I am Engine 2

I am Engine 2

I am Engine 2. This is where and how I live. I don’t live in a firehouse and I’m not a fireman. But I’m a firefighter of sorts. I have rescued my health and have regained my fitness. I’ll tell you my story because I am Engine 2.

Like most people, eating good food and food that tasted good was my way of life. My health has never been in jeopardy and my diet was never really poor. My annual physicals were generally filled with good news. I was diagnosed with borderline hypertension—only statistically relevant—and never had the side effects associated with high blood pressure. I’m active; I exercise and enjoy my food and eat a fair amount of it. I am a runner, enjoy the outdoors and consider myself pretty fit and in great shape.

My doctor always said that he’d like to see me a few pounds lighter. He also told me that because my cholesterol was a bit high that I’d be better off with a statin drug to help lower it. He also suggested that statin drugs were likely to be a part of my regimen for the rest of my life. So, an average guy, pretty fit and middle aged. Always ready for the next adventure.

I really never gave a lot of serious thought to the value of food from a nutritional sense. We get older, start a family and start to realize that food should be more than just sustenance. We care about our own health and that of our children, so I began to think a little differently about the foods we eat and feed our families. Most of the time, my wife does the shopping and she’s very conscientious about buying great quality food: organic and natural and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We read the labels and avoid preservatives and artificial ingredients whenever we can. That’s why we shop at Whole Foods Market—it makes it easier and we can trust that the products and brands we buy are free of the bad stuff and ingredients we can’t understand.

I had heard about the Engine 2 Diet, but diets really never appealed to me. Guys don’t diet. I didn’t need to diet. I didn’t need anything, really. Engine 2 Plant Strong—plant strong. It made me start to think—can food be strong or weak? If so, how do I know I’m eating strong food? How can I go beyond just satisfying my appetite by eating strong food?

So I tried Rip’s Big Bowl and a couple of other Engine 2 products. The packaging made it easy—the big red Engine 2 on the front. Rip Esselstyn, the guy that wrote the Engine 2 Diet, was a firefighter—great story about transforming macho firemen to eating plant strong foods and saving their own health. We always think of firemen as the “staff of life”, but those guys suffer more than their fair share of heart attacks because of their own health and stresses and strains on the job. I never stopped to think about it until I read The Engine 2 Diet that the very people we depend on to save our lives couldn’t save their own! That is until Rip taught them how to eat healthier and regain their fitness by eating plant strong.

Reading about a simpler way to improve my fitness, to lose weight and maybe increase my overall health was appealing and got me thinking. Then I became inspired. Could I go from being an omnivore to just eating plant-based foods? How could I give up my occasional “man food”—my steak or chops—to eating just vegetables, fruits and beans? I was already eating some stuff that was plant-based, like almond milks and whole wheat crackers and trail mix. But giving up those hearty proteins and what I thought was strong food?

Engine 2 products never have any animal products or added oils or fat, they’re made from whole grains and the calories are in line with sodium. This is strong stuff. And the more I learned about plant nutrition, the more engaged I became to the plant based lifestyle. No diet. . . . a lifestyle. . .for me and my family. Yeah, we’ve slowly given up the dairy, cheese, eggs and meats. . . .what turned out to be weak foods—and all the time I thought they were so strong. Man, did Engine 2 open my eyes. Eating strong food has made me Engine 2 Plant Proud!

My physical at the doctor a year later confirmed my beliefs. . . strong food lowered my cholesterol so much that I eliminated my statin prescription, I had lost over 50 pounds and my blood pressure was so low I dropped another prescription. I feel great, love the way I look and feel and my wife and family are excited about their husband and father’s health. My daughter and I are even running our first 10K race together to celebrate!

This is where and how I live now. Strong food helped rescue my health and improve the quality of my life and my family’s life too. Engine 2 Plant Strong helped align my personal, professional and nutritional values and bring me and my loved ones into a healthy strong food focus. It makes me Engine 2 Plant Proud. I am Engine 2.

