The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook: Over 125 Delicious, Life-Changing, Plant-Based Recipes
We love our food! When all twenty of us Esselstyns gather together, our days are full of fun—biking, swimming, backflips off the dock, long runs, family baseball, and badminton. But we have the most fun cooking and eating together—the beautiful lasagnas, the rice-and-beans feasts, the nori-making sessions, the salads brimming with a rainbow of colors, the kale birthday cakes with blueberry frosting, and masses of curly, dinosaur, or Russian kale from the garden. Everyone cooks, even the grandchildren, whether they’re ten or sixteen. The one person who doesn’t cook is my husband. He is the permanent, full-time dishwasher.
When Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease was published in 2007 and went on to become a New York Times bestseller, it made an impact we couldn’t even imagine. People all over the country and around the world heard the message that our family has lived by for years: Your health is truly in your own hands, and what you eat matters.
We’ve heard from people all over the United States and abroad whose lives have been changed by Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Why did it resonate? Because the program works, and because the science is irrefutable. In 1985, while a general surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, my husband started a heart disease study with eighteen patients. Some of those patients were so sick they had been sent home to die. Incredibly, after twelve years, those patients were thriving on plant-based, no-oil diets. Twenty years later, compliant patients continued to thrive. Some still are thriving today in their late eighties. Eighty-eight-year-old Evelyn, one of those original patients, commented, “No one expected me to live! Here I am now, healthier than most of my friends.” The wife of Anthony, another original patient, says, “Anthony thinks he will live forever, something none of us are privileged to do! He truly is steadfast in maintaining the plant-based diet and will not deviate under any circumstance.”
A LIFE-CHANGING STORY
“I started my plant-based lifestyle on March 23, 2012. At that time I was 285 pounds and heading toward my eighth stent. The prospect of seeing my daughter get married on April 26, one month away, was slim to none. Today, just over one year later, I’m 215 pounds; I’m off all meds; I played sixty minutes of full-contact rugby three weeks ago at the very young age of fifty-six. I have not cheated on the diet once even though my family encourages me to find something that I could celebrate with. I celebrate every day that I’m on this side of the dirt.”
We have worked with hundreds of patients since that original group, helping them take those first empowering steps toward reclaiming their health—all with the same miraculous results. My husband’s research continues, and his most recent published study proves that when patients truly understand the power of nutrition, they are more than willing to change their diets. We have seen this firsthand—patients are always surprised how quickly they feel more energetic and healthy and how fast their cholesterol levels drop. And they can’t believe how easy it is to put my husband’s treatment guidelines into practice. They feel empowered being in control of reversing their disease.
The guidelines for those patients with heart disease are simple:
No oil or nuts
Minimal salt and sweetener
What can you eat? A delicious and colorful array of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, brimming with fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants, all great nourishment for your heart and your overall health.
In the last few years, spreading the word about the magic of plant-based nutrition has become a family affair. Our son Rip wrote the blockbuster bestsellers The Engine 2 Diet and My Beef with Meat, creating a national movement. And our daughter, Jane, created the recipe section for My Beef with Meat, which became a number-one New York Times bestseller. Rip calls his plan “plant-strong” and my husband’s plan “plant-perfect.” Both programs have no meat, dairy, or oil. Heart patients are also asked to eliminate nuts and avocado and to limit soy products.
A LIFE-CHANGING STORY
“My husband had his left circumflex artery stented in 2012. After talking to Dr. Esselstyn, my husband switched to the diet with full commitment and stopped having smoothies and flour and added a lot more greens than he had been eating, especially steamed kale.
“When he had the left circumflex artery stent, he also had a 100 percent blocked right coronary artery, which they did not stent that day. We were told that the blockage was severe and that the odds of success in opening the artery would be slim. They told us he’d have to go to a different facility for that second stent, six weeks later. Anticipating the procedure was horrible, but we were hopeful that, given the time on the diet between the two stents, some of the blockage might be reversed.
“I’d been told to expect a four- to five-hour surgery with two surgeons, but to my surprise, his surgery lasted only thirty minutes, with one surgeon! Only one catheter was needed, and no guide wires. The surgeon told us it was one of the easiest procedures he had ever done, and the head nurse said it was the quickest surgery of this type she’d ever seen.
“After six weeks on the diet, my husband’s total cholesterol was 88, and his triglycerides were 110. I’ve been married to him for twenty-five years and never have his triglycerides been under 300. He and I truly believe that it was our focus on the diet that produced this happy outcome. My husband feels so much better today than he has in years. He’s sworn to never again enter the hospital as a heart patient.”
Jane is an excellent chef with a sophisticated palate. If I were left on my own, balsamic vinegar, mint, and cilantro would be in everything, and if something didn’t taste right, I would go for the nutritional yeast. Jane adds the kick and boldness to our recipes and to our life. We are lucky to live next door to her; her husband, Brian; and their three children. We find it endlessly exciting to test new recipes, and it’s so easy to run back and forth with something new to try.
Jane presents at conferences, retreats, and immersions both on her own and with my husband and me. We travel across the country and overseas to participate in conferences, retreats, and immersions. We share with our audiences the tips and tricks we’ve learned from years of cooking delicious plant-based, oil-free meals. We teach people how to get away from processed food, even if it’s labeled “vegan,” since it’s often full of oil. We introduce them to the wonders of kale and other hearty and delicious greens, as well as sweet potatoes, artichokes, beets, broccoli, cucumbers, asparagus, whole grains, cannellini beans, lentils, and so much more.
There is no question that those patients who are the most compliant have the best results. Fortunately, it is not hard to be compliant because eating whole food, plant-based nutrition is not complicated! There is no counting anything. There are few hard-to-find products. Stick to the outside aisles of the grocery store and the produce section. Shop at farmers’ markets or start your own garden. We have not included the calories or fat, protein, or carbohydrate content of the recipes on purpose. We want you to enjoy the food and not calculate anything except your blessings for having discovered the beauty of eating plant-based!