The Engine 2 Cookbook

More than 130 Lip-Smacking, Rib-Sticking, Body-Slimming Recipes to Live Plant-Strong


By Rip Esselstyn

By Jane Esselstyn

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 5, 2021. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Lose weight, lower cholesterol, and improve your health, one delicious bite at a time in this companion to the runaway New York Times bestseller The Engine 2 Diet.

The Engine 2 Diet has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and inspired a plant-based food revolution. Featuring endorsements from top medical experts and a food line in Whole Foods Market, Engine 2 is the most trusted name in plant-based eating. Now, readers can bring the Engine 2 program into their kitchens with this cookbook companion to the original diet program. Engine 2 started in a firehouse in Texas, and if Texas firefighters love to eat this food, readers nationwide will eat it up, too! The Engine 2 Cookbook packs the life-saving promise of the Engine 2 program into more than 130 mouth-watering, crowd-pleasing recipes, including:

  • Mac-N-Cash
  • Two-Handed Sloppy Joes
  • Terrific Teriyaki Tofu Bowl
  • Badass Banana Bread




The power and charm of the original Engine 2 story was a bunch of burly, male, Texas firefighters eating a bunch of plants with the courage and chutzpa to just say “no” to all animal products, animal by-products, and processed foods. The reason we were able to do this so successfully and spark a cultural awakening within the Austin Fire Department was because the food resonated with the guys. Plain and simple. This was anything but “turtle food” or “rabbit food.” We weren’t living on carrot sticks, salad greens, twigs, or berries.

Far from it. We took the four major food groups of the Texas firefighter and plant-strong-ified them! Instead of double cheeseburgers with bacon drenched in mayo with French fries, we feasted on double-decker black bean poblano burgers drenched in salsa and guacamole on whole-grain buns with baked sweet potato fries. Instead of pepperoni pizza with triple cheese, we dined on plant-strong pizza with a triple dose of veggies and fruits including sun-dried tomatoes, pineapples, bell peppers, artichoke hearts, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, and spinach on a whole-grain crust. Instead of beef fajitas sizzling in Crisco we served up portobello mushroom or butternut squash fajitas marinated in red wine with a side of no-fat refried beans with all the fixings. And for dessert, instead of full-fat, cow’s udder Blue Bell ice cream, we whipped up frozen bananas, mango, raspberries, or blueberries and made our own fruit sorbets. Real food for real men. The 125 recipes in The Engine 2 Diet were reflective of this theme. And for those of you who don’t know, one of my favorite sayings is “Real. Men. Eat. Plants!”

The 130-plus recipes in The Engine 2 Cookbook go back to the roots of the Engine 2 Diet that resonated with people. If Texas firefighters love to eat this food, your family will as well. It is familiar comfort food with a plant-strong twist: food that sticks to your ribs but not to your arteries. We have assembled easy, hearty, healthy meals so that people and families can rally their kitchens and lifestyles with food that will increase energy levels, decrease weight, improve health, and ease the burden on pocketbooks and the planet.

The strength and impact of the Engine 2 story continues to grow: an Engine 2 plant-strong food line at Whole Foods Market stores; our pinnacle Engine 2 weekend retreat, Plant-Stock, which takes place at the Esselstyn family farm in upstate New York (that has been in the family since 1685); Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Immersion programs that take place in Sedona, Arizona, where we show people how to rescue their health with the power of plant-strong food and exercise; and involvement in groundbreaking documentaries like The Game Changers. We have also received endless stories of individual empowerment and self-reliance, and of families turning their health around… people saving their own lives. The peer-reviewed scientific studies that have been done over the last thirty years clearly show that all of the major chronic Western diseases—from heart disease to type 2 diabetes, to the major cancers and to obesity—can be slowed down, stopped, or reversed by eating a whole-food, plant-strong diet.

