patients have asked me this. Dr. Soram, if I can’t have sugar, if I can’t have honey, if I can’t have agave, how do I sweeten my drinks, or what sweeteners can I use?
Chef AJ: Well, what I suggest is dates because dates are a whole food. Because I was a pastry chef, there’s a very large dessert recipe in my cookbook, but
here’s the thing. Dates are a whole food, so they have the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and micronutrients, so anything that everybody else does with agave and honey and maple syrup, I do with dates. Dates come in different forms. There’s the whole date, which is the fruit. Those are great, they’re like nature’s candy, they’re as sweet as anything you can imagine. So of course, you can use that. However, you can soak your dates in water and use that water to make your tea, which will now be exceedingly sweet. You can buy date sugar. Now keep in mind, date sugar does not dissolve really well because generally they put a little flour, but you can use date sugar because date sugar is still a whole food. Basically what date sugar is are dates that have been ground up and hydrated, or you can use date syrup. Date syrup is basically dates.
Dr. Soram: Does that dissolve?
Chef AJ: It does. Date syrup is very much like maple syrup. It’s not quite a sweet as maple syrup
Dr. Soram: So we could put in our herbal tea, for example, and it’ll dissolve.
Chef AJ: Date syrup definitely dissolves. It’s not readily available right now. Unfortunately, you have to buy it on Amazon or I love the date lady, or go to an ethnic market in your area, but I’m sure it’s going to be one of those things. I buy it in a 50-pound drum. I’m sure it’s going to be one of those things as people become more aware of it they’re going to use it. Oh again, the resear4ch says 2 tablespoons a day. If you use agave and that’s the only thing that tastes good to you, then it’s probably not going o kill you at low levels, but when you realize if you look at most dessert recipes, whether the standard cake or vegan cake or a raw vegan cake, most of those start out with something like 2 cups of agave and a cup of oil or coconut oil. That’s too much.
Dr. Soram: So, is the same thing true about stevia.
Chef AJ: Well, here’s the thing about stevia. I have nothing against stevia, and for people that are diabetics, it may be the only sweetener than can use, because stevia is a plant found in nature. The problem is, I want people to eat the leaf. I don’t want people to eat the highly processed white powder or the liquid, because then all the beneficial factors of stevia are gone. You can buy stevia seeds online. I have seen stevia plants at nurseries, farmers’ market where you can just put the leaves in your drink, so that’s fine with stevia. The thing about stevia is what I found at least in cookbooks, is that most chefs that use stevia, it’s kind of a weird, tricky sweetener because it’s an artificially high level of sweet. I don’t mean it’s an artificial sweetener, stevia is much more sweet than anything else found in nature, so what most chefs use, they use a little stevia with another sweetener, like an agave. Now what Dr. Fuhman says, he does a lot with nutrition, he says the problem with things like stevia is that it creates an artificially high sensation of sweet taste in the mouth that you never find in nature, say by eating a fruit, he feels that it just really perpetuates the desire for us to eat more sweets, and if you’re already eating a lot of sweets or addicted to sweets, the last thing you would want probably is something that is going to make you crave more sweets,
Dr. Soram: Crave more sweets, yes.
Chef AJ: If you look at the research, the people that drink the diet sodas, the aspartame, the saccharine, they’re generally heavier because it really doesn’t make people lose weight. It does perpetuate their desire to eat more sweet, it’s just that they’re not getting it in a caloric form like sugar, and as bad as I think sugar is, I think saccharine and aspartame and Splenda and all these things are worse. But it just makes people desire sweets even more sweet. So the other thing above agave that I forgot to mention is that agave is metabolized in the liver, and that’s not the most favorable way for food to be metabolized, so that’s the other problem with agave. Again, if you are a sugar addict or a sweet addict, this is something you want to address. I was the world’s biggest sugar addict until I was 43. I was drinking Coke slurpies for breakfast. Dr. Pepper for lunch. I didn’t feel good doing it and I got the beginning of cancer doing it, you know, things like stevia are for some people just keep that desire alive. If you get off all the processed sweeteners, in time, your taste buds will adjust to it. Now you can eat things like fruit. Right now, cherries are so unbelievable. They’re like candy. But while you’re eating a high level of sweets, either from stevia or xylitol, or any of the processed sugars, fruit doesn’t taste that good. The fruit today is way sweeter than what our ancestors ate. Sometimes I’m like oh my God, this is too sweet. But these changes can’t happen while you’re still eating so much sugar in your diet. Go ahead, sorry.
