Chef AJ has followed a plant-based diet for over 36 years. She is a chef, culinary instructor, professional speaker, and author. With her comedy background, she has made appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, David Letterman, and more.
In Los Angeles, Chef AJ teaches her popular Intro Class, which includes cooking instruction, nutritional advice, song parodies and flat-out fun. She discusses food addiction and addresses the emotional side of eating. Never content to leave her audience with mere just do it advice, she teaches:
• How to create meals to transform your health
• How to deal with cravings
• How to deal with food addiction
Chef AJ is author of the popular book Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight. The book is half confessional memoir, half delectable recipes. It chronicles her journey from junk-food vegan faced with a diagnosis of pre-cancerous polyps, to learning how to create foods that heal the body. Many of her recipes can be seen on her YouTube cooking show The Chef and the Dietitian.
She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University and is a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.
Transcription Part I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody! I am Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food, here on October 21st, 2014. I am really happy to be here, I really love doing this show, you know sometimes I think that I do it just for me, it’s a selfish thing. But I am glad that you are here to share what I have to say with my guests because I learn so much, and I hope that you do too.
I am actually in the Bay Area for a few weeks, you know I am normally in New York, and sometimes I get over to the West coast. It’s fun when I do because I get to experience some of the newer restaurants that are going on or visit some of my old favorites. It’s all about food for me, all the time. No matter what I see, or hear or learn, I always know plant foods seem to be the right answer to everything. You know what I mean?
Okay, so before I get started I wanted to let you know that I am involved with John and Ocean Robbins, we are working together on something called Six Weeks to a Healthy Kitchen. You can find out more about it at healthy.foodrevolution.org and there is a 1-hour power hour program that you can listen to. Tomorrow, we are having a free question and answer program that you can participate in. And then there is a 6-week course, and I am so privileged to be a part of this. And I am very excited about it and if you want to know more about it, you can go to healthy.foodrevolution.org or you can always send me an email at email@example.com. We just want to get you to that lovely delicious place of eating healthy delicious food as much as possible, because it’s good for you, the planet and… It’s good for us and all life on earth.
All right, I want to bring on my very first guest for today, Chef AJ. She had followed a plant based diet for over 36 years. She is a chef, culinary instructor, professional speaker and author. With her comedy background, she has made appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, David Letterman and more. We are going to learn more about her and talk about her book, Eat Unprocessed. Hi Chef AJ, so good to have you here!
Chef AJ: Hi Caryn, thank you for having me. It’s actually been over 37 years now.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, 37! 37 is my favorite number so congratulations!
Chef AJ: Thank you thank you, yeah September 1st, it was 37 years and I think I am going to stick with it a little longer.
Caryn Hartglass: And I think it will allow you to stick with it a lot longer.
Chef AJ: Absolutely, it seems to be working for me.
Caryn Hartglass: I wanted to say you know, when I put my webpages together with my guest, and I don’t really ready what I am putting up there and so I didn’t really read your bio until just now. And I was reading your book Eat Unprocessed, starting in the beginning and I was listening to your story and we can talk more about it in a moment. But you have experienced every bad news possibility and yet you were talking about it with a wonderful sense of humor and I thought, “Boy! She’s really got wit and she is smart.” Then I read and oh, you were on the tonight show with Johnny Carson.
Chef AJ: I don’t think you have lost anything in life until you lose your sense of humor. Then you really have. As long as you can maintain a sense of humor, I think there is always hope.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, that’s it! Sense of humor! I am telling myself jokes all the time because we live in a cruel world and we have to keep that sense of humor.
Chef AJ: Absolutely, a lot of people suffer from what I call optical rectalitis, a shitty outlook on life. I really think, you have to see the good in all situations especially when you are down. I remember when I was 4 years old, my great grandmother lost her leg to diabetes, and everybody was like oh that’s so sad and I am like, hey she only have to shave one leg now. I was 4, but I realized, I always had the ability to see good in every situation, because if you don’t, boy life is going to be a real downer. Because as you said there is already so many things happening right now that we can’t control that are sad but the thing is that you have to maintain that PMA- Positive Mental Attitude or you sunk, you know?
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, keywords you just mentioned: control. There are only so many things we can control in this crazy life.
Chef AJ: One of the things we can control is what we put in our mouth every day. That is one of the things we really can control and that is with a whole plant based diet. I mean you are actually controlling your health destiny. That is a great thing about it, it’s not just for the animals, it’s not just good for the environment, it is good for your health and longevity and well-being and that is one thing you can control. It doesn’t matter where you live, how much money you make, no excuses, everybody can eat healthy in whatever situation they are in, or eat healthy as much as possible.
