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