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Part I: Amber Shea Crawley
Amber Shea Crawley is a linguist, chef, and author specializing in healthful vegan and raw food. Known for her flexible recipes and friendly voice, she was classically trained in the art of gourmet living cuisine at the world-renowned Matthew Kenney Academy, graduating in 2010 as a certified raw and vegan chef. In 2011, she earned her Nutrition Educator certification at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute. Amber blogs at AlmostVeganChef.com.
Part II: Ryan Andrews
Ryan D. Andrews is a registered dietitian and strength and conditioning specialist who completed his education in exercise and nutrition at the University of Northern Colorado, Kent State University, and Johns Hopkins Medicine. He’s written dozens of research articles on nutrition, exercise, and health, authored Drop The Fat Act & Live Lean, and coauthored The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition Certification Manual. Ryan is currently a coach with Precision Nutrition, offering life-changing, research-driven
nutrition coaching for everyone – www.precisionnutrition.com.
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello I’m Caryn Hartglass and this is “It’s All About Food”. Good afternoon. It’s April 25, 2012 and have we all recovered over Earth Day this past weekend? It was a great weekend for me. It was my birthday and I really appreciate all of the lovely messages that I got from people. If you sent me one, thank you very much. It was really very fun. The thing is though, even though we celebrate Earth Day once a year, it really needs to be every day. This is our home, planet Earth, and we really need to pay attention to everything that is going on and take care of it because this is it, you know, until we figure out how to populate other planets, we need to take care of this home. We talk about that quite a bit on this show, the environment, and treatment of animals, and the health of everyone that is degrading, mostly because we are not really taking care of ourselves, are we? But today, especially for the first part of the show, I want to concentrate on the fun part of food and how it’s really easy, it’s delicious, it’s fresh, and once you come over to the healthy food side, all of the benefits start streaming in. You get all this energy, you start looking hot, and at the same time, you start walking gently on the planet. It’s easy. It’s just a “win win” all around. That’s why I love talking about food, especially delicious, healthy food and that’s what we’re going to be doing right now. I’m going to bring on my first guest, Amber Shea Crawley and she’s got a lovely new book out. I don’t really want to call it a cookbook per say, because it’s mostly raw recipes. She’s a linguist, chef and author specializing in healthy, vegan and raw food and is known for her flexible recipes and friendly voice. She was classically trained in the art of gourmet living cuisine at the world-renowned Matthew Kenney Academy, graduating in 2010 as a certified raw and vegan chef. In 2011, she earned her nutrition educator certificate at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute and you can find her at her blog at www.AlmostVeganChefs.com. Welcome to “It’s All About Food”, Amber!
Amber Shea Crawley: Hi. How are you?
Caryn Hartglass: Great How are you?
Amber Shea Crawley: I’m doing well. Can you hear me okay?
Caryn Hartglass: I can hear you find and I hope everyone else can. Okay, well thank you for writing this book and I enjoyed reading it and am going to enjoy getting to know it better as I make more of the recipes.
Amber Shea Crawley: That’s great!
Caryn Hartglass: So let’s just learn a little about you. It’s always interesting, I find, I’m going to back up a little. Raw food has had its trendy moments in the last decade with celebrities getting all excited about it and promoting it and it’s really just food like we are supposed to be eating it, before we got totally bent out of shape with all of this high tech processing of food. It’s crazy.
Amber Shea Crawley: It’s true. I think that a lot of people think that raw food is a little complicated and takes a lot of time to prepare but if you do it right, raw food takes less preparation than cooked food. It’s really easy to fix a smoothie or a salad or putting together some nuts and dried food for dessert.
Caryn Hartglass: What was your journey and how did you get interested in preparing raw food?
Amber Shea Crawley: I have been vegan since 2008 and I originally got into veganism for health reasons and so it was just kind of a natural progression for me to eat fewer and fewer of the processed food products and things like that and just keep bringing in more fresh foods. I think things really turned around for me when I first got the change to eat at Matthew Kenney’s restaurant in Oklahoma City and I just fell in love, head over heels in love with raw food and I knew that was how I wanted to do from then on out.
Caryn Hartglass: I remember going to Pure food and wine in New York City when it first opened. It was really exciting. That was his restaurant at the time, it isn’t anymore, but it is a really beautiful place. One of the things that I have found about raw kitchens, I remember taking a tour of one in California, it’s not open any more, but at the time, this was in the 1990’s…If anyone has ever had a chance to go into a restaurant kitchen, even though there are a lot of regulations, to keep them clean, you see all different kinds of stains all over the place and oil coated things and not in a raw kitchen. Raw kitchens are CLEAN!
