You know how it is. You switch to a plant-based diet and you get educated; you arm yourself with the data that informs your decision to eat healthfully and mindfully. You read The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, PhD. – it pisses you off to no end – and then you grab a copy of Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. M.D. and you see the medical establishment in a whole new light. You wonder if they are really trying to heal you. You want everyone you know to watch Forks Over Knives (and Earthlings and Food, Inc. and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead), because you know in your heart that if they do, their lives will be changed for the better forever. You realize you can not un-know what you’ve learned. You now know that there is “food” and there is food. One kind harms and the other kind heals and nourishes. You now know that animals are creatures with their own desires, needs and fates that have nothing to do with our desires and needs. You understand all about “locally-grown,” “organic,” and “whole food” and you avoid “factory farm,” “GMO,” and “processed.” Even if you think you know everything you need to about a plant-based diet – there’s room on your nightstand for one more life-altering book: Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight. Written in a straight-forward, open, engaging and incredibly personal way, it would be difficult to close the cover of this book and not feel the need to walk into the pantry and discard every processed, artificial, fatty, sugary and salty item lurking on the shelves.
So, instead of drugs or surgery, I took another path that would change the course of my life forever. I used diet. I figured that if my food choices could cause or at least greatly contribute to this disease, would it not be possible for better food choices to reverse it? – Chef AJ
Here’s the thing about this book. The facts are in there. But because they are presented within Chef AJ’s personal experience it’s a bit like (pardon the expression…) taking a spoonful of sugar along with the medicine. She’s totally approachable, totally us. She begins by chronicling the story of a body completely out of whack, a body addicted to processed food and suffering the consequences. Some of us have had a similarly bumpy, trying and scary road. Some of us just got curious about what we were putting into our bodies.
My best advice to you is to just do something. Just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything. Optimum health exists in a continuum and even small, incremental changes made consistently over time can still be of great benefit. – Chef AJ
After sharing her life story (including a gig on The Tonight Show involving flutes and bubble gum), Chef AJ spends time debunking the many myths and YABBUTs about whole food-based eating such as time, cost, difficulty, puzzled/hurt/angry family members, etc. This would be a very handy book to have on hand when you have a crew of skeptics coming over for dinner. You can demonstrate how easy it is to prepare healthy meals – and with no funky, hard-to-find ingredients. She writes about navigating the grocery store and how to fill your ‘frige, freezer and pantry with health-giving food and offers tips on how to begin and what to eat when dining out. You’ll find both raw and cooked recipes here.
Remember, the ONLY thing that works for addiction is complete and total abstinence. Moderation does not work for an addict. – Chef AJ
Her book is a kind of detox manual which will rid your body of its addictions to salt, sugar and fat. Her recipes allow the flavors of the whole food ingredients to shine through and the best part is (at least for me) that these are simple and generally quick recipes. I love that! I want to eat well and I want to eat nutrient-dense food, but I really don’t want to spend hours preparing every meal.
I don’t know anyone who has regretted trying an unprocessed diet.
– Chef AJ
Be aware that there is minimal instruction with each of Chef AJ’s recipes. She – unlike me – is blessed with being able to create delicious food without exacting measurements. She explains that she also does not include servings per recipe because if you avoid processed foods in your diet you can eat as much whole food as you want; whole foods fill you up and leave you craving-free. And… there are no photos, save for a few on the back cover. If you are a visual type and need to know what the end result should look like, this may prove challenging for you. I don’t have a problem with it – I just love food photo porn. Bottom line is this is an inspirational book that just may give you the nudge you need to make positive changes for your life and health. The recipes are not complicated and the ingredients won’t have you endlessly trolling the Internet. Hey, she starts the (100+) recipe section with Desserts – how could you not appreciate that?! Finally, what I like is that Chef AJ is sharing methods – yes, recipes, of course – but this book will arm you with the techniques (like making the pie crust or the date syrup) to help you create your own healthy, unprocessed dishes. I’ve still got lots of cooking and sharing to do so please check back throughout the week.
Now for the best part. Chef AJ has a book to give away and here’s how you can enter for a chance to get it: simply leave a comment on this and any (or all) subsequent posts about Unprocessed letting me know which is your Dark Master, your weakness, your downfall at the grocery store: sugar, salt or fat. Or tell me how a plant-based, whole food diet has changed your life. The more comments you leave, the more times your name will be entered to win. For additional entries, click the Like button at An Unrefined Vegan and/or Virtual Vegan Potluck on Facebook. Just be sure to leave comments there so I know that you are entering the Unprocessed Giveaway. As they say in television, yes, it really is that easy. The Giveaway ends on September 25.
In my next post, I’ll be sharing Chef AJ’s recipe for Lara Bar-like PB & J Bites. Trust me, you’ll never go back to the packaged variety.
Title: Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight
Author: Chef AJ (aka Abbie Jaye) with Glen Merzer
Publication Date: 2011
Page Length: 178 pages including 100+ recipes
List Price: $19.95
Publisher: Hale to the Kale Publishing
Websites: www.EatUnprocessed.com; www.chefajshealthykitchen.com