I have been participating in a challenge using the principles in Rip Esselstyn's book "The Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue Diet with Recipes by Jane Esselstyn" for a couple of weeks now. As the title indicates, Jane Esselstyn wrote the recipe section; and there are no repeats from Rip's previous books, with a couple of minor exceptions. It's been an enlightening journey that I would recommend to anyone interested in losing weight on a plant-based diet.
I haven't been as diligent about my dietary intake as usual because my life hasn't been normal during my recovery from both a surgery and a herniated disc. I felt the need to do something really healthy for my body once I was able to function again. Plus my weight has been slowly creeping in the wrong direction for the past year. This is a weight loss challenge, and it’s the right time for me to participate in one of those. Rip's book, the challenge, and the Facebook group have been very helpful. If you're new to plant based eating or just need a nudge to get back on track like I did, I highly recommend this program.
If you don't want to buy a copy of the book, you can probably borrow one from your public library. That's what I did, only because I own a bazillion cookbooks and have put myself on a book buying diet. But if you can't buy or borrow the book, fret not. You just need to follow the guidelines below. You can sign up for the challenge here engine2diet.com/7drc/
This will give you access to the Facebook group where you can download the basics. The discussions in this group have been very good. I'm a kitchen wonk, and I've learned a lot there.
Whole Foods Market has its own E27DR recipes. I've made several, and all were delicious. www.wholefoodsmarket.com
Below are guidelines that I condensed from the book. I added quite a few comments to make it easier to follow in this at a glance overview. If you're interested in a jumpstart or just starting out on a plant based diet and/or want to lose some weight, this is a great way to do one. The principles are more than just a big push in the right direction, though. If you eat this way all of the time, your body will thank you and you'll have an added spring in your step. Who wouldn't want that?
1. Consume no beef, lamb, poultry, fish, or other meat – nothing that comes from an animal or fish. In other words, don't eat anything with a face. Also don't use Field Roast or other so called "vegan meats." They're not animal protein, but they all contain oil and many contain heavily processed ingredients.
2. Consume no dairy products or eggs. Zip, none, nada. No butter, yogurt, ice cream, coffee creamer (but you shouldn't drink coffee anyway), cheese, or any other dairy product. Leave them at the store for others to buy. As Rip said in one of his other books, cheese is liquid meat. That's really true of all dairy products, whatever form they are in. Oh, no vegan substitutes either. Unsweetened plain almond and oat milk are allowed for cereal and recipes, nothing else.
Can you have cheese? The short answer is ‘no.” Nutritional yeast, commonly referred to as nooch, will give you a cheesy flavor. For some, it’s an acquired taste. Vegan cheeses contain oil and often have nuts as part of their base. Many of the commercial products contain unpronounceable ingredients, so leave them at the store. That doesn’t mean you can’t have mac and cheese, you just have to repurpose your thinking and have "mac and cheeze." But don’t have it plain. Add some kale or Swiss chard or broccoli. You’ll be surprised by just how good it is! Try this No-Cheese Sauce recipe from Del Sroufe on vegetables, mac and cheeze, or any dish where you want a cheesy flavor. www.forksoverknives.com/
This "cheese" sauce recipe from Chuck Underwood uses improbable ingredients resulting in a surprisingly cheesy taste. www.brandnewvegan
And if you think béchamel sauce is forever an item in your rear view mirror, rest easy. You can still have béchamel – with the added bonus of adding to your greens total for the day www.forksoverknives.com/
So there is an exciting dietary world without dairy products. See Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s groundbreaking book "The China Study" for a detailed study of dairy's adverse effects, and you won't think twice about giving it up.
3. Use no added oil. This means no cooking spray, too. In addition to nonstick cookware, be sure to have a supply of parchment paper on hand for baking. There are many, many compliant salad dressing recipes that do not contain sugar, oil, and salt. You can pick up a few varieties of pre-made dressings at Whole Foods if you live near one. You don't need oil to sautee veggies either. Steam sauteeing onions and veggies is easy chadsarno.com/video/stea
You can also sautee them in a small amount of water or broth.
4. Go easy on the nuts and avocados. Walnuts have an excellent omega-3 to omega-6 ratio and are the only nuts allowed on the 7DR. They are calorie dense, and you may only consume a handful daily. That is an ounce of walnuts or 1/4 cup shelled halves or 14 halves and contains about 200 calories. Avocados are high in fat, so consume no more than 1/4 of an avocado daily. This probably means no guacamole while you’re following the 7DR program. It’s OK to have 1 Tbsp of seeds per day in addition to walnuts. Chia and ground flax seed are preferred for their omega 3 content, but hemp seeds are OK too.
5.Go green, as in have lots of them at every meal. Greens include kale, collard greens, beet greens, bok choy, mustard greens, turnip greens, Napa cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cilantro, parsley, arugula, Swiss chard. Spinach, regular cabbage, and salad greens fall into the vegetable category for this program, so consider them a vegetable, not a green. You should eat the equivalent of a 5 ounce container of greens every day or a whole head of broccoli or cauliflower or a full bunch of asparagus.
6. Steer clear of all animal protein, including eggs; and be aware of aware of ingredients that come from animals that you might not want as part of your food. Casein and whey are milk proteins; they are used frequently in packaged and prepared products. Read the labels of products you buy.
