Change Your Diet, Change Your Life (and an Overnight Muesli Recipe)

UNPROCESSED by Chef AJChef AJ is a chef and culinary instructor in Los Angeles. The author ofUNPROCESSED, she specializes in plant-indulgent food that is free of sugar, oil, and salt, and is proud to say that “her IQ is higher than her cholesterol.” She is the former Executive Vegan Pastry Chef at Sante restaurant and the creator and co-producer of the annual Healthy Taste of LA.  She is also the host of the TV show Healthy Living with Chef AJ on Foody TV.

To learn more about Chef AJ visit her website, or find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Going unprocessed, is, well a process.  I became vegan in 1977 for ethical reasons and was one of those junk food vegans who didn’t eat any fruits and vegetables. I ate from my own four food groups – sugar, flour, oil and caffeine.

Flash forward 26 years later, at the age of 43, when I woke up bleeding profusely.  I had several large adenomatous polyps in my colon that the doctor said, if not removed, would become cancerous.  Well, my colon was such a mess from years of eating processed food that they could not remove them during the sigmoidoscopy and said I would have to have surgery.

As luck would have it, I have a severe phobia of anesthesia, so instead I checked into the Optimum Health Institute on July 6, 2003.  I changed my diet and changed my life.  Within six months of eating a Whole-Food, Plant-Exclusive diet free of all processed food, and all sugar, oil, and salt specifically (all sugar and oil are highly processed), all of the polyps disappeared and I regained my health without drugs or surgery.

When I went back for a colonoscopy and everything was normal, the doctor actually accused me of having had the surgery somewhere else. He didn’t believe that diet could do it. But it can. Since then I have witnessed hundreds of cases of these “miracles” of complete disease reversal or remission associated with eating a nutrient-rich, whole-food, plant-exclusive diet.

Processed food is not food. You may eat it, you may enjoy it, and you may even be addicted to it, but it is not food. Food is not meant to come in a box, a bottle, or a can. Food should come from a plant, not be manufactured in a plant!

I don’t care if it’s called “Kraft Macaroni And Cheese” or “Amy’s Organic Gluten-Free Macaroni And Cheese.” We shouldn’t be eating processed food and we definitely shouldn’t be feeding it to our children. The human body simply was not designed to eat processed food.

If you don’t believe that processed food in general, and sugar, fat, and salt in particular, is addictive, read The End of Overeating by Dr. David Kessler.  He is the former head of the FDA and he will explain to you how the processed food industry evolved.  (Spoiler alert: They took the best doctors and brain scientists they could find to figure out the perfect ratio of sugar, fat, and salt to addict the average person to their product.)

Here is a quick and easy recipe from my next book “The UNPROCESSED 30 Day Challenge,” which is also a program I run in Los Angeles that teaches people how to adopt an unprocessed diet.  (The program will soon be available online for people who live outside of the Los Angeles area.)  Many people say they simply have no time to prepare breakfast in the morning.  By taking just five minutes the night before, you can have a hearty, healthy, and delicious breakfast ready for you when you wake up!

Overnight Muesli
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Muesli was introduced around 1900 by the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital, where a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables was an essential part of therapy. Muesli in its modern form became popular in western countries starting in the 1960s as part of increased interest in health food and vegetarian diets. Traditional muesli was eaten with orange juice and not milk.
  • ½ cup of gluten-free oats
  • 2 Tablespoons currants
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk (here's how to make almond milk)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 apple, grated (I prefer Gala)
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon apple pie spice or roasted cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla
  1. Pour the unsweetened apple juice and unsweetened almond milk in a large glass and stir in the extract, spice, and chia seeds.
  2. Place the oats and currants in a medium bowl. Grate the apple over the oats.
  3. Pour the liquid mixture over the apple and oats and mix well. Place in the refrigerator covered overnight. The chia seeds will swell and become gelatinous and the next day will have absorbed all of the liquid and become almost like a pudding.
  4. In the morning you can enjoy this dish cold or warm in the microwave. You can also add additional fruits and almond milk, if desired.
Both apple pie spice and roasted cinnamon is available at Ralph’s and Krogers. Feel free to substitute regular cinnamon. Apple pie spice is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace. For a delicious variation, substitute a grated pear for the apple or goji berries for the currants.

