Chef AJ and Julieanna Hever recently contributed a Guest Blog for Veggie Grettie where they showed us how to make Chef AJ’s Hail to the Kale dressing (click here to view the post). Earlier this month I was contacted by Chef AJ and invited to attend one of her cooking classes. It was great fun to meet Chef AJ in person. She is wacky, zany, full of life, passionate, knowledgeable, friendly, and kind. Interesting fact – Chef AJ was once on Johnny Carson playing two flutes with her nose while standing on her head and blowing bubbles out of her nose (I told you she is wacky)!!!
Chef AJ has been a vegan for over 30 years, but has only been a “healthy” vegan for the last 7 years. During the class Chef AJ took a moment to tell her story and explain why she is so passionate about eating a whole foods unprocessed plant-based diet. She explained that her typical day was filled with big gulp slurpies (embellished with 8 pumps of vanilla syrup), Dr. Pepper, sugar, pastries, and other forms of JUNK with the occasional serving of steamed broccoli on the side. Eventually it caught-up with her and her health suffered in a major way.
In January of 2003 (There is no way to say this delicately) she went in to the bathroom to have a bowel movement and ended-up with a toilet filled with blood. With a strong family history of colon cancer and bowel obstructions she finally woke-up after finding out that she had multiple nasty adenomatous pre-cancerous polyps in her sigmoid colon. Her colon was so ill that they were not even safely able to remove the polyps. This was her official wake-up call.
Chef AJ sent herself to the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego (Their organic gardens pictured above) for a total body overhaul. She ate a 100% organic raw diet while there and it wasn’t easy as she suffered mass withdrawal symptoms within the first 3days . Despite the discomfort of withdrawing from sugar, oil, and salt (what she deems the “Evil Trinity”) she committed to the program and 6 months later she had the colon of a newborn baby without having surgery or taking meds…what a testament to this way of life!
Chef AJ knew that this was the lifestyle for her and enrolled in culinary school at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in order to learn how to make health promoting food as palatable as possible.
The class she that I attended focused on just that. Chef AJ teaches classes out of her home in Sherman Oaks with the goal of teaching her health promoting ways to as many people as possible. In the picture below she is channeling her Johnny Carson days while performing a song about health (her sous chefs are also back-up singers / dancers).
During the 3 hour class I attended she made:
It’s Easy Being Green Smoothies loaded with kale and mint…my new favorite green smoothie ingredient
Nutrient Rich Chocolate Smoothies, fresh almond milk (forgot to take a picture!)…
Nutrient Rich Smoky Black Bean Soup where she added all the veggies WHOLE to a pot of water and then just used the immersion blender at the end (Why didn’t I ever think of that???…MAJOR time saver!)
Raw Dream of Tomato Soup
One of my favorites…Hail to the Kale Salad
Fresh Banana Ice Cream in her Champion Juicer that was so creamy and amazing (I need to get me one of those!). I have made this in my food processor and it is really good, but NOTHING like what the Champion Juicer makes. It was crazy good.
Chocolate FUNdue…so good. I make this regularly and keep it in my freezer in single serve cups otherwise I will eat it all in one sitting! The picture below is the FUNdue in the processing stage. It is such a great dip for fruit, truffle filling, or sauce for desserts.
And last but not least, her version of a very popular Starbucks drink, a Caramel “Fake”iatto (I also forgot to take a picture of this!)
I was also sent home with a giant slice of her German Chocolate Cake that was eaten before I even had a chance to take a picture of it!
To learn more about classes with Chef AJ click here. I believe she does not have any classes on the schedule at the moment because she is traveling to promote her new book, however you can check back regularly for updated class listings.
* GIVEAWAY * GIVEAWAY * GIVEAWAY *
Chef AJ’s Book Unprocessed
Chef AJ generously provided me with a signed copy of her book Unprocessed as a giveaway. To enter the giveaway simple leave a comment at the end of this post about either of the following topics. One entry per comment, so you have LOTS of chances to win…enter as many times as you’d like.
1. What was your own personal health wake-up call?
2. Ask me a question for my Ask Grettie column on Chic Vegan. You never know…your question might be featured!
If you are not an e-mail subscriber of Veggie Grettie, become a subscriber, leave a comment in the comment section that you are now a subscriber, and that will count as an additional entry.
The giveaway winner will be announced Sunday, October 9th.
Organic garden picture courtesy of Optimum Health Institute
19 responses to “THE CHEF AJ EXPERIENCE – Cooking Class and GIVEAWAY”
What is you opinion on coffee? Do you it is evil?
