Category Archives: engine 2 diet

My Beef With Meat by Rip Esselstyn, Plant Strong on the Engine 2 Diet

Who isn’t looking for the fountain of youth these days?  Well, I think I’ve found it.  My family had slowly been cutting meat out of our diet two years ago.  We were having about 3 meatless meals a week in our house.  Our girls are 2 and 4, extremely active and had been eating what I thought was a pretty healthy diet of meat proteins, beans, fruits and vegetables.  Like any mom I struggle to get them to try new foods and eventually like new vegetables.

My then 3 year old went in for her check up, and our pediatrician had a talk with me.  He knew our diet was healthier than most and that the kids were active.  But my 3 year old was trending on the heavier side despite all her athletic activity, and he suggested we make some more changes to prevent childhood obesity.  Our second daughter was 1 at the time and heading in the same direction.  At first, I admit this angered me a bit as a mom.  After all, I’m the one responsible for feeding the family.  Then I took it to heart.  I realized that my kids’ health was in my hands.  They would eat whatever I served them, and I am ultimately responsible for them being overweight or being healthy.  After all, 1 of every 3 kids now will have childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.  One in Three.  Those odds aren’t good.  We didn’t eat any red meat.  We ate mostly chicken and fish, cheese on many meals and the kids did drink a lot of milk.

My husband and I had also struggled with what had been coined by our local physicians as “genetically high cholesterol”.  My husband has been on a statin (cholesterol lowering mediation) since his late 20s, and my physician had been suggesting I make more changes before she would put me on a statin since I was done having children.  The thought of taking a statin in my 30s bothered me.  I haven’t been overweight for years, I worked out weekly and looked healthy yet my combined cholesterol was well over 200.  I also knew people who had horrible side effects not to mention the fact that it just delays and doesn’t prevent clogged arteries and heart disease.

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Call it perfect timing, but my husband and I sat down to watch Forks Over Knives, the documentary based on the work of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. T. Colin Campbell.  The movie explores the “profound claim” that many degenerative diseases including heart disease, America’s #1 killer, can be prevented.   That’s a pretty big claim.  After all, everyone knows someone who has had a heart attack or died of heart disease.  For most of us, it’s immediate or extended family and often it’s someone who wasn’t necessarily overweight by our standards.  I ran out the next day and bought Engine2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn.  The book is a quick read, and contains all the “need to knows” to about why and how to begin eating a plant based diet.  The Engine2 Diet book by Rip Esselstyn and Forks Over Knives are the reasons my family is on a plant based diet today.  We had watched many compelling food documentaries and read many food related books before, but these were the ones that changed our lives permanently.

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The Engine2 Diet book was the first guide to plant based eating that we had discovered as a family, and it has become one of our great resources and reminders of why animal products are so unhealthy for our bodies.  It offers a 28 day plan for eliminating meat, dairy and oil with a solid plan and tasty recipes.   We remain meat and dairy free 18 month later, and with few exceptions we remain oil-free and do our best to avoid processed foods.  Our children haven’t been truly ill other than a day of the sniffles in over a year and a half.  My husband and I remain dedicated to living plant strong and to teaching our children responsible, compassionate ways to eat.

We set a date, cleaned out the fridge and pantry and went for it.  This was no small feat, especially since we live in an area where plant based diets are scarce (South Florida).  The first few weeks I fumbled a bit as a chef trying to keep things interesting for everyone, but I was determined to make it work. The kids requested mac and cheese and cow’s milk.  I stayed strong and told them that we needed to change to be healthy.  They also didn’t like learning that cow’s milk came from taking the moms away from baby cows or hurting animals for our food.  Honestly, I felt a bit relieved about moving in this direction and being honest with my kids.  After about 60 days on our plant based diet, we were both below a combined 160 cholesterol score, and I had a fantastic, simple selection of healthy foods to feed my family.  After 1 year, both my husband and I have been well below 160, and my husband has been happily off his cholesterol meds WITH doctor’s approval and supervision for over a year.  I now tell everyone that “genetically high cholesterol” usually means “I want to subscribe you meds”.  That is a Band-Aid, and we chose the surgery-free solution.

Rip's New book, My Beef With Meat

Rip’s New book, My Beef With Meat

My Beef With Meat, Rip Esselstyn’s new book that came out 2 weeks ago,  recaps many of the principals of WHY traditional foods have become dangerous weapons that destroy our bodies.  I think the biggest take away for me was the reminder to embrace simple eating.  The less added to your foods, the better they will be for you.  That’s a clean, easy act to follow.  Rip lives what he preaches which is the reason his story is so compelling.

Rip headshot

Rip Esselstyn

Great take aways from My Beef With Meat:

*You get plenty of protein and strong bones without meat and dairy.