I travel now for 4 years all over the United States and parts of the world and I realize it really can be done. It can be done quite deliciously and quite affordably.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok so this is 2014, I always like to say find your kitchen. What we are talking about is something radical and revolutionary in 2014, where everybody is consuming processed and synthetic, just crazy stuff. You have got to get radical, revolutionary, find your kitchen and start learning to prepare your food, this is the message. Your book Unprocessed is one way to get there.
Chef AJ: Yeah, it’s so funny that people think that this is revolutionary and this is extreme, eating potatoes, rice and beans, fruits and vegetables. While our ancestors lived on these foods where throughout almost all human history, only in the last couple hundred years that we started eating processed food. There are populations in the world today like where I teach in Mexico or Japan, where people are still eating whole unprocessed food and they are slim and they don’t have heart disease or diabetes or auto-immune disease or cancer. People tell me the way that I eat is extreme, yet they are taking 16 medications or having their chest cracked open and veins striped out of their legs put on in their heart, that’s not extreme?
Caryn Hartglass: It’s crazy isn’t it?
Chef AJ: Yes, the world is so bad.
Caryn Hartglass: Well unfortunately in these places that you are talking about, even these places are changing, where more and more people are adopting our crazy way of eating.
Chef AJ: Right, my medicinal? [7:46] medicine doctor, a prestigious medicinal doctor in Los Angeles, he is my doctor now because he is plant based, he has only done so three years since reading the china study. Because of this he is known as the crazy vegan doctor because if you are vegan, especially if you are educated health professional, the only obvious answer is “he must be crazy”. It is so funny because when he was 30 pounds overweight, nobody said anything but he got to plant based diet and got slimmer now they say: “do you have cancer?” This is what happens when we see a normal weight person. We just assume that they must have cancer! Because two thirds to three fourth of the people in the United States are overweight or obese! We can’t even recognize normal weight person anymore.
Caryn Hartglass: and when you are slim or the right weight, people say: “oh you are too thin”.
Chef AJ: I know that is hilarious. Because I used to be obese I used to weigh 180 pounds, and now that I am 60 and more pounds less, you now for women I don’t get that : “you have cancer” I get “oh she must me anorexic”. What they don’t realize is that now that I am slim, I eat more food that I ever ate before because I am eating the right food and that’s what so great about the diet that I teach. Because you now what I said in 1993, when you eat whole natural food, you get to eat more and weigh less. And I love it and I eat all the time and I am very happy with what I eat.
Caryn Hartglass: I am too. I resonated with so many things that I read in your little book Unprocessed. What I like about it is that it’s a slim book and it’s easy to get through very quickly. I just made a few notes and I thought we might touch on a few things that I read.
It opens with Hans Diehl, who I love, who wrote your foreword. It began with the good life is killing us. We are trying to solve this good life all over the world and sometimes with the message that we are going to help impoverished areas. I think it’s wonderful to get people out of poverty but do we want to trade it with diabetes and heart disease and all kinds of health issues.
Chef AJ: Most people would say that James Gandolfini, the wonderful actor that played Tony Soprano was living the good life but the good life did kill him by having a heart attack after eating an extremely high fat meal with his son I believe it was in Italy. So the good life will shorten your life, but I don’t believe in the good life, I believe in the great life. And that’s what you get when you eat a whole food plant based diet. And you can keep your good life people because we are the plant eaters, we are living the great life.
Caryn Hartglass: You are funny. The first thing that was funny in your book that I found was that you were born just after isolated soy protein.
Chef AJ: That’s right, 1960 you bet.
Caryn Hartglass: So let’s talk a little bit about isolated soy protein for a minute.
Chef AJ: Well, soy is fine, but people want to avoid it, I actually do avoid it because I am allergic to it, but if people want to it eat a little edamame, that’s definitely healthy. If people want to have a little minimally processed soy, like tofu, tempeh or even soy milk made of soy beans and water that’s fine. But the problem is that we take a whole natural food like a bean and we process it into burgers and powders and candy bars and everything that was good about it is stripped away into processing. And what happens is we actually have now a disease promoting food that can raise what’s called IGF-1, which is a strong cancer promoter. And this is what they do, this is what processed food industry does. They mess with nature, and you know you can’t mess with Mother Nature and hope to thrive.