By Mike Schall

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Mike with T. Colin Campbell at Plant-Stock

Passionate about following a plant-strong diet and spreading the health benefits that he’s experienced, Mike Schall
is now part Engine 2 team and works closely with Rip on several projects.

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Show Us Your Buns Contest

If you haven’t tried our new Engine 2 Plant-Strong Organic Sprouted Ancient Grains Burger Buns – now is the time!

Available exclusively at Whole Foods Market locations.


Guidelines and contest details:

Photograph your favorite Plant-Strong burger or sandwich on our Engine 2 Plant-Strong Organic Sprouted Ancient Grains Burger Buns and post it to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #showusyourbuns for a chance to win!

Five prizes:

1- Grand Prize: $200 Whole Foods Market Gift Card
2- Most Creative Creation Awards: $100 Whole Foods Market Gift Card
2- Honorable Mention Awards: $50 Whole Foods Market Gift Card

Get creative! Show us your best ideas, your crowd pleaser burger or your family favorites – built on our Engine 2 Plant-Strong Organic Sprouted Ancient Grains Burger Buns.

All creations must be comprised of plant-based foods only. Not responsible for entries that do not include the hashtag #showusyourbuns or entries that do not meet the guidelines of this contest. This contest is not associated with Whole Foods Market, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other entity. Contest entries are eligible when posted to the social media sources cited above from July 7-14, 2015. Early entries will not be accepted. Winners will be notified on July 15th, 2015. All photos entered in the contest become property of Engine 2 for Life, LLC.

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Becoming A Plant Strong Family: Making It Work

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When I first made the decision to go plant-strong a little over two years ago for health reasons, it was not initially a family affair. It was very much, “this is daddy’s food and this is everyone else’s.” My wife and I quickly saw this method would not be financially viable nor was it in the best interest of our family’s health and well being. We decided eating plant-based needed to be a change in our life as a family. At the time, my children ranged in age from 9 months to 11 years and most of them had their own reaction concerning the dietary journey for which we were about to embark. The two oldest didn’t exactly share my “passion”; the next two in line were pretty indifferent, but didn’t like the idea of giving up certain snack foods; and our 9 month old had known nothing but a plant-based diet, which was AWESOME! Transitioning our family to plant based eating was not an overnight change, but it did happen.

Making the decision to go “plant-based” or “plant-strong” is a big pendulum swing and pretty much goes against the grain of the populous in this country and more than likely, almost everyone you know. Successfully integrating your family into this lifestyle can very much dictate your own success in becoming plant-strong and that’s why it’s important to have support, not resentment, from the ones you love the most. Especially, your spouse and children. You want to foster support and excitement; not resentment.

I realize it’s easier said than done but here are a few tips that might help you transition your family into a “plant-strong” lifestyle and foster that encouragement. There will be bumps, but take heart, there will also be many mountain tops of victory.

Prepare: Once you and your spouse have made the decision to go plant-strong, prepare your children. Let them know the pantry is going to be looking much different than it has in the past; meal time is going to require more preparation; they’re going to notice some things missing from the pantry and fridge, such as their normal, everyday pre-packaged snacks, soda and juice. There will be less frequent trips to fast-food establishments. It may come as a shock or even be upsetting to them, but it’s best to prepare them rather than just blind-siding them with it. By preparing your children, you can comfort them through the shock. You’ll probably be surprised at how well children respond when you actually take the time to talk with them instead of just springing it on them. It makes them feel as if you actually value their thoughts and allows you to answer their questions, providing an opportunity for great conversation.

Educate: Take time to sit down with your children and let them know the food you have been eating was actually hurting and not helping them. Try and explain it in a way they can understand. Take them to the store and teach them how to read labels, explaining where the ingredients in their old favorites come from. Let them know you want to get healthy so you can be there for them as long as possible and you want them to grow up strong and healthy as well. Security and care resonate very deeply with children.