If a bunch of firefighters in the beef capital of the world can learn to eat this way, any house in America can learn to eat this way. I remember what one of my first fire lieutenants used to say: “Firefighters who eat together, fight fires well together.” I would echo that any family who cooks together and eats together is engaging in the most powerful yet underutilized tool we have on a daily basis: nurturing our relationships with healthy food. The Engine 2 Cookbook is for all those who are looking to take back their health by rallying around these Engine 2 plant-strong recipes that are full of flavor but not full of weak food that can cause your health to suffer.

Plant-Savvy Sister

I want to introduce you to the co-author of this book, my sister, Jane. Jane is two-and-a-half years younger than I am and we have two other brothers, Ted and Zeb. Growing up, the four of us did just about everything together: swam a ton, chopped wood, camped, skied, windsurfed, and also played loads of Monopoly, backgammon, Ping-Pong, and tennis. On Sunday nights our whole family of six would watch The Six Million Dollar Man while piled up on our parents’ king-size bed. But the one thing we did better than any other family I know was to eat supper together around our lazy Susan table and devour good food and good conversation.

Looking back at our childhood, I realize that eating around that table united our family and allowed us to bond and grow more than any other thing we did together. Although Jane and I were close growing up, we really got the opportunity to connect and grow as adults. In 2011, Jane, a registered nurse, was getting more and more passionate about plant-based nutrition, not only on the educational side, but also in the kitchen—creating one incredible recipe after another. She also developed a knack for explaining major chronic Western diseases in plain language using simple, provocative visual aids, humor, and science––skills she clearly acquired from twenty-plus years of teaching middle-school sex ed. So, who better to ask than Jane to join me at all of our Engine 2 events as a speaker and menu planner to oversee the food? Working together, I discovered what an amazingly upbeat, positive, and creative sister I have, who also has the same level of passion for plant-strong living that I do. I asked her to spearhead the recipe section for my second book, Plant-Strong, which came out in 2013, as well as my third book, The Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet, which came out in 2017. When I decided it was time to do a fourth book, a stand-alone Engine 2 Cookbook, I knew that Jane was the perfect person to deliver another round of tantalizingly delicious recipes.



Everybody loves firefighters. They protect property, save lives, and do just about everything to help people in their communities. Heck, they’re modern-day superheroes. They are there for the 4th of July parade to let the kids climb through the fire engine cab, try on the helmets, touch the air packs, and ask an endless stream of crazy questions. They are there to open your car door when it’s 98°F after your five-year-old locks himself inside and starts crying hysterically. They are there to put out the fire in your kitchen after you inadvertently left food on the stovetop and went out to run an errand. They are there to rescue your puppy after she falls and gets stuck in the drainage ditch. They are there after your neighbor keels over from a heart attack to start chest compressions and bring her back to life. And they are there to run into burning buildings when everyone else is running out.

Sadly, these superheroes have a higher of death on the job than any other profession. And, surprisingly, firefighters aren’t dying in horrific vehicle accidents responding to 911 emergency calls; they aren’t dying of smoke inhalation or burns while fighting fires; and they aren’t dying when a rooftop or an I beam collapses on them. No, the vast majority of firefighter fatalities are caused by fatal heart attacks.

There are few professions where you are asked to go from 0 to 100 mph in the blink of an eye. Firefighters can be sitting in a chair eating a meal one minute and the next they are throwing on fifty pounds of bunker gear with an air pack, racing through city streets with sirens blaring, pulling 200 feet of hose line from the fire engine, breaking down doors, wielding a charged hose line, and then unleashing its power on the fiery dragon.

Firefighters are constantly pushing their physical limits yet unknowingly overlook the most powerful tool within their grasp to enhance their physical strength and protect them from the grim reaper––food! Instead of fueling their hearts with strong foods that will guard them when the going gets tough, they are burdening their tickers with weak foods that will let them down. This year, over 50 percent of firefighters who die in the line of duty will perish from a disease that is not only preventable but reversible: heart disease. One of the greatest risk factors for heart disease is being overweight or obese. And, according to a study done by Fire Engineering magazine, over 83 percent of paid and volunteer firefighters across this country are considered overweight or obese. Amazing! These everyday heroes, the backbone of our communities, have fallen prey to the standard American diet and the foods that are commonly found in their kitchens. It’s what’s in the kitchens that are killing firefighters.