Dr. Soram: I have a question now. It’s very obvious to me and our whole audience I’m sure that you are extraordinarily passionate about this diet and this lifestyle. Tell us, without going into too much gory medical detail or anything like that, but what brought you to this lifestyle. What convinced you this was the way to go.
Chef AJ: Okay, well the first thing that happened with me in 1977 when I was a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, I wanted to be a veterinarian and I always joked I ended up accepting… because one of the things we had to do in the program was actually work for a veterinarian and the very first day on the job he gave me a bunch of salamanders and said here, cut their heads off. Oh my God, dear old doctor. So I mean the reason he wanted their heads cut off, he wasn’t just some, whatever that, whoever that lady or queen or king that cut all the people’s heads off, but he was doing protein regeneration and he needed just their eyeballs, so…
Dr. Soram: Goodness gracious.
Chef AJ: I know, I’ll tell you I got so physically sick, I nearly vomited. I felt so horrible. I mean even though salamanders may not talk, they sure bleed a lot when you cut their heads off. And I don’t think they liked it very much, and I said to God right then, I promise I will never eat anything – another living creature again, and I didn’t. Which is very noble.
Dr. Soram: So at that point you became a vegetarian?
Chef AJ: Yeah, mostly vegan, probably ten years later strictly vegan, because here’s the thing, I never really consumed dairy or eggs because I’m actually allergic to dairy and eggs… I always remember the episode of All in the Family where Archie Bunker says to Edith what’s for dinner, and she goes “We’re having tongue, Archie” and I’m not eating anything that comes out of a cow’s mouth. And I thought about that, where eggs really come from, and eggs really are the period of a chicken, so I never actually ate dairy or eggs. The first 7 years on my plant-based journey, if there was a piece of birthday cake and it might have had some dairy or eggs, I wasn’t militant like that, but I guess you could call me a cheata-vegan for the first 10 years or something like that. There were no People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals which has helped me not do this and still keep me in college because basically I had to not drop out of college but switch majors, and there was no China study written back then or Dr. McDougal, so I didn’t know anything about nutrition, I did everything wrong. Basically, if it tasted good, I ate it if it wasn’t from an animal, so what did I base my diet on? Processed foods, sugar, oil salt, crackers, bread, cookies, cake. And I just figured if it was vegan it was healthy. Well, I learned that’s not really true. If it’s a whole food, it’s healthy. So what happened is I faked this diet for 26 years. I remember when I was 40, my husband wrote to me at the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas on my 40th birthday saying my wife is the only vegetarian that doesn’t eat fruits and vegetables. She thinks Skittles are a fruit, and he was right. I did not eat any fruits or vegetables except for broccoli because for some strange reason I really like it and I think it was the broccoli that I ate every night that saved me from having full- blown colon cancer. Anyway, when I was 43 years old, I woke up with profuse bleeding and it turned out that I had several of these edematous polyps in my sigmoid colon and edematous polyps are the ones that always turn into cancer if they’re not removed, and they couldn’t remove them because my colon was in such a state of…
Dr. Soram: Inflammation.
Chef AJ: Right, just from eating all the crap. Even with the prep they have you do where you’re taking the pills and all the things to have you clean out your colon, it didn’t work and they said I was going to have to come back and have surgery and take medication, and those are the 2 things that I’m most afraid of in this world. So I said no, and instead I checked myself – I remember the exact date – July 6th, it was a Sunday 2003, Coke slurpy in one hand, Dr. Pepper in the other, into rehab. I really went into – there is a place called the Optimum Health Institute. I went to one in San Diego. There’s also one in Texas. For the first time in 43 years that anybody, doctors or nurses there, anybody said what you eat has a profound effect on not only how you feel but what diseases you get and what diseases you can reverse. Holy moley.
