Raw Food Chef Ani Phyo Shares Tips on Gourmet Raw, What is in Her Pantry and the Best Blenders

In this article, Ani Phyo shares on gourmet raw, what is in her pantry and the best blenders for home and travel. Ani Phyo is a raw food chef extraordinaire and the author of Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen and Ani’s Raw Food Desserts.

Kevin: I am excited to have Ani Phyo with us today. Today’s going to be really fun. Why not introduce yourself and tell how you got into this whole arena.

Ani: Sure, okay. Let’s see. I was really lucky to have been raised on a lot of raw food. My father was a raw fooder. That was like the previous generation of raw. It was when raw food was really about the functionality. So my mom would make vegetable juices with everything that was ripe in the garden that day, without any consideration for visual color or look or flavor. It was more about “put everything in there because it’s good for you and hold your breath and chug it down and get it into your body because it was good for you.”

Then around the mid-90s when I was in San Francisco during the whole dot-com boom, explosion, the multi-media gulch, I came upon Juliano’s restaurant in San Francisco. For the first time I was introduced to a gourmet raw, this new wave of gourmet raw food, without really realizing that is was the same philosophy of what I had been raised with. As I started learning about that and discovering how it affected my body and gave me mental clarity and focus and kept me from getting sick and made my productivity very high, I started delving into it and making more of that food for myself. As I would have somebody over to dinner or go to dinner I’d be making more of it and sharing it. Everyone that would taste the food would be interested in it because everyone that I talked with wants to look and feel their best and get the most out of life and stay healthy and not be sick, all of that great stuff, be their ideal weight.

So I guess by the late 90s I had started doing more catering and events and dinners. When I went down to Los Angeles I was doing weekly dinners for 50-100 people, before there were any raw restaurants down here, really just as a service to the raw community because there were not restaurants. But also for selfish reasons because I needed to feed myself. It was like extreme gourmet. I would be soaking, dehydrating, marinating, sprouting. Really complex recipes. I don’t enjoy doing that when making the food for myself. It’s all about sharing it with others. So by having these events I could have a reason for making this food and then I’d have food to eat up to those events and then leftovers after the events. That would carry me through the week. So that’s really how I got started, for selfish reasons, to have food to feed myself.

Kevin: The book is on consulting. You’d done consulting for different companies, correct? The original book you wrote. The first book you wrote.

Ani: “Return on Design”?

Kevin: Yes.

Ani: It was an interaction, user-experience design book.

Kevin: How did you go into raw food chef? What made you flip the switch? Was it just, “Hey I need to do something different, I don’t like this anymore”?

Ani: I think what it was…I started off as a 3D modeler, animator and then a special effects person. That was the early 90s. As the web started happening in the early 90s and mid-90s, I sort of moved onto the web and doing multimedia online. Towards the later 90s it really became about the large corporations and eCommerce online. That was when I was doing the dinners on the weekends so I could have food to have to take with me into these corporate offices during the weekdays. I think it really just hit this plateau when I got down to LA and I was working with some of the studios and it was really heartbreaking for me to be in these environments because it was during the rolling blackouts and things and there was a shortage of energy, yet these huge corporate towers were really over-cooling the buildings to a point where employees were wearing like fall jackets to the office in the middle of summer when it was 110 degrees. They were wearing blankets over their shoulders at their desks. Our fingers were so cold I couldn’t type. So they were wasting that much energy and then also they weren’t recycling in the break room or whatever. They were drinking water out of Styrofoam cups. People would go and drink like three ounces of water out of a Styrofoam cup and then throw it away.

So being in that kind of environment was really challenging for me. By that time I had been several years of doing the catering and events. They were really taking off. I realized doing dinners 50-100 people every week, I was like, “Wow, this is really a viable business actually.” So I thought, “Why don’t I take a break from the convergence media and focus 100 percent on the food business?” That was really where my heart was. I could see how it was helping people. It was helping the community. It was helping people gain better health and getting more out of their lives and helping them feel better. So I just really believed in that. So that was when I made the switch from making large corporations more and more money when they weren’t really taking care of their communities or the environment, over to the raw food.

Kevin: Great. Well, we have a lot of questions here. They’re all over the map. We have a lot of great people who are listening and a lot of great questions. I’m kind of struggling as to where to start. Why don’t we start with this listener’s question? What are the top five things in your pantry?