Involve: Include your children in things like the grocery shopping and meal planning. Make food fun! Have a pizza night and let them build their own pie. Make pancakes and provide a ton of toppings: fruit, dark chocolate chips, nuts, etc. Do a taco night and let them fill their own tortilla. The possibilities are endless. Children love to be involved and will be more prone to eat something they “cooked” themselves. Once a month, we turn the kitchen over to our two oldest (ages 13 & 12) and let them choose and cook the meal. It’s awesome watching them figure out how to make things plant-strong if it’s not in our normal rotation.

Baby Steps: It’s OK if you’re children don’t go plant-strong overnight, mine didn’t. Remember, you want to set them up for success over the long haul. Sometimes, they might respond best if you gradually ease them into it. My wife and I started by removing all the dairy from our house (milk, cheese, butter, yogurts, etc.). Three of our five children had dairy allergies and had been on soy milk once they stopped nursing, so this was an easy win and a great starting point for us. Look for the easy and quick victories. The “Fire Cadet” starting point in the Engine 2 Diet is also a great place to start. Week 1: no dairy or refined foods. Week 2: cut out all animal meats & products. Week 3: Get rid of all the oils. Week 4: You’re a plant-strong family. This helps to “usher” the family into a new way of life without a complete shock to their system.

Be Gracious: This is probably the most important. Remember, you are asking your family to completely change their way of eating and adopt a whole new lifestyle…that’s no small task. My wife and I took the approach of having a “no rules” mindset when it came to eating out of the house. We want our kids to make choices and own them, not eat begrudgingly and pig out when they get out of the house. They’re going to be spending time with friends who don’t share the same values when it comes to food and more than likely they’ll “fall off the wagon”. Love them-don’t shame them. Keep offering them tasty fruits and veggies at home, continue to encourage them and fill your house with healthy plant-based snacks and food so that they see, and FEEL, a difference when they leave the house. Our oldest children eventually started noticing how bad, physically, they felt when they ventured outside of their plant-strong surroundings into junk food hell with their friends. Now, they will eat before going out with friends, take a snack or just wait until they get home. Again, keep the long term goal in mind. Being gracious will win them over and it doesn’t hurt when they see the positive changes in you. You are their greatest influence.

These suggestions are not etched in stone, they are just what we have learned from experience. I hope these ideas help you in your journey to create a PLANT-STRONG family!

By Shane Martin

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What’s On Your PL8? – Robert Cheeke



– Robert Cheeke, best-selling author of Shred It! and Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, 2-time champion bodybuilder, and founder/president of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness – www.veganbodybuilding.com

1. How long have you been plant-strong?
I have been following a plant-based diet since 1995, but I have only been following a whole-food, plant-based diet since 2012. After watching Forks Over Knives and spending time with Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., and Rip Esselstyn, to name a few, I transitioned to a cleaner and healthier plant-strong diet.

2. What kind of meal really turns you on?
In my mind, there is nothing better than fresh fruit. If I could have a platter of fresh whole fruits including mangos, nectarines, peaches, oranges, and berries, I would be pretty turned on!

3. Name one condiment you can’t live without: 
I can live just fine without any condiments so no struggle there. But if I had to select a favorite I would say guacamole. Does that count as a condiment? If not, I’ll say fresh salsa. I think that counts as one.

4. What do you love about your kitchen?
I love that my kitchen is full of fresh food and it is not a burial ground of animals whose lives were cut short for a human palate preference. I also love that the fruit bowl is always overflowing and tends to turn into a fruit counter.

5. When did your plant-strong “ah-ha” moment come?
Growing up on a farm in an agriculture town in western Oregon, I had farm animals as friends. As a 15-year old, in 1995, I decided I no longer wanted to eat my friends, and became a vegan. When I enrolled in the Dr. T. Colin Campbell Plant-Based Nutrition Course through Cornell University in 2012, I had my true “ah-ha” plant-strong moment, and transitioned over to a whole-food, plant-based diet.