Dr. Soram: What a concept.
Chef AJ: Nobody told me. You know, you’re a doctor, how much nutrition teaching did you get…
Dr. Soram: Several hours, that’s it.
Chef AJ: Yeah, several hours of 4 years.
Dr. Soram: I know.
Chef AJ: There’s something wrong with that. You know, Jen Ravi, one of my favorite authors saying going to a doctor who knows nothing about nutrition is like calling on a fireman that knows nothing about water. And I love that saying.
Dr. Soram: That’s great.
Chef AJ: Doctors are wonderful people. Both my brothers are doctors, but they didn’t get but an hour in 4 years and the thing is, when you have an accident you need acute trauma care, of course, it’s great. I always joked 2 years ago when I broke my knee in an accident, I was taken to the hospital, I said give me Vicodin.
Dr. Soram: You didn’t say give me broccoli.
Chef AJ: I understand that. What we do – our whole healthcare model is really a sick care model. It’s based on mostly giving people medications and procedures, and most of it is for diseases that could be easily prevented and reversed with a whole food diet.
Dr. Soram: Yes, yes – so when you got your edematous polyps, you changed your diet?
Chef AJ: Absolutely. I
Dr. Soram: You were at Optimum Health, so they changed your diet for you.
Chef AJ: Well, you know there I didn’t have a choice, but I studied for about 2 years. It was mostly raw. There was no oil. There was no salt, no sugar. Whole foods and 6 months after changing my diet, I went back to my HMO. And also, I never got a colonoscopy which I would have loved to have known how serious the damage was, but they refused and gave me a sigmoidoscopy, and all the polyps were gone.
Dr. Soram: Wow. Wow. Gone?
Chef AJ: Gone. My colon was pink and he said back to like a newborn. Those were his words. But he said you obviously went outside the HMO to have surgery. I said I didn’t. He said where are these polyps? And he said “I have photos – this one was 25 cm, this one was…” I said all I did was change my diet. He said well that’s absolutely impossible. So he was kind of mad. I got dressed and as I was getting dressed, one of the nurses that was in the room who was from India, of Indian descent, she pulled me over because she couldn’t say this out loud for fear of what her colleagues would think..
Dr. Soram: We couldn’t hear what you said.
Chef AJ: I’m sorry. She whispered I believe you.
Dr. Soram: Okay, cool.
Chef AJ: But she couldn’t say that in front of the senior doctor.
Dr. Soram: So since then, that was 2003, you have been really on this diet yourself.
Chef AJ: And when I learn more, I do more. You know, I didn’t really know how bad oil was until I heard Dr. Esselstyn speak in 2008, and then I really understood it and stopped oil and sugar I kind of came to my own conclusions in my own personal life. But you know, there are so many good resources out there that explain this stuff. The End of Overeating, the book The Pleasure Trap it explains why this stuff is so addictive. I really – my appetite now instead of for processed foods, I have an insatiable appetite for knowledge. I read one of these books or hear one of these speakers, this to me is the most exciting thing, just to know that you can eat in a manner to guarantee you will never have a heart attack or stroke, and you can guarantee it because heart studies show that no one with a blood cholesterol of under 150 mg ever had a cardiac event. This is good news. This is exciting that I can control my health destiny with what I eat instead of digging my own grave with my knife and fork, which is what offed everybody in my family, all my grandparents, my parents, all my aunts and uncles who are now dead earlier than they needed to be from eating this way. To me this isn’t a punishment. This is exciting. This is exciting news. And the most exciting things that are happening are in the field of epigenetics. Dr. John….
Dr. Soram: I know. Epigenetics is very exciting. We have talked about that with my audience on several interviews.
