Pooja Mottl

Pooja Mottl is a professionally trained natural foods chef. She has appeared on Good Morning America, Martha Stewart Radio, and a host of other media outlets. She is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute and holds a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University.

At Ayla, we value healthy, whole food as much as we do non-toxic and natural beauty products. But we do recognize — all too well — the siren song of chocolate truffles and other indulgences.

So we were excited to learn that one of our devoted customers, the lovely Pooja Mottl, has written a book all about kicking cravings and cleaning up your diet. The 3-Day Reset , which has been praised by such luminaries as Whole Foods founder John Mackey and Clean author Alejandro Junger, helps you “reset” the way you understand and experience whole food — in just three days. And as an added bonus, you'll probably start to see your skin glow. Oh, and PS: her book includes a recipe for truffles.

AYLA: Why three days? (And…really? Three days?)
POOJA: Recalibrating the way you eat, your general food choices, and the way you’ve understood food (even “healthy food”) for the majority of your life is difficult to do at first. Three days is just enough time to not be intimidating, and at the same time, it’s manageable. Think of it as taking a long weekend to reboot your understanding of food. After three days, you’ll likely have the motivation to make some of your changes permanent. Think of it as a jump-start to get you on the path to eating a whole food diet.

AYLA: What are the hardest cravings to kick?
POOJA: I’ve heard from my clients that these are the two toughest ones: Refined sugar. Mainly because we are biologically hard-wired to want sweet foods, and secondly, because refined sugars are everywhere – even in foods that we don’t consider sweet such as breads, yogurt, nut butters, frozen/microwave meals, almond milk and rice milk. White bread. Again, mainly because we are genetically set-up to want the quick shot of sweetness that comes with refined wheat flour

AYLA: Those are tough. What are your top tips for combating these cravings and moving toward a whole food diet?
POOJA: Here are my top tips for refined sugar —

  • Empty your panty of white, brown and artificial sugars. Pick unrefined sugars you like and use them in moderation in tea, coffee, baking, etc. Some good choices are raw, organic honey, and/or coconut palm sugar. For baking, you may need to experiment with a few different types based on your recipe.
  • Familiarize yourself with the various names for “sugar” and scan ingredient lists of all foods and drinks before you buy them.
  • Experiment with very sweet, dried and fresh fruits such as dates, dried mangoes, dried pineapple, and figs to satiate a sweet tooth after a meal. I enjoy slipping an “activated” (soaked in water for 8 hours then dried) walnut or two inside a sliced open date or dried apricot for dessert.

And here’s what I suggest for white bread:

  • If you can do it, switch to other cereal grains such as rice, pseudo-cereals like quinoa, and starchy, and filling vegetables such as squashes. In some natural foods stores these days you can find breads made of quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth flour. (I do, however, recommend we prepare all grains and pseudo-grains by either first soaking or sprouting or fermenting in order to better digest. This is in concert with the teachings of the Weston A. Price Foundation).
  • If you have tried but “just can’t” give up white bread, go for a freshly baked sourdough loaf (made with a sourdough starter), preferably made with freshly milled flour that has only the coarse bran removed (obviously, do what you can, given what options are available to you). Because this kind of bread is naturally fermented, it is lower in gluten (the fermentation processes affects gluten levels), and important nutrients such as iron, zinc and magnesium, antioxidants, and other B vitamins become easier for our bodies to absorb.

AYLA: What are the most surprising processed foods that people normally think of as being whole (or at least minimally processed)?
POOJA: There are many! Here’s my favorite list of non-“WAMP” (whole and minimally processed) foods.

  • Most commercial yogurts
  • Pasteurized and homogenized organic milk
  • Tropicana orange juice and similar cartooned “fresh” orange juices
  • Brown sugar
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Demerara sugar
  • Store bought almond, soy, and rice milks
  • Packaged coconut water (unless the label says “raw”, “unpasteurized”, and “cold-pressed” – Harmless Harvest is a good example of a brand that sells WAMP coconut water.)

AYLA: Can you share your favorite whole food recipe for dinner?
POOJA: Of course — here’s my recipe for Prawn & Lemongrass Pho.

Yield: Approx. 6 servings
Time: 40 minutes

6 cups homemade chicken broth or homemade beef broth
2 cups filtered water
2 star anise
1 onion, diced
1 stalk lemongrass, crushed, first layer discarded
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced or grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 small red chilies, very finely minced
10oz kabocha squash or similar, diced
3 T fish sauce (Nam Pla)
Handful green beans, top and tails removed, sliced into ½ inch pieces
14oz peeled, deveined and cooked (or peeled and deveined) frozen prawns
A couple handfuls sprouts, or to taste
Fresh torn mint leaves
Fresh torn coriander leaves
Cooked quinoa or cooked buckwheat noodles (optional)

1.     Add all ingredients up to and including red chilies to soup pot. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer and cook covered for 20- 30 minutes. Leave cover of pot slightly ajar by a ¼ inch.
2.     Add squash and fish sauce and cook for 15 minutes.
3.     Add green beans and cook for another 10 minutes.
4.     Add defrosted shrimp and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

ABOUT POOJA: Pooja Mottl is a professionally trained Natural Foods Chef. She is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, a world-renowned institution for pairing culinary training with health-promoting food. Pooja also holds a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University. Pooja has appeared on Good Morning America, WGN TV, Martha Stewart Radio, Style.com, the Green Festival, HuffPost Live, and a variety of additional media outlets. Mottl gained a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan and an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics. She began her career as Wall Street investment banker and an economic analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before falling head over heels in love with healthy food.


Any topic discussed in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, please check with your doctor.