Thriving on Raw Food: The Joyce Fontenot Story of Healing and Longevity

Are you ready for a true story of healing and longevity?

In the world of culinary delights and nutritional wisdom, few stories resonate as deeply and inspire as profoundly as that of Joyce Fontenot, affectionately known to many as Chef JJ. In a remarkable journey that traverses the landscapes of Louisiana farms to the forefront of the raw food movement, Chef JJ has transformed personal adversity into a beacon of hope and health.

Her tale is not just about food; it’s a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, the healing power of nature, and the profound impact of dietary choices on our well-being.

As we sit down to unravel the layers of her incredible story, from battling aggressive cancer to championing the raw vegan lifestyle, Chef JJ offers insights that challenge conventional dietary norms and invite us to reconsider what it means to truly nourish our bodies and souls.

Hello Chef JJ! Nice to meet you! Tell us a little about you! How long you have been a raw foodist?

I’m Joyce Fontenot, known to my friends as Chef JJ, and my journey into vegetarianism and later raw veganism began in the mid-70s after a life-changing surgery.

Growing up on a Louisiana farm, vegetarianism was foreign to me, but post-surgery, I couldn’t bear the thought of consuming anything that had suffered.

With guidance from a Seventh Day Adventist friend and a newfound sense of adventure, I embraced vegetarianism, which eventually evolved into a raw vegan lifestyle due to health challenges, including fibromyalgia and later, a shocking diagnosis of aggressive Stage IV T-cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 61.

Despite the grim prognosis, my raw vegan diet seemed to have remarkably reversed my biological age, making me eligible for a life-saving bone marrow stem cell transplant. The raw food diet not only played a crucial role in my eligibility for the transplant but also in my recovery and continued survival.

Today, fourteen years into my healing journey, I’m a passionate advocate for the raw vegan lifestyle, firmly believing in its powerful health benefits. My story is a testament to the transformative power of diet on health, resilience, and the will to live.

 I share my experience with the hope of inspiring others to explore how dietary changes can profoundly impact their health and well-being.

Can you explain the principle behind your diet? Why only raw foods?

Why do I do it? The enzymes! Enzymes are energy, they are life!

They cannot be seen but you can feel them in your body as they deliver their powerful energy. Live foods carry enzymes which have the potential of life. If you plant two seeds, one roasted and one raw, only the raw seed will sprout and bring forth life, the roasted one will rot!

The difference is one seed is full of life and the other has the life cooked out of it.  Nutritional analysis by a scientist would reveal that both seeds have the same nutritional value, but the difference is that one carries life force, and the other does not. 

This is the value of eating live foods, they deliver life force into your body.  These enzymes work in the body and act as sort of healing teams, they repair what needs to be repaired and the keep enough of their intelligence to know how to exit the body without draining the bodies’ own enzymes production with them.

I have studied raw food and received certification from, Alissa Cohen, Hippocrates Health and wellness, Dr. Aris Latham, and I’m a certified juice therapist, and have taken numerous raw food classes without certification.

Healing and longevity story from Chef JJ

Is there any food that you found particularly difficult to eliminate from your diet?

Yes, there were many foods I found hard to give up. I am from Louisiana, the heart of Creole culture in southwest Louisiana, where we have these delicious dishes that are known worldwide, such as chicken gumbo, crawfish and shrimp étouffées, fish coubion, and many more exotic dishes.

However, the pain of fibromyalgia always stops me cold from deviating from the diet, and now I am a humanitarian as well. Being a cancer survivor gives me added motivation to stay as organic and raw as possible!

How do you ensure that your diet is balanced without any cooked foods?

I always let my physician know of my diet. I rely on tests my physician runs to let me know that I am getting everything I need.

Plus, at 75 I have no arthritic pain in my body and am on no pharmaceutical drugs at all, no kidney disease or high blood pressure or cholesterol problems or heart disease. Often my physicians are amazed at my numbers because they are like that of a child.

Are there still many stereotypes associated with raw foodists?

Yes, there are still stereotypes attached to raw food, especially because my culture has a diet that is heavily laden with animal protein, so eating raw foods sets me apart significantly!

However, as I have mentioned, fibromyalgia and cancer recurrence are big motivators for me to stick to a raw food diet

How do you choose your meals, and does the menu vary with the seasons?

My meal choices revolve around the availability of organic foods, with seasonal variations influencing the menu.

My culinary inspiration stems from my Creole heritage, enriched by my studies in raw food preparation. This unique blend allows me to create meals that are both nutritious and flavorful.

Here some recipes:

Broccoli Soup

This soup is so creamy and satisfying and will become one of your favorite soups!  The cumin and sea salt are very important in this recipe, so make sure you have added enough of both of each these to bring out the flavor of this soup.