6. If stranded on a deserted island, what one food and beverage would you have with you?
I consider myself to be fairly logical, so I would analyze this question based on the nutritional return on investment I would get from my food and beverage selection. I’d also want to know what vegetation, crops, and trees are on this island, but for simplicity, I’ll say potatoes and coconut water. If I can’t find the tools to prepare the potatoes, I’ll swap them out for mangoes and some dental floss.

7. Who is the one person you’d like to see plant-strong and why?
I would try to determine which individual has the potential for the greatest positive influence on society and select that person. At this time, I’m not sure who that is, so I will consult with Twitter to find the most followed person. Right now, that is Katy Perry. Barack Obama is third on that list and I have a feeling he could be more influential than Katy Perry or Justin Bieber, who are the top two most followed people on Twitter. So right now I’d go with President Obama. I would also like to see the top athletes in all major sports become plant-strong because they have such a powerful influence on the millions of sports fans who look up to them for inspiration and guidance.

8. Curly or Lacinato?
Is this a Three Stooges question? I’ll go with curly on this one. Can I get a kale yeah?

Latest News:
Robert just released his second book, Shred It!, on November 4, 2014, and it is in its third printing. Shred It! is a step-by-step guide to burning fat and building muscle on a whole-food, plant-based diet, complete with case studies, transformation stories, 75 whole-food, plant-based recipes, exercise programs with photo demonstrations, and featured 35 plant-based athletes. Shred It! is available on www.veganbodybuilding.com. Robert continues to tour all over the world with upcoming trips to Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, Australia and all corners of the United States, speaking about the plant-strong fitness lifestyle. Follow Robert on Twitter at @RobertCheeke and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VeganBodybuildingAndFitness for tour updates and general news about plant-based fitness.



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Engine 2 Phoenix Award – Scott

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Scott’s journey toward a whole food, plant-based lifestyle has all of the hallmarks of a Engine 2 Phoenix Award winner! Congrats Scott!

I suppose my real journey toward a plant-based life began when my father passed away of cancer at the young age of 53. It happened 10 days after I graduated from college, and my entire world was turned upside down. It was my first face-to-face experience with serious disease and death. I relived the experience a year ago last July when my wife’s father became suddenly ill, and passed away very quickly of a similar type of non-smoking related lung cancer at the age of 66. My world, once again, was thrown topsy-turvy due to serious illness. We moved our family of four from Hangzhou, China where we were teaching, into my in-laws home in Iowa to become full time caretakers for her mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. My own mother has been battling rheumatoid arthritis for many years and is paying the price with the side effects of heavy medications. My wife, Beth, and I decided to do some serious soul searching, and in the process learned as much as possible about health and prevention. It turns out preventing these diseases that many would consider inevitable, has more to do with what we’re putting in our mouths than anything else. The link between diet and wellness is undeniable. At the time, I fell into that middle-range group of men who knew they were a bit overweight but could easily justify it because, well, “at least I’m not as big as THAT guy!” It was time for an honest “coming to Jesus moment” for me and my relationship with my own eating. I had to ask myself just one simple question: “How healthy do I want to be?” It’s a hard question to answer honestly, knowing that the logical follow up question is, “Am I willing to do what it takes?” I decided to find out what a 10 out of 10 in terms of my own health would feel like, so began my journey into the world of whole food, plant-based eating.

