Bringing together health, food, and fun with Charles Chen
LA YOGA: You describe your events as being a “Party in Your Mouth.” Where did this idea come from?
Charles Chen: An audience member once described my food as being a “Party in Your Mouth” because she was blown away by the flavors; she couldn’t believe that it was both tasty and healthy. The phrase stuck with me and I love the play on words, the idea of celebrating food and not depriving ourselves. I believe food brings everyone together in a big grand party. In the health and wellness industry there were so many people trying to portray a picture perfect idea of health, and there were so many judgments based on what people ate. The idea of Party In Your Mouth is to bring community together, regardless of what diet they eat we meet everyone where they are. I believe we should all honor and listen to our own bodies and not prescribe to one specific diet.
LA YOGA: You have a personal story of transformation. How did you begin your own transformational process around your relationship with food?
CC: At the age of 15 I weighed 260 pounds; I ate junk food every single day. I was raised by a single mother, she was constantly working and I was in an after-school program where there was a fast food chain right down the street. Kids would spend their allowance money on junk food every day.
I was also searching for my identity as I had moved from Taiwan and had to learn English. Since I felt disconnected, food was a way for me to numb myself. At the age of 15, my doctor told me I was pre-diabetic and I had heart complications. This was my rock bottom and a huge wake-up call to change my lifestyle. I decided to change what I was eating and started cooking. I was fascinated by the world of food and chefs, and I loved creating dishes that translate love and positive energy. I began to cook for friends and family and I eventually lost over 100 pounds over a period of five to six years through lifestyle and diet.
LA YOGA: What advice do you give people who want to do more cooking for themselves on the road to taking charge of their health?
CC: You can do it! It’s going to take time, but see it as an investment. Enjoy the process and fall in love with the journey. Commit to your well-being and realize by investing in your health, you can become the best version of yourself.
Come up with some daily non-negotiable rituals and stick to them, such as drinking lemon water, making a smoothie, exercising, or meditating. These little shifts will make a huge impact on your health.
I truly believe in the idea of transforming the world one plate at a time, because food is such a political statement. By choosing what foods we buy we are voting with our dollars and choosing the world we wish to live in.
LA YOGA: What are a few of your favorite seasonal late spring/early summer ingredients found in SoCal?
CC: Artichokes, cauliflower, and carrots are some of my favorites.
LA YOGA: What are some staples you have in your fridge to be able to tie together different meals or menus?
CC: I always have apple cider vinegar, lemons, and limes. I love using citrus to flavor my food—not to mention the awesome nutritional benefits.
LA YOGA: Where do you go for inspiration?
CC: I go into nature, I love hiking, and going to the beach. When I am in nature I am reminded that everything happens at its natural pace; for example, you cannot force a flower to grow overnight. I experience a sense of surrender and humility in nature. I am always grounded and feel my best after a beautiful hike. I also find my inspiration from meditation and reading.
Recipes by Charles Chen
• 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
• 1 Cup almond flour
• 1/2 Cup coconut flakes
• 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
• 3 Tbsp matcha powder
• 2 Tbsp maple syrup or coconut nectar
• 1 Tbsp cashew butter
Mix peanut butter and almond flour and form bite size balls. Mix Matcha dip with melted coconut oil. Dip balls into Matcha dip and freeze for five minutes. Top with your favorite toppings.
Mac & Cashew Cheese
• 1/2 Cup cashews
• 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
• 1/2 Cup almond milk
• Pinch Himalayan Sea Salt
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 2 Tbsp gluten free soy sauce
• Fresh juice from 1/2 lemon
• Brown rice pasta
• Chili flakes (optional garnish)
• Hemp seeds (optional garnish)
Blend all sauce ingredients.
Cook and strain pasta.
Mix sauce into pasta.
Top with chili flakes and hemp seeds (optional).
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
Charles Chen is a tv host, chef, and healthy living and wellness expert. He recently competed on the “Healthy Rivalry” episode of the Food Network’s Chopped. Chen is working on a new show for TLC Discovery exploring food and culture throughout Asia. He is an advocate for healthy lifestyles and is a brand ambassador for the American Heart Association, speaking at conferences on the importance of healthy lifestyle for lowering risk of heart disease. charleschen.tv
Join Charles Chen at his annual Party in Your Mouth Wellness Event at Equinox Santa Monica, 201 Santa Monica Bvld, Santa Monica. Sunday, May 22, 1:00-3:00 PM. Tickets $15 through May 15. charleschen.tv