By Rip Esselstyn, a former firefighter from Austin, Texas, and author of the national bestseller The Engine 2 Diet. Rip is launching a line of Engine 2 "plant-strong" foods for Whole Foods Market.
The Engine 2 Diet is a plant-based diet I designed for my fellow firefighters in Austin, Texas – their health and lifestyles were in dire need of a change. The plan helps to lower cholesterol, significantly reduce the risk of disease, improve physical fitness, and those who stick to it also lose the excess weight.
As firefighters, we rescue people every day, but there are plenty within our own community that needed rescuing. Their own inner fires, fueled by poor diet choices and unhealthy eating habits, were killing them. The Engine 2 Diet is working in firehouses all across the country, and the results have been incredible. Being on a plant-strong diet has not only made these men and women healthier, but it has kept them lean, strong, fit and happy. If a firehouse in Austin, Texas, can do this, any household in America can!
Here are the 5 foods everyone can keep in their kitchen to live by a plant-strong diet.
This is a great item to have in your kitchen and is your healthiest bet for a super cheese substitute that isn’t loaded with saturated fat, cholesterol and unhealthy animal protein. A great source of B12 with zero fat and cholesterol, nutritional yeast packs a protein punch that is 51%. An added bonus: it is loaded with dietary fiber, which may help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Because of its cheesy flavor, I use it as a pizza topping, on lasagna, salads, steamed broccoli, cauliflower and even popcorn.
Ohio State University released a study showing that freeze-dried strawberries may actually prevent esophageal cancer. Freeze-dried are even better than regular strawberries because they pack 10-times the antioxidants. Who knew? Look for no-sugar added options at health stores.
A recent study from Sheffield, England shows that rhubarb cooked for 20 minutes dramatically increases its levels of polyphenols, which are known cancer-fighting chemicals. Interestingly enough, rhubarb is not a fruit but a vegetable; the greens are actually poisonous, so stick with the stem!
I’m a huge fan of all leafy cruciferous vegetables like kale, collards, bok choy and spinach. All of these are loaded with all of the good and none of the bad, ranking highest for nutritional density, and should be a mainstay in your daily diet. While you’re exploring adding more greens to your diet, check out escarole. These leafy greens are teeming with everything that will help you to fight cancer and make you healthy: water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals all come to the rescue to take your health to the next level. Escarole is great to use in your salad and has actually been shown to help prevent ovarian cancer.
Banana “Ice Cream”
Yes, banana ice cream may sound too delicious to be true. But this version sticks to the plant-strong variety, so there is no dairy in this dessert. It’s well documented that high levels of fruits and veggies reduce your cancer risk, but in particular, bananas have been shown to help protect against kidney cancer. You take a few bananas, slice them up, put them in the freezer and blend them with a drop of vanilla extract and water. I like to sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Here is the recipe:
Magic Banana “Ice Cream”
One ripe banana per person; the riper the banana is, the sweeter the “ice cream” will be.
1. Peel and slice bananas, place on a baking sheet and freeze.
2. Remove from freezer and slightly thaw enough to remove from baking sheet.
3. Place frozen bananas in a strong blender or juicer with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. It comes out creamy and delicious. Sprinkle to your liking with nutmeg or cinnamon and sliced berries.
This works equally well with frozen mangos or frozen berries or a combination of fruit. Experiment to see what you like. If using a blender, it may be necessary to thaw the frozen bananas a little longer than in a juicer. This recipe is from my father Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. To read an excerpt, click here.
To learn more about The Engine 2 Diet and get more of Rip’s recipes, click here.