Beth and I soon began absorbing all the documentaries on food, nutrition, and wellness we could find. Simultaneously, it became clear we needed to broaden our research, so we scoured every book on the topic of nutrition and wellness. The landmark documentary for me was, “Forks over Knives,” which hit me in the head like a hammer. Something shifted inside me and I knew this was the answer I had unknowingly been seeking. In the process I gained two new favorite superhero’s: Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, shortly followed up by Rip Esselstyn. These guys gave me a clear focus and a direction I could now point my compass. As a family, we made the “dramatic” shift to a whole food, plant-based journey and have never looked back. Beth’s aunt and uncle loaned us the Engine #2 Diet book and began the kitchen overhaul, and soon we were exploring this brand new world of food I never knew existed. At first I wondered, “How in the world can you call a meal ‘dinner’ without any meat on the plate?” I was finding out the easy way…by just having an open mind and doing it. I am grateful to the entire Engine #2 team for doing great work and changing the world one bite at a time! Luckily, my wife had been moving in this direction for some time, so the change was slightly less abrupt than it could have been. It was however, a very real fundamental shift in my relationship with food. I now have a new way of eating without “dieting” that I can count on for the rest of my life. No more wondering about what the next new “wonder-diet” is going to be. It’s fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds from here on out. What an amazing feeling knowing I’m doing something wonderful for my body, mind, and the planet. This change didn’t happen without its fair share of side effects. The first surprise was that I actually felt full after eating. What was going on? I was not tired nor did I have that nightly cramping feeling in my belly. The next side effect was this new and unfamiliar feeling of sleeping well through the night. This was not to be trumped by a new sense of energy I had not felt in, well since I can remember. At 44 years old, I assumed feeling tired was just going to be par for the course forever, since it’s been an old friend for so many years. Feeling like a sloth was quickly replaced with a new buzzing sensation in my body, which I can only describe as energy surging through me. It actually felt like an electric current flowing through me! This new sense of energy provided a small dose of motivation to begin moving my body more. I began biking for fun, and started a “Couch to 5K” running program, which was a big deal since I’m not a runner. I mean really not a runner. I’ve hated running my whole life and sincerely wondered why the hell anybody did it at all. My feet are as flat as an iron, and to me, running = pain. Slowly I began to embrace the idea that maybe I could become a runner if I just kept it up a little longer. Within the first five months of full immersion into whole food, plant-based eating and beginning my “light” exercise regime, I shed 50 pounds. Over the course of the next 3-4 months, 15 more pounds fell off. What was going on? In a nutshell, “A new relationship with food.”

My family and I had been living and teaching in Southern China for the last two years and witnessed first-hand how the “Great American Lifestyle” is changing the human landscape in that part of the world. The health gap is clear between older Chinese people who are lean and healthy, versus the growing obesity rates among younger people. As they are adopting our Western lifestyle, which comes pre-packaged with all the dangerous consumer goods we call “food”, they are now experiencing all the side affects as well. These include but are not limited to increasing cancer rates, obesity, diabetes, and most of the other chronic degenerative diseases created for ourselves by our own hand as a direct byproduct of what we eat.

The answer to this apocalyptic health epidemic is so clear and so simple. In fact, it’s right under our noses. Although changing eating habits is difficult, I believe the much harder task is changing mindsets and habits. This has become my new passion and my mission in life. I would like to be an advocate and walking proof that with a little education, a pinch of ambition, and a dash of determination, anything is possible. As a recent member of the whole food, plant-based community, I am strongly committed to spreading the word about its benefits – far and wide.

Our family is now totally plant-based and we have decided to take it to the next level and create a real business. Beth and I are now both certified in whole food, plant-based nutrition through the Center of Nutrition Studies (T. Colin Campbell)- Cornell University. This will be a nice complement to a wellness coaching certification I am currently pursuing. Words cannot express my gratitude for Rip Esselstyn’s work on the Engine #2 book, and what it has done for my family. Since beginning this new way of eating and becoming a plant-strong family, I have run a 5k, Half-Marathon, and I’m now training for a full marathon. In addition, my wife and kids also ran a 5k the same day and they absolutely loved it. We’re committed to spreading the word about all the benefits of making the change, and going against the heavy current of the standard American diet. We are continually making impacts in our local community by speaking to as many people as possible about the benefits of real dietary and lifestyle changes. Friends and family seem to be naturally drawn to our new energy and enthusiasm. Many have jumped onboard, or at least dipped their foot in the pool by leaning in that direction. It’s exhilarating to act as a support network for them and see their exciting transformation. My vision is to use the nutrition knowledge and expertise I’ve gained to continue a strong grass-roots effort to help heal a sick community of people “eating the way everyone else does.” Collectively, we can make a large impact by sharing the benefits of building a new and healthy relationship with food. Sharing knowledge and inspiration means truly empowering people to take charge of their own lives and health, literally one bite at a time.


