The Daily Beet

05 Sep Guest post… Ann Esselstyn

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We might be biased, but we think that Ann Esselstyn is the best food coach around! Here are her tips on becoming plant-perfect!

“I am not a chef.  I don’t peel anything and if it looks even a little bit complicated, I don’t make it.  What we have found is that eating plant based  WITHOUT OIL is delicious, easy and  above all magical.

Follow 8 principles and you may well find yourself becoming PLANT PERFECT!

1. Eat oats (Old Fashioned) for breakfast, any way you can as oatmeal, as a cold cereal as we do with alternative milk and fruit or in waffles or pancakes or just put  your cereal bowl with oats, banana and alternative milk and a table spoon of flax seed into your waffle iron and you have your oat breakfast in waffle form  There are delicious ways to use steel cut  oats too.  Oats help lower cholesterol and also reduce artery inflammation.  Find the breakfast  with oats you love then eat it EVERY DAY!!!

2. Eat GREENS especially leafy greens as well as all the symphony of rainbow colored vegetables.  Cooked or raw vegetables are king!  Make leafy greens like Kale, collards and Swiss chard the nest on which you put your food, mix greens into your food or pile greens on the side of your plate.  Make kale sandwiches , mix greens into soup, cook kale, etc. cut in small pieces into pasta 4 minutes before it is done, then drain and you have a meal in one or mix a bunch of greens into pasta sauce and spread on your whole wheat, no oil pizza crust (see www. samis Bakery.com  on line for an awesome millet/flax pizza crust) and top with vegetables of your choice.  Never cheese.

3. Eat Beans and Lentils instead of meat and dairy.  All lentils are delicious.  Try red lentils in soup.  They cook quickly and make the soup a nice color.  Put beans in salads.  Hummus made without tahini or oil  has become our mayonnaise as a sandwich spread or dip for vegetables and crackers and even part of our favorite salad dressing.   Our main party dish is brown rice and black beans piled high with chopped tomatoes, thawed frozen corn, chopped green onions, water chestnuts, chopped cilantro, chopped arugula, chopped peppers, etc. and topped with salsa, low sodium tamari or if you don’t have heart disease with guacamole.  AVOID all the highly processed fake soy meats and any of the vegan cheeses, which have lots of oil in them.

4. Eat WHOLE  Grains.  Be sure that the word WHOLE is in front of wheat or rye in the ingredient list.   If not then it is just white flour fancied up to sound impressive.  Check also to be sure that there is no added oil in the bread.  Ezekiel makes many wonderful sprouted grain products available in the frozen food departments of health food stores. The Ezekiel Tortilla wraps are excellent and useful for everyday or parties.  Fill them with your choice and then roll them up and bake them for 10 minutes in a 450 degree oven.  Delicious!  Use whole wheat pastry flour or barley flour in baking instead of white flour.

5. Eliminate oil! Empty all oil, even virgin olive oil out of your cupboards then you CAN’T use it.  Instead any liquid works.  Vegetable broth (no sodium), water, wine, beer, orange juice, carrot juice, vinegar all work in stir -frying.  Instead of oil in baking, use applesauce, baby food prunes, bananas.    Finding a salad dressing you love is a challenge at first but there are so many possibilities out there you will soon never miss the oil filled ones.

6. Drink WATER! You can’t go wrong with water.  You can flavor it with a splash of  orange or apple, etc. juice occasionally.  Never drink juices!  And absolutely never drink pop, with or without added sugar.

7. Avoid sugar and salt as much as possible.   Save sugar for birthdays or special holiday treats.  Instead put grapes in your freezer for an amazing sweet treat or freeze bananas or mangoes and blend them in a strong blender for delicious “ice creams. “  Look at the government label for the amount of salt in a product.  No added salt is ideal or aim for the salt content being equal to the calorie content.  Instead of salt add vinegar, lemon juice,  lime juice or hot sauces.  You will lose your taste for salt before you know it.

8. Read Labels, especially the ingredients.    You will be surprised that often proclaimed zero fat products have oil listed in the ingredients.  The government allows anything under .5 grams of fat to be called FAT FREE.

Fill up with all the great plant based food.  Life is GOOD!!!”

Thanks Ann for the great tips!

Here are some of Ann’s favorite recipes:

Black Beans and rice

E2 Almighty health wrap

Kale, lemon, cilantro sandwich

Ann’s panini with spinach, mushrooms and hummus

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Ann Esselstyn
Ann Esselstyn

Ann Crile Esselstyn graduated from Smith College and received a Masters in Education from Wheelock College. She taught English and History for 27 years, receiving the Hostatler Award for Outstanding Teaching, and was a Field Hockey Coach for 15 years. She juggled raising four children, teaching, and figuring out plant-based, oil free ways to cook that are delicious and appealing. Since 2000 she has focused on creating the recipes to prevent and reverse heart disease and counseling patients on how to prepare and eat plant-based foods. She has frequently been referred to as the ‘Julia Childs’ of plant-based cooking.

  • Marie
    Posted at 16:07h, 05 September

    When you say “Never drink juices!” do you mean store bough juice or all juice? I’m wondering if juicing veggies and fruit at home in the juicer is acceptable. Great list though! Working on incorporating more and more tips into my every day lifestyle.

    • Lorrie
      Posted at 16:51h, 05 September

      I would also like to know if veggie juicing is recommended. I don’t recall any mention pro or con concerning vegatable juicing.

    • Linda Tessone
      Posted at 17:19h, 05 September

      I think she means store bought juice. Because of the added sugar juicing with fresh fruits and veggies is natural sugar.

  • Adam
    Posted at 16:53h, 05 September

    love Ann! great tips, easy to follow 🙂

  • Engine 2 Team
    Posted at 18:40h, 05 September

    Ann and Dr. Esselstyn do not recommend juicing (of any kind) or smoothies for their patients. Eat the WHOLE vegetable/fruit for the most benefit of the food.

    • Katie
      Posted at 19:56h, 05 September

      Curious – why not smoothies if you are eating the whole fruit?

      • rich
        Posted at 21:22h, 05 September

        Once you send the fruit through the blender it pulverizes and destroys the stringy fiber. I am not an expert on this matter but rather I defer to Dr. Robert H. Lustig of UCSF who has an amazing lecture posted on YouTube which explains all you need to know about sugar. In essence for this question he explains that the fiber in fruit acts as a protective substance from the harmful effects of the fructose. Please Google “Sugar the Bitter Truth” and watch this video – it certainly changed the way I think about sugar.

  • Engine 2 Team
    Posted at 22:26h, 05 September

    We would just rather people eat their calories rather than drink them – you will consume less calories, and you will consume less sugar that way (and the sugar is not getting to your blood stream as fast) . Dr. Esselstyn and Ann both have found they have negative impact on their patients, especially diabetics and heart disease patients.
    Try cutting them out and see how you do! Try oatmeal and fruit for breakfast instead.

    • GetSkinnyGoVegan
      Posted at 16:37h, 07 September

      So half a pound of raw kale with frozen bananas in the vita mix is a no? Your dad has a very strict diet, yours is a little bit less strict for everyday people? It was a little confusing to me because the FOK book and Engine 2 do have some nut butter, small amounts. What effect did green smoothies have on his patients? And stevia? Is that okay still? And other question, if you are on a very good, engine 2 type diet, and you do get cancer. Then what might you try? Do you lean toward a oarticular way of healing? It seems green juices and carrot juices are often used so you don’t have to digest the fiber. Just didn’t know what your suggestions would be regarding cancer treatments, if you are already doing this stuff.

  • Deanna Oliver
    Posted at 23:44h, 05 September

    What about nuts & seeds? I don’t see them mentioned. Also nut & seed butters?

  • Kate
    Posted at 07:42h, 06 September

    I’d be interested to know whether Ann would approve of Miracle Noodles (www.miraclenoodle.com) and seaweed (we’ve been using arame and kombu). They’re both terrific in our miso soup with a few shiitake mushrooms. Are we going astray somehow?