Chef AJ: What people don’t understand is that a lot of people, I don’t want to say they’re victims, but they’ll say cancer runs in my family, diabetes runs in your family. Well, there’s a wonderful Houston cardiologist who uses a plant-based diet, named Baxter Montgomery, and he says it’s not the disease that runs in the family, it’s the recipes. That’s what running in your family. Fraction of that and you get sick. A fraction. Some places 3% to 5%, but let’s just say it’s 10% that determines whether or not you get a disease. Then 90% of whether you get sick is under your control by some very simple behaviors, such as what you eat, do you exercise, do you smoke, do you drink alcohol, do you get enough sleep, and if you have stress, do you mediate. Not medicate, mediate. Because that’s the problem in our society is everybody is medicating their stress. I’m not saying people should never have a drink or take antidepressants, but the problem is we use food and things that are not as healthy to solve them, but we also use them to medicate, and that’s the problem because we’re all really, really stressed, and what we’re looking for is dopamine, and when you have alcohol, when you eat this heavy processed food, it’s very unnatural and it’s not consistent with our species’ natural history. You get an unnatural hit of dopamine that never could have occurred in the natural world, and a lot of people are stressed and lowering dopamine receptivity, but instead of doing the things they could do to increase their dopamine which are like exercise, have sex, do volunteer work, they go for the vending machine many, many times a day, and that is because what they’re really looking for is dopamine. But the great thing about epigenetics is that what they’ve learned is let’s say even 10% might get this disease, when you eat properly, nutrition can actually change your gene expression. So we’re not powerless victims. We’re powerful initiators of our own health, but we have to do something about it. What do we have to do? We have to eat right and most people are so addicted to animal products, particularly dairy, and the processed food, particularly the sugar and fat, that they don’t see a way out. It’s like eating poorly has become so commonplace and its so accepted.
Dr. Soram: Yes, it’s accepted as normal
Chef AJ: And people that want to be different. A lot of people don’t want to look different or appear different or be different from their friends or family. A lot of people don’t like to rock the boat. But here’s the thing, I always say that look – my hero, if I could back in history, if I could have dinner with one person, it would be Rosa Parks, because see Rosa Parks didn’t get on that bus and say you know what, I better go back to the back of the bus because I don’t want to rock the boat, but you know what, her rocking the boat changed the whole course of human history for every person on this planet.
Dr. Soram: Absolutely. To go back – I want to go back to something you mentioned j just a second ago, and that is dairy. Milk, cheese, dairy is such an integral part of our lives in American. What’s wrong with milk and cheese?
Chef AJ: Well, ha-ha. Let’s just start with the obvious. Again, consuming a diet consistent with our species’ natural history. If you look what man ate for most of the course on the planet, it wasn’t dairy. This is a fairly recent phenomenon. If you look at every species on the planet, human beings are the only species that not only drink milk after maturity, but actually drink milk of another species. You don’t see a goat going under a horse. Sure, there have been rare circumstances of infants that were orphaned, but I’m talking in general. No other species drinks the milk of another species. Cow’s milk is great if you’re a calf and trying to be a cow in a year. It’s not fit for human consumption. First of all, 70% of the world is lactose intolerant anyway. They say that all Jews, African-Americans, Asians…
Dr. Soram: That’s interesting. I didn’t know it was that high.
Chef AJ: So 70% of the world can’t even digest the sugar in milk anyway, and for the few that can, it’s not a natural food for humans. If you read a book like the China Study or movies or websites, you understand that milk – it’s not specifically cow’s milk because people will say I’ll drink goat’s milk, but it’s the casein that’s in milk that Dr. Campbell quite actually stumbled upon to find out it was potent carcinogen he had ever encountered. People accuse — I don’t know how Dr. Campbell does it because he’s always being attacked, and he’s been accused of having a vegan agenda, but if you really look at his life story, he hasn’t been vegan very long. He worked at a dairy farm. That’s what he did for a living and he got hired by the dairy industry to find a way to get cows to produce more milk and in his research stumbled on the fact that the protein in milk was carcinogenic, so he was able to turn cancer on and off by giving the animals the casein, the protein in milk, and so that’s one thing. But here’s the other thing. If you had a goat or a cow in your yard and you didn’t feed it GMO grain and you wanted to for some reason squeeze its udder and drink it, maybe that would be okay, but you have to understand is the way animals are raised, not only is it cruel and inhumane, but it’s disgusting. If you knew what was in their milk, you would never drink milk.
Dr. Soram: What’s in our milk?
Chef AJ: Pus and shit.
