Plant-Powered Peeps: Meet Jason Shon Bennett

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Our first ever male Plant-Powered Peep, Jason Shon Bennett shares his thoughts on a plant-based lifestyle - as well as his delicious raw salted caramel cheesecake recipe!
Prep Time 15 mins
Jason Shon Bennett
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Jason Shon Bennett

This week is a pretty special moment in the history of our Plant-Powered Peeps interview series. The first ever male contender is featuring! And I’m honoured that the first gent is Mr Jason Shon Bennett.

Jason is a leading figure in the health and wellness industry in New Zealand and Australia (who also happens to look over 10 years younger than he really is). After 20 years of chronic illness, he began researching food, exercise, flexibility, acid vs alkaline, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, how the body works, traditional diets, the bowels, vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, the internal organs, intolerances, food ingredients, additives… the list goes on. After 6 years of global research and implementation, Jason managed to cure himself completely of all his illnesses, and in the process completely transformed his life.

Since that time, Jason has spent the last 20 years helping and educating others about plant-based natural health. A key part of his research has been comparing the current average Western diet with that of the world’s healthiest and long-living centenarians. Some key takeouts? Most centenarians eat significantly higher amounts of plant-based foods, very low if any meat or dairy products, abstain mostly from coffee, alcohol and smoking, and value balance and enjoyment as part of their lifestyle.

I recently had the chance of seeing Jason present live, and must say this guy has some serious energy. He walks the talk, is a great presenter, and has a real passion for plant-based health and wellness. I’d highly recommend you see him live, you can find his upcoming seminar details on his website. Otherwise rumour has it he’s been working on a book the last 6 years so hopefully 2014 will be the publishing year.

In his spare time he’s a family man spending time with his wife Tracey and their four healthy teenage kids.

Without further adieu, let’s meet our first lad, Jason…

Why did you decide to turn to a more plant-powered organic lifestyle?

I decided at age 20 to try and ‘get well’ given I had been sick since childhood with asthma, allergies, hay fever, fatigue, constipation, digestion issues, poor skin, pimples and every cough, cold, flu, virus and bug that went around.  I was told I was incurable and that I should just ‘take the drugs’, so after 20 years on 16 shots of Ventolin daily, Intal prevention, steroid injections and trips to the hospital on ventilators, I chose to try doing something about my diet and lifestyle.

How has your health (physical and emotional) changed since then?

I have cured everything and I have not taken asthma drugs or been sick for over 20 years.  I am healthier at nearly 50 years old than I was in my 20s or 30s.

If you had to give someone 3 reasons why they should switch to more plant-based organic food & beauty products, what would they be?

Eating a plant-based wholefood diet means you dramatically increase your chances of living a long healthy life free of drugs and disease.  You increase longevity without disease; lower your risk of all the modern diet and lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, almost all cancers, obesity and diabetes; and increase your youthful skin and energy levels.

What does a day on your plate look like:

First thing: Warm water with apple cider vinegar and aloe vera juice splashed in

  • Breakfast: Soaked homemade muesli
  • Morning Tea: Freshly picked grapefruit
  • Lunch: Salad and a wonderful topping made by Tracey (my wife) of a lentil/chickpea/bean/rice/quinoa/avocado type
  • Afternoon Tea: Raw vegetables with a dip or hummus
  • Dinner: Tracey vegetarian gluten-free magic (I am a lucky man!)

Now, your favourite foodie indulgence…

Easy; chocolate or peanut butter.

What do you think the biggest fear or misconception is about going more organic or plant-based?

The three biggest fears are firstly “how do I do it?” as we are not educated on how to eat well at all in modern society; the second thing is “How do I get my iron and calcium and protein through eating plants?” which of course we all know the answer to: and thirdly “how can I make this work for my family and friends as they will think I have gone nuts?”

