Published April 16, 2012
If you are hoping to get your beach body ready in time for Memorial Day, or you simply want more energy, you might want to check out Ani’s 15-Day Fat Blast, by Ani Phyo.
Phyo is an award-winning chef whose diet consists only of raw foods, which she says helps her fight fat and gives her energy to sustain a busy lifestyle.
We talked to Phyo about her new book, which is out in early May, and the benefits of her diet.
Q: In the beginning of the book, you discuss a meal you ate in your 20s before a big presentation, which made you feel energized. What did the meal consist of?
A: It was a raw vegan meal at a raw food restaurant in San Francisco consisting of:
- a taco - cabbage leaf was used as the 'tortilla' and was filled with guacamole, nut based cheese, and salsa.
- an herb salad - made with 20 herbs and greens.
- a vegetable lasagna - made by layering thin slices of zucchini 'pasta' with olives, tomatoes, nut cheese, and marinara sauce.
- a strawberry shortcake - made using nuts, dates, strawberries.
- and a smoothie - blended almonds and vanilla bean, sweetened with dates.
I had so much energy, mental clarity and focus. Plus, I was hyper-productive and stayed up all night creating a power point presentation for a client. What surprised me was that I didn't need a nap afterwards because I felt energized and powerful. That was when it occurred to me that there was something with the raw foods I had eaten the evening prior, and I was determined to learn more so that I could eat raw foods rather than drink caffeine to boost my brain and my productivity levels.
Q: Explain raw foods. What are they? Can you eat meat?
A: Raw food helps us to enjoy more whole, fresh ingredients while avoiding factory processed and manufactured food products since they are usually laden with toxic chemicals like preservatives, artificial flavors and colors and fillers. Instead, raw food uses four categories of ingredients provided by nature: fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. So, every raw food bite is packed with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes to keep our body humming like a well-oiled machine.
By choosing raw foods, we are eliminating common allergens that can create inflammation, puffiness, and that zap our energy including wheat and gluten, soy, dairy, corn and refined sugar.
Some people include raw meats and raw dairy in their raw diet. However, my raw food diet is vegan and uses only fruits, vegetable, nuts and seeds that are combined in unique ways to create healthy versions of creams and sauces, cheeses, burgers and sandwiches, pizza and pastas, crackers and breads, milk shakes, chips, cakes, cobblers, pies, cookies and so much more.
Q: The book includes recipes – how did you come up with these?
A: The recipes in Ani’s 15-Day Fat Blast utilize four categories of foods that have been found to excelerate fat-burning and weight loss. I combine ingredients from these four categories to blast off unwanted fat....fast.
All of my recipes are inspired by a food craving. Someone may ask me to develop a healthier recipe for a guilty pleasure food, or I'll have a craving for flourless chocolate cake, tiramisu or tuna salad. I'll refer to different cooked recipes for the traditional dish and then note the flavors, herbs, spices, along with the final mouth feel and texture. Creating a raw food recipe is true alchemy for me. It's super fun and creative because I may choose to use carrot pulp that's been leftover from juicing carrots to create a 'fish' texture when making my 'tuna'-less salad.
Nutritional value for each recipe is noted and balanced throughout each day of the 15-day plan to boost weight loss and accelerate our fat-blasting potential.
Q: Smoothies are often a big part of raw diets. What’s your favorite, and how do you make it?
A: My favorite smoothie is a chocolate shake. It's made by placing a handful of nuts like cashews or almonds into your blender with a heaping tablespoon of cacao or cocoa powder and about five pitted medjool dates (add more or less to desired sweetness). Add three to four cups of filtered water and blend. I like to add two cups ice at the end, and blend before serving. Enjoy immediately, and it will keep in the fridge for several days. I like to keep extra nut milk in the fridge and on hand, so it's readily available much in the same way as a carton of dairy milk.
Blended drinks like smoothies and shakes are great because we're letting our blender do the chewing for us. This helps to give our digestive system a break, and all that extra energy that's saved can instead be spent detoxing and healing our body. Plus, by letting the blender chew our food for us, it's makes it easier for our body to absorb nutrients while drinking a delicious shake. We're also filling up on water and fiber, so we feel full longer.
Q: Do you ever deviate off the plan? What’s your idea indulging?
A: Yes, of course. No one's perfect, including me. Besides, I don't care to be perfect, that's just too much pressure!
I followed the 15-Day Fat Blast plan for a few months, and when I'd fall off, I'd make sure to jump back onto the plan ASAP for the next snack or meal. These 15-days may be called a 'diet', but it's a lifestyle for some people. I actually lived on this 'diet' plan for over eight years.
Indulging for me is eating a dehydrator full of kale chips because they are so good, crispy, light and tasty. Or making an ice cream sundae with my Protein Cashew Ice Kream (made with cashews, banana, and date syrup or agave) topped with chocolate syrup and berries, and sometimes served with a Fudge Brownie (both are eaten during the third phase of the diet plan).