Though not necessarily containing animal protein, some products are so basic in most of our lives that you wouldn't begin to think there was any animal part involved in its production. That matters to some people on an ethical basis, and others may not want those products included as part of their whole foods plant based diets. Most cane sugar is processed using bone char; this article contains a list of brands that are not made that way. www.peta.org/abou
Red food coloring contains crushed guts of cochineals, insects that can be found on prickly pear cacti in the North American deserts. Take at look at this article on Serious Eats for more www.seriouseats.c
The 7DR is not a vegan challenge, it is a whole foods plant based (WFPB) challenge. Products containing small amounts of honey, like Bone Suckin' Sauce, are allowed. Avoid high fructose corn syrup; again, read the product labels.
7. Cut back on your salt intake, which means cut back to little or none. Be sure to buy salt-free canned items like tomatoes. Whole Foods has salt-free canned beans. You can find some other brands that are low sodium or salt free. If you rinse your beans with water and drain them before using in a dish, you’ll cut about 40% of the sodium if low or salt free canned options are not available. It’s hard to find sodium-free broth unless you make your own, so be sure to buy low sodium products when possible. Again, read the labels. Manufacturers change their formulations periodically, so a product that was high in sodium a few years ago may be low salt or salt free now. They may also add salt-free or low sodium products to an existing line. For example, RoTel now makes a salt free product. The same goes for condiments. Spices give added flavor to food; and you will soon learn to enjoy your meals, not the salt on them. If you buy spice blends, read the labels carefully. Many of them contain salt. You can find a fairly comprehensive list of salt-free blends here www.sparkpeople.c
8. Limit your sugar consumption. This means little to no sugar. Don't put in on your cereal or decide to bake a batch of cranberry orange muffins. Many packaged and canned products contain sugar - again, read the labels. Exceptions are made in this program for the use of condiments and ingredients like barbeque sauce and ketchup. It’s hard to find sugar-free versions of those that don't contain artificial sweeteners. Speaking of artificial sweeteners, stay far away from them. Some of the recipes contain maple syrup, and that's OK as long as it's in small quantities. Avoid agave because it is heavily processed. Maple syrup is a good substitute in recipes that call for agave. Avoid high fructose corn syrup; again, read the product labels.
9. Learn to love 100% whole grains. Oats have magical health benefits. Try a savory version to vary your routine from standard breakfast oatmeal. If you usually use old fashioned rolled oats, give steel cut oats a try. . Put 1 cup steel cut oats in a saucepan with 3 1/2 - 4 cups of water, and cook for 30-40 minutes, depending on how chewy you like your oats. Stir frequently, especially once it thickens. Top with fresh or frozen fruit for a morning treat. You could spend part of your walnut allowance as a topping. If you put the oats and water in a pan and refrigerate them overnight, it only takes 12-15 minutes to cook the oats in the morning. Almost instant. Speaking of which, don’t use quick or instant oats.
If you're a cold cereal fan, make a batch of Rip's Big Bowl engine2diet.com/recipe/r
The recipe makes enough to last an average person a week. If you can't find Uncle Sam cereal, leave it out. It's hard to find in some areas and pretty expensive online unless you want to commit to 6 boxes. I love the stuff, but that's just me.
There is a world of grains to try if whole grains aren’t already a staple in your diet. Try quinoa, hulled barley, brown rice, millet, farro, spelt, or buckwheat . Cooking directions are on the package. All of these whole grains are delicious in salads or topped with a mound of greens. You can have bread only if it is whole grain and made with no oil, eggs, and dairy. Open faced sandwiches, Rip calls them flats, are great. Spread bread with hummus that does not contain oil or tahini; and pile it high with greens like arugula veggies like cucumber, tomato, and sprouts. Make whole grain pizza crust without oil and top with sautéed mushrooms, arugula, etc. Let your imagination go wild! There are many delicious varieties of whole grain pasta products ranging from whole wheat to spelt to lentil. You get the picture.
10. Water is your friend. Refrain from consuming any caffeinated beverage. Herbal tea is allowed, and hibiscus tea is highly recommended. Mainly, stick with water. Add some lemon or other citrus or cucumber to add some flavor if you want. No smoothies, soda, or juice are permitted. And remember, no coffee or black or any other caffeinated tea (sniff).
Finally, have fun with this! Stock your fridge and cupboards with good healthy foods following the guidelines above. Invent your own dishes using your imagination and the power of plants. And if you ever feel discouraged and want some reinforcement, take 15 minutes or so and watch Rip's TEDxFremont talk. It's about E2 in general; 7DR hadn't been developed yet. That said, it's a great testimonial for a whole foods plant based diet. www.youtube.com/watch?v=
Need more inspiration? Watch this entertaining and informative talk by Doug Lisle, PdD at TEDxFremont - "The Pleasure Trap". It isn't directly relevant to the 7DR, but it is about genetic instincts that drive our behaviors. And you'll learn a lot about shrikes... www.youtube.com/watch?v=
To learn more about this challenge, read "The Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue Diet with Recipes by Jane Esselstyn" by Rip Esselstyn (New York: Grand Central Life & Style, Hachette Book Group, December 2016). It's a tremendous resource about whole food plant based diets and explains why greens are so important for this program. It also has lots of delicious recipes to guide you to a healthier, skinnier life.