You know I do not eat oil, I do not advocate oil especially for people that are overweight and trying to lose weight, and people with heart disease or diabetes. There is nothing good about oil, it’s not a whole food it is worth thousand calories a pound, it has no fiber, it has no nutrients, it has no vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Most of the time in the human history, oil didn’t exist. You can’t take an olive and squeeze it the way you take an orange and get a juice but this is what the processed food industry does, is they create these highly caloric, highly addictive products that really don’t serve our health. The answer is to always go to the whole food parent. I am not telling people not to eat fat but if you want to eat olives, eat olives. If you want to eat flax seed, eat flax seed but you don’t need to eat the oil of the whole food product. You want to get the food in the whole food form, same thing with sugar, eat beets, don’t eat sugar, you know it takes three feet of sugar cane to make a tea spoon of sugar it takes sixteen years of corn to make a table spoon of corn oil when you eat the natural food, you get full from all the fiber, water, vitamins and mineral. You end up eating less and you can get to your true slim ideal weight without overeating. It’s just healthier, it’s more sustainable, it’s actually cheaper too to it this way. That’s what people don’t understand, if all you do is eat at restaurants and eat designer vegan processed food, it can be really expensive. But if you are eating potatoes, rice and beans , they’ve shown you can eat for I believe like $1.33 a day they did an experiment on Forks over Knives. Very affordable to eat this way.
Caryn Hartglass: Yep, it’s crazy. But we’ve got to get radical, we’ve got to get revolutionary and we have to find our kitchen.
Chef AJ: You know what if people just keep dying and keep getting sicker and sicker and more obese, at some point It’s going to have to change. And it is changing, look at Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest, if not the largest institution in health care management. They are promoting plant based diet to their patients right now. They are recommending them, especially the patient with diabetes, so things are changing very slowly but I think they are. It is sort of like you know I remember when I was a kid in the 60s I remember going to the movies and people were smoking and it was disgusting. They could smoke in the grocery store and guess what, you can’t smoke anywhere now and if you smoke’ it’s almost embarrassing and shameful, in the airport they have this little rooms where people can smoke in and you can look at them and make fun of them. I think that is what it’s going to come down to people that are eating animal products and processed food, you can do it , it’s addictive but there is going to be consequences. And it should be taxed you know like the way Bloomberg, the mayor in New York that says we’ve got to get taxes on junk food and sodas. Let’s do the same thing for processed food and animal products you know.
Caryn Hartglass:. yeah, I am thinking about how much smoking used to go on in public, and how we don’t have it right now. I like to reflect on that moment and feel so grateful for what we have accomplished. Because it was horrible for those of us who didn’t smoke. I remember going into planes, we are afraid of ebola now, but the cigarette smoke that used to go on in the planes, you couldn’t breathe!
CHEF A.J Right, It took a movement, and the thing is doctors used to smoke. I mean if you look at commercials from the old days, Doctors used to recommend cigarettes to their patients, but here is the thing, when you know better, you have to do better and people know now, that the standard American diet is killing us. This so called good life diet is killing us. We can’t just keep our heads buried in the sand. We know better, everybody has access to Forks Over Knives, it’s on Netflix. You know better, you’ve got to do better, some people won’t and that’s their choice but at least let’s get this information out. It is getting out, thanks to the internet and people are at least understanding that dairy is a strong cancer promoter, You know like Paul McCartney said, if all our houses had windows, everybody should be a vegetarian. Now there is a law that you can’t film what’s going on inside, you get prosecuted if you try to film all the abuse that’s going on out there. But it is getting out. People are waking up and that’s what is going to be required, its people are going to have to wake up. You know?
Caryn Hartglass: Yes we have to wake up. I don’t know if there were window on slaughterhouses or factory farms, if everybody would go vegetarian. Unfortunately, that’s the pessimistic side of me. I still it should be over.
Chef AJ: But I think children would, I remember Harvey Diamond who wrote Fit For Life said that in a playpen, I will put a bunny and a carrot and if your kid plays with the carrot and eats the bunny, I will give you a new car because the reality is, this truth is hidden from kids. We call foods hot dogs, we don’t say it is made of ground up anuses and lips and all that stuff. If people knew what they are eating. We don’t call it cows, we call it beef, we have little names, we don’t call it pigs, we call it bacon and pork. We hide the truth from the kids by having little names. They are kids and if they knew what they were eating are friends, they wouldn’t be eating but we hide the truth from them until the point where they are addicted and it’s very hard for them to not eat these things once they had a taste of flesh and once they are learning this incorrect information how milk does the body good It gets much harder but I think at least in the case of children if they knew that they might not eat those.
