Eat Plant-Strong: 2 Hearty Vegan Recipes from the New Engine 2 Cookbook


As much as I hate to admit it, that old joke about vegans at a dinner party is kind of true…

We love talking about our food. But if you spend enough time around vegans and vegetarians, you’ll find out that it’s not all just kale and almond milk.

You’ll likely find out that we love to learn about our food and about how what we eat affects the world around us.

But it’s not just talking… we love to eat that food, too.

And no, it’s not that we’re so deprived of calories that we can’t get enough — it’s that we find so much joy and pleasure in the food we eat that we can’t help but go back for a second serving. (With the added benefit of knowing what we’re eating is typically healthy and that no animals were harmed in the making of our new favorite meal.)

Cooking Meals You’ll Want to Share

Along with that love of food comes a deep desire to share our favorite meals and recipes with friends and family, whether they happen to be vegan or not.

So when a fellow vegan comes out with a new cookbook, for me, it’s almost like Christmas. I can’t wait to see a new perspective on how to combine fresh fruits and veggies to create an entirely new dish (or take on a dish) that I’d never considered.

That’s how I felt when I heard about Rip Esselstyn’s new book, The Engine 2 Cookbook, which he wrote with his sister Jane, a nurse, researcher, and recipe developer. Rip is a long-time friend of NMA, so when news got out about his book, we wanted to do what we could to help spread the word.

This cookbook is a follow-up to Rip’s New York Times best seller, The Engine 2 Diet, which he published in 2009. Because of the success of his first book, and the work of his farther, Dr. Caldwell Essylstein, Rip is one of the most well-known advocates for a whole-food, planted-based diet, which he refers to as “plant-strong.” From his years as a professional triathlete to being a firefighter in Austin, Texas, Esselstyn has been an inspiring example of how to thrive on a plant-based diet.

Rip and Jane were also guests on a recent episode of NMA Radio, where they shared more about the Engine 2 Diet philosophy and story. Check it out here:

In The Engine 2 Cookbook, Rip and Jane share a ton of recipes that you’ll definitely enjoy on your own, but you’ll also be exciting to share with your family and friends. I’ll get the ball rolling by sharing a few of my favorite recipes below: Two-Handed Sloppy Joes and DeBoom’s Ironman Cherry Chili (which includes a bonus roasted red pepper recipe!). Both recipes take an old favorite and add a little twist to make them seem new again!

Perfect for enjoying around a table full of loved ones.

Two-Handed Sloppy Joes_credit Donna Turner Ruhlman

Two-Handed Sloppy Joes

Serves 4

Sloppy, smoky, satisfying. Sloppy Joe is probably my favorite comfort food – and this recipe ticks all the boxes.

NOTE: If you are not using canned lentils, combine 1½ cups dry lentils and 4 cups water in a pot. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils are soft. Drain if necessary.

1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3 cups cooked brown lentils, or 2 (15-ounce) cans lentils, drained and rinsed
¼ cup barbecue sauce (Rip suggests Bone Suckin’ Sauce)
1 tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke, or ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder

4 whole-grain buns

Fixings: butter lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced red onion

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms until soft and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes and continue to cook and stir over low heat until all warmed and mixed together, about 3 minutes. Add the cooked lentils, barbecue sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, and chili powder, and thoroughly mix. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste and tweak mixture to your liking: Add more maple syrup for a sweeter flavor, or more barbecue sauce for a smokier or more fiery flavor.

Load the filling onto your whole-grain buns and add your preferred fixings.

DeBoom’s Ironman Cherry Chili_Cranberry Salsa_credit Donna Turner Ruhlman

DeBoom’s Ironman Cherry Chili

Serves 8

The Engine 2 Cookbook shares a little back story about this recipe:
“Rip’s friend Tim DeBoom won the coveted Hawaii Ironman triathlon twice, in 2001 and 2002. The first time, right after 9/11, he broke a five-year streak of no American winning the race. Rip will never forget the vision of Tim crossing the finish line waving the American flag. Tim and his wife, Nicole, made this chili for Rip one night when he crashed at their place. After two bites he couldn’t get over how much he loved cherries in chili. It’s a total winner—just like they are!”


¼ cup dried tart cherries
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup Roasted Red Bell Peppers (see below) or store-bought roasted peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (28-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, with juice
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup sweet corn, frozen is fine
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced, for topping


Place the cherries in a dish of warm water and let soak for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and try to rinse off any of the oil used in processing the dried cherries. Repeat, soaking, draining, and rinsing the cherries again. Set aside.

Microwave or steam the sweet potato cubes until they are soft, and set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, cook the onion and bell pepper in a little water until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the roasted pepper, chili powder, mustard, cumin, tomatoes, and broth. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat as the flavors meld together. Increase to high heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the drained cherries, steamed sweet potatoes, black beans, kidney beans, corn, and half the cilantro. Continue cooking and stirring on medium-low heat for at least 10 minutes, until well incorporated and the flavors mingle. Simmering longer does not hurt when it comes to chili as long as you remember to stir occasionally.

Serve with remaining cilantro and diced jalapeño to your liking. It is also delicious over brown rice.

Roasted Red Bell Peppers

Makes 3 to 4 cups

Roasted peppers are what make the sandwich, the salad, the pizza, the pocket, the burrito…you get my drift. Make these, share these, and devour these. You will become addicted.


6 red bell peppers
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried oregano


Preheat the oven to 450°F or set to broil.

Place the peppers on a baking sheet and roast or broil until blackened on one side, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the peppers and continue roasting, rotating until all sides are blackened, about 5 to 7 minutes per side. Some people prefer roasting peppers individually over a gas flame which works, too.

Let cool slightly, then peel and seed the peppers under running water. Slice or tear the flesh into long strips and place in a bowl. Add the vinegar, garlic, basil, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and oregano. Allow the peppers and spices to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container for 7 days.

About the Author: Andrew Carter is a vegan trail and ultrarunner and editor for No Meat Athlete. You can read about his adventures on the trail at Infinite MPG.



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  1. That Sloppy Joes recipe looks fantastic! You could swap out lentils for Quorn too to give it a little more weight, perhaps, but wouldn’t be vegan. Definitely going to try this one though – thanks!

  2. That chili is amazing!!! Thanks for sharing.

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