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What’s On Your PL8? – Adam Sud



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My name is Adam Sud and I am 32 years old. 2 1⁄2 years ago I weighed 300lbs and was a type II diabetic and a drug addict. I was also addicted to fast food and suffering from severe depression. I went to rehab and afterwards moved to California. There I took it upon myself to implement a nutrition plan in addition to my addiction recovery, which was therapy, medication, and living in sober-living. I knew that I could reverse my diabetes through proper nutrition and exercise. That was the primary motivation for the nutrition plan. What I discovered was that nutrition would become the backbone of my sobriety and emotional recovery. Today I weigh 160lbs. I have completely reversed my type II diabetes and have never felt better about myself in every aspect, mind, body, and spirit. After a recent volunteer trip to Nepal, working with orphans in Pokhara, I have decided that nutrition is also what I want as a career. I am currently working towards developing a nutrition program aimed at addicts in recovery.

  1. How long have you been plant-strong?  I have been plant-strong for only about 6 months, however in the last 2 1⁄2 years I have pretty much been a vegetarian.
  2. What kind of meal really turns you on?  A salad made of Black beans, avocado, sweet corn, red onions, tomato, romaine lettuce, and kale. No dressing.
  3.  Name one condiment you can’t live without: Guacamole!!!
  4. What do you love about your kitchen?  My kitchen isn’t all that impressive. I do love my vegetable steamer/rice cooker.
  5. When did your plant-strong “ah-ha” moment come?  I didn’t really have an “ah-ha” moment. I would say that it was simply the next step in my road to recovery. If I hadn’t had made the transition by now, I would have eventually.
  6. If stranded on a deserted island, what one food and beverage would you have with you?  Avocados and water
  7. Who is the one person you’d like to see plant-strong and why?  My brother. He is my twin, so naturally he and I are extremely close and I would love to share this with him.
  8. Curly or Lacinato?  Curly All Day!!!

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Adonis Cake

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Know someone sweet and spicy?

Well, we want to share with you one of our favorite sweet, special occasion treats –with an optional twist to kick it up a notch!

Adonis Cake

This is a chocolate cake for the gods –moist and chocolaty with dreamy, creamy Adonis frosting.  Rip’s wife, Jill, made this cake for Rip’s 49th birthday party and it was a smash!  The recipe comes from Jill’s aunt Betty and her wonderful eight-year-old grandson, Adonis.  

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Makes one 9×9-inch cake


1½ cups whole wheat flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

⅔ cup pure maple syrup

6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup cold water


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Set out a 9×9-inch nonstick cake pan.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, and baking soda and mix well.  Add the maple syrup, applesauce, vinegar, vanilla, and water and mix well to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Bake for 30 minutes.

While the cake is cooking, make the Adonis frosting (recipe follows).

When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and set aside to cool.  When cooled, frost with Adonis frosting.

Rip’s Tip: If you want a two-layer cake, then just double the recipe –and frosting recipe below as well.  Then frost in between and all over both layers!  Want something sweet and spicy? Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to your frosting!

Adonis Frosting

Chocolate frosting of the gods!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Makes about 2 cups frosting –enough for one Adonis Cake, plus a few taste tests


One 12-ounce package of silken soft tofu

¾ cup dairy-free, semisweet chocolate chips, melted

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Place the silken tofu in a food processor.  Add the melted chocolate chips to the food processor and blend.

Add the vanilla and blend until chocolaty and creamy.  Taste at this stage; if using grain-sweetened chips, you may want to add a bit more maple syrup –or not!  Trust your own taste.

Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. 

Rip’s Tip: Enjoy this recipe as a pudding as well! After preparing it, pour it into glasses, layer with sliced fruit, and refrigerate until ready to serve 

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What’s On Your PL8? – Francisco Polizzi



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My name is Francisco Polizzi…

Before going into who I am and my history, I wanted to thank my beautiful wife for all the support on my lifestyle change. Without her creativity and willingness to learn plant-based cooking, I don’t know where we would be today. Together is the only way to succeed in anything. Also would like to thank my family for their support and respecting my lifestyle

I have been plant-based/plant-strong for 3 years. It started when my doctor noticed my high cholesterol and acid reflux in 2007, she wanted to monitor me with blood tests every four months. Every visit the doctor would prescribe me more and more meds.