Dr. Soram: Really? How’s that?
Chef AJ: Okay, here’s how. At least beef cows, they get to move around. But dairy cows are impregnated and there’s something called a rape rack, it’s the most disgusting process….
Dr. Soram: What a name!
Chef AJ: Yeah, well that’s what it is. So they’re impregnated and their short lives are about 5 years because their basically they give out. Their brains are so weak they basically collapse and die and then they’re ground up and often fed to other cows. So these dairy cows are impregnated and they’re kept in a stall and they stand their whole sad, pathetic life. Their babies are ripped from them. If the babies are boys, they become veal, so here’s the thing. When people tell me I’m a vegetarian, I’m like there’s no such thing as humane dairy, because when you contribute to dairy, you contribute to veal, which is the baby calf. If he’s male, he’s got chains wrapped around his neck for the few short days of his life where he’s kept, unable to walk, unable to nurse from his mother, and then he’s killed as veal. But here’s the thing. The cow stands there all day with these machines attached to her udders. She’s given so many drugs, hormones, antibiotics, to get her to produce more milk. Even if you felt drinking milk was a good idea, it’s not anymore, because 50% of the world’s antibiotics goes to farm animals, and that is why when something really scary happens in the news, like bird flu, or mosquitoes – we talked about the West Nile virus. Now they’re talking about they found bird flu where human beings get truly, truly sick. The reason so many of them die is because most human beings are resistant to every antibiotic out there because they’ve spent their lives eating meat and dairy and they’re eating the tissues that are the ova-lactation of the animals, and mass, mass quantities of hormones and antibiotics.
Dr. Soram: So where does the blood, pus and stool come in?
Chef AJ: Okay, so the cow is standing in one place with these machines attached to her udders, and anybody out there that’s a female that’s breastfed knows, when you breastfeed, your nipples get sore and tender, and if you breastfeed continuously, they often crack, it’s something called mastitis, where it actually oozes blood and pus. So these cows are in a chronic state of mastitis because the machines are never taken off, so the blood and pus goes in the milk and the USDA understands this and so in our country, a certain level of blood and pus is allowed in the milk.
Dr. Soram: Wow.
Chef AJ: But the worst part is the farmer doesn’t say hey come here, Essie, let’s go for a walk, it’s time to go to the bathroom. The cow is basically shitting in her own milk pot.
Dr. Soram: Whoa.
Chef AJ: The blood and pus and feces- the USDA inspects the product, the milk, and they take a sample] under a microscope and they’re looking, and if the USDA finds out there’s either too much blood, too much pus, or too much feces or any combination in the milk, the farmer doesn’t throw it out because that would be bad for business. What they do is make cheese out of it.
Dr. Soram: They make cheese out of it? Oh my gosh.
Chef AJ: And so the thing is, I can get most of my students to stop drinking milk by teaching them how to make their own rice or own almond milk for their cereal, but to stop eating cheese and ice cream and the reason is people love to eat dairy and cheese because of another chemical in the dairy that is addictive to the brain. He talks about this a lot in his book Food Production and he has a free lecture available online, but when you consume casein in your brain, it turns to something called…morphine. Protein, dairy, and morphine in an opiate-like compound, so what happens, just as when people eat food high in sugars, fat and salt, we create a dopamine surge that would never exist in the natural world, when people eat these very concentrated products like cheese and ice cream that they would never also have gotten in the natural world, they create a feel-good feeling in their brain, like opiates in their brain, and I used to work with Dr. Matt Letterman, who is one the 2 doctors, he said this half jokingly to a patient, he was so convinced that giving up dairy should be the very first thing people do and possibly the most important, he would say, look, if you give up dairy, I’ll write you a prescription for morphine. You know, dairy in children is linked to why there is so much autoimmune disease and type 1 diabetes. Dairy is not only the cruelest and most inhumane of all the processes of farmed animals, but it’s probably the worst for our health as well, and as far as from a taste standpoint, look, I mean, vegan cooking, raw food vegan cooking has evolved to such an art now that there’s nothing you can’t get – it tastes like cheese, but the problem is, even if I give you vegan cheese, which I don’t necessarily advocate because it’s processed, but I sure advocate it for people in transition and I’d rather have them eat vegan cheese than real cheese. It’s going to taste good. It’s going to look good, but it’s not going to give you that hit of morphine in your brain. I think we’re a culture….
