Before helping hundreds of women transform themselves through food, Chef Ahki was simply tired of getting sick. "For years I suffered from dehydration and random fainting spells," she says. "I did not realize that my lack of fruit, vegetables, and water [intake] was the cause of this." At 18 she transitioned to a plant-based diet.
Like many sisters, Chef Ahki recognized that eating from the earth is a part of her legacy. "Black women taught the world how to prepare delicious food. For centuries we have taken the earth's harvest and with skill and creativity birthed an array of the finest cuisine coveted by many," she says. "Our kitchen alchemy has always been a major part of our Black Girl Magic."
The Oklahoma native was raised by four generations of medicine women, who educated her about indigenous foods and alternative modalities. She describes her diet as not just vegan—abstaining from animal by-products—but also electric, which essentially means foods that are not acidic or starch-based.
"I suffered [from] chronic urinary tract infections from my daily soda intake, and [technically] soda is vegan," she adds. "This is [why I say] my food is electric not just vegan." Abstaining from meat and processed fare does not have to be boring. "People imagine that vegans eat salad all day and it's quite the contrary," Ahki says. "Visit a local Ethiopian restaurant and ask for a vegetable platter. You will find out how fulfilling and flavorful a vegan diet can be. It's all about knowledge and [figuring out] what tastes are most pleasurable to you."
BETTER HEALTH FAST
"By any greens necessary" is one of Chef Ahki's favorite sayings as she travels the country encouraging people of color to consume a wholesome diet. Whether she's appearing on The Wendy Williams Show or dealing with her celebrity clients, including Lenny Kravitz, Lee Daniels and Common, her approach in reclaiming the body remains the same. Her tips:
1 Reconsider dairy. Some experts believe drinking processed milk can lead to health issues and digestive problems.
2 Add true food in the form of fruit smoothies and green juices to your diet. True food is any living part of a plant that our body ingests. It is nutritious and sun-absorbing.
3 Get more sunlight. Many of us are not receiving the health benefits of regular exposure to the sun. Don't let the flowers get all the perks of natural light. Set a daily reminder for sunshine.
UPGRADE YOUR GROCERY LIST
As Chef Ahki lists in her blog on gochefahki.com, here are a few of her favorite items that are good for your body and taste buds
They can be a delicious addition to a variety of dishes—salads, sweets and breads—or just a handful for a snack. Hemp and chia seeds, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, are superfood celebrities. Even sunflower seeds are among the fatty foods we should be consuming. Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
These fruits are tasty no matter what form they come in: guacamole, the half shell or even chocolate mousse. Yes, they're fatty, but luckily for avocado lovers, we can fall back on the "good fat" argument. Packed with the healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados are extremely versatile and can be used for salty sides as well as creamy desserts.
They're ideal for the woman who loves a snack. Unlike potato chips, they are filling and good for you. Nuts provide vegan protein and are a plant-based gold mine in monounsaturated fats.
This feature appears in the March 2018 issue of ESSENCE.