Medication would show small incremental improvements on LDL cholesterol while still struggling with raising HDL and no improvements on triglycerides. By this time I am on three cholesterol meds and a prescription acid reflux pill. The acid reflux would still attack me at least once a week and heartburn was still there everyday. Also took on constipation due to the medications.

Having been married for only one year my wife and I thought we were eating healthy by eating home cooked meals and leftovers for lunch at work. Rarely hitting the fast foods, maybe once a week. Both of us were gaining weight at a constant rate. Both of us being frustrated as to why my cholesterol was so high and the weight gain.

Enough is enough, I was on a mission to figure out myself what was wrong. I watched constant documentaries, read books, and surfed the web for a cure. Nothing really grabbed my attention until a friend saw my frustration and mentioned Forks Over Knives on Netflix. That night my wife and I watched it and did it blow our minds. We both made a decision to start the next day.

The next day we watched The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue which showed us the basics on what foods to throw away, how to read labels and how to shop for food.

So starts our plant-based lifestyle. Eating nothing that has eyes or has a mother as the documentaries say.

Being Plant-strong eliminates all animal products which are beef, pork, chicken, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, refined or processed foods (including white rice, white sugar, white flour), and all oils.

Within two weeks, I have felt better and some weight started melting off. One month into my new lifestyle without the doctor’s knowledge I stopped taking my acid reflux and cholesterol medications as a test for my next blood test.

My next visit to the doctor 4 months later my acid reflux had been eliminated and my LDL and triglycerides were reduced and my HDL surprisingly went up! After my doctor told me the meds must be working, I explained to her my lifestyle change and I was not taking the meds. Being shocked as to my improvements, the doctor mentioned to keep doing what I am doing. My skin cleared up, hair and nails grow faster, my constipation completely went away.

One year later, my doctor said I now only need annual blood tests and she added a check for my liver, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and protein levels.
By this time I had lost a total of 40 pounds and feel as my ideal weight.

An additional two years later, have not felt better, not one attack of acid reflux and still at the same weight.

Here are my blood test results from 2012/2015:
Total Cholesterol 241/160 (-81 pts)
LDL 155/57 (-98 pts)
HDL 33/54 (+21 pts)
Triglycerides 409/162 (-247 pts)
Weight 180/140 (-40 pts)

Only negative to eating plant-based is you need to buy all new clothes.

My passion now it to spread the great news to help others. If you have any doubts on what type of food or want ideas please follow us on instagram/twitter @panchitosgrub

1. How long have you been plant-strong?
I have been Plant-strong now for 3 years. It was life changing. Never going back to the SAD (Standard American Diet).

2. What kind of meal really turns you on?
Most meals we eat I enjoy so much. What really gets me are Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts! I can live off of them.

3. Name one condiment you can’t live without:
LIME! If you can call it a condiment. Ask anyone who knows me and they will say I add lemon to most of my foods, water, desserts. I live the sour taste and the neutralizing benefits of acidity. Yes, like counteracts your body’s acid environment.

4. What do you love about your kitchen?
I absolutely love watching my wife create the wonderful full flavor dishes. The kitchen is what brings us closer together because we know how we are taking care of each others health and future.

5. When did your plant-strong “ah-ha” moment come?
There are two “ah-ha” moments
The first was about two weeks after I started plant-based eating. I started feeling better. My bloating after eating, burping, heartburn, acid reflux were gone. My bowel movements became much better. My waste line started shrinking because my intestines were being cleaned out of all the build up of fiber-less animal products.
My second moment was when I saw how easy it was to eliminate the animal products. It easily outweighs saying no to bad eating because I won’t suffer feeling sick later. Today I don’t miss any cheeses or steaks which used to be my absolute favorite.