I know I wouldn’t have, I know I wanted to be vegan as a young child but my mom wouldn’t let me. The only way I could get meat down me as a kid, it was disguised like in a soup or stew, I certainly didn’t eat anything with a bone. I couldn’t eat fish with a head or rib. I know I ate animal products but they didn’t look like it, you know what I am saying. But I think that the people need to know and they don’t want to know because guess what, when you know, you may have to change, and the people don’t like changing.
Caryn Hartglass: All right so changing the subject, people like to make excuses and they blame their genes a lot. I did not write it exactly down but you have a line about how genes load..
Chef AJ: Yeah I believe this is from T. Colin Campbell, from The China study.
Caryn Hartglass: Genes load the gun and diet lifestyle pulls the trigger
Chef AJ: Absolutely, when you really look into this field, lifestyle medicine, epigenetics, you realize genetics account for a very small fraction of whether or not you get a disease, some says it’s little as10% some say it’s as little as 5. Your genes have made you maybe have blue eyes or blond hair but it doesn’t determine your health destiny.
Now I come from a family of sick or dead people, meaning I lost all the members of my family by the time I was in my early 40s, meaning my parents and grandparents on both sides and aunts and cousins and even some siblings to the things like cancer, heart disease, type II diabetes, all those kind of things. One can say that cancer runs in my family and it sure does so does type II diabetes and heart disease, everybody is pretty much dead from it, except from me and my sister.
My sister is 6 years older than me, she is 60, I am 55, 54 and half. If that is true, I am on no medications, then why don’t I have any of these diseases, you could look at the fact that my sister and I took a different path have anything to do with it. The thing is Caryn that is so exciting is in the field of epigenetics, they determined when you actually change your nutrition to a whole food plant-based diet, you can actually change the expression of your genes. One of my favorite doctors in Houston, Texas, cardiologist named Dr. Baxter Montgomery says it’s not the diseases that runs in the family, it’s the recipe, hands down generation after generation.
My friend who is a doctor in Sacramento says a lot of his patients come to him and say, “Doctor, I can’t help it that I am fat, diabetes runs in my family.” And he goes, “No you are fat because nobody runs in your family.” So what is hereditary is lifestyle, inactivity and the bad food, but genetics don’t have to determine your health destiny at all. And if you do have bad genes, we can’t change our parents, we can’t choose our genes, then it is even more important to eat healthily. If these stuff runs in your family because you know it does so it’s even more important to eat a whole food plant based diet now, sooner than later so that you can avoid these diseases that everybody else has it in in your family succumb to.
So you know your genes are not your destiny, your diet can be your destiny. And if you choose wisely, you can avoid these diseases. And that’s what’s so beautiful about these diet is you avoid the disease killing everybody, you have to be. Number one killer of most American, doctors have said, is food borne illnesses, most of these diseases where created with a spoon and fork. They said that 90% of our visits to the doctor, any doctor, are from lifestyle related diseases, from habit, from what we eat, what we drink whether we smoke or not, whether or not we exercise, whether or not we can mitigate our stress. So these are all things that have nothing to do with your genes. Sure somebody is born with spina bifida or something like that, yes. That is genetic when of course when you are born this way. If you aren’t born with it, it’s not genetic, you have control. Take control of your health destiny, change your food, change your health destiny.
Caryn Hartglass: I think most people want to eat more healthily and they have their excuses of course and they are overwhelmed, they are tired, a lot of people have children and they have jobs, and they don’t seem to have a minute extra. And you write in your book eating healthy food, you end up having more energy and you might even have more time!
Chef AJ: Actually, if you buy a pressure cooker, which I believe in completely, you end up with more time. I am doing a seminar right now in Texas, you know, I am actually on a break from this seminar teaching the home of a mayor, and you know I tell people, not every single meal has to be a 5 star meal from at restaurant. And the thing is when you have a instant pot or pressure cooker, just throw in your rice and beans, and vegetables, you press the button, you go out and watch your dog, take a bath and half an hour later, you got your dinner! So you end up having more time when you cook this way because it comes so easy and so delicious. The thing is people will always make fusses about time Caryn but the reality is time is the only commodity in life that’s fair. We have different amount of money or other things but time, we all have the same 24 hours. And this is what I tell people, if you are on Facebook, you have time to eat healthy. Get off Facebook and start cooking your meal.
Caryn Hartglass: Get off Facebook!