Dr. Soram: I’m sorry AJ, what kind of cheese?
Chef AJ: Daiya. it’s a processed cheese product, Daiya, and it tastes just like cheese. It comes in all kinds of flavors now, even pizza parlors throughout Los Angeles like the original Pizza Cookery and Pizza will make you a vegan pizza with it that looks like the soy version that is good for people that can’t have soy, it tastes like cheese, it melts like cheese. It’s a great transition.
Dr. Soram: And what is it? What is it made out of?
Chef AJ: Something called the custavo root. It does have a lot of oil, but the stuff is really tasty and…. I would much rather have people eat that than dairy. It’s not going to give them that hit of feel-good chemical in their brain. We need to figure out why people feel so bad in the first place and do something like that. Teach them to meditate, teach them to exercise. Teach them love and compassion and kindness and volunteer work, because you know there are ways to feel good without food, alcohol and drugs. I mean, we don’t necessarily need the foods that we’re turning to to get this hit of dopamine in our brain or the morphine. I mean it’s hard because these foods are designed to be addictive, and once you get hooked in the pleasure trap you become even more so, but you know again, it’s like people have got to want to do it and that’s a thing that a lot of people wait until they hit rock bottom, until they get cancer or heart disease or diabetes to change their diet. I have been teaching this stuff for 35 years and have only met 3 people my entire life who adapted this diet in the absence of no physical problem.
Dr. Soram: Fantastic.
Chef AJ: They thought this sounds like a good idea, I’m going to do it. Most people have to wait until they’re so overweight that they can’t stand it anymore, or have such bad allergies or such bad – something, asthma, migraine, autoimmune disease, heart disease, diabetes, and then they’re like okay, well now I’ll do something. It’s a lot easier to do it proactively, I’ve got to tell you, because the longer your indulge in addiction, the harder it is to break.
Dr. Soram: Yes. AJ, I want to interrupt for a sec, because I want to transition to your book, which is called Unprocessed, How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight, which you’re the author of. And I want, you know – one of my favorite sections of your book is chapter 3, Do You Really Want To Do This, that’s the subtitle, and you have something called Yabbut. First of all, briefly tell us what a Yabbut is, and then I want to go through some of your Yabbuts.
Chef AJ: A Yabbut is an excuse. People would come to my place and I would say you need to not give your kids sugar. Yabbut. Yeah -but.
Dr. Soram: Okay, so yeah-but. So I want to go through a couple of your Yabbuts, because I know my audience is going to have these Yabbuts. Yabbut #1, you would say you should be a vegan or a whole food unprocessed vegan, the first Yabbut is “it’s too expensive to eat this way.”
Chef AJ: Okay, that’s balderdash because Dr. McDougal proved that you could eat this way for $3.33 and Allen Jaffrey Jones recently wrote a book called Vegan on Four Dollars a Day. And only if you’re eating out a lot at restaurants, higher vegan processed food… like the Tofutti is that it’s expensive, because whole natural food, especially things like potatoes and rice and beans that you can buy in bulk are some of the least expensive foods on earth. I always joke that beans are so cheap, in bulk they’re practically free, I mean 99 cents a pound, so it is completely false. It is not expensive to eat this way unless you’re doing processed vegan food.
Dr. Soram: Let me move to Yabbut #2,”I don’t have the time to prepare healthy food.” Now that’s a biggie in Los Angeles.
Chef AJ: Completely and I agree. But here’s the thing about time. We all have the same 24 hours in a day.
Dr. Soram: Right.
Chef AJ: We do less with time than ever. So the thing is you need to look at your time, because if you don’t have time to eat healthier, feed your family healthy, you’re going to need a lot more time later to treat the diseases that unhealthy food caused. Nobody has time for preparing a meal, but they all have time for heart bypass surgery. They’ll make time for that, they always seem to make time for their diabetes. You either pay the grocery or you pay the doctor. The thing is that yes, you need to advocate. You need to spend some time. But as you know, I gave you a private cooking lesson, and there are ways to make this so fast and affordable.