*Problems with the Paleo and Mediterranean diets.

*Eating plant based is healthy AND affordable.

*If you eat plants, your body and weight will thank you.

This book is informative, has a 145 fantastic and affordable plant based recipes anyone can make.  It was also on the New York Times Bestseller list!  You can order on Amazon today:


My personal beef with meat has been a journey.  I grew up in the Midwest where meat was a 3 meal per day staple in my diet.  My assumption had always been the eating it moderation argument as I got older.  Recently with my growing cholesterol issue I began to learn more about the horrible treatment of these animals in factory farms.  The clincher for me on top of my health was when my daughter said to me, “But this chicken isn’t a REAL bird, is it, mom?”.  I was disappointed in myself for continuing to think it was ok to treat some animals kindly and not others.  I answered honestly.  And then our journey with food quickly became real and more honest as we gave up all animal products and got healthy as a family.

For those with kids who say it can’t be done, that’s an excuse.  Would it be easier to have a type 2 diabetic child than to say no and offer a healthy choice?  My guess is probably not.  You are the parent, and you are teaching your children whether or not you like it.  Do you have to do it all at once?  No!  Make changes week by week if that’s easier, but make progress in the right direction.  Set goals as a family and hold yourselves accountable for those goals.

Me meeting Rip at Whole Foods Market Sarasota

Me meeting Rip at Whole Foods Market Sarasota

I have had the pleasure of listening to Rip speak twice now.  He’s a great example of someone you wouldn’t expect to have a plant based diet in the traditional sense.  As an ex-triathlete and firefighter, he’s in fantastic shape. He’s a no nonsense guy whose mission now is spreading the word that plant based eating is here to stay.  Rip and his wife also have 2 plant strong kids of their own.  Like many of us, involving the kids in the kitchen and in choosing healthy foods is an important part of getting their buy in and helping them understand that fruits and vegetables are fun.

Rip with axe

Rip has an axe to grind with meat.

Rip’s team has offered a few recipes to share to with my readers who either want to try new things and make delicious healthy food choices.  These recipes are kid-friendly and could be packed as lunch leftovers the next day.

Polenta Pizza


Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves 4-6


3-4 cups water (depending on your brand of polenta)
1 cup polenta
16 oz. E2 approved tomato sauce
2 cups fresh spinach
3 large tomatoes, sliced
1 cup pineapple, cubed
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic, crushed
(Other favorite pizza toppings: mushrooms, arugala, asparagus, or olives)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Prepare pizza stone by sprinkling with corn meal or lining a pan with parchment paper
3. To boiling water, add polenta and whisk until mixture thickens and there are no clumps
(instructions for preparing polenta vary from brand to brand -check the specific preparation
instructions for your type of polenta)
4. Pour polenta mixture onto pizza stone or pan and flatten into desired crust shapes: round pizza,
square pizza, mini-pizzas, elephant pizza, fire-hydrant pizza
5. Precook the polenta crusts for 10 minutes
6. Remove crusts from oven, add sauce, toppings and sprinkle with nutritional yeast
7. Return to oven and cook in oven for 10 minutes
8. Slice into generous portions and serve warm

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves: 6-8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Makes: 4 large quesadillas


1 large sweet potato
1 cup brown rice, cooked
8 oz. vegetarian, no added oil, re-fried beans
1 cup of salsa
1 cup fresh spinach
8 oz. black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 jalapeño pepper, diced (optional and HOT)
6-8 whole wheat tortillas


1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper
3. An hour before you plan to eat, peel and
quarter the sweet potatoes
4. Bake sweet potatoes in the oven for 45
minutes to one hour, until soft
5. In the meantime, prepare rice in a rice
cooker or on stove top as directed
6. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and toss
into a mixing bowl
7. Mash sweet potatoes with the salsa, rice and
fresh spinach
8. Place sweet potato mash in a sauce pan and
mix in black beans and refried beans,
heating mixture thoroughly over medium
9. Add onion powder, chili powder and cumin
to taste and stir
10.Place a tortilla in a frying pan on medium
heat, and slather the side facing up with
sweet potato and bean mixture
11.Add jalapenos if desired
12.Place another whole wheat tortilla on top
13.Press down on top tortilla with spatula with
pan on medium heat for about 3 minutes
14.Flip with spatula and cook for another
three minutes
15.Voila! Cut into desired number of sections
16.Serve topped with salsa.
Tip: also try this with black-eyed peas instead of
the black beans or any other favorite beans.

I am not being compensated in any way for this review or blog tour.  I offered to do this because I feel so strongly about the content about these books that I wanted to get the word out.  A big thank you to the Engine2 Diet team for including Bentoriffic on your blog tour!

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