Coffee is an acidic drink and the caffeine gives me the jitters…however I personally do like the taste of coffee and do have it as a treat when I crave it, but when I have it I always have decaf due to the caffeine jitters. It is said that coffee drinking can lead to adrenal fatigue as it stresses the body. I recently came across a good article that discusses the coffee issue as it relates to health and hormones http://www.precisionnutrition.com/coffee-and-hormones
All in all I think it is fine to drink coffee from time to time vs. multiple cups throughout the day. I personally eat a lot of alkalizing food and feel that a bit of coffee here and there (i.e once a week) is ok for me.
My persoanl health wakeup call happened a couple of years ago- had a sudden hearing loss, diagnosed with osteoporosis, high cholesterol, felt lousy all the time. Was on prednisone for 7 months and have had a few yeast infections since them. Went to a raw food festival and hearing the speakers and all their health problems before going raw made sense to me. Although I don’t think I will ever be 100%raw, I am eting more raw foods and have been feeling better.
sorry for all the mispellings, but the box to post comments wasn’t showing what I typed very clearly. I really am a good speller.
What I meant to say about the faw food festival was that what the speakers had to say about how they changed their diet and their health imporved significantly amde sense to me. So I am eating more raw foods and have a green smoothie for breakfast almost everyday.
That sounds scary! Congratulations on taking control of your health 🙂
My mom’s illnesses and death were my wake up call,then my husbands High BP diagnosis was jis wake up call,I love those recipes she made,I kept scrolling down thinking i was going to see recipes!!! LOLOOL….I would love this book,I think a lot of times you get a little lost on what to make,I do have some cookbooks,but having one more certainly can’t hurt! and That champion juicer was puching out that banana like custard!!WOW…
The recipes were great! I am sorry to hear about your mother, but I am glad that you have experienced a health wake-up… I hope you and your family are doing well and good luck with the giveaway!!!
so excited I mispelled words sorry…lol..you know what i meant though!
My personal health wake up calls are when i see people smoking, drinking excessively and eating refined and packaged foods! It makes me feel sick and i just want to shove my face in a plate full of raw vegetables
My question would be: How do you stay balanced while exercising during the weekdays? I am always ravishing and i need so much food but at times i can feel like i’ve overeaten significantly.. and i’m talking about finishing a banana bread loaf in less than 24 hours and same with a batch of pumpkin muffins
my personal-wake up call was actually very eye-opening. I was vegan for a few months and felt great but then decided to not be vegan and as soon as i became a regular meat eater againg i felt so horrible..i was breaking out and my face was oily. It was the worst experience of my life. That’s when i decided that if i was going to feel like crap while eating unhealthy foods even though i did enjoy them then it was not worth it. That’s when i made the decision to be healthy and veg friendly and not feel like poo while in the process. I also have a question: what would be the best way to begin a Juice fast/detox for a first timer?
I’m still kind-of in the middle of my health wake-up call. It started with a severe vitamin D deficency. Once we got that straightened out I thought my body would straighten back out. But now I’m dealing with ovarian cysts. I’ve been told its due to “normal hormone fluxes” – but no one seems concerned by the WHY behind the flux. After my last appointment I decided to try take matters into my own hands. I cut gluten and sugar out of my diet for a month, and then continued the absence of gluten for another month. But it doesn’t seem to be making a different, so obviously I’m not making the right changes.
I am sorry to hear that you have not been well. I applaud you for taking steps to improve your health your own. Keep trying and researching.
A question for you: do you have any tips or recommendations for switching to/maintaining a vegan or raw diet when the whole family doesn’t make the switch?
This food looks amazing!! My personal wake-up call was daily stomach pain that lasted for years, fatigue and a general unhappiness with life. I went vegan and I’ll never look back 🙂
My health wakeup call was persistent breakouts (acne). By working with an Ayurvedic doctor, Pratima Raichur, I was able to get results no dermatologist had ever been able to offer. She healed me internally– we used herbs, vitamins, dietary adjustments, breathing techniques, and natural skin care products. The results? Stunning, in the best possible way. I’m comfortable and happy in my own skin for the first time in years. I thought I’d always “have” to wear makeup. Now , I can go weeks without it. It’s humbling and empowering at the same time to see this type of internal, natural healing.
I would love to share your Awesome Blog to my friends on Facebook, allow me to do that?
Absolutely…I would be honored!
I am now a subscriber.