  • matt
    Posted at 10:33h, 06 September

    I am wondering why no oil. As far as I know coconut oil is made up of only good cholestrol. And why no virgin olive oil.

    • Missy Land
      Posted at 04:42h, 19 March

      all oil is 100 % fat

  • Engine 2 Team
    Posted at 12:28h, 06 September

    Matt, please pick up a copy of Engine 2, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease to read much more in depth science regarding oil. (Especially Prevent and Reverse)

    This article by Jeff Novick (our go to RD) is great regarding coconut oil: http://www.jeffnovick.com/RD/Newsletter/Entries/2008/4/10_Marketing_Junk_Food%3A_Dont_Go_Cuckoo_Over_Coconut_Oil.html

    Oil is pure fat, they extract the fat, and leave behind everything good about the vegetable/fruit. It’s a pure junk food, and does a lot of damage to the endothelium.

    also watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYTf0z_zVs0

  • Sue
    Posted at 14:02h, 06 September

    The hardest thing for me in following vegan recipes that look so yummy, as well as things like oatmeal, is that I have Crohn’s disease and my gut hurts and I start bleeding. I wish there was some special way to be a healthier vegan than mushy steamed veggies and overcooked rice and pasta. Too many calories in what I am able to eat. Have a visit for second opinion at CCF in 2 weeks, hopefully that doc will have more insight.

    • Karen Bell
      Posted at 15:15h, 06 September

      @ Sue I’m sorry to hear about your Crohn’s. I have it too but it is under control, actually in remission right now, and I switched to eating vegetarian and am now transitioning to a vegan diet. I believe that avoiding processed foods and meat helped me with my Crohn’s (that and my companion animals). Unfortunately what works for me may not work for you. I wish you the best at your CCF visit and hope you too can get your symptoms under control.

      • Sue
        Posted at 15:32h, 06 September

        Thanks for your best wishes Karen and congrats on remission! I can’t seem to get into remission without Prednisone – after 6 years on it I had to get off. Humira alone does nothing for me. I’ve been avoiding Cleveland Clinic just because I hate driving downtown but the time has come. I would love to eat a salad or a piece of fruit without repercussions. I am vegan for almost 2 years now!

        • Scott Adams
          Posted at 06:59h, 22 May

          Sue, How did you do on the diet?

  • Kathy
    Posted at 18:12h, 06 September

    I’ve been following the Engine 2 diet for a couple of years now. I am 55 yrs old and feel like I’m 30! Wonderful benefits BUT eating this way gives me horrible, embarrassing gas. Anything I ingest including salad, greens not to mention the obvious legumes. I went to a GI doctor and after all tests were fine he suggests adding more carbs to my diet. Not planning to follow that advice but I don’t know what to do. Any thoughts?

    • Missy Land
      Posted at 04:42h, 19 March

      all oil is 100 percent fat

  • Engine 2 Team
    Posted at 00:45h, 07 September

    Kathy – try getting “Say Yes To Beans!” it’s a pill that works wonders 🙂

    Also, remember to chew your food to a paste when you eat (slow!)

    Good carbs are just fine to add to your diet if your Dr. suggested it. (good) Carbs are healthy!

    And stay hydrated!

  • Kimberly
    Posted at 14:39h, 07 September

    Thank you for posting this. We’re 13 days into eating this way (following Ann’s principles) and are feeling great. We attended the Get Healthy Marshall Engine 2 Immersion and had the good fortune of hearing Ann’s principles in person. I listened and took notes, but very much appreciate seeing the info here. Ann was so energetic and enthusiastic about what she does and in sharing it with others. It was a delight to hear her and all of the speakers. The entire weekend was a wonderful, educational, and tasty experience; and it answered any questions or reservations I had about doing this.

  • JB
    Posted at 00:31h, 15 September

    I have been on the Engine 2 eating plan for a a week and a half. I feel great but my skin feels very dry. I am staying hydrated but I need to use lotion 3 to 4 times a day. Does being of Asian descent have anything to do with this?

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