Chef AJ: that’s right because you know, when I see people in my class that are tweeting or doing Facebook while I am teaching them, and they tell me they don’t have time to eat healthy… Do you know how much time people waste watching reality television, or being on Facebook. You have the time, you just have to make this a priority. I always ask people when they come to study with me privately very often first question is what are your goals? Because that is really going to determine how you behave and unless your health is not your number one priority, I always ask people, what is your priority in life, if it’s not number one, you really not going to achieve that as a goal because your health has to be very very important to you for you to have the ability to do this.
Get off Facebook and stop driving to the drive through and make a few meals, and as you do this it because easier and it becomes a habit, it’s like brushing your teeth. I am pretty sure that most of your listener and most people in this country probably brush their teeth every day and they don’t even think twice about it because it became a habit and so does healthy habit can become. The more you do it, the more you like it the easier it gets.
Maybe it’s never going to be easier as driving through the drive through the fast food restaurant and going to the dollar menu. But when people say that fast food is cheap and easy, I tell them that cancer and heart disease is very difficult and very expensive. Because if you don’t change your diet, even if you succeed in eating vegan junk food diet, at some point, you will have to pay the price. Because even vegans get sick and that’s why want to have people eat the whole food plant based diet sooner rather than later because I tell you it’s much more easier to prevent these diseases like heart disease, auto-immune disease, cancers, type II diabetes and reverse them. Now it can be reversed but the thing is why not be proactive? Why start smoking in the first place, why start drinking in the first place? Such difficult habit to break, why not just start now?
Caryn Hartglass: you mentioned pressure cooking, is there a pressure cooker that you recommend? Do you prefer electric or the stove top or what?
Chef AJ: I do prefer the electric for a couple of reason, one I travel full time and I can’t cook with the stove top in my hotel room. I love the instant pot and if for your listener go to the website www.instantpot.com and use my name AJ, you’ll get $50 off and what I love about the instant pot is it has not only things like yoghurt setting and all these different setting but it has a stainless feel and I am sure for many people it’s very important because it’s comfortable using a nonstick thing. I love the instant pot, great customer service and I actually have two of them now and I love them. One is for my rice and beans, and the other one is to cook my soup and stew. First, I was afraid of pressure cooking, I heard they explode and if you have an iPhone, you can use a pressure cooker because it’s really just pushing a button, it’s so easy.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s really good to know, I’ve heard good things about instant pot so I am glad you could provide examples.
Chef AJ: I love it.
Caryn Hartglass: We just have a few minutes left, I saved the best for last, which is let’s talk about the delicious food. One of the ingredients you talk about, I just want a little detail about, this is that you use sun dried tomatoes ground up.
CHEF A.J Yes! Now when I wrote the book, it was very easy to get sun dried tomatoes powder without salt online, now they stop doing it. Now because I don’t use salt id doesn’t mean I don’t use flavor, and it takes about 4 pounds of tomatoes to yield 3 ounces of sun dried tomatoes, so they are just packed full of flavor. So what you can do is that most places sell sun dried tomatoes now in the market, and if you have a high power blender great, if not you can buy a little coffee grinder for $15. And you want to take the kind that are dried not the kind that are packed in oil. And you just grind them into a powder and you can use them to add flavor to things like bean burgers, lentil loafs and soups and stews, or even sprinkle them on salad. They are just absolutely delicious, and if you don’t have a market that sell them, some people do live in a small town, you can buy them online justtomatoes.com has very hard sun dried tomatoes without oil, they are organic, and I just found out it’s just the most wonderful flavor and I use them on just about everything, they are just delicious, what can I tell you? They are very very delicious.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, the next item I want to talk about is psyllium husks. Some people might be familiar with them for constipation.
Chef AJ: I wrote this book before chia seeds came around so anytime you see psyllium husk in a recipe, feel free to substitute chia seeds which are high in omega 3 acid, it will yield the same result but don’t be afraid of psyllium, it’s just a husk, it’s just a natural thickener, well it’s true that Metamucil which is to move your bowels contains psyllium husk, psyllium husk is not Metamucil so you can get it in the grocery store, you can get it at Trader Joe’s, you can get it at the health food store. But again if people are uncomfortable with using it now they can use chia seeds, they can absolutely. You can make jellies and jams, pureeing fruit and adding things like chia seeds or psyllium husk to jell them.
Caryn Hartglass: Psyllium husks are cheaper than chia seeds aren’t they?
Chef AJ: Yes they are absolutely much much more affordable, like you can get this big carton of them at Trader Joe’s for like $6. Chia seeds are much much more costly but they are the seeds du jour. You know they have the grain du jour which are quinoa, and seed du jour which are chia seeds. But either of them are absolutely fine, if you are making a large amount of something, psyllium husk is very very inexpensive and it thickens very beautifully and quickly.
