If we are what we eat, some of us are in trouble

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If we are what we eat, some of us are in trouble. Because we know we need to eat more fruits, and vegetables, and whole fresh food. But, how do you make a plant-based diet taste so good, you won't miss that burger and fries?

That is where Yafah Israel, the executive chef of the Atlanta-based Soul Vegetarian Restaurant, comes in. She is teaching a plant-based cooking class at Morehouse School of Medicine. On the final day of the 10-class course, she's prepping a raw kale salad, with the colorful ingredients spread out in front of her.

"This is the kale, washed and cut," Israel says. "These are sliced onions. We have purple onions and white onions. We have red peppers, orange peppers, yellow peppers, dried cranberries, and half of an avocado and lemon."

Dr. Jennifer Rooke, Medical Director of the Optimal Health and Wellness Clinic at Morehouse School of Medicine, says what we eat each day makes a huge difference, for better or for worse, in our health.

Rooke says the science shows that eating a plant-based diet can help reverse many common, chronic health conditions.

"You will actually see a reversal of atherosclerosis, which is clogging of your arteries," Dr. Rooke says. "You will actually see a reversal of diabetes."

But this style of eating requires giving up some common foods, like animal products.

"There is no chicken, cheese, fish, eggs, dairy," Dr. Rooke says.

In her class, Yafah Israel uses fresh, whole ingredients, seasoning her salad with liquid amino, balsamic and rice vinegars.

"That is the purpose of this (program), is to show you how to eat a delicious, healthy diet without missing certain foods, or feeling like you're deprived," Rooke says.

If you're not ready to swear off meat and dairy, she recommends starting with small, do-able changes to your diet. Try incorporating more fresh vegetables and fruits into each meal.

Think baby steps, she says.

"So, it doesn't become this, 'Oh, I can't do this," Dr. Rooke says.  "There are so many delicious dishes that, when people try them, they say, "I don't really miss the meat. I don't miss those things."

The Morehouse School of Medicine's weekly plant-based cooking class will begin again on May 2, 2018. The classes will run for 12 weeks.

Each class costs $12 per person. If you pay in advance, it's $10 per class or $120 for the complete series.

For more information, call Morehouse School of Medicine at 404-317-7268.