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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegan Books

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook:
Over125 Delicious, Life-Changing, Plant-Based Recipes

By Ann Crile Esselstyn and Jane Esselstyn

Avery--The Penguin Group, 2014
Paperback, $25.00

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook Ann Esselstyn and daughter Jane are energetic cheerleaders for husband and father Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's life-changing success in preventing and reversing heart disease through diet. The dynamic duo are avid worker bees who created tasty recipes for this book that helps make reversing heart disease with a whole-foods, plant-based diet a reality.

Ann created the recipes for her husband's best-selling book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, a ground-breaking work that inspired the entire family not only to adopt the diet, but also to spread the word by creating additional innovative recipes and traveling across the country to speak at health conferences. Even son, Rip Esselstyn, a former firefighter, joined their health crusade by writing The Engine 2 Diet and My Beef with Meat, with recipes by sister Jane.

Dr. Esselstyn's foreword discusses the strength of the diet by acknowledging his study in the Journal of Family Practice and his follow-up study in the American Journal of Cardiology. "People rejoice when they become aware that they are empowered as the locus of control to halt and reverse a disease that has been destroying them," he writes.

The introduction features many life-changing stories from patients who have reversed their heart disease and restored their health by changing their diets and sticking to them. Because of the program's success, the family has traveled across the country and overseas to speak at conferences and retreats sharing food and recipe tips and tricks people can use everyday.

Getting Started in your Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Kitchen introduces a concise 12-step guide that outlines the basic do's and don'ts with brief explanations:

  • Eat no meat, pork, fish, or fowl. No flesh. None.
  • Consume no dairy products.
  • Eliminate oil!
  • Eat whole-grain oats.
  • Eat whole grains.
  • Eat greens.
  • Eat beans and lentils!
  • Avoid sugar as much as possible.
  • Avoid salt as much as possible.
  • Steer clear of nuts, avocado, and coconut.
  • Drink water!
  • Read food labels, especially the ingredients.

The authors suggest stocking the kitchen cupboards and the refrigerator with some of their go-to basics, making it easy to jump in and follow the recipes in the book. Items like nutritional yeast, balsamic vinegars, hummus, tofu, nondairy milk, and greens like kale, collards, and Swiss chard are some of the essential ingredients needed.

The few kitchen tools they love include rice cooker, microplane, citrus reamer, lemon squeezer, food processor, immersion blender, tortilla bowl maker, parchment paper, and Yonanas Frozen Healthy Dessert Maker for making banana ice cream.

The recipe section opens with seven easy-to-make favorites like caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, and sautéed mushrooms to keep on hand. These items are featured in several recipes, or they can be enjoyed on their own. Classic cooking techniques rely on cooking oils to sauté vegetables, but not these recipes. Dr. Esselstyn then offers a Q & A section to answer the many questions that arise when introducing this heart-healthy lifestyle.

"Oat-heavy" is the key to many of the breakfast offerings because oats lower cholesterol and decrease inflammation. Of the multitude of ways to enjoy them, Savory Smoky Oats is most unique. This recipe combines oats with savory ingredients like mushrooms and tomatoes with liquid smoke and seasonings in a saucepan. The finishing touch is wilting spinach in the pan and adding hot sauce to male this a dish to enjoy anytime.

Lunch favorites feature open-faced sandwiches using whole-grain breads topped with hummus or cannellini bean sauce. Toppings focus on cooked or fresh kale or other greens, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, fresh herbs and simple seasonings. More elaborate sandwiches like the Dagwood pile on sautéed mushrooms, roasted peppers, grilled pineapple, and caramelized onions to create a spectacular lunch.

With a little kitchen wizardry, Ann and Jane turn unhealthy hot dogs into highly nutritious Carrot Dogs and give them a smoky grilling. Then they tuck the cooked carrots into whole-wheat hot dog buns and top them with their favorite fixings like cooked spinach, ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut, and caramelized onions. Anyone browsing the book will most likely take a long pause to appreciate the Carrot Dogs photo opposite page 67.

Color-infused photos of many of the soups beckon a soup-lover into the kitchen. Red Lentil and Dill Soup with Mint and Oberlin Corn and Shallot Chowder each sound and look delicious. One standout is the Big Bean Soup that spotlights chunky vegetables along with giant lima beans and kale.

Ann and Jane Esselstyn Hummus variations in the sauce section are made without tahini to keep the fat content very low. Instead, they are cleverly flavored with green onions, caramelized onions, sweet potatoes, or pesto. Another tempter is Mommy's Mushroom Gravy 2.0 made with miso, tamari, and sherry--just right for slathering over mashed potatoes.

Innovative recipes like Enlightened Dr. Seuss Stacked Polenta offer a banquet of enticing surprises. Standard recipes usually rely on salt, oil, and sugar to boost flavor, but not these originals that make those items a no-no. Instead, Ann and Jane turn on their creative mojo by looking to Mother Nature for the healthiest ideas.

Many of the dishes reflect international cuisines and feature Indian, Mexican, Italian, and Asian flavors that offer pleasing variety and keep the daily menus fresh and interesting.

What's for dinner might be a mighty Triple-Decker Lasagna or innovatively Stuffed Portobello Caps. The hearty Asparagus Mushroom Pie with Lemony Cheezy Sauce pictured on page 203 looks enticing and cheery. This charmer features a crust of cooked and seasoned brown rice topped with tomatoes and green onions. Then it is layered with cooked mushrooms, asparagus, and kale and finally topped with the Lemony Cheezy Sauce--a real dinner delight!

Everyone's on board when it comes time for dessert, especially when a gorgeous bright purple-frosted Kale Cake is on the menu. It may be a challenge to imagine kale as a typical ingredient in cake, but an awesome surprise occurs with the first bite. Even more intriguing is the Blueberry Frosting featuring fresh blueberries, maple syrup, and silken tofu blended together and slathered over the cake and sandwiched between the layers. Fresh blueberries provide a fitting garnish.

While most of the desserts feature fresh fruits attractively presented, the book includes a few baked treats like an eye-appealing Lime Custard Tart with Fresh Fruit and Gingerbread Biscotti.

Because green leafy vegetables like collards, spinach, and especially kale are so high in valuable antioxidants, they are featured ingredients in many recipes. While some people consider these vegetables too bitter, Ann and Jane have perfected the art of making them kale-icious!

The book is replete with photos that reveal skilled food styling and professional photography to make the dishes so appealing one could almost be tempted to pluck a strawberry off the page! The full-color photos are also various sizes, making the book's design graphically stunning.

The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook is not just for those recovering from heart disease. The key words are "prevent" and "reverse." Everyone can benefit from this whole-foods, plant-based lifestyle that will aid in unclogging those plaque-filled arteries. By leaving processed foods laden with salt, sugar and oil behind, people can enjoy these delicious recipes and take charge of their own health at the same time. In this book Authors Ann and Jane Esselstyn clearly demonstrate that healthy can be delicious!

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