  • 3 C filtered water
  • 1 C soaked almonds
  • 1 t honey
  • 2 C broccoli
  • avocado
  • ½ t to 1 clove garlic
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 t chopped onion
  • 1 t sea sat
  • 1/8 t cumin
  • 1/8 t black pepper
  1. In a blender of Vita-Mix blend water, almonds and honey until smooth
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until creamy.

Note:  Add more sea salt if it tastes bland or if you find it to zingy, omit the garlic next time

Mock Salmon Pate

A delicious pink pate with a hint of salmon flavor …serendipity!

  • 2 C walnuts
  • large Scallion
  • red pepper
  • 1 t sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Serving Suggestions:  This can be served on a plate as is, over a salad, rolled up in a green leaf, or on crackers.

Fettuccine Alfredo

This dish tastes so much like genuine Fettucine Alfredo that many people eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) adore it! 

You’ll love the ease in creating it, along with its creamy Alfredo taste and texture. 

For added color and more variety you can add thin slices of bell pepper, mushrooms or any other vegetables.


  • 2 Zucchini
  • 2 Summer squash


  • 1 C cashews
  • 1 C macadamia nuts
  • 1 C pine nuts
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 t Nama Shoyu (raw soy sauce)
  • 2 T water

       For Fettuccini Noodles:

  1. With vegetable peeler, peel zucchini and summer squash into long thick strips.  These will be your “fettuccini noodles”.  Set aside in a large bowl.

For Alfredo Sauce:

  1.  Place the Alfred ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Remove from food processor and place in bowl with “noodles”

To Assemble:

  1.  With your hands, blend the Alfredo sauce through the noodles.  This will take a few minutes as the sauce will be thick.  The water from the vegetables will help thin it out while you smooth it together with your hands
raw food - healing and longevity story

Date Nut Tort


  • 2 C raisins
  • 2 C walnuts


  • 1 C dates, pitted and soaked for at least 1 hour
  • ½ lemon, juices or essential oil of lemon


  1. In food processor, combine raisins and walnuts and blend until well blended and moist. (This will take a few minutes and you may see it forming a ball.  Just make sure the raisins come out looking like a fudge mixture and are not still grainy)
  2. Remove from processor and mold onto plate in a round circle about 1 ½ in thick.


  1. In food processor, combine dates and lemon and juice until smooth and creamy.
  2. Spread the frosting on top of the tort.

Do you feel better since adopting this lifestyle?

Of course! I feel much better since I adopted a raw food diet; my fibromyalgia has disappeared, and it has decreased my chances of cancer recurrence.

This diet saved my life, effectively halving my biological age and qualifying me for a lifesaving bone marrow stem cell transplant.

I am grateful. Perhaps, in a way, I have fibromyalgia to thank for this transformation! Now, I can influence how I feel through raw food.

My grandmother was an herbalist, prayer healer, and midwife. From an early age, I observed her use food and herbs as medicine.

After treatments, she always advised her clients on what to eat and drink to feel better and heal. I now apply the same principles to my own life.

Besides nutrition, how has this change affected other aspects of your life?

This lifestyle has deepened my compassion and understanding of suffering, motivating me to share the knowledge and benefits of a vegetarian and raw vegan diet with others.

Do you have any advice for those considering this path?

As a 50-year practitioner of the plant-based diet and raw food lifestyle, and as of August, a 15-year cancer survivor, my advice to anyone trying to heal their body is to give raw foods a 30-day chance, then live on plants for the rest of their life to enjoy vibrant health and happiness, as I am.

When I received my transplant, there were eight of us undergoing the procedure around the same time. By the end of the first year, we had lost two; then two more the next year, and by the fifth year, I was the only one left. The primary difference between me and the others was my plant-based diet compared to their standard American diet. While there were surely other variables, diet seemed to be the most significant, considering we all need to eat!

Thanks, Chef JJ

We are incredibly grateful to Chef JJ for sharing her remarkable story with us, offering a beacon of hope and a wealth of knowledge for anyone curious about the impact of diet on health and longevity.

Her journey from a traditional diet to a life-saving raw vegan lifestyle is a powerful reminder of the healing potential of food and the resilience of the human spirit.

For those inspired by Chef JJ’s journey and eager to learn more about her raw vegan lifestyle and culinary creations, be sure to follow her social channels:

Thank you, Chef JJ, for taking the time to share your incredible journey with us. Your story is not only a testament to the transformative power of raw veganism but also a source of inspiration for many.

Your dedication to spreading awareness and helping others through your own experiences is truly commendable. We wish you continued health, happiness, and success in your mission to enlighten others about the benefits of a raw vegan lifestyle.