Dr. Soram: Yes, I know. That’s one of the things I want to tell my audience, not only in her course that I took a couple weeks ago, but I had a private training program with AJ because I was so impressed. She makes food fast. And with a pressure cooker that she mentioned earlier on, you can get stuff done – you can make food in 10 minutes at the most.
Chef AJ: Last night, my poor husband, I got so busy and he showed up and we had to leave. Listen to this. We had to leave at 7 o’clock because we had a movie planned, and at 6: 30 he comes home and I’m like oh my God I forgot to make dinner. I had some lentils in the house. I live literally next door to Trader Joe’s. I went next door. I bought a pack of precut onions, precut mushrooms, I always have spices. I threw it in the pressure cooker, 8 minutes. We had the most delicious lentil tacos you can imagine.
Dr. Soram: There you go.
Chef AJ: You do need to maybe- now here’s the thing. If you born speaking French and I’m all of a sudden Spanish is the best, you might go it’s too hard, it takes too long. You have to learn the language of course. In a cooking class or a DVD. But once you have a pressure cooker, it’s nonsense, because I get dinner on the table 30 minutes or less every single night, inexpensive, readily available ingredients. This is how I cook, this is how I eat.
Dr. Soram: Fantastic.
Chef AJ: If this was a priority, money and time wouldn’t even be an issue.
Dr. Soram: I want to go on to Yabbut #3.”But I can’t live without my” fill in the blank. Coca-cola. My this. My that.
Chef AJ: Unfortunately, that’s where addiction comes in. We don’t like the word addict, they don’t consider themselves an addict, because everybody else is doing it, so it must be okay. I mean, I have people tell me they go to their doctor’s offices and he’ll have a can of Diet Coke.
Dr. Soram: I know.
Chef AJ: Like how are you going – don’t get it. I don’t want to judge people on their appearance, but when your doctor is significantly overweight, of course you’re not going to do what he says, right? I laugh because I used to be a respiratory therapist, and the head of Pulmonary smoked. You’ve got to look at that addiction. Here’s the thing – even if you can’t give up blank, eat fruits and vegetables. The take home message is even if you’ve got a 3-coke a day habit, eat fruits and vegetables, too.
Dr. Soram: Yeah, make a transition. You didn’t do this overnight.
Chef AJ: I’m still transitioning. I’m 52 years old and as I learn better, I do better. I’m still transitioning.
Dr. Soram: All right. Yabbut #4, which is – this is relevant. “But my friends and family won’t support me in this.”
Chef AJ: Yeah, that’s got to be a whole other hour call to talk about that. The short run is, if you’re a parent, you need to explain to your children and your husband that you’re doing this because you love them, because you want to be around for them, because research shows that if you don’t change your eating now, you’re going to lose 10, 20 or 30 years off your life in the prime of your life, and even if they don’t want to join you, you know, you have to model the behavior first of all, and its better if both parents do it. But that’s the thing, if they won’t join you, I mean. Look at Jonestown. If Jim Jones wanted me to drink Kool-Aid, I’d say no thank you. You sometimes have to think for yourself and just do what’s right, even if everybody else is doing something different. And you know what they call those people, doc? They call them heroes.
Dr. Soram: Yeah, okay – beautiful, beautiful. Now the last Yabbut in your book, it’s Yabbut it’s too hard and I have too much stress.
Chef AJ: Yeah, that’s the thing. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. You have too much stress, so you’re low on dopamine, so you drink the alcohol, the coffee, the sugar to get more dopamine, and then you end up burning out your adrenals and then getting more stressed and more stressed, and then eventually most people hit rock bottom, an accident, an illness, or something that happens in their life that causes them to do that. The thing is, eating this way will create less stress. It eventually will give you more money, more time, more peace of mind because you’ll feel so good about yourself physically, you will look better, you will know that you aren’t contributing to global warming by eating animal products and processed foods. You know you won’t be contributing to animal suffering. These things will actually create less stress in your body and in your life.
