Abbie Jaye, aka Chef AJ, is a nationally recognized champion of whole food, plant-based cooking and has been sharing its benefits for nearly four decades.  I have had the pleasure of meeting Chef AJ several times and her enthusiasm and positive spirit are infectious. She has received numerous awards for her work and is recommended by NY Times best-selling author and plant-based advocate John McDougall, MD with whom she has collaborated. She has also worked with TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa and is well known to their founders and staff.

Chef AJ is the author of many books and her latest, Unprocessed: Revitalize Your Health with Whole Foods is the 10th anniversary edition of the original, published in 2011; both are co-authored by Glen Merzer. Unprocessed is a call to eating the real food of nature instead of the processed foods pervasive in the standard American diet. Our bodies evolved eating nature’s bounty and processed foods have many negative health consequences. Real whole foods are abundant, especially here in California, and eating processed foods is unnecessary and should be avoided. Books like Unprocessed help show us the way and keep it interesting.

After introductory chapters discussing her reasoning, the book is divided into recipes with a variety of categories including beverages, breakfasts, appetizers (or “AppeTeasers” as she calls them), entrees, salads, dressings and sauces, soups, sides and desserts. The new edition has many colorful photos of her delicious dishes and in the final chapter, she throws in truffles. 

There are several healthy nutrition options based on a person’s beliefs and preferences. In full disclosure, I am not a vegan, but rather follow a healthy Mediterranean diet. My primary role model, Mark Hyman, MD, head of strategy and innovation at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, coined his diet “pegan,” a combination of vegan and paleo, meaning mostly plant-based with some animal products. As functional medicine leader Chris Kresser once said in a blog, “If those following healthy nutrition argue, the food industry wins.” 

As a physician, I am very supportive of those on a vegan diet and strive to keep them healthy. Unprocessed is a book I highly recommend. I commend Chef AJ, who signs all correspondence “Love & Kale,” for her focus on avoiding processed foods and incorporating healthy foods from our vast plant kingdom. For vegans – or anyone desiring to incorporate more vegetables – this book is a fun read and great resource for the kitchen.

Dr. Scherger is founder of Restore Health in Indian Wells, a clinic dedicated to weight loss and reversing disease. For more information, visit www.restorehealth.me or call (760) 898.9663.

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