Caryn Hartglass: I want to mention two recipes in the book that want to make me lick the page. One is your mint chip smoothie.
Chef AJ: that’s delicious, you can make that with spinach and kale, it’s like a shamrock shake.
Caryn Hartglass: yeah, I’ve always been a fan of mint kind of ice cream and this is just right up my alley. Pistachio, milk, banana, dates, fresh mint leaves, kale leaves, cacao nibs.
Chef AJ: It’s so good, mint chocolate chip ice cream was always my favorite.
Caryn Hartglass: and the other one is your kung pao tofu.
Chef AJ: that’s really spicy but it’s really really good. And again I think I am using a thickener which is…
Caryn Hartglass: Arrowroot?
Chef AJ: Yeah, that’s another one, we have all these thickeners like arrow roots and corn scratch and agar, that’s really yummy, the sauce is boss and you know if we have few good sauces we can make multiple meals, we can change the vegetable, or the grain or the bean, or if we are using the tofu or the bean., we really need to have flavorful sauces and that one really is spice flavorful.
Caryn Hartglass: Most of your recipes have just a handful of ingredients, they are not complicated at all.
CHEF A.J Exactly, I did this on purpose because I was a volunteer culinary instructor at the Braille Institute Los Angeles for many years, all my students were blind and almost all of them were blind due to type II diabetes. If I have recipes that blind people can do, regular people can do. I mean every single recipe in my book Eat Unprocessed was tested on a blind student. If the recipes are easy, people are going to make them. Nothing bothers me more Caryn than when I get a beautiful cookbook, there’s like 30 ingredients. People don’t cook that way, not people in America, chefs may cook that way in restaurants but real food, real people , and I try to keep it to seven ingredients or less, and the most complicated in my book which I am told was one of my best is page 100 is the disappearing lasagna but then again that’s more like a party or special occasion recipe, and even that, it’s not that complicated, and my blind students were able to do it. My recipes are so easy that my husband can do them. And if you knew my husband, you will be like really? So yes, I did purposely keep it simple because the truth is even though I am chef, I worked at a restaurant, I went to culinary school, I eat like a regular person, I eat very simply and I feel that’s what I really enjoy. And that’s what my book reflects, it doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs to be filling and tasty and healthy and delicious.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay well, chef A.J, so good to you. We have come to the end of the program, and I wanted to say one last thing is you really can tell how good this foods are because you put desserts first in your list of all your recipes and this is are all made from healthy whole foods,
Chef AJ: Exactly, and this is what I do, I don’t use any sugar, I don’t use any flour, I use the whole fruit, and nothing but the whole fruit so help me God.
Caryn Hartglass: So help me. Okay! Thank you so much for joining me today and I hope to get to know you sometime in person.
Chef AJ: Thank you Caryn Take care!
Caryn Hartglass: I love talking about food you know that about me you know I hope you love listening about healthy delicious food. So we are going to take a very fast break. We’ll be right back.
Transcribed by Andy Ratolojanahary, 10/11/2015
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s just continue the healthy food conversation. I wanted to remind you again about www.healthy.foodrevolution.org, Power Hour if you haven’t heard it, is a free and global event hosted by John and Ocean Robbins, and I’m actually assisting them in this project and their subsequent 6 weeks to a healthy kitchen, which will be starting on October 28th. It’s really been exciting and fun for me because I’m actually grasping all of the important information that I’ve been talking to you about for a long time and putting together. It’s a great opportunity to focus all of my ideas, thoughts, and knowledge and put them all into one course. It’s a great learning experience for me, and I hope some of you will join us in that journey! Again, www.healthy.foodrevolution.org.
I’m here in the Bay area, and like I said, I’m enjoying traveling around and experiencing some of the lakes and greatest restaurants that are out here. There’s one that I’m really looking forward to going to, which I haven’t been to yet… Maybe some of you have heard about it. I just discovered it. It’s called Plant Based Pizza! It’s in San Jose, California and they’ve got a really phenomenal menu! It’s all plant based pizzas and calzones. You can get wheat based or gluten free! I want to say that this is where we should be going. Of course I want everybody to get back into their kitchen and learn how to make healthy delicious simple foods… but for time to time when we want to go out for a treat, have fun, meet people, and socialize… well why not go to a place that has plant-based pizza? None of the cruelty, all of the fun, all of the flavor! Solid is what I think of the place. I’m really excited, and I’ll let you know about that.