Ani: That are in my pantry…

Kevin: Or that are in your arsenal?

Ani: The top five things. Well, right now I go to the Farmer’s Market all the time, when I’m at home. I love it. Peaches are just so amazing. So I always have the vegetables and the fruit in my kitchen, always. I really like the dark leafy greens like the kales and the chards and I like cabbages because they’re so alkalinizing. In my pantry I always have almonds and cashews and different kinds of nuts and seeds. Actually, in my fridge I have hemp and hemp protein. I always have my superfoods, like acai and my chia seeds and my maca and lucuma, all that kind of stuff, my goji berries. Then I have my greens like spirulina, E3live, Vitamineral Green, that kind of stuff, which I really love. So I think those things I would have on hand.

Then when I’m traveling I always have my personal blender with me and I just take the powders in one of the containers to make a smoothie. I’ll have my hemp protein or something. That way when I get somewhere I can just pick up a banana and blend it in. I have my hemp protein and usually I put in some of the powdered E3Live stuff and different superfoods and I make mix. That way in my hotel room every morning I can start with a smoothie.

Kevin: Great. What kind of blender are you using? Are you traveling with?

Ani: A personal blender from TriBest. It’s my favorite. I just love it because it’s so tiny. I used to travel with my food processor or my Vitamix, so now I have more room in my suitcase for my clothes and my books and things like that. It’s really tiny. I take my two-cup size container and it has the little blender top but it also has a storage top and it has a little travel top for it. It’s really versatile. I really love that blender.

The Consequences of Food

Nourishment is key to good health. Unfortunately, many of us only think we are eating healthily. Consider milk, for instance. Humans are the only beings who drink milk after being weaned from our mother and even drink milk from another species. The pasteurization process destroys the vitamins and nutrients in the original product, so we then add artificial vitamins. We call this “fortified”.

There are a number of concerns with processed foods. In order to provide the consumer with a long shelf life, chemicals are added to the foods. Chemical additives are also added for color, consistency, taste and more. The problem is, the effects of most of these additives are yet unknown. Some of the synthetic chemicals used in processed foods are known to have carcinogenic properties. Processed meats such as hot dogs and bologna are particularly dangerous.

Today we know that monosodium glutamate, MSG, causes high insulin secretion and we try to avoid foods with it. Unfortunately, most fast food vendors use it in their products. It’s also used in canned soups, crackers, salad dressings, frozen dinners, meats and even baby food and infant formula. The combination of MSG and aspartame contributes to the onset of diabetes.

High fructose corn syrup is found in just about everything these days. This is addictive and linked to obesity and diabetes. Sugar from fruits is burned and turns into energy while high fructose corn syrup turns into fat.

Trans fats, also found in many processed foods, are oils infused with hydrogen. They raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. When we eat something with trans-fat, the trans-fat gets into our cells and cause a disruption with cell communication. Then the hormones are disturbed and the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and infertility increases. Found in commercially fried foods and packaged foods, the ingredient label will say “hydrogenated”. Since the Food and Drug Administration allows food up to a half-gram of trans-fat per serving some foods say trans-fat free but aren’t really.

If that’s not enough, heating foods above 115 – 120 degrees Fahrenheit is known to destroy the vitamins and nutrients in our food. Now we find ourselves eating a lot of chemicals and no nutrients – at least not natural ones.

So, what do we eat? Living foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, seaweeds provide our body with every nutrient known necessary and probably even ones we don’t yet know we need. Living foods mean foods that have not been altered in any way and are as fresh as possible. Purchasing from a grocery store is actually the last choice because much of those foods have been shipped hundreds of miles and their nutrition has begun to wane. Best is growing your own; second is shopping at farmer’s markets or direct from the farm.

As we eat more living food and less processed food stuffs, our body is better equipped to rid itself of toxic matter and begin to heal. Enzymes assist in digestion, breaking down raw foods. It is enzymes that direct every activity in your body. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., “Enzymes can even help repair our DNA and RNA.”

Feeding Bettas Live Food

One can only hope that by now you’ve read about the importance of feeding a variety of foods to your betta. And live foods are high on the list of those looking to add such variety. In other words they should be an important part of your betta’s diet. Simply because these are the closest menu items you can get that mimic the natural diet these fish eat in their native Asian rice paddies. Which is a healthy thing to mimic. Not an everyday part of their diet mind you. But you can’t forgo feeding live foods entirely either.

