Julieanna Hever and Ray Cronise: Open Book
Plant-Based Nutrition

Julieanna Hever and Ray Cronise: Open Book

Julieanna Hever and Ray Cronise: Open Book

We recently caught up with Julieanna Hever (M.S., R.D.) and Ray Cronise to chat nutritious possibilities, quick and healthy meals, and the transformative power of a plant-based diet. Julieanna is a leading plant-based dietician and Ray is responsible for magician Penn Jillette’s 100-pound weight loss transformation. Julieanna and Ray are co-authors of Plant-Based Nutrition.

Your work in 5 words:

J: Inspire people to eat plants.

R: Disrupt, innovate, explore, and explain.

Your favorite food:

J: Hummus! (It should be a food group...)

R: Authentic green Thai curry.

Your #1 New Year's resolution for 2018:

J: To live a purposed life and strive to lead through example.

R: To live each day as if it were the last.

How did you first get interested in plant-based nutrition?

J: Initially, I learned about what happens in livestock production and decided I did not want to participate in that system. But it took me several years to dig deeper and further understand the myriad health advantages that are associated with eating plants. Since transitioning my own diet many years ago, I transformed my health personally and then saw a dramatic difference in my clients' health outcomes.

R: After successfully losing 50 pounds using traditional diet and exercise, my type 2 diabetes and cholesterol had worsened. During a social event at TEDMED 2009, Dr. Dean Ornish suggested that I eliminate the last three animal products (fish, eggs, and yogurt) from my diet to see if that had any impact. Within 60 days, my issues were gone. I spent the next year learning to make a plant-based diet equally convenient, familiar, and enjoyable to the one I've mostly left behind. Like everyone's diet, it is all habit, and now, a plant-based diet is effortless.

What’s a common myth about plant-based diets you’d like to debunk?

J: Perhaps the biggest misconception about plant-based diets is that food options are limited. On the contrary, once you move past the notion of a hunk of flesh in the center of the plate and discover the infinite delicious, nutritious combinations that are possible using vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, and more, food really becomes exciting.

R: The myth I'd most like to debunk is that special planning is necessary to achieve adequate nutrition and avoid nutritional deficiencies. The truth is that most of the population is chronically overnourished, and malnourishment from over nutrition is responsible for far more diet-induced disease than deficiency. A plant-based diet isn't simply adequate from a nutritional perspective but may in fact be superior. This is because it mimics the dietary interventions used to improve longevity and healthspan in organisms from yeasts to primates.

Help! I'm new to this plant-based lifestyle... What should be my first step?

J: Begin by exploring. Test out new ingredients and new recipes, and build a repertoire of meals you love to prepare. We only circulate between 1-3 breakfasts, 2-4 lunches, and 4-6 dinners each week, so these are the few meals you need to reassign.

R: The first step is to realize that most of what you already eat is plants. Make sure to order just sides when you are out at any restaurant, and serve side dishes as the main course when you are at home.

What’s your go-to recipe for a quick weekday meal? 

J: Lately, my go-to weekday meal is a big, warm bowl of riced cauliflower heated in a large pan with garbanzo beans, tomato sauce, curry powder, and cumin. But, overall, I love batch-cooking huge pots of soups, stews, and chilis, and freezing leftovers so I always have a nutritious and hearty meal ready to eat when I am hungry.

R: My favorite quick go-to meal is black beans, mango, and sliced, fresh jalapeno cooked up on the stovetop and spiced with cumin, oregano, and black pepper. I hear cilantro tastes amazing in this, but I hate cilantro. You can also toss half a medium chopped red onion in there. Delicious, filling, and spicy.

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