Thursday, June 6, 2013

Unprocessed Winners Announced and Chef Aj Responds to Your Questions

Dear Friends,

Thank you for the overwhelming responses to Wendy’s awesome blog post. I wish I could respond to each one of you personally, but that’s just not possible right now, so I thought I would answer the questions that keep coming up. Wendy already addressed HOW to easily cook your greens in the Instant Pot so to that I will just add that it’s always a good idea to have an extra bag pre-steamed in the refrigerator for days that you just don’t have the 4 minutes in the morning to make them. I generally eat mine plain, but on days that I don’t feel like eating them I add a flavored vinegar. My favorites are Wild Blueberry and Ripe Peach from 41 Olive and Tangerine from The Olive Tap, which was a gift from Ann Esslestyn. When you add these flavored vinegars I swear it tastes just like dessert!!!

The idea behind having greens be the first thing you eat every day is that it sets the tone for the day. It doesn’t have to be kale, it could be any green vegetable, even broccoli, Brussels Sprouts or cabbage. You just want to eat the vegetables BEFORE you eat anything else. The United States is the only country where eating veggies for breakfast seems weird. Every other country I have ever visited served me vegetables for breakfast. I taught at Rancho La Puerta in February and for breakfast they served me steamed vegetables, corn tortillas and beans. In Japan I was served miso soup, rice and salad. Only in America does breakfast have to be something sickeningly sweet. You want to always start your day in the most nutrient dense way. It’s not that you can ONLY eat kale, it’s just that you want to eat your veggies FIRST. If you are truly hungry after you eat your pound of greens, then eat something else. But don’t eat until you are truly hungry. Make a commitment to try it for just 30 days and see if it makes a difference in your cravings and overeating.

Many of you asked why you couldn't just drink a green smoothie instead of actually eating your greens. There is no universally agreed about definition of what a green smoothie is. My friend, Melony, makes her green smoothies out of water, collard greens, cucumber, cilantro, lemon and ginger. There is no sweet in it whatsoever and it’s more like a soup. I have another friend who makes his green smoothie out of chocolate soy milk, spinach, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, almond butter and bananas. Both of these people are indeed consuming a green smoothie. But are these equally health promoting? What I learned at True North (where I now work) is that smoothies are not ideal for people who are wanting to lost weight because we tend to over consume liquid calories. If you don’t believe me, try this experiment: Place all of the ingredients in your blender for your smoothie as you normally would. But instead of pushing the button to blend it, now empty all of the contents of the blender into a bowl and eat it. When I did this experiment I was floored. I easily drank my green smoothie for 8 years without really getting that full. But when I actually had to chew all of the ingredients instead of drink it, I literally could not finish!!! I was too full. The doctors at True North told me that many more calories are burned when we chew our food whole and digest it whole.

I would however recommend green smoothies over juice, as juice lacks both the fiber and pulp is is not as satiating.

Someone asked how many calories I eat and if I am on a low calorie diet. I am not on a low calorie diet but I am on a relatively low fat diet. I do not eat any oil and I rarely eat nuts. I get my fat in its whole food form from eating seeds like flax and chia and sometimes watered down tahini in salad dressings. I also enjoy avocado occasionally but I usually cut it with beans to make guacamole hummus. I don’t believe in weighing or measuring my food or counting calories. But I am mindful about the amount of fat I eat and I no longer eat nuts or nut butters (unless they are in a recipe that someone else made). As a food addict (in recovery) I purposely make it a point not to eat any food that I know I will overeat on. For me, these not only include all sweeteners and flours and nuts and nut butters, but also grains. I do not eat any wheat or gluten, but I will eat quinoa and brown rice when I travel. I just don’t make these foods or keep them in my home. Please note: I am not saying that nuts or grains or green smoothies are not healthy, nor am I suggesting other people not consume them. I am saying that I personally cannot eat them in moderation if I want to remain slim. Moderation does not work for an addict.

In addition to finding what foods worked best for my body I had to also deal with my emotional eating. I had been eating an A+ diet or some time, but I was still overweight because I was overeating. The books "Shrink Yourself" by Roger Gould, MD and "The Emotional Eaters Repair Manual" by Julie Simon really resonated with me. But what helped even more were the on line programs that both authors offer.

A few of you asked if I exercise and how I am able to exercise on such a low calorie diet. First of all, I am not on a low calorie diet. I eat enough calories to maintain my weight, and I truly eat very large quantities of food. I eat all of the vegetables, fruit, beans, potatoes and lentils I desire. I love the foods I eat and I never feel deprived. I did not exercise at all while I was losing those 35 pounds. But I did start exercising in March of this year. I bought a Groupon for spinning and I am now going 2 times a week when I am in town. I began a yoga practice in August of 2011 but the yoga I do is called Yin/ Restorative. It is a slow, meditative practice where you hold poses for a long time and stretch deeply. It has made me quite flexible but I don’t think it’s a real fat or calorie burner, however, I’ve been told that yoga can help reshape your body.

A few of you e-mailed me privately asking if I was in Furhman’s camp or McDougall’s camp. I really don’t like the idea of “camps” because I think it hurts us as a movement. If you look at my salad with beans for lunch you’d think I was following Dr. Fuhrman. If you look at my huge potato willed with corn and beans for dinner you’d think I was following Dr. McDougall. But eating greens for breakfast? Well, that’s pure Esselstyn. Dr. Esslestyn says we should EAT greens at every meal and even have them between meals as snacks. As I said in my book, UNPROCESSED, I believe I am following a hybrid of all three of these plans. My diet now most closely resembles the diet they teach at True North Health. Not just because of what I eat, but also what I exclude. Dr. Goldhamer is the strictest of all of the plant based doctors and does not allow any sugars (even date sugar or date syrup), any flours, any wheat, any gluten, any low sodium miso or tamari or coconut aminos, any peanuts or peanut butter, any nutritional yeast or any chocolate. He does not even allow carob as he says “it is a gateway drug to the use of chocolate! J”. So, if I had to pick a camp, I guess I would say I am in Goldhamer’s camp.

As Wendy said, at the end of the day, everyone has to do what works best for them and their body. I don’t even think it really matters who is right, what matter is what you can do. But remember, no one ever got fat from eating too much kale J. So eat your greens and move your body. I hope I answered everyone’s questions. If I missed yours I apologize so please ask it again either of my Facebook page or HGK’s Facebook page (be sure to tag me). I wish each and every one of you continued success on your journey towards optimum health. 

 Love & Kale,
Chef AJ

And the winners are . . .

Comment #46

 Jane who said: Treating smoothies as a treat. I thought I was doing the right thing having green smoothies every day. Also, as much as I love grains, I will try to monitor how many I have so I won't overeat.

Comment #3

Lucinda who said: Only eating breakfast when you're hungry. And I do want to try greens for breakfast!


Comment #68

Irma who said: Greens for breakfast, love the you tube videos too.

Congratulations to Jane, Lucinda and Irma who all won a signed copy of Chef AJ's Unprocessed! If all of the winners can please e-mail ( me their full name and address that would be great!

Have a wonderful weekend everybody!

Got any more questions for Chef AJ? What are they?

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