Dr. Soram: Beautiful, beautiful.
Chef AJ: Even animals that are scared to death before they’re killed, that’s stressful. And all those fear hormones, you eat them.
Dr. Soram: Yes, umhum. Now in your book, I’m very happy to let everybody know you have 100 whole food plant indulgent recipes, and the first section in your recipe part of your book is called Decadent Desserts, and I want to tell our audience you have a full page where it says “Life is Uncertain, Eat Dessert First.” And you have about 15 delicious looking recipes for dessert here. Banana-strawberry mousse tart, healthy pie crust, berry treasures, caramel apples, my gosh.
Chef AJ: Yeah! It’s not about deprivation. I always tell people, just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything. Move in a direction of optimum health such as adding more fruits and vegetables in your day is better than doing nothing. And I know realistically that most people are not going to stop eating dessert.
Dr. Soram: Right, so…
Chef AJ: Dessert is flour, white sugar and oil, because I was a pastry chef, I can make these things without these, and sure they’re going to be more calorie dense because they’ve got nuts, they’ve got dates, but they’re going to have nutrients in them, they’re going to be satisfying. You know, when I used to eat white flour and white sugar, I would have to eat 6 of those little white cupcakes to be filled up. With my recipes, I can have a very, very small and eat 2 or 3 bites, because I’m eating nutrients and fiber. You know, there’s chocolate in the book. There’s no sugar, there’s no..
Dr. Soram: As part of your course, you gave each of us a piece of chocolate cake, which we didn’t make it in the course but to take home. I could only eat like 3 or 4 bites at one times. It lasted a couple of days in the refrigerator.
Chef AJ: Exactly, exactly.
Dr. Soram: It was so satisfying.
Chef AJ: You know, as my friend John Allen Lorrehar says, when you make the switch to nutrient rich, you get filled up on less with so much fiber and nutrients in the food we’re advocating people eat. You know, here’s the thing. If you feel great the way you’re doing it, then keep on doing it, but you know when you really talk to people, most people are sleep deprived, not feeling the best, and again, when you feel your best you look better and especially if you live in LA, how important it is to look good.
Dr. Soram: Yes. So, AJ before we close for today, I want to make sure that people that want to contact you or want to get your book know exactly how to reach you, and by the way, I’d love to have you back at a future time, because as everybody can tell, we just were getting going.
Chef AJ: Oh, absolutely. And we could talk about sugar for a whole hour. I have 3 websites, but I guess the best one that leads to all of them is eatunprocessed.com.
Dr. Soram: Okay, great.
Chef AJ: And my book is also available in addition to being on my website, is also available at Amazon.
Dr. Soram: And the title of your book again?
Chef AJ: Unprocessed. It’s got a whole potato on the cover.
Dr. Soram: Yes, perfect. Now, if people want to…. What about to eat LA? What is the website if they want to come out in November for that course?
Chef AJ: That’s November 3rd and Dr. Esselstyn is going to be there, so Sunday, November 4th, a private dinner with Dr. Esselstyn. The other day is November 3rd and those tickets can be purchased at HealthytasteofLA.com.
Dr. Soram: Great, and now if people want to take this fabulous course that I took, is that open to the public or by invitation only?
Chef AJ: You don’t even have to live in LA. I’ve had people fly in, believe it or not, from Minnesota. My next class Sunday, August 5th is wait-list only, but I have a new class opening up on Sunday, August 26th for 3 hours,
Dr. Soram: They can get that again through your website.
Chef AJ: If they go to the store, they can find everything – the classes, the Healthy Taste of LA and the book.
Dr. Soram: If they go to what?
Chef AJ: The store. Once they get on the website,
Dr. Soram: Oh, on the website there’s a store. Okay, great. Fantastic, AJ. Thank you so much for this. I know it’s going to bring up a lot of controversy and discussion in my listeners, and I’m really ready to answer questions, and if we’ve got questions I can’t answer, I’m going to bring you back again and we can talk some more.
Chef AJ: Oh, thank you so much, it’s been a pleasure.
Dr. Soram: Thank you, thank you. Bye-bye now.
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