What’s your approach to balance & moderation in life (and/or food)

The 80/20 rule generally, though if you are very sick then you must be very strict until you are on the way to being well again.  Initially I usually recommend being quite regimented and then introducing more and more occasional treats once you are feeling amazing. This way you will get back to exceptional health, then you can test and try foods that you may have been eating your whole life without realising they were causing you damage.  Some of these could be very healthy for someone else but not good for you.  Basically poison for some is a panacea for others.

If you have eaten yourself sick for 40 years then you cannot either drug yourself well or eat well for a month and fix it.  It usually takes about 12 months in my experience for someone to break the bad food cycle, significantly improve their health and transform their habits – through all four seasons.  This is why we do thelifeplan for a 12 month period.

You’ve been given permission to raid the Be Good Organics stock room – what’s one foodie product and one beauty product you’d nab

As a food product I would grab the Excalibur food dehydrator and as a skin product (I don’t normally use any though!), I would grab the Dead Sea Scrub as I always love scrubbing my face with sand at the beach and then swimming!

Would you like to create and share a plant-powered recipe with us?

Yes! Tracey’s magical Raw Salted Caramel Cheesecake from thelifeplan.

RAW SALTED CARAMEL CHEESECAKE

For all you caramel lovers out there, this cheesecake ‘channels’ condensed milk, but without that sickly feeling afterwards! And, you don’t need much to feel satisfied with every heavenly mouthful.

This gorgeous cheesecake is the perfect treat to make and take to a Christmas or shared lunch (and we all know there are a lot of those going on at the moment). Try it out, your guests and their bods will love you for it – we’d love to hear what you think too!

Jason Shon Bennett's Raw Salted Caramel Cheesecake Recipe

Please note – if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements below, please read my recipe notes.

Jason Shon Bennett's Raw Salted Caramel Cheesecake Recipe
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Raw Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Salted Caramel Cheesecake that's a guilty pleasure without any of the guilt. Made raw, vegan and gluten-free – so it's technically healthy?
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AuthorBuffy Ellen
Servings 10
Prep Time 15 mins

Ingredients

Base

  • 1 ½ c raw almonds
  • ½ tsp organic sea salt
  • ¾ c pitted baking dates soaked in hot water for about 15 minutes to soften, then drain – you can use the water in a smoothie
  • ¼ c desiccated coconut
  • Pinch cinnamon optional

Filling

  • 2 ½ c raw cashews soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c pitted baking dates soaked as above
  • ¾ c coconut nectar (or brown rice syrup)
  • ¾ c coconut oil melted
  • ¼ c tahini
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp cacao butter melted
  • ¼ c water

Instructions

Crust

  • Process the nuts into small pieces with the salt in a food processor or a Thermomix*. Slowly add dates and mix well, then mix in the coconut. Press crust into the bottom of a lined cheesecake dish or pan, and place in refrigerator until needed.

Filling

  • Blend all ingredients in your blender/food processor/Thermomix until it blends to a smooth creamy mix. The smoother the better. Pour onto the crust in the dish and place in the freezer for about two hours until firm. Refrigerate until serving.

Swirl (optional)

  • If you would like to do the dark chocolate swirl, mix ¼ c melted coconut oil with 2 Tbsp raw cacao and 1 Tbsp agave syrup/light coconut nectar/yacon syrup. Whisk together and pour straight away in a ‘swirl’ on the cake once the caramel layer has been in the freezer for 10- 15 minutes to firm up a bit. Or, you can pour on top of the caramel layer and use a chopstick to ‘swirl’ it into the caramel layer.

Salted Topping

  •  just before serving this delectable treat, sprinkle with a quality organic sea salt and voila – raw ‘salted caramel’ cheesecake!

Equipment

  • Serves 8-10 using a 20-22cm (8-9") springform pan

Recipe Notes

  • This cake will keep in the fridge for up to three days. Otherwise once set, slice it into individual servings and put them in a sealed container in the freezer for up to three months. Simply pull a slice or two out 10-20 minutes before you need it.
  • I like to serve this with a generous dollop of my Coconut Cashew Chia Cream, some fresh seasonal local fruit, and an organic mint tea.