Kitchens play a key role in the life of a firefighter. In fact, the epicenter of every firehouse is the kitchen––it’s the heart and soul and where all the action takes place. It’s where the crews converge for meals, huddle up for meetings, and hang out during downtime. It’s where crews bond like family. And, believe it or not, it’s these same kitchens where everyone breaks bread, laughs, cries, and tells stories. Sadly, many of those stories include tales of firefighter brothers and sisters falling to preventable diseases before their time.

The amount of meat, dairy, and processed food consumed in this country is like an out-of-control freight train. This toxic food environment serves up breakfasts, lunches, and dinners seven days a week, 365 days a year, nonstop. All this food is punishing the hearts, bodies, and brains of the over 1.3 million volunteer and career firefighters across this country. Firefighters, our modern-day supermen and superwomen, are perishing from a modern-day form of kryptonite.

In the Firehouse Kitchen

Let’s visit a few different firehouse kitchens to see exactly what I’m talking about:

Your first visit is for breakfast at a fire station in Austin, Texas––my old stomping ground. You walk into the kitchen and there are two firefighters standing over an iconic Viking stove, cooking away. They proudly let you know what they’ll be serving the crew of eight this morning: eggs over easy with enough for each firefighter to get two or three, copious amounts of white toast with butter, four pounds of sausage patties, sixteen croissants, and a gallon of whole milk to help slam it all down. Breakfast of Champions?

Your next visit is for lunch at a fire station in Worcester, New Jersey. You stroll into the kitchen and four firefighters have just finished prepping their own lunches. One tailboard firefighter just finished making two ham and cheese sandwiches on white bread with loads of mayo that he’ll wash down with a 16-ounce Mountain Dew; the other tailboard firefighter just whipped up Hamburger Helper from the box and is having a side salad of iceberg lettuce drenched with one-fourth of a bottle of ranch dressing; the lieutenant just finished making chicken fajitas with stir-fried onions and bell peppers in canola oil served with cheese and sour cream on white-flour tortillas that he’ll polish off with an ice tea sweetened with four packets of sugar. And the driver of the fire engine has ordered a large pepperoni and cheese pizza that she’ll devour along with a 20-ounce bottle of Dr. Pepper. For dessert they’ll all dive into a gallon of chocolate ice cream. Lunch of Heroes?

Next up for supper is the downtown fire station in Tampa Bay, Florida. You waltz into the kitchen and lo and behold there is more meat than you’ve seen in one room since your Thanksgiving family reunion five years ago. This is the big daddy of all fire stations. It houses two fire engines, a fire truck, and the battalion chief’s vehicle. In sum total there are thirteen firefighters manning the station at all times. The kitchen is a whirl of activity with mounds of food being placed on the kitchen table: a meat loaf the size of Wisconsin, four deep-fried chickens, a honey-baked ham, a trough of macaroni and cheese, a massive bowl of mashed potatoes with pools of butter on top with a side of white gravy, and four pounds of green beans from a can. For dessert, add three apple pies and two gallons of cookies and cream ice cream. And to drink, it’s Coca-Cola around the horn! Supper of Superheroes?


Next you decide to make a visit to a fire rescue station in Red Hook, New York. You’ve heard whispers about a group of firefighters from Brooklyn who have embraced the plant-strong lifestyle but you want to see it with your own eyes. You drop by and find there are five firefighters at the station and three of them are in the kitchen, cooking and preparing an Engine 2–inspired breakfast. What’s on the menu?

Sitting on the stove in a large pot is a fresh batch of steel-cut oatmeal. On the counter in six smaller bowls are the toppings that will go on the oatmeal: sliced strawberries, golden raisins, sliced bananas, chia seeds, toasted walnut pieces, and fresh blueberries. And to drink: good old H2O. Breakfast of Champions!

What are they planning for lunch? They tell you in a few hours they’ll be feasting on a batch of monstrous homemade veggie burgers with tomatoes, caramelized onions, pan-seared mushrooms, guacamole, and salsa on a 100 percent whole-grain bun. On the side they’ll be having baked sweet potato fries along with steamed broccoli with a walnut dressing. Lunch of Heroes!