It’s always challenging while eating on the road, and there’s all kinds of tricks and things to eat more healthfully when you’re traveling. It’s tough when you’re always eating in restaurants, because as we know, restaurants love salt, sugar, and fat. And to order things that are interesting, fun, and don’t have those three ingredients—or very little of them—is somewhat challenging. But I want to say, things are improving! At least, here, where I am in the Bay Area. There’s so many restaurants that I’ve been to that actually have kale salads on their menus—I think everyone that I’ve been to so far has kale salads. That makes me happy. There’s nothing kale can’t do! To be able to order a kale salad is really amazing. Now sometimes, of course they can have dressings and toppings and things that you may not want to have…but fortunately most places will allow you to customize what you’re ordering. But if they’ve got the right ingredients, that’s a phenomenal beginning. So there’s that. There are a few other places that I love to go to and I just want to mention them…I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced these places… But there’s a really tiny place called Tofu Com Chay and it makes these big bowls of soup, they’re like Vietnamese-style. So there are some meat analogue products in it. It’s not something that I eat very frequently, but it’s kind of fun on occasions and a really delicious soup broth. We’ve been playing at home with actually trying to come up with ideal spice mix for an Asian style soup. Maybe you’ve tried some of these Chinese five-spice mixes, and some of these secret ingredients in these spices mixes are like an anise or a fennel, which has that licorice flavor. And you probably wouldn’t think that a licorice flavor would really taste good in a soup broth, but when you have just the right amount and it blends with all the other flavors, it really gives a lovely dimension and a great flavor. The secret is, how much. And when we figure out the mix that we like best, we will definitely share it with you at www.responsibleeatingandliving.com.
There have been some interesting articles that have come out in the news and some books that are getting some press. There’s a new article on forbes.com that came out on Sunday, America’s Meat Disgusting Secret: Why Factory Farms Are Even Worse Than You Thought. I think this is great when articles like this come out, this is at Salon.com and there’s a journalist who has come out with a new book called, The Chain which came out just a few days ago. It’s a powerful and important work of investigative journalism that explores the runaway growth of the American meat packing industry and its dangerous consequences. I’m really excited that this book has come out. I haven’t read it yet. You probably have some of the frustrations that I have where we’ve known about things for days, and then somebody comes out with investigative journalism and it’s really not new information. It’s been going on for a long time. But the more books that come out about it the better, because it’s an opportunity for more people to discover this information. Like I said before, I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but I think that even if people do know about the horrors that go on inside factory farms, not everyone is going to change. Not everyone is going to give up their meat. But the more people that are aware of the truth and have the truth in their face, then we can’t really ignore it. And that’s what we need more of. We need to have this information out on the front page, out in the bookstores, out everywhere. So, this new book, The Chain Farm Factory and the Fate of Our Food, which came out on October 14th is one good thing to have out there and I hope ultimately a lot of people read it and hopefully give up their bacon.
What is it about bacon anyway? Do any of you love your bacon and not want to give it up? Tell me more about it and write me an email at realmeals.org. Because I want to understand it… this thing… this passionate thing about bacon. I was with some people recently, and they looked like reasonable healthy eaters and educated… yet they were all saying how they couldn’t give up their bacon. Yet, if they read this book and learned about how pigs are raised and how they’re not only just raised in horrible conditions but what the slaughterhouses are like… and not just the pigs but the people that work in these places are treated almost as badly as these animals. I would think you might think twice about your bacon. At least I would hope so… Is it really worth it? Is it really worth all the pain and suffering that goes into momentary moments of pleasure? [laughter] I’m from the department of… the department of redundancy department.
