Interview with Jane Esselstyn on “The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook”

Oat Waffles

All-Oat Waffles from “The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook” by Ann Crile Esselstyn and Jane Esselstyn, page 52. Photograph by Vicki Brett-Gach.

I had the great pleasure of speaking recently with Jane Esselstyn about the book she and her mom, Ann Crile Esselstyn, wrote together, The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook. This book is a powerful companion to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease written by Ann’s husband and Jane’s dad, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. I love this book, and read it cover to cover. I’ll just add that I’ve been making the waffles above all week long.

The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease CookbookVBG: Jane, it is such pleasure to have the opportunity to talk with you about your new book! With so many plant-based vegan cookbooks out there, what helped you decide it was time to write this one?

JE: After I created the recipe section for “My Beef With Meat” (the book my brother Rip wrote), the idea just kind of developed for us organically. People have continued to have an interest in my dad’s book – because so many people have heart disease. My mom and I thought it was time to just start writing down the recipes we’d been making, We have gotten so much better at this after cooking this way for so long. So we had a conversation with our publisher, who was really excited about the idea, and we were off and running.

VBG: What concept in your book is the toughest one to communicate to your readers?

JE: No oil!

VBG: Oil seems to confuse so many people. How can you clarify this issue?

JE: People say, “How can we cook with no oil?” and I say, “Just try it!” When I demonstrate, I like to begin by just cooking an onion in a pan while I’m talking to them. Pretty soon the onion is golden and caramelized just from the broth or liquid that it’s in, and then people say, “Oh, that’s how you do it!”

VBG: Jane, how would you say the recipes in your book, “The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook” differ from those in your brother’s books, “The Engine 2 Diet” and “My Beef With Meat”?

JE: Well, my brother’s books have a different feel. They are really written for the general public. My dad’s book, on the other hand, is very technical, and it’s written with heart patients in mind. So the difference would be with the ingredients. In our book we don’t use avocado, nuts, or tofu in any of the recipes because of the higher fat content.

VBG: What recipe do you personally make from this book more than any other?

JE: Probably Massaged Kale Salad. We eat a lot of Massaged Kale Salad!

VBG: What did you have for breakfast today?

JE: It’s funny, I don’t like sweet breakfasts so I’ll often eat leftover dinner. And that’s what I had this morning.

VBG: What’s your favorite nondairy milk?

JE: Well, I don’t tