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Today's show topic is "Chronic Disease Prevention and Elimination. The Power of the Raw Food Lifestyle." Our guest today is Ani Phyo, author of four best-selling books, "Ani's Raw Food Asia," "Ani's Raw Food Essentials," "Ani's Raw Food Desserts," and "Ani's Raw Food Kitchen." Ani has become the go-to girl in healthy living using fresh whole and raw food ingredients. Ani has received numerous awards as a successful cookbook author and health educator. She also hosts Ani's Raw Food Kitchen show, the award-winning number one un-cooking show on YouTube. Ani has been honored for her dedication to community activism by being named in 2010 one of the 12 "warriors" in Sambazon, Acai's "Warrior Up" advertising campaign celebrating social and environmental activism in California.
Welcome, Ani. Thanks so much for coming on the show today.
ANI PHYO: Oh, thank you for having me. It's such an honor to be here.
KIRK HAMILTON: I first heard you speak of all places at a medical conference, ACAM, in November 2010. And the last thing I thought I was going to hear at the - normally when we have those noon luncheons there is some kind of professor, researcher, something like that. And you're up there I think making a raw food chocolate cake and you had everybody's attention, all 400 docs or so. And that was very impressive to me. And you have an energy about you that you're, you know, living your passion, doing your passion. And you're taking something that many people might think is, you know, a little extreme, raw foods, and since I'm a plant-based guy and I'm always trying to encourage people to eat more plant food, you bring it down to a level where it just seems normal and acceptable and almost the thing to do. And I've seen you speak at Sunset, and then I saw you do your Gastrawnomique Test Kitchen thing, and so you have this ability....And so did you ever think 10 years ago that you might be in front of people doing this?
ANI PHYO: Well 10 years ago I was in front of people. Maybe not the same audience. So you know I used to teach and speak and do workshops and retreats and things like that. I think that I always understood that this way of eating is much more than just a diet. It's a lifestyle. So it's a lot of inspiring people and helping just realize that it's just about incorporating more whole plant-based ingredients into any diet. And we already eat guacamole and salsa. So it's not really that far of a stretch you know, and that it could be done in a very interesting, delicious way. It's really just composed salads presented in new and different ways. And then the chocolate cake you were talking about, raw desserts, is just amazing. Because that chocolate cake was made from walnuts, chocolate, it was creamed with dates which is a whole fruit for potassium and fiber. And then we made a frosting out of whipped avocado with chocolate, so there's nothing in it that's like guilt-laden. It's totally guilt-free and who doesn't love guilt-free desserts, right?
KIRK HAMILTON: Everybody does. Tell me. How did you get started? You have an interesting story about your background and your interest in raw foods.
ANI PHYO: Yes. The biggest inspiration was is that in the mid-90s when I was working at WEB1.0 and not sleeping very much. It was a very exciting time with all that emerging technology. I went to this raw food restaurant. It was my first gourmet raw food restaurant experience and that night I had so much energy that it just blew my mind. I was like, "There has got to be something in that food! What was in that food that I have so much mental clarity, so much energy?" I could focus, my productivity was just skyrocketed through the roof, and I was able to stay up all night and put together a presentation for the morning. And the whole night I just cranked it out. I created this amazing multimedia presentation. I'm thinking okay after the presentation I'll go home and take a nap. I gave the presentation it went really amazingly well. I was so excited and then I realized I'm like, "Wow, I feel great! I don't even need to go home and take a nap." So that's when it really clicked. It was like I needed to figure out what was in that food, because if I eat this way then I don't need to sleep as much. I'm gonna be able to get like double or triple the amount of work done, and that's what really, that was really the moment.
KIRK HAMILTON: Tell me about your background with your family because you have a very interesting background where you came from. Was it the Catskills?