How about dinner? After a CrossFit-style workout late in the afternoon, the crew will once again converge on the kitchen for supper. On the menu: black bean and sweet potato quesadillas, roasted cauliflower steaks with a low-sodium tamari/nutritional yeast glaze, and a monstrous salad of spinach, kale, roasted corn, red bell peppers, and roasted Yukon gold potato chunks with a Sweet Fire oil-free dressing. For dessert? Homemade banana ice cream with a sprinkling of toasted oats and a chocolate balsamic glaze on top. And to drink there’s ice cold water with a hint of fresh mint and strawberries. Now that sounds like the Supper of Superheroes!

All of the food all day long is plant-strong, and all of it is made without any added oils and with minimal salt and minimal added sugars. And there are never any leftovers!

Unfortunately, this strong style of eating is the exception to the rule. Most fire stations are fixing up meals where meat is king, dairy is queen, and fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans have been kicked to the curb as not being manly enough to earn a seat at the firehouse kitchen table. This is the way the world turns in firehouse kitchens.

And it’s not only firefighters’ kitchens that are serving an alarming amount of unhealthy food. The same is true of most kitchens in America. All of this weak food is causing our collective health to spiral out of control. We are plagued with heart disease, riddled with cancers, and facing a pandemic of diabetes and obesity. Let’s call a spade a spade: The standard American diet leads to standard American diseases and standard American death. The white elephant in the room is that these diseases are manifestations of all the meat, cheese, dairy, and processed foods we are eating. The good news is that all of these diseases can be halted, prevented, or reversed by simply changing the way you eat.

Simultaneously, we have a major planetary crisis occurring: global climate change, what many experts consider to be the single greatest threat facing humanity today. Mother Earth is heating up and she is crying out for help. As a result, we are experiencing record numbers of floods, droughts, and wildfires across the globe. What’s more, this rise in global temperatures is causing irreversible changes: ice caps are melting, dead zones are forming in the oceans, previously arable land is turning to desert, and species are being pushed toward extinction. Until recently we thought animal agriculture was responsible for 17 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. However, the latest research from the World Bank and Worldwatch Institute place it at a staggering 51 percent, four times that of all transportation emissions (cars, trucks, trains, boats, and planes) combined! And again, this damage to our environment is the manifestation of our food choices and specifically the supply chain and the life cycle of all animal agriculture! The good news is the most effective thing you can do––starting tomorrow––if you truly consider yourself to be a good steward of this planet is to change the food in your kitchen.

Even more good news is that pioneering individuals have been paving the way for us for over thirty years. This is an important number because this is typically how long it takes for the medical establishment and our culture to accept “new” ideas that can help people and save lives.

Case in point, my great-grandfather, George Washington Crile, was a visionary physician, scientist, and pioneering and forward-thinking man. In 1921 he founded the famed Cleveland Clinic. In the late 1890s, he performed the first successful blood transfusion from one human being to another. He figured out the technology and wrote about it extensively in the medical literature and spoke about it everywhere he went. In his autobiography when he wrote about blood transfusions he mentions how unfortunate it was that it took almost thirty years for the medical community to accept this technology. Thousands and thousands of lives could have been saved, especially during World War I. In the last sentence of this chapter he wrote, “But such is the inertia of the human race.”



On Sale
Jan 5, 2021
Page Count
288 pages

Rip Esselstyn

About the Author

Born in upstate New York, Rip Esselstyn grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and studied speech communications at the University of Texas, Austin, where he was an All-American swimmer. After spending 10 years as a professional triathlete, Rip joined the Austin fire department in 1997. He now travels year-round lecturing and giving seminars on the Engine 2 lifestyle. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Engine 2 Diet and Plant-Strong. Visit his website at

Jane Esselstyn is a nurse, researcher, recipe developer and married mother of three. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Learn more about this author

Jane Esselstyn

About the Author

Jane Esselstyn is a nurse, researcher, recipe developer and married mother of three. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Learn more about this author