6. If stranded on a deserted island, what one food and beverage would you have with you?
Potatoes and my daily morning smoothie (apple, banana, blueberries, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, spirulina powder raw rolled oats, six almonds, and water)

7. Who is the one person you’d like to see plant-strong and why?
Can’t pick just one. I would like everyone I know to at least try plant-strong for at least 28 days so they can feel and see for themselves how beneficial this lifestyle is and how great they will feel. Aside from alleviate many ailments most people suffer from.

8. Curly or Lacinato?
Love both, but we use Curly more. Kale-Yeah!

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The Big Cookie Post

Two commercials and a holiday movie reminded me about the plate of cookies, glass of almond milk and the carrots we put out for Santa and his reindeer.  A holiday party with plates and plates of cookies did too.  I don’t bake much, as I am apt to eat the whole batch of cookies – all by myself :)

This is the time of year that I make a few batches of sweet treats though, as there is always friends or family around to share them with.  If you have been looking for some plant-strong options this year, you’ve come to the right place!  We hope that you find a new family favorite among the recipes here.

Thanks to all of the bloggers, recipe lab scientists and creative folk who have created these gems!

Our favorite cookie is from our book, My Beef With Meat – Banana Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

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Susan Voisin from Fat Free Vegan came up with the most amazing fig bars:

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Cathy Fisher, from Straight Up Food really nailed the perfect plant-strong oatmeal cookie!

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One of our favorite cookies to make are the Soft Molasses Cookies from Lindsay Nixon at Happy Herbivore.


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Looking for fudge or brownies? Amanda at Rawmanda has the perfect solution!

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Dreena Burton gives us a nutty entry that is versatile for add-ins like chocolate chips!

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Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows makes a great cookie for the road – the Happy Trails Adventure Cookie:

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Fran Costigan knows chocolate.  Her Bittersweet Cashew Cream Truffle Squares are incredible!

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Looking for lemon? Darshana Thacker from Forks Over Knives has the answer!

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Remember to share the plant-strong love! A few cookies won’t hurt :)

Happy Holidays from Engine 2!

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Engine 2 Phoenix Award: Rick’s Story


In June, 2009, my heart arrested suddenly during a USTA tennis match. I had the amazing good fortune to be playing against a team that included a cardiologist. He performed world class cpr for over 12 minutes (assisted by a peds intensivist who had finished playing his match) until the fire department rescue squad arrived and successfully restarted my heart with a defibrillator. That night, I underwent an emergent X6 bypass surgery.

Within a month after my surgery, I discovered Dr. Esselstyn’s book.  I was impressed by the science behind his recommendations, and Iimmediately  transitioned to a plant based diet. I attended Dr. Esselstyn’s day long seminar in October, 2009  and have been an adherent to his plant-based, oil free program since then. In the initial months, my recovery seemed a bit slower than I had hoped, and I soon learned that two of the bypass grafts were no good from the start. I continued to train and, in time, the combination of the plant based diet and development of good collateral circulation enabled me to return not only to playing team tennis but also to compete in 10k races and duathlons.

This past summer, I competed in the cycling races in our state level senior games and managed to qualify for both time trials and road racing events in the National Senior Games next year in Minneapolis. I will be competing in the 65-69 year old age group. I had been a trial attorney for most of my adult life and specialized in medical cases. I defended many cardiology cases, and developed a strong background in the medicine.

It was beyond ironic that a cardiologist was present to save my life when I arrested. Both he and I were subbing for our teams that evening. I am now a law professor and will be teaching a course in animal law this spring. I have a brother who underwent a nuclear stress test soon after my event. The test disclosed cardiac ischemia. He also adopted Dr. Esselstyn’s program and within three years, he was tested again.  The latest test showed no ischemia. Plant power!


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The Engine 2 Phoenix Award is presented to those individuals who have changed their life after adopting a Plant-Strong lifestyle.  Do you have a story to share? Email us: [email protected]

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