ANI PHYO: Yes, it was the Catskill mountains outside of Middletown, in a small town called Wordsboro. I've only met like one person who has actually ever been to Wordsboro. It was like, "Wow, really, you've heard of it?" But it was a tiny town, but we had all these acres of land and we had our farm. My dad was you know terminally ill. He had renal failure because in Korea, I think especially North Korea, there's tuberculosis in the water. So the antibiotics that they gave to treat that damaged all of their, you know their stomach and their kidneys. So my dad's kidneys were damaged from that. So he had renal failure and because of that we grew our own produce, all of our vegetables and we had fruit trees. And every morning we'd go out and pick whatever was ripe and we'd make juices. I just had a vegetable juice just now actually, right before our call. And so that's sort of how I was raised, with whole foods, growing whole foods, farming and gardening with my brother. And really getting an appreciation of that connection of life to the earth and growing our food and knowing where food comes from and eating a lot of raw food. My dad ate a lot of raw food, but he was an extreme "raw fooder" because he was ill. He would mono diet. So I grew up watching him eat like two or three bell peppers as if they were apples, and I just thought, oh, that's so weird. That must be the way that he ate in the old country. I didn't really understand it that was like mono dieting to place relief on the digestive stress in the body. And so I sort of grew up watching him eat that way.
KIRK HAMILTON: You had a story about how you went to college and you got off this kind of whole food approach and then you got a lesson, so to speak?
ANI PHYO: Yes, indeed. So for the first time I went away and I was away from home and I was on my own. And I went to Cornell which has the hotel school, and they supposedly have the you know best food halls and all the best food on campus. Well I went nuts. All of a sudden finally I had like pizza and pasta, standard American diet. I still didn't eat hamburgers or anything. But you know the fries, I discovered deep-fried cheese, I discovered bagels, white flour, white sugar, and I discovered cream cheese. I love slicing a bagel in half toasting it and then putting a slab of cream cheese and letting it melt and eating that. I've never had that before and it's was so good. So I suddenly started eating white flour, sugar, processed foods. All this stuff that wasn't directly from the earth and whole food and even raw. And I always ate large salads, but I added in all those things. And because of that my cholesterol went up to almost 300 and I gained about 15 or 20 pounds in a couple of months. Because by the time I went home for Thanksgiving, which was in November, I went to school in like June or something. But by two or three months I had gained like 15, 20 pounds. So when I went home my mom's jaw just dropped open when she opened the door because I've always been an athlete, I've always been really active, I've always eaten whole plant-based food. And suddenly I actually was like fat. You know like that was never even - it never even entered my consciousness ever that I would be overweight before, and so now I was. So that was a big wake-up call. So then mom, she always had me go and do blood panels, maybe once every five years, so she went and we discovered my cholesterol was really high and then she brought me back and said, "You know this is why we raised you this way. This is why we had our garden. This is why you need to eat whole foods. This is why you need to cut out the animal products." And then we got the cholesterol back down and I went back on my path. I was like exercising and all that kind of stuff.
KIRK HAMILTON: How did you get from those experiences to starting to produce raw foods and get into the business of making a living doing this kind of thing?
ANI PHYO: After I had experienced that first gourmet raw dinner, of course I suddenly started just learning as much as I could. I started making smoothies and nut milks and everything and incorporating more and more of the raw food into my own diet. And then it became wherever I would go, even if it was for a corporation or my job and we'd have it offsite at a hotel, I'd still bring my own food. And everyone else would be catered. They'd go and they'd get their catered foods from the hotel, banquet table, room, whatever. And everyone was always interested in what I was eating, what I brought with me. And because the aroma was strong, it would smell so fresh and the colors were so vibrant. And people just started asking me, they'd get really interested in it. And when I'd tell them what it is, it's like everyone wants to have more energy. Everyone wants more mental clarity, more focus. Everyone wants to lose weight, clear up their skin, slow down signs of aging. So everyone would be interested and people would taste it, they'd be totally interested. They started asking me. So they'd invite me to dinner, they'd invite me to potlucks, they'd say you know can you bring a dessert, can you bring you know a shake or a drink or - people would just keep requesting things from me. And then after awhile I'm realizing, you know, right now this whole restaurant pop-up phenomenon is getting a lot of press. Like the Test Kitchen and the Gastrawnomique that you came to. Well it made me realize that actually I might start making foods and my raw foods catering and events company started as a pop-up so like, ‘99, 2000. I started hosting events and it was really for selfish reasons because I was working a corporate day job, I was working two of them actually. And I just had these events on the weekends. I would do dinner on a Saturday, or I'd do brunch on a Sunday, and I'd do them every week so that really I would have food available for myself because those complex gourmet foods that I would never make just for myself. And it's more fun to share it with other people, and so you know for days up to the event, because I'd spend all week making the food, I would have - I'd be able to eat food up to the event and then after the event for days there'd be leftovers. So it was really for myself that I was making this food. But my events got so popular because there were no raw food restaurants at that time, not one. That there was a huge community that wanted to eat out at raw food and have raw food, gourmet raw food. So my events started getting like 50 to 100 people once a week and so that's when I realized. I was like, "Wow, this is actually a really viable business because every week I have this many people coming to my pop-up raw -"
KIRK HAMILTON: Where were you when you did this, Ani?
ANI PHYO: The pop-up started in Los Angeles. I started making the raw food in San Francisco and taking the raw foods to potlucks and all that kind of stuff in San Francisco. But the official pop-up starting, they started in Los Angeles. I had a warehouse that I would do gourmet in Santa Monica, and then I had a tea house that I would do them in West Hollywood. And then also there was another location, I had a loft, a big loft in Pasadena, in Old Town Pasadena. So I had three locations. So it was a like a pop-up because there were new locations all the time. You could only find out where it was online. You had to pre-buy your tickets because we couldn't have anybody exchanging at the door because it wasn't like a legal, you know. So we'd buy tickets ahead of time so it would actually be an event. It wouldn't be, you know, money exchanged at the event. So, yeah, it was really great and it was really just to provide a service for the community and to feed myself.
KIRK HAMILTON: Well tell me exactly what is your raw food diet? There's, I mean, I've seen, I guess I have kind of an inkling. But I'm not sure if you do grains, or you just do nuts, seeds and vegetables and fruit, or what is your raw food diet?
ANI PHYO: My raw food diet is always changing. And right now, actually, I used to be a hundred - claim to be 100% raw for about eight or nine years. And today I'm definitely not. So on occasion - well in general, depending on the season, you know, in the summer there are days when I'll be 100% raw and that means fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. I was doing experiments on myself for the last several months where I've been decreasing my fat intake. So I'm not doing as many nuts and seeds, and also decreasing my sugar. So I'm doing a lot of vegetables. Just now I did a vegetable juice that had like kale, because you know, I want to detox my kidneys for a little bit. I usually put in a lemon, some celery, some cucumber, and so that's what I just had a green juice. But in general I'm eating a lot of dark leafy greens. I make kale chips which I love which are dehydrated. I have to remember to eat a lot of water with that, but I'm really addicted to kale chips. And I'm just eating more like whole fruits, whatever's in season. I guess lately, I'm eating a lot of berries because there's a lot of berries at the farmer's market. The blueberries and strawberries because they're lower glycemic as well. And I'm actually on the second month of a detox. So this detox, and I'm always explaining, the detox is actually adding about 30 grams of brown rice protein powder, it's sprouted brown rice protein powder, into my diet so my protein is actually increasing. And I'm finding a difference in my skin. I think it's producing more collagen in my skin and I do actually think I'm discovering as I get older I do need more protein in my diet. I use to never worry about it, but now I'm realizing I need to pay attention to getting protein.
KIRK HAMILTON: So the basic raw food diet is fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and then some people integrate grains and beans. Do you ever sprout beans or is it just - are those in your diet?
ANI PHYO: I don't really. I don't personally, don't do a lot of grains. And I guess quinoa - sometimes I'll sprout that. If I do do a legume it'll be a sprouted legume. I don't just do the legume. You know, I eat the sprout part. I find that legumes for me are difficult for my body to digest. Legumes, having said that, though, when I do eat cooked food, I might have some tempeh because the tempeh is already broken down by the probiotics, and I find that easier to digest. So that's when I'll eat like a legume like in tempeh. I have a slight gluten intolerance, I don't really do a lot of grains personally myself. And then, in the past I have done oat groats, you know like soaking oat groats overnight and them making an oatmeal, but I haven't done that in a few years.
KIRK HAMILTON: Are more mainstream people becoming interested in your work? I mean, you have four cookbooks. You've got your "Raw Food Asia" that just came out and you have your "Raw Food Essentials," your "Raw Food Desserts" and your "Raw Food Kitchen," and I'm just wondering who are buying your books? Are they main - I'm making a generalization, mainstream people or are they just raw foodists?
ANI PHYO: You know I really think that with "Raw Food Asia" at release time, as you've seen in Sunset magazine. I really feel like we've bridged that. We've gone mainstream now. With "Ani's Raw Food Asia" I had my first Los Angeles ABC-7 television appearance. It's the second largest market in the country. And so you know what they - what that segment was about was five foods that have started out in the raw community, which have now gone mainstream. So things like nut milk. You know you can go to the store and get almond milk out of a box. Kale chips have gone mainstream. You know, spiralized zucchini noodles. Seaweed snacks. Seaweed snacks they have them in stores. That's like, that's a raw food thing. It's a Asian thing. And then green smoothies, which is so amazing. But's that been on like Dr. Oz. and you know green smoothies. So I really feel like it's gone mainstream now and even now at Sunset Magazine, there's four of us that - four celebrity chefs on that main stage. It was, Rick Bayless who you know, totally Mexican mainstream, television celebrity has a line of foods in all of his restaurants. And then Govind (Armstrong), right, who has 8 ounces burgers, he has a chain of burger joints. And then Candace from the cupcakes, right, the sprinkled cupcakes. Like those are really mainstream and then there's me. And so you know having that raw food element among those - that was just awesome, right! It was just great! So I really feel like it's gone mainstream. And here in L.A. a lot of the test kitchen shops, you know, they're like the celebrity chefs here in L.A., they're asking me, they want to do like a raw dinner. They want me to consult, put a signature menu item on their menu. So I think that everyone's realizing the value as it's becoming more mainstream of whole, local, seasonal, organic, unprocessed, that's one thing. But then I think also, especially with like restaurant chefs and things, I think they're limited on being creative because they have to replicate the same thing day after day after day. And so I'm finding a lot of my chef friends are really finding interest and inspired by what I'm doing because it's a whole new way. Like they're classically trained. They're French trained, they're Japanese trained. You know all these classic styles of making foods. And when they see my raw food it's just a whole new way of preparing food and presenting foods, so there blown away. So more and more restaurants here are incorporating the cashew cheese, the dairy-free desserts, you know like the sorbets and desserts that are inspired by my raw food desserts. So it's really exciting, it's really spreading.
KIRK HAMILTON: We are talking to Ani Phyo, celebrity chef, and you can see her work at Aniphyo.com. You know my interest, Ani, is my concern for the United States and the world, as our healthcare issue, our chronic diseases, our heart disease, diabetes, and that's my passion, to help people reverse those and I think plant-based nutrition is the way to go and you are a component of that. What is your experience with people that have those kind of conditions, the diabetes, heart disease or obesity? Do you ever go to places where they want your diet for that kind of thing, or do you just get anecdotal stories of people following your cookbook and having success?