But this raises all sorts of questions such as:

Where do we get live food?

Can we easily make them a staple of our betta’s diet?

Is that even wise?

If so how much and often should we feed live food to them?

These are just some of the questions about feeding live food that we need to answer.

What kind of live food is available?

You will find a wide array of live food to feed them including:

Brine shrimp
Brown worms
Mosquito larvae
Earth worms
Grindal worms
Wingless fruit flies
Fruit fly larvae

Granted unless you’ve been into betta fish keeping for a while, some of these may not ring the (dinner) bell. But most can be either purchased or easily raised yourself.

Speaking of which…

Where to buy or get them?

Two options. First, you can purchase live food directly from the pet store. But make sure you’re buying from a reputable pet store to avoid the risk of such food carrying bacteria that may be the cause behind some betta fish diseases. Second, you can culture live food yourself. You can actually buy a culture by mail order and start from there.

Backyard garden worms as live food?

Not a good idea. Sorry but the worms you find in your garden or yard are not what we consider as the ideal live food that your betta should feed on. Such worms are most likely to be carrying bacteria that can make them sick. Not to mention they might have some traces of pesticides that can be fatal. So cross them off your list.

Do not overfeed

After you’ve determined where to get your food stuff from, appropriate feeding is the next challenge. Just remember never to overfeed since this could cause stomach bloat or worse, constipation. Besides, any uneaten food could easily foul the tank water which is another leading cause of premature betta fish death.

How much to feed

Okay so the trick here is to only feed your fish what it can eat in 1-2 minutes. And just that. Anything more than that would be labeled as gluttonous. Knowing as you do that that these guys, although picky eaters at times, will not hesitate to gobble up whatever is laid out for them since they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

How often to feed

It is recommended to feed live food once a day, once a week. This fare should never be your fish’s main diet since again feeding live food is not without its downsides.

How to feed

Another trick. Since bettas usually dine near the surface of the water you just don’t toss grindal or blood worms into the tank and go about your business. Because what if your finny friend didn’t take note that you actually dropped the food in? In that case it might just settle on the bottom of the tank uneaten, lost forever. And uneaten food equals dirty water. And dirty water often equates to unwanted betta fish diseases. Therefore, be sure to remove any uneaten food, live or otherwise. Also, if you’re handling worms, some would want you to be sure to rinse them thoroughly to clean them up before serving.

Storing the food

Again, don’t be too eager to feed everything you have to your betta. Luckily you can store them in the refrigerator for a week. Maybe longer.

Some betta fish owners would rather not feed live foods because done wrong, they can be a way to expose your fish to disease. However feeding like this does serve a purpose. And that purpose is to provide a complete and balanced nutrition for your pet. Just make sure you’re handling live food carefully and you’re getting it from a reliable source. Do that and your betta should be swimming healthily and enjoying life for years to come.

Food For Diabetics

The diagnosing of diabetes is on the up rise. Did you know that by making use of the essential foods, you can fend off or even counter a diabetes diagnosis? There has been a lot of media about food for diabetics and we must always all appreciate that eating right is the basic principle to readily managing your diabetes. But if this is true, why do so many people have a problem considering the best food for diabetes?

Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are all food stuffs for diabetes, but you do not have to give up your beloved foods. You just should really also remember how they apply in conjunction with your overall diet and lifestyle, and you have to indulge them in moderation. A healthy diabetic diet promotes plant foods and lessens on your refined carbohydrates and sugars. You should choose from acceptable fats, and consume them in moderation. A person needs to ensure that you remain acceptably hydrated, and consuming enough water, not the caffeine or sugary drinks that you may enjoy.

Always be sure that that you are consuming your food for diabetics at the proper times. It is a good idea that you eat dinner or a quick bite every couple of hours throughout the day, to baffle rises in your blood sugar. Be careful to be watchful of your portion size. Even supposing it is a advantageous meal, if you consume too many calories you will still add on weight.

If you are attempting to enjoy a diabetic diet, just be reminded that there are no special food requirements. A diet brimming in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and low in refined sugars and carbohydrates, which is eaten in moderation, will result in greater control over your blood sugars.

If you combine this with moderate exercise, designed to assist you in shedding off weight, you very well may be able to quash the diabetic diagnosis that you may have obtained. No one wants to continue being on medication for the remaining years of their lives, when diabetes can be checked by what they eat.