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21 Responses to Change Your Diet, Change Your Life (and an Overnight Muesli Recipe)

  1. Philpa December 21, 2013 at 6:48 am #

    When you take out of the refrigerator, do you eat it hot or cold?

    Also, you mentioned to flip in the dehydrator after 12 hours. Do you dehydrate another 12 hours on the other side?

    • Chef AJ February 26, 2014 at 8:07 am #

      So sorry I missed this comment. Depending at what temperature you choose to dehydrate, ambient room temperature, how thinly you spread it on the sheets and how crispy you prefer it, it actually may be ready in 12 hours or require an additional 6-12 hours after flipping. They now sell dehydrators at Costco for $40, at Walmart for less.

  2. CHEF AJ July 20, 2013 at 12:05 am #

    I made 400 servings of this for a lecture I gave at Torrance Memorial Hospital. There were leftovers so I dehydrated it. Best granola I ever had!!!

    Love & Kale,
    Chef AJ

  3. Rinus February 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Thank you, great recipe! And I think your right about the food. It’s processed way to much…

  4. MaryE November 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    This was really tasty – I used soymilk (I know,I know, processed) instead of almond and a premium vanilla (it did contain alcohol, sorry). Would love to become less processed but will have to do it gradually. And I know from 3 years of macrobiotics that I can do it, but at the cost of my sanity! I got too rule bound and worried about how to eat out or with family and friends who are not on the same path. But we try to eat as much real food, healthy as possible and we’re happier.

  5. Mollie Walker Freeman October 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Thanks so much for the muesli recipe! I adapted it a bit & made it the very next day for guests, & it was a big hit! I’ve also made it two more times just for myself. I am hooked! So easy, and the soaked oats are easy to digest.

    • Chef AJ October 18, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

      I make enough for 2-3 says at a time. Yesterday I took some and baked it into cookies!

  6. Jessica Marie October 6, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    I am going to have to try this. It sounds so yummy. Can I substitute OJ for apple juice?

    • Chef AJ October 6, 2012 at 9:12 am #

      Absolutely! Truly ANY liquid of our choice will work, even water. I have made and enjoyed it ith unsweetened pineapple juice and a ittle unsweetened coconut and banana and unsweetened pomegranate juice ith goji berries. Enjoy!

  7. Stacy Spensley October 4, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Oh yum. I’m experimenting with overnight oats (very similar) and this version looks delightful. Off to modify it now for breakfast tomorrow – we don’t have any juice.

    • Chef AJ October 4, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

      You could do it with allmond milk. The unsweetened apple juice is just for sweetness as we don’t consume any type of sugars. You could even use water. Enjoy!

  8. Chef AJ October 4, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    Hi Lisa,

    I was the Executive Pastry chef at an LA restaurant for years and we were prohibited from using extracts with any alcohol because then people who were sensitive to alcohol or in recovery could not eat them. I am sure you could use any vanilla or even vanilla powder which is made from a vanilla bean. Because vanilla beans are so expensive, you can blend them with water to make vanilla water in place of extract.

    Love & Kale,
    Chef AJ

  9. Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator October 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    I have a friend with a similar “miracle” story from the Optimum Health Institute. She now works there and is cancer-free. Great post!

    • Chef AJ October 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

      Thanks, Stephanie. There is another great healing center in Santa Rosa called True North.

  10. Lisa October 4, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Looking at the muelsi recipe I noticed that it calls for alchohol-free vanilla. I make my own vanilla. How would you make it without alchohol? I am very curious about this.

    • Chef AJ October 7, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

      I make my own vanilla by blending 3 whole vanilla beans with 1 cup of water.

      • Heather February 26, 2014 at 7:34 am #

        How long will the homemade vanilla extract keep? Also I assume it should be kept in the fridge?

        • Chef AJ February 26, 2014 at 8:05 am #

          Correct, keep it in the frig for up to 3 weeks. Mine gets used up way before that! 🙂


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