ANI PHYO: Yeah, I definitely get those stories. I get a lot of stories of people, even on the extreme who even reversed cancer. But definitely diabetes, hypertension, all that kind of stuff, heart disease, have lost a ton of weight. Even a woman on my team she actually lost 80 pounds in the last year and she credits that to me and her whole family has a history of diabetes. And so she -- now we're getting her brother who also wants to now go on the same path of incorporating all raw food and losing a lot of weight to decrease the probability of getting diabetes. So there's a lot of that. And recently I started working as well with a woman who was a stage 4 melanoma skin cancer. Stage 4. And so it's just amazing how she has, you know, she got diagnosed in 2006, I believe it is. And so you know she's thriving. She's like cleaned out all the toxins in her environment and is doing all the raw foods and the whole food. And is choosing and I am helping her identify specific foods that she should increase intake of that provides different nutrient properties to help strengthen her immune system and all of that kind of stuff. So, yeah, I'm definitely not a medical doctor. I don't try to be. But I think the focus really is in eliminating processed everything. Just going straight to Mother Earth. So eliminating processed foods, but also eliminating processed cleansers and toxic chemicals and you know skin care products and all of that. It's just going natural and clean and then more of the toxins that we can eliminate from our environment and putting it into our body and on our body, then you put less stress on our entire system and our immune system is stronger.
KIRK HAMILTON: When you incorporate this diet into the ‘average Joe,' so to speak, I remember you talking about you don't try and get them to switch all the way over. What you try and do is have them start first with the raw food component, it might be a salad or something like that, and then eventually does that squeeze out the other foods? Is that the kind of idea?
ANI PHYO: Yeah. Yeah. Because I never want anyone to come to this thinking oh, I'm deprived because then they just fall off and they go eat like a whole cake, you know like the standard diet story. Like when you fall off and you eat everything you're not supposed to eat. So it's not really about that. It's about educating people about how great they are supposed to feel and how great they can feel. Because a lot of times people may have an intolerance or some kind of allergy and they're not realizing that they're inflamed. You know, so they may be eating wheat. They're not digesting it properly so they're stomach is bloated. Their stomach hurts, that's taking a lot of energy to digest that because the body's struggling. So if they now eliminate that, or eat less of it because you know we're incorporating a big healthy shake, or incorporating a big yummy green salad or delicious dessert that's gluten-free. So now I say to them, well notice how you feel and always, they're like, wow, I feel lighter. I feel like I have more energy. I feel great. You know I think that as they move along that continuum on they notice, Oh as I've been eating more of this stuff. Which they're not even realizing that as they eat more of the good stuff it's actually making less room for the less beneficial foods. That, "Wow, as I incorporate more of this good stuff I actually feel really good." And once we realize how great we can feel, who the heck wants to not feel great, right. So once they realize, "Wow, I feel great and I guess I didn't realize I could feel so great," then every day they want to feel just as good as they did the day before, if not better. And so that's kind of the approach I take. It's like, you know, incorporating a yummy shake, like a big yummy chocolate protein shake. Or incorporating a really well balanced salad, but still you can still have your burger and fries, you can still have your eggs and bacon, it's just that when you eat those raw components first you maybe eat half of the other stuff and then you as you finish it off with a yummy dessert that's a sugar-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, guilt-free you know. And they feel really good, and they're gonna want to continue on that path and do better and better.
KIRK HAMILTON: Tell me what an average day is. I mean, give a highlight for just say the regular person who wants to incorporate a quick breakfast, a quick lunch and a quick dinner. What would be your basic basics?
ANI PHYO: Oh, smoothies. I live, I use my blender like eight times a day. I'm always blending everything. So in the morning I have at least two smoothies. So the first one is like a super food smoothie. I love my cacao, my maca, and my mesquite and my supergreens, you know all that kind of stuff. I make a super smoothie. And a little bit of flax meal and I'll drink that. Maybe an hour later, lately I'm having my sprouted brown rice protein and I put some cinnamon in there, some tumeric because I'm an athlete. And I'll drink that, and then I'll usually go on a workout and I really like intense workouts. I love tabata, I love sprinting and spiking up my cardio. And I love plyometrics and things like that. So I'll work out for anywhere from like you know depending on my time, like 45 minutes to maybe an hour and-a-half. And then after that I'm doing another smoothie. And then maybe an hour later I'll have food. So I'll have like a giant salad or if I have salad left over from the day before I might wrap it in a sheet of nori or wrap it in a collard green leaf just to compose it in a new way, so it seems like a new meal. So I'll make that kind of thing. Maybe a couple of hours later I might have another smoothie or I might have some - I'm not doing this right now because I'm trying to eliminate my nuts and seeds, but trail mix is really great. I might do a piece of fruit. And then at dinner again I'm doing something else. I just love, like were in summer now, with all the summer squashes, the zucchini, I love them. I love spiralizing them into carb-free noodles and then blending up some tomatoes, a bit of basil and oregano, and a little splash of olive oil and some -
KIRK HAMILTON: So tell me something. Are you trying to lose weight?
ANI PHYO: I'm not trying to lose weight. I'm actually trying to build muscle mass and get leaner.
KIRK HAMILTON: Alright. I've seen you. You wouldn't be considered overweight. Trust me.
ANI PHYO: Yeah, yeah. I'm just trying to actually build more muscle mass and decrease my body fat percentage, so I think that's the experiment I'm running on myself because by increasing my protein by 30 grams a day with those two shakes. And then also I do like steamed vegetables. So like I said I like to wrap things in nori. I add a wakame to my salads. I love making dulce. I add dulce to everything. I make wakame salads. I think sea vegetables are so amazing for protein. A lot of sea vegetables are almost like 45, 50% protein content. And they're great for minerals. So that's sort of where a lot of my protein is coming from. And, yeah, so I'm just trying to increase muscle mass.
KIRK HAMILTON: Okay. Let me ask you about another area that got my attention when I was listening to your talk, and you talked about sharing your work in community gardens with the underprivileged and obviously you know it's one thing to be in L.A., and you know a celebrity chef, and it's another thing to bring it down to the real world and the street that a kid that's probably never seen anything but a fast food place or a mini mart to get groceries. So how do you bring that, this program there, or what are you trying to do with your program?
ANI PHYO: Oh my goodness, I'm just trying to show kids how easy it is, I mean literally we just pick things. You know we'll walk around and pick tomatoes and put them in a bowl and then we'll just either cut them up if we don't even have electricity. I'll just dice tomatoes, you know pick an avocado, dice avocados, squeeze a lemon, you know make like a tomato avocado salad. You know like showing them how easy it is to just grab things from the garden and make a delicious salad or meal or food. And it's really amazing when these kids are tied to life and the earth, they love it. They love watching things grow. First of all we're fueling their brain with nutrients whereas before they may not be getting any nutrition to their brain. So now their brain is being fueled so they can think clearly and make smarter decisions. They're tied to life and so you know they respect life more. And so I think that it's just - and we're also instilling lifelong skills by teaching them how to make food, how to grow food, and you know they're self-sufficient by teaching such an important, important valuable thing. And it's just fun to like watch kids. Kids love making food. Kids love growing food.
KIRK HAMILTON: So tell me now about - I'm branching out a little bit, because I don't - your journey - does your spiritual journey affect you going into the raw food, or did the raw food affect your spiritual journey?
ANI PHYO: I think probably - I guess I was always pretty spiritual and like wu-wu new agey, which was like -
KIRK HAMILTON: (Laughter)
ANI PHYO: You know I was always like that anyways. Like I've always studied Buddhism and Hinduism and I've always tried to learn to meditate. I've spent many - I've spent my whole life trying to learn to meditate. And I could only sit for like five minutes. And I'd always try until I discovered Vipassana. And Vipassana because you're like isolated at the center in the middle of the beautiful Yosemite mountains for 10 days, and you're there with the purpose of learning to meditate. There's nothing to do or go to or leave, you can't. So finally after, like I think it was on the seventh day it clicked. But now I can sit for hours and meditate. But it took me that focus of going away, not being connected to anything, just like meditating every day all day from like 4 in the morning until 9 at night. But I think I've always been very spiritual but I have to say that as I became more 100% raw fooder, I think I was - I think that, to sounds wu-wu again. I'm thinking it's vibration because it's all quantum physics. And when I was more raw like 100% I could feel vibration and energy. I was much more sensitive to it everywhere around me. I think I still am, but maybe not as much so. I felt that when I was 100% raw I probably needed a little bit more grounding at that time because it's - I think I probably wasn't balancing it properly.
KIRK HAMILTON: Tell me about your meditative practice. I'm interested because I remember listening to you and I was at a point where I was just running around in circles. Actually I had some big decisions to make and I hear - I was listening to your lecture and I can relate to exercising your brains out and all these kinds of things, and eating more plant food, and then you talked about meditation. How it really helped you and you have a very busy life obviously. So tell me do you meditate in the morning for a half hour or half hour in the evening, or when do you incorporate time into this life where you have, you know you're doing TV and videos and books and all kinds of stuff.
ANI PHYO: Especially on days when I do have TV or some kind of appearance or an event, I will definitely be meditating in the morning for sure. On other days I try to meditate in the morning. Sometimes I don't get to, but always and always no matter what I meditate at night. So there may be a day here or there where I miss it, but then I make up for it in the morning or during the day the next day. Or sometimes I can just feel when I'm not grounded. And so the first thing I do that somebody taught me is to see yourself sitting in a chair, in your core center. You are in the center of your being. There's a chair and you're sitting in it. So right there, that's the first step in centering if I don't have the time to break away and meditate for a second. But if I'm like spinning out of control I just sort of break away for even, if it's like 15 minutes to sit and meditate. Because I feel it's such a luxury, such a treat, it's so decadent for me to meditate. I actually love it. I try to do it every night. And I don't even time myself so I don't even know how long I go for. I just sit until I feel as though I've meditated as much as I need to meditate. So I think sometimes there may be 20 minutes, 30 minutes, sometimes it might be an hour and-a-half. I just sit until I feel like I'm done meditating.
KIRK HAMILTON: Did you - in your book you talk about giving up TV. Is that still an entity that is not turned on in your house?
ANI PHYO: Yeah. I haven't had TV for like 20 years. It's so funny because as I meet, you know, I'm always picking television programs. I'm always meeting television executives and all this stuff. And you know I seek them out because I'm a ‘cord cutter.' That's what they call it, ‘cord cutter.' So, but I - yeah, don't have television. I think programming's probably getting better now, but it just - I don't really resonate with a lot of the programming. And it's just interesting but I guess in L.A. some of my chef friends are - they're fit - I have a couple of chef friends that are fit and they understand the connection between food and fueling our body and our health. But in general there's a lot of chefs that are extremely out of shape and overweight and look really unhealthy. Yet they're showing people how to make food using a pound of butter and beer and deep frying and you know I don't understand how people don't correlate that if they eat the food these people are showing them how to make this food, then you look the way that these people look. I'm like - how do you not - I mean when I see people like that I lose my - I don't even want to eat that food. You know what I mean? Like I want to be - I just feel that food should be fuel for our body. It should boost our immune system, make us strong, make us happy. Eating something should never make us tired. It should actually give us energy, and make us stronger. And so I think I just haven't really been able to relate to what's on television. There's too much drama. That's my idea of television. It's drama. The drama usually means lying, cheating, stealing, hurting people's feelings, and I just don't operate that way. So I don't want to enter my consciousness.
KIRK HAMILTON: Two more things. Your dog, Kanga.