Now, something that we like to do at Responsible Living and Eating Headquarters, is that we make our own bacon like foods from Tempe. I remember somebody once telling me that they use pecans, and there are lots of wonderful plant foods that can be seasoned in just the right way. Either chopped, fried, sliced, baked, and they give that lovely fatty, salty, flavorful taste that goes so well with so many things… without the pain and suffering! So that’s why we’re here. We’re here to help people learn that they can have all these wonderful great flavors and feel good about it. That’s all I want to do folks. This idea is that it’s not revolutionary or radical to cook meals at home. But I want to say that it is, because I want to generate a movement of excitement. Make it exciting or dangerous where you’re breaking away from the majority and the norm and you’re doing something edgy and different. You’re leaving the world, but all you’re doing is going to the kitchen and making some food that is health and delicious… and all of a sudden you become a super-hero. You become fit, you like yourself better, you’re feeling good, you have more energy. That’s radical. That’s revolutionary. Can we make something like that? It’s not hard. Let’s get over ourselves okay, and make some wonderful, delicious food. Mm mmm mm…
So here’s the thing, we’re going to talk a little bit more about this next week when I have Suzanne Thompson on the show. She is a psychology professor, has all kinds of information about weight loss, willpower, and food addiction. But a piece of eating healthfully is planning and getting organized. I was talking to Dr. David Katz on this show, he had a book called Disease Proof. He was talking about how anything that we do in life, even learning how to work, it took time, patience, and trial and error. The same thing goes with getting in a routine of eating healthy food. I takes effort. It’s not hard, but it takes a certain amount of energy to change our habits and establish new habits. And you have to want to do to that. If you don’t want to do it, then it’s going to be hard to happen. But if you do want to do that, and I do know that a lot of people that listen to this program do what to eat more healthfully and struggle. Part of that problem is sugar and flour are very addicting foods. There are very different people, and some of us fall prey more easily to things that are more addictive and makes it even harder to break away from foods with sugar and flour. That’s when you really have to take the time, evaluate your life, and see how you can make changes. Part of it is going into your kitchen, and sometimes you have to clear the whole thing out and start fresh. In a way that makes it more pleasurable and easier to use. It’s going to be difficult to get started. If you don’t have 1-3 knives that are sharp and work well, you’re not going to want to go into the kitchen to chop up some carrots and onions to make some soup. Because it is going to be difficult, it’s going to take a lot of time. So there are some simple tools that we need. There’s a wide range of prices for all kinds of tools. You don’t have to spend a lot of money but you do need to have some critical items. Now, I’ve never gotten into the pressure cooker… I’m not that obsessed with saving time to make food, but I’m kind of curious about it. And I may actually delve into the world of pressure cooking. Just to see what it’s like to experience it. But I also like to keep my appliances down to a minimum, there are quintessential things that you need, but I don’t get to high-tech into all the equipment that I have. You just have to have some basic essentials. I still don’t have a high power blender, I may go for one of those someday too. I know my smoothies would be a lot easier to make and creamier. But I don’t mind making them with a blender. I’m happy to have a simple blender. Like I said, I like to keep things simple I don’t like to have too many complex expensive pieces of equipment. But, when it comes to saving time, a pressure cooker can save time, but you can also save a lot of time just by planning. So before you’re going to sleep on a weekend, let’s say you put beans into a pot and soak them. How much time does that take? A minute? The next morning you drain the beans, put water on them, and turn the fire on or the heat on, and they’re done in an hour or two without even paying attention to them. So pressure cooker comes in handy becomes it cooks beans and grains and it’s all covered and some of the big ones are automated for you and you really can leave the house and come back when it’s done. But still, you don’t need to do that to make healthy delicious food, as long as you know these simple steps… simple new habits that you can incorporate into your life to get things done. And once you have that big pot of beans, it’s so much easier to add your favorite sauces, foods, vegetables. The meals are easy, delicious, and healthy. Why not? What else can we talk about these past few minutes?
Here we are, it’s the middle of October, October 21st. I haven’t talked about the weather yet. So I’m in California the weather has really been phenomenal. As I check the weather back in New York it’s looking pretty warm. In fact I was reading the last six months have been the warmest temperature on record. Is that possible? Where are we going with that? Are we really experiencing a little taste of our change in climate? Let’s just talk about that briefly before I go, because this is where we can all take control and make a difference for our planet too. Let’s not forget that animal agriculture is a major cause of global warming. So whatever we can do to get plants on the plate and animals off the plate, we’re going a good thing. So my assignment for all of you, is to find a recipe that looks healthy and delicious, you might find it at responsibleeatingandliving.com, you might find it in one of your cookbooks. Make it and share it with people who don’t normally eat plant foods, and let them try it. Because most people are just afraid of change. We just have to try new things. And some of those new things might just change your life for the better. Next week, I am talking to as I said, a couple of people. And one of them that I’m really looking forward to is Jan “Gramma” Golden and I hope you can join me because she is a grandma who is really passionate about the environment and wrote a sweet little book for children called It’s a Great Day For Pulling Weeds. You’ll have to read the book on the program, it’s one of those short but sweet little things.
Okay well, I want to thank you so much for joining me today. I think we’ll say goodbye for today, and join us next week for another episode of It’s All About Food. In the meantime your assignment is to make some healthy delicious food and have a very delicious week.
Transcribed by Victoria Nyugen 5/21/2017