Amber Shea Crawley: Yeah! I agree. I saw that at Matthew Kenney’s OKC restaurant. I’ve never seen a kitchen like that before. It was completely open to the dining room and it wasn’t hot and steamy. People weren’t rushing around and finding pans and things like that. It was really calm and really enjoyable to be around and regular kitchens aren’t always that way.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah I think that if more people saw what was going on behind the scenes, they might even be more interested in eating this way.
Amber Shea Crawley: That’s very possible. Everything is very clean and it’s easy to see how that can get translated into really clean and fresh food.
Caryn Hartglass: And when it’s clean in the kitchen, it’s going to be clean when you eat it.
Amber Shea Crawley: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: So, I’m just curious. What is it like training at these different places? You trained with Matthew Kennedy and then you went on to the Living Light Institute. I guess you haven’t had training in other culinary institutes, but I’m just kind of curious what it is like to go through a curriculum like that.
Amber Shea Crawley: It was like being on a playground all day, every day. At the Matthew Kenney Academy, that was heaven for me to be around buckets of fresh raw ingredients and produce and it’s what I like to do in my spare time. I just like to mess around in the kitchen and play around and create things and try recipes and I got to do that for several hours a day for several weeks at a time so I felt no pressure. It’s not like you had to take exams or anything like that. It’s just every day going in the kitchen and creating new things and experimenting and kind of learning to find your own voice with food and learn how to deliver your own flavors.
Caryn Hartglass: We see so much crazy stuff on television, I have to put in a disclaimer here because I don’t watch very much television, but I am aware that there are a lot of reality shows and a lot of them are involved with food and you see so much stress in the kitchen and the competition and things getting done on time and, I really don’t like the idea of combining food with stress.
Amber Shea Crawley: Exactly! A lot of times for me, it’s therapeutic. The high octane and high stress environment for things like that just never appealed to me at all.
Caryn Hartglass: Surely if you’re working in a restaurant there is going to be a certain amount of focus but I think that food preparation, especially at home, it can be “zen” like if you know what you’re doing and get in that mode and that’s the way it should be.
Amber Shea Crawley: I agree!
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s jump into this lovely little book here. One of the things that I wanted to talk about is you have a whole section on hummus.
Amber Shea Crawley: Yes I do!
Caryn Hartglass: It’s interesting how popular hummus has become in this country. I’m not sure when it really had a turn in momentum, 10 years, 20 years, I’m not quite sure but there was a time when no one was eating hummus and now it’s everywhere.
Amber Shea Crawley: I don’t think there’s a bar in my town that doesn’t even have hummus on the bar menu. So it’s everywhere.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s usually a very safe thing for people like vegetarians when they are going to some mainstream event and very often you can find hummus and you go “Oh good, something for me to eat.”
Amber Shea Crawley: Yeah that’s true.
Caryn Hartglass: And now there are so many different ways to make hummus. It’s funny. I want to say so many things at the same time it’s very difficult for me and my tongue starts getting all twisted. Hummus…I don’t know if you know this, the origin of hummus or what it means is from Arabic and Hebrew. Hummus means “chick peas.” We’ve gone quite a long way with what we do with hummus. Some of them that we call hummus don’t even contain chick peas any more.
Amber Shea Crawley: Yeah I guess nowadays it can just be any kind of puree.
Caryn Hartglass: Any kind of schmear or vegetable pâté or whatever you want to call it which is pretty amazing. I have been to Israel a number of times. I think it was back in the ‘80s the first time I was there and I went to a restaurant and I was really hungry and hummus wasn’t really that popular in the United States at the time but it was on a menu. I remember not being sure how it was going to be offered. I now know how it’s traditionally offered. It’s just spread on a plate and maybe you get some pita bread. I asked the server how it is served. I wanted to know if it came with any salad or anything and she said “Hummus? Hummus is hummus.” It’s just been like an ongoing kind of thing with me ever since. Hummus is really just hummus but it isn’t any more. Hummus is many, many different things today.
Amber Shea Crawley: That’s true.
Caryn Hartglass: You have a lot of different hummus recipes and you start with three basic ones. You have the traditional hummus. One of the things that is great about this book is that it is flexible, raw recipes. So you’re going to find some things that were cooked in here.
Amber Shea Crawley: That’s true.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s true. We’ll get back to hummus, but why did you do that?
Amber Shea Crawley: Well, I know a lot of times when I hear people explain why they don’t eat raw food or why they haven’t gotten into it, they name things like “Well, I don’t have a dehydrator” or “I don’t have a high speed blender” or “I don’t know where to get all of those fancy ingredients” or “I can’t afford them” and other things like that and I wanted to show people that adding more raw foods and fresh foods to your life doesn’t have to be an all or nothing experience. I give people directions to warm something up on the stove or heat it up in the oven because the point at the end of the day is that you are getting more raw, unprocessed, fresh ingredients into your diet. If you heat those up a little bit and kill some enzymes, that’s okay. It’s still great food.
Caryn Hartglass: The thing is, we’ve somehow lost this knowledge of how to prepare food and any way that can get people back into the kitchen and making food is a good thing.
Amber Shea Crawley: I agree!
Caryn Hartglass: I’m going to get back to the hummus in a minute but I want to talk about some other things. I’ve been a vegan for a long time and I’ve always been on this major health path and I think it was the Living Light Institute. I was invited to speak in Costa Rica in 2004 at a conference they were having. It was a glorious thing because I camped outside. People could stay in little bungalows if they wanted to or you could camp. It was a week-long event and Cherie Soria was there and a number of other people were preparing all of this wonderful food and I had not eaten raw food before and I decided after that conference that I would eat all raw food and I did that for two years. It was a great learning experience because once you eliminate certain things, you need to ramp up on other things. It’s true of any time that you eliminate certain things from your diet.
Amber Shea Crawley: Yeah It challenges your creativity I think.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s great to shift your focus and challenge yourself but I always found it humorous where people were saying “I’m 65% raw” or “I’m 80% raw,” “I’m 72% raw” and I’m thinking, how do you figure those things out?
Amber Shea Crawley: There is a calculation for that.
Caryn Hartglass: It was really kind of nutty, pun intended. So I really appreciate in your book that you really are just introducing people to lots of luscious, creative ways to use primarily raw food and not to really get all wrapped up with if you’re using a few cooked ingredients, it’s just good.
Amber Shea Crawley: Yeah or even if you can, if you have access to all kinds of ingredients or maybe you even have a dehydrator or something like that and you can prepare fully raw food, maybe you don’t have a family that wants raw food. Maybe they want something warm or maybe they want some pasta or some beans added to it and I don’t see any reason why you can’t combine a raw dish with some non-raw ingredients.
Caryn Hartglass: So let’s get back to the hummus. You have these three great recipes. One is the classic chick pea hummus and the secret ingredient if anyone doesn’t know is tahini. Anything with tahini is incredible. So you have the classic one made with chick peas, and then you have this nice zucchini hummus, which instead of the chick peas, you use raw zucchini.
Amber Shea Crawley: Yeah, I don’t remember the first time I had it prepared that way. That was the first time I tried that but I was skeptical because I don’t love raw zucchini on its own, but it works really well as a palette for something like hummus and when you puree it with a stronger more assertive ingredient like tahini, the zucchini kind of lets the tahini do the talking.
Caryn Hartglass: A few people that garden, I always hear when zucchini is in season, they don’t know what to do with it. There is just too much of it and this would be a great recipe.
Amber Shea Crawley: I’ve heard that too.
Caryn Hartglass: And then there is the richer version, which instead of using the chick peas, you are using cashews and macadamia nuts. Now that just sounds too gooey, too amazing.
Amber Shea Crawley: It’s very rich. That’s actually the first way I had raw hummus at Matthew Kenney’s restaurant and I expected it to be incredibly heavy and just too much, but it worked really nicely.
Caryn Hartglass: I appreciate that you are not using a sprouted chick pea in your hummus or any of your recipes.
Amber Shea Crawley: I’m not a fan of that personally.
Caryn Hartglass: I’ve had it, but unless you drown it in a ton of olive oil and some kind of salt, it doesn’t taste very good.
Amber Shea Crawley: Yeah I agree.
Caryn Hartglass: So, good for you! There are all kinds of theme and variations which are really nice: red pepper hummus, mushroom hummus, yummy, yummy, yummy, sun-dried tomato pesto, lots of really good variations here.
Amber Shea Crawley: That’s probably why hummus is my favorite food. You can do anything you want with it. There are no limits.
Caryn Hartglass: And you should! As you know, there are lots of good things in sesame seeds that we make tahini from. Vitamin E I think is in Sesame seeds. I don’t really think about what’s in my food because I know it’s all good but occasionally I like to highlight things because people seem to think that they need to know what’s going on nutritionally. Which is really a silly thing. The idea is that these kinds of diets that are based on fresh, whole foods, you don’t have to know the science. It’s easy. Just eat lots of wonderful, colorful foods and you’re going to win.
Amber Shea Crawley: You really don’t need to count anything. I think the great thing about raw foods specifically really fill you up and tell your body when to stop in a way I haven’t seen with cooked food. For me, I could keep eating a bowl of never ending pasta but I couldn’t eat raw pasta nearly to that degree.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s the magic of fiber and nature did that intentionally, so that we don’t eat too much. Okay, so for me, somebody who is really involved in food, and healthy food, I’m pretty familiar with most of the things that you talk about in your book. There’s one ingredient though that I want to talk a little bit about and that’s Irish moss.
Amber Shea Crawley: Oh yes!
Caryn Hartglass: I actually have a jar of Irish moss that I have in my refrigerator that I probably bought five or six years ago and have not used very much of and I’m embarrassed to say this because I always tell people to move the food out of their refrigerators and don’t keep stuff for a very long time.
Amber Shea Crawley: Luckily that seems to last pretty well. I don’t know if it will last years.
Caryn Hartglass: I know, but I just never really got into it. So tell me what I can do with Irish moss and why I want to use it.
Amber Shea Crawley: Well, first of all, I want to tell people that I always use that, only as an optional ingredient because I know that it is unfamiliar and it can be tough to track down, or depending on where you buy it, they may not want to pay what they are charging so I don’t ever use that as a required part of a recipe, but I have found that it is an amazing addition in many different ways. You can use it for people who are fat sensitive. I don’t really like the idea of limiting dietary fats, but I can understand sometimes why people would want to cut out a little of the fat in like a cashew cheesecake that has some of the nuts and coconut oil in it. So you can replace a portion of any type of blended or pureed nuts in a recipe with Irish moss and it gives the recipe the same amount of body but it makes it just a little lighter and it does the same things for raw breads. I actually learned that from Russell James. He was my instructor at the Matthew Kinney academy and he makes a killer garlic bread that uses Irish moss blended into it and it makes the bread really fluffy. There’s no better word. It’s really light and that’s awesome for raw food because that is hard to achieve.
Caryn Hartglass: Usually the raw breads are really dense.
Amber Shea Crawley: Yeah dense, flat, and almost more like wimpy crackers or something like that.
Caryn Hartglass: I guess it’s like a foam maybe when you mix it with water and then when it gets dehydrated, it keeps that airiness?
Amber Shea Crawley: Yeah when you blend it, it turns into kind of a gel and then when you add that to a recipe whether it’s dessert, or a smoothie or a bread or something like that, especially if you refrigerate it afterward, it thickens even more so it gives more body and more texture to whatever recipe you have.
Caryn Hartglass: So one other ingredient that I don’t use very often, well I don’t ever use it so let’s talk about it and that’s all of the raw cocoa products: raw cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, cocoa butter, does it taste like chocolate?
Amber Shea Crawley: It does. It tastes more chocolaty than chocolate does in a way sometimes. Raw cocoa powder is very strong. It’s great for dark chocolate lovers because it is a very strong chocolate flavor. The cocoa nibs too, if you’re a true chocoholic, then they are great because it is like chewing on crunchy bits of chocolate. To me, it’s what chocolate should taste like. It shouldn’t be over-roasted and combined with milk powders and fillers and stuff like that, so I like it.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m not exactly sure how it’s made, but it’s not roasted.
Amber Shea Crawley: Right. It’s a raw form.
Caryn Hartglass: Hmmm. Okay. I think I might have had it in a dessert here and there, but I’ve never really ventured out and used it.
Amber Shea Crawley: It’s worth looking into.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay! Well, I guess I’m going to have to try that because it’s all about food and I love variety. Why not!?!?
Amber Shea Crawley: Exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, we just have a few minutes. Tell me, what’s your favorite in this book? Do you have a favorite?
Amber Shea Crawley: I have a few favorites, it’s hard to pick, but I would say my favorite recipe in the whole book is probably my most famous recipe, period, and that’s the famous 5 minute blondies in the dessert chapter.
Caryn Hartglass: Is that the one you won the award for?
Amber Shea Crawley: No. The caramel fudge brownies are the one that I won the Hot Raw Chef contest with and that’s in the dessert chapter too and that I would say is a close second in my favorite desserts but I love the brownie, blondie, bar type of desserts they are just so low maintenance and easy. If you make cookies, you have to form the cookies. If you make a cake or a pie, you have to make the crust and the filling, but with bars or brownies, you just make everything and you press it into a pan and you’re done and I love that.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m glad that I’m looking at your book because I used to make a lot of these things and I’ve gotten out of the habit of it but these raw cookies and these raw treats which are just a combination of nuts and dried fruit are the BEST desserts you possibly could have. They are good for you and they are easy and they are just so delicious.
Amber Shea Crawley: Yeah and they are good enough for you that you can eat one for breakfast and not really feel bad about it.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m going on a trip and I’m thinking I should make these and take a few on the plane with me.
Amber Shea Crawley: Yeah. What a good idea.
Caryn Hartglass: They are really good fuel.
Amber Shea Crawley: Definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, Amber, thank you so much for joining me on “It’s All About Food” and I wish you great success.
Amber Shea Crawley: Thank you for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s just get everyone to eat their vegetables, huh!
Amber Shea Crawley: Agreed
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, thank you so much!
Transcribed by Erin Clark, 4/9/2013
Transcription Part II:
Caryn Hartglass: Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Okay, it’s my favorite subject, food; and I love talking about food. I just found out that I’m going to be participating in a number of workshops on May 12 at the Brooklyn Food Conference. Have you heard about the Brooklyn Food conference? There’s going to be over 175 workshops, 350 panel speakers, and lots of exhibitors. It’s a full-day event. And let’s see, it’s May 12th, obviously it’s in Brooklyn and it’s at the Brooklyn Technical High School. It starts at 8:30 in the morning and it goes until 6 p. m. I’m going to be involved in two workshops. One is at 12:30 and it’s called Corporate Power Diet and Animal Agriculture; you know I like to talk about those things. And then later on at 2:00, I’ll be in the workshop on Women, Feminism, and the Use of Animal for Food. I’m looking forward to that. It’s going to be a really interesting time, talking about my favorite subject, food. And then, oh gosh, there’s so many things going on in May. On may 27th, in Manhattan my nonprofit, Responsible Eating and Living, will be exhibiting at the Veggie Pie Parade. And that’s a really, really fun event: Veggie Pie Parade. You can go to veggiepieparade.org to find out more about that.
Okay, now, let’s really get to the fun stuff here. I’m going to bring on Ryan Andrews, who has a new book out called Drop the Fat Act and Live Lean. He’s a registered dietician and strength and conditioning specialist, who completed his education in Exercise and Nutrition at the University of Northern Colorado, Penn State University in Johns Hopkins Medicine. He’s written up dozens of research articles on nutrition, exercise and health, authored Drop the Fat act and Live Lean, and co-authored the Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition Certification Manual. Ryan is currently a coach with Precision Nutrition, offering life-changing, research-driven nutrition coaching for everyone. You can find out more about that at precisionnutrition.com.
Ryan Andrews: Hey, Caryn! Thanks for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, sure! I had fun reading your book.
Ryan Andrew: Good. Hopefully, you did. I hope everybody who reads my book has a good time.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, there’s certainly an attitude in this book about fat-titudes.
Ryan Andrews: Definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, the first thing that I like is you’re not afraid to use the word fat.
Ryan Andrews: Yeah. So many people kind of get hesitant to use that word. I really just mean extra body fat because we have a lot of ties to the word fat, whether it’s related to somebody’s morals or their productivity in life, or whatever it might be, but I really just mean, fat is what does and fat means extra body fat.
Caryn Hartglass: And we don’t need it.
Ryan Andrews: Yeah, it’s unnecessary. We can control it.
Caryn Hartglass: I was just reading an article in the New York Times … I think it’s a blog post. Sarah Parker Pope was talking about how a lot of people see themselves in the mirror and don’t really see what they look like. Or don’t really think what they look like. And then they see themselves in the mirror and it’s like, “Whoa, who is that fat person?!”
Ryan Andrews: Yeah. Our comparative … the people we compare ourselves to in this country are all fat as well so it’s really tough to get an idea of what’s normal. I mean normal in this country is overweight.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right. I often hear people saying, “Oh that person is so thin!” and I think, “They’re not thin; they’re just right.” You’re scale thing is so off. Normal is not good.
Ryan Andrews: You’re exactly right. Normal is not a good thing right now. We best be abnormal with our eating, our exercise, and our habits.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Now, how did you get so smart, Ryan?
Ryan Andrews: How did I get so smart? Well, fortunately, I have, I think, a pretty good blend of life experience. I’ve been helping people with eating and exercise since I was about 14-15 years old. And then I learned that I could go to college and study this stuff. So I went there, got a formal education, did grad school, became a dietician. And I coach people now with eating and exercise. I think between my personal experience and formal education, it’s a really nice mix. And I can really get an idea of what actually works for people, not just what the textbook says but what works in real life.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, this is a quick book. It’s easy to read. There’re lots of cute cartoons and humor in it and it’s just a lot of common sense. I dog-eared a number of pages like I typically do when I read something. And the first thing I’m looking at is you have some rules. I’m going to read some of them: “don’t eat while reading or watching T. V.; don’t eat while driving; sit down at a table to eat; don’t eat dessert before dinner; eat your vegetables; go outside and play with friends; don’t stay up all night.”
From reading this list, I was thinking of a show I had a few weeks ago where I was talking about a woman who wrote a book called French Kids Eat Better. In France, in their culture, these are all part of their culture. And it may be changing, unfortunately, because our bad habits are spreading rapidly around the world. But you don’t eat while driving in France. You don’t eat in the car. The cars don’t have those, at least not when I was there in the 90s, didn’t have the coffee cup holders. You sit down at a table. It’s an even where you gather around. You don’t eat on the run. You don’t eat the snack foods. You sit down and eat properly. And it’s part of the culture. And somehow our culture got away from this because I think we did all these things traditionally, at least 50 years ago. So we’ve really gotten off base. And it’s important to […] feel us like this and say, “Ooops. Ooops. Ooops. Yeah. Uh-huh.”
How do people react when you give your clients a list like this?
Ryan Andrews: It kind of connects to what we’re talking about, with social norms. This is what a lot of people do. They drive, and they go to fast food, they don’t go outside and get fresh air, get in the sun, and all those things. And it’s strange for people to really grasp this because, I think, as a kid maybe they sort of understood it when they were learning about basic health in school. But as they get older, we get into kind of the whole typical adult mindset, and we don’t treat our bodies as well. I think one of the best things we can do as adults is to kind of treat ourselves like kids. Give ourselves some basic foundational guidelines with eating, with exercise, and all of them. If our kids acted like we acted with our eating and exercise, we’d ground them and send them to their rooms but we allow ourselves to do it.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m just thinking of all the excuses that people must give you when they see some of these rules like don’t eat while driving. I like “I don’t have time. I’m in such a rush in the morning and I have to eat in the car.”
Ryan Andrews: Yeah. The excuses, I try to actually listen to them and not just disregard them and say, “No, you’re wrong. You’re wrong. You have time.” But I always challenge people to think about what they really value in life. What do you really care about? And if you really do care about working downtown and commuting so you’re spending a lot of time in the car and you’re working a lot of hours, well, then maybe you will have to eat in your car. But if you really say, “My number one priority in my life right now is good nutrition and that means more to me than working a few extra hours at my job” then maybe you could talk to your boss and restructure your day and your schedule, and spend 30 minutes at home, and eat breakfast before you leave in the morning in your car. So kind of stepping back and looking at the bigger picture and really trying to live according to what you value most.
Caryn Hartglass: You have some good quotes in here. And what I like is most of them are quotes I haven’t seen before. There’s a lot of vegetarian and vegan health books out today and that’s a good thing, many of them regurgitate the same quotes and I’m kind of tired of seeing them. You have one here by George Bernard Shaw: “I am oppressed with the dread of living forever. That is the only disadvantage of vegetarianism.”
Ryan Andrews: Yeah, my editor … the book publishing company was great. They helped me find that one, I remember.
Caryn Hartglass: And George Bernard Shaw lived to 94, I think. Yeah, he lived a long time. So he knew what he was talking about. Okay, let’s see what else did I bookmarked here…Okay, I bookmarked something about mixing it up and the athletes here but I’m quite not sure why I did it here. Oh, yeah I liked what you wrote here. Exercise is certainly important. I really appreciate how you talked about making it fun, not really doing something that you don’t like to do because then you won’t do it, obviously. And the side effects of exercising include…and it’s funny when you have to put it this way, “Side effects include…” because we’re always hearing about all the drugs on television and all the side effects you get. But the side effects of good eating, the side effects of exercise: more energy, less body fat, more strength, serious flexibility, big biceps, if that’s what you’re looking for. And it’s all good. Those are good things.
Ryan Andrews: People forget, when we live a certain way we look a certain way. We’re working with laws of nature here and when we participate in movement and physical activity, and lift weights, and move our bodies and stretch our bodies, things happen to our body. With exercise, fortunately, there’s a lot of positive things that a lot of people strive for.
Caryn Hartglass: So you work with a lot of people. What are some of the … I’m going ask two things here: What things really work with most of them and what had been your biggest frustrations?
Ryan Andrews: I would say that one of the things that work really, really well is focusing on changing one thing at a time. So instead of trying to do a complete life overhaul and adapting a whole new meal plan and diet, and joining a gym and exercising everyday … depending on where that person is at, just picking one thing and focusing on that for maybe two or three weeks, really solidifying it and making it part of your daily life and then moving on to the next habit. That, is really, really useful.
Another thing that’s really useful is getting back to hunger and fullness cues. It’s so often forgotten in the world of weight management and body fat and diet books because they say eat this many calories, eat this much protein and carbs, eat at these times, eat these portion sizes. But that’s disregarding our own intuition about eating. And when people can really get back to their idea of I’m-hungry-I’m-not- hungry-I’m-satisfied-after-eating-here’s-what-I’m craving-right-now, when people can really be accurate and grasp those concepts, it could do wonders for their nutrition because they don’t feel cheated out of foods they’re really craving and they can adjust what they’re eating based on what they’re actually hungry for.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Okay, so then the next question is, what’s been the biggest frustration? The ones that don’t get it or have such a really hard time making the changes?
Ryan Andrews: The biggest frustration, I would say for me, as a nutrition and exercise coach is when somebody identifies a priority or value and they say, “I really do care about health and I want to make changes to my eating and exercise” but they don’t act on it. That’s really, really frustrating for me because it’s one thing if somebody doesn’t care about it they say, “Oh, yeah I want to eat better” but they don’t really care about it, that’s fine, no big deal. But when somebody really wants to form a new identity and build new habits and they can’t quite make it happen, that frustrates me but it also, I guess, energizes me to keep learning more about how to work with people better, and counsel people, and get them past that ambivalence because yeah, that’s the ultimate frustration as a coach.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, you hit on so many different things. It’s not a big book but you touch on a lot of really important things. I think many of us have discovered that problems with weight related to so many different things. Certainly we’ve gone down the wrong road when it comes to food and our whole culture is just so messed up. We don’t know anything about food, we don’t know how to prepare food, we totally bought into believing we need to buy things in a box, and eat in restaurants, and make it convenient, convenient, convenient when it really isn’t convenient. We’ve really been marketed and bought into this whole thing that isn’t healthy for us.
Okay, so we’ve lost some sort intuitive knowledge on how to feed ourselves. But then there’s all these other issues you mentioned: addiction to some of the foods that people eat and then all kinds of emotional issues.
Ryan Andrews: Oh, yeah. Those are two biggies. A lot of foods, processed foods have been engineered so we keep eating them. I don’t take it lightly when somebody says to me, “Ryan, I can’t stop eating junk food X.” I believe them. I really believe them when they say that. I don’t just kind of blow it off: “Yeah, yeah, just get some more of self-control” or “Just tough it out and stop eating.” It’s tough. Some of these processed foods are really, really powerful. So I think food addiction is massive. I think it’s a big issue. And I think people managing their feelings with food tie into that a lot.
I remember working with a client and she was eating junk food everyday at work, and drinking soda everyday at work. And she finally realized one day, she said, “Ryan, I’m eating junk food and drinking soda everyday because I hate my job. It’s boring and I’m looking for stimulation.” So food was her form of stimulation and enjoyment for the day. So it starts to bring up bigger questions like: how’s your career, and how’s your family life, and are you pooling your passions and volunteering? Because if those areas suffer, food might serve as a temporary escape. Yeah, it’s a big issue.
Caryn Hartglass: So, you’re like a shrink.
Ryan Andrews: I think about that more and more. I wish I went to grad school for psychology rather than nutrition because I use the nutrition science very little.
Caryn Hartglass: You’re right. Okay. Maybe you need to add that. I’m surprised that that’s not a bigger profession than more people are into that. The psychology of food: it’s just so big.
Ryan Andrews: Yeah, I think it’s going to expand. I think it’s going to get a lot bigger.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. So now one of the things that you mentioned, the excuses. So one thing is not having the bad food in your home and yet people would come up with all kinds of reasons why they still have the bad stuff in their home, like their kids need to have it.
Ryan Andrews: Right. I hear that all the time: “Ryan, I have to buy junk food X for other family members.” No, you don’t. If you don’t think it’s a good idea to buy a certain food, don’t buy it. I find that people who play that family card are really ambivalent about making their own food changes a lot of times and they’re kind of using it as a reason to kind of get their own fix with that food. But I always tell parents, “If you genuinely don’t want to feed yourself this food, don’t buy it for other family members.” It’s a terrible idea. If food is in your house, you’re going to eventually eat it at some point.
Caryn Hartglass: I heard that too, with women in particular, older women who feel like they need to make meals for their husbands and they’re trying to get on a healthy path but they still know that they have to cook for them. How do you handle that type of situation?
Ryan Andrews: Meal preparation in relationships. It’s tough. I try to go step by step with this one and try to find the common foods that the couple or the people in the relationship are eating and really try to go from there. I mean, because if every part of the meal, every component of the meal is different, it could be tough. It might lead to one spouse making a completely new meal, but if you could find some common foods you both enjoy, build from there. Have those more often in your regular meal routine, that type of thing. I’m not a big fan of just saying cut them off; force them to eat what you like. Everybody changes at their own speed.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it’s tough because in some ways if you’re in a relationship and somebody wants to eat healthier to improve their own health, let’s say you’re in a health crisis and they really need to make a change, the other partner really should be loving and supportive and go along with it. I’m a big fan of Dr. Fuhrman. I know you showed one of his graphs in your book. And he talks about when children have a health issue, the whole family’s got to eat the same way that one child does, all the other siblings, you have to be supportive. And sure, that’s the ideal but it’s hard to make it happen.
Ryan Andrews: Yeah. When somebody’s health and life and longevity is coming into play and it’s affected, everybody should be on board. It makes complete sense to me but obviously, not everybody sees it that way.
Caryn Hartglass: I also like at the end of the book, how you make your apologies, just in case we learn about things in the future that aren’t quite right today
Ryan Andrews: That’s so true. Over the years … I haven’t even been involved in nutrition as long as a lot of people but I’ve seen so many things evolve and change and I’m already am apologizing to clients for articles and things I’ve written 10 years ago that we’re coming to find out that they were inaccurate or they’re just not quite how I portrayed them in the beginning. So yeah, I made my apologies and I’m sure I’m going to have a lot more in a few more years.
Caryn Hartglass: Just with doctors, as an example. We know doctors used to promote cigarette smoking in the 50s or so. But there are some things that never change and that aren’t going to change and you can be confident in them. This whole concept of whole fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh preferably locally grown organic, that’s not going to change. Those things are what humans have been living on forever. We know those are healthy foods, whether we know what’s in them or not.
Ryan Andrews: Yes. And that is one of the few things. Fruits and vegetables are … It’s one of those common themes among all the different dietary groups like Paleo, or vegan, and gluten-free, and macrobiotic. All the different nutrition tribes out there can agree on vegetables and fruits that we use. It’s a nice common theme.
Caryn Hartglass: You brought up a good point here and I’m trying to figure out how to phrase the question. So there are a lot of different diet promotions out there. Some of them clearly aren’t healthy. We know that the low-carb, no-carb, high protein is a recipe for disaster. But there are different diets out there that want you to have some animal protein: fish, dairy, eggs, and meat, whatever; Paleo is certainly one of them. And I imagine you have different clients that want to eat certain foods. The interesting thing is that there really isn’t any science today that can prove one diet is superior over another. But we do know plant-based, primarily plant foods, is superior to everything. So it kind of … A lot of people kind of get crazy on the details and it’s really this broad message that we need to get across to everyone.
Ryan Andrews: Yes, indeed. I think there’s more similarities than difference. When somebody says, “Ryan, I eat a Paleo diet.” Great! I mean, Paleo isn’t Paleo to everybody; for somebody, it’s 90% animal food but for somebody else, it might be 90% plant food and 10% of the animal food. So I definitely there are more similarities than differences in the healthiest ways of eating.
Caryn Hartglass: I don’t think you talked about it in here, but how do you eat?
Ryan Andrews: How do I eat?
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.
Ryan Andrews: I think I mentioned it a few times in there but I try not to force it down people’s throats. But I eat a 100% plant-based diet. I’ve been eating a 100% plant-based diet for about 6 or 7 years now and I feel great. I feel better than ever. You don’t have to worry about counting calories or protein. You just kind of get in tune with your body cues, when you’re hungry and when you’re satisfied, and choose whole foods and things fall into place. You get healthy and lean, all that stuff.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, that’s such an important message. How many diets are out there and different programs on televisions, and doctors and whatever talking about different diets? It’s crazy, it’s wrong, and it doesn’t work. Eating healthy is easy. You don’t need to be a specialist. You don’t need to count crazy calories. You’re going to get a lot of good discussion about that and so I encourage people, if you’re struggling with weight, there’s a lot of common sense, good information in here. Definitely.
Ryan Andrews: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: The whole calorie thing is… it’s just stupid.
Ryan Andrews: It’s amazing how a lot of people think, “I’m just going to count calories and I’ll be set.” The best calorie counters are usually the fattest people that I work with. The heaviest clients I work with know calories better than I know calories. So apparently it isn’t helping many people.
Caryn Hartglass: No, it isn’t. When you’re not satisfied, you’re going to eat all the wrong foods. The key is, and I know and you know, you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want, pretty much, if you’re eating the right foods.
Okay, very good. So, precisionnutrition.com. People should go there, what would they find?
Ryan Andrews: We have coaching programs, we have a nutrition certification program, I have articles I write, we have excellent expert authors and professionals on there to get help and who write articles. So it’s a really great website.
Caryn Hartglass: So you recommend people using a coach if they’re struggling with weight loss?
Ryan Andrews: I do. I think it’s a good idea to use a coach.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, well there you have it. Ryan, thank you so much for joining me on It’s All About food. And thank you for helping people drop the fat act and live lean.
Ryan Andrews: Thank you, Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, be well. I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. Thank you for joining me and please visit responsibleeatingandliving.com, my non-profit website. Have a very, very, very delicious week. Bye-bye.
Transcribed by Diana O’Reilly, 2/4/2013