ANI PHYO: I got Kanga it's been like nine years ago, I think. A long time ago. And I love her so much. But when I found her she was in - she was at the SPCA in eastern Oregon for like over two weeks. So she was on her way to get euthanized with 20 dogs in a truck. And a no-kill shelter intercepted the truck and brought her and 20 dogs to the no-kill shelter. And so that next morning I called because I specifically wanted a Rhodesian Ridgeback. And I'd been looking everywhere. And I called and said "Oh, do you have this Rhodesian Ridgeback that I found on Pet Finder? Are they available?" And they're like, "No that one's not available, but we just got one in last night." So I jumped in my car and I went there and she was - she's not 90 pounds. She was 50 pounds underweight. So she was less than half of her weight. Her fur was falling out in chunks. She was all dusty looking and depressed and had kennel cough. And I adopted her immediately. You know my boyfriend at the time was like, "are you sure? I think there's something wrong with her." And I'm like, "No, we'll just apply the same principles that we apply to humans to heal her." And it worked. I mean she was raw vegan for many years and in just maybe the last two years. You know, I'm not 100% raw anymore as I travel so much, but I had to put her on kibble. And so she's not raw anymore, but for many years and especially when I had my catering and events company I had so much compost left over, so many ends of zucchinis and carrots and that would go into a pate for her. You know, and I would have nuts and seeds in 50 pound bags and I would just make her pates all the time. And make her nut milks and I'd give her sea vegetables. She loves nori, she loves dulce. I give her all the blue-green algae and you know all that kind of stuff. And she is beautiful. Her coat's got shiny and gorgeous. She gained 50 pounds. She's the most radiant, beautiful dog ever. And people would come up to her - they still do and they're like "How old is your dog?" and I'm like, "I'm not sure, but she's been with me for nine years, so I think she may be like 11 or 13." And they'll have the same dog and their dog will be like 5 and it looks older than Kanga. And they'll go, "Oh my god, how is your coat so shiny?" You know she still, even though she eats kibble, she's still eats all my raw food when I'm at home. I give her all my scraps, all my leftovers, she shares my smoothies with me. And you know she loves salad. So people are like, "Oh my god your dog loves salad?" And I'm like, "Of course she does. Dogs eat grass. Of course she loves salad." So they're just blown away. They're like "Oh my god, your dog eats tomatoes and cucumbers?" And I'm like, "Of course she does."
KIRK HAMILTON: So you have to be giving a promo for your next book (raw pet cookbook).
ANI PHYO: I know. People keep requesting that from me. There's not one yet.
KIRK HAMILTON: What is your next book?
ANI PHYO: My next book is more like functional recipes. So I've sort of identified ingredients per their functional benefit type of thing. And so it's tied around that. It's probably gonna have about 100, 125 recipes. I was trying to finish it before my new book came out, but I'm a little bit behind. But I'll still be out around the same time next year, 2012.
KIRK HAMILTON: You mean functional for a disease or functional for -
ANI PHYO: No, for function. To like boost immune - you know just sort of like to give you more energy or to help you lose weight or help you look better. You know things like that.
KIRK HAMILTON: Okay. Any pearls you want to give on a long and happy life? You put that in the back of your books.
ANI PHYO: I think gratitude. Just gratitude. That's what I have to always - sometimes you know when the world starts like spinning out of control I have to take a breath and remember we're so blessed. And we are really really blessed number one, to wake up in this country every morning where we have running water. We have you know so much access, you know to food and different options. And you know us living in California we have the best farmer's markets. Our farmers markets feed the rest of the country. The fact that we can decline food because it may not be vegan or it may not be organic. You know we're so blessed. Because there's people in other parts of the world they're starving to death. They don't have running water or any other things, flushing toilets. So I think have an attitude of gratitude. So I think that if we just start from that place then I think that enables us to feel happier.
KIRK HAMILTON: Well thank you, Ani, for taking the time out. We've got to wrap this up. I hope I allowed you to give a good overview of your raw food experience and what you're trying to do with your work. And how do people get in contact with your work?
ANI PHYO: Oh you can find me on my website. Like you said it's Aniphyo.com, It's A-N-I-P-H-Y-O dot com. And from there there's links to my Facebook. It's great to keep up with me on Facebook. I always post upcoming events and videos and photos so Facebook is just - Facebook.com/ani.phyo.rawfood. And then I also have a YouTube page where I have a lot of videos and cooking videos and TV appearances. I put them all on my YouTube, so it's Facebook.com/ani.phyo.rawfood. And then of course I also have Twitter, so it's just Twitter.com/AniPhyo, but you can link to all of those from my website.
KIRK HAMILTON: Thank you so much Ani for taking the time out of your busy day. I appreciate it.
ANI PHYO: Oh thank you. You're really busy, too, so thank you so much for speaking with me and inviting me. It's been a pleasure.
KIRK HAMILTON: And I want to thank you, the audience, for listening to this edition of Staying Health Today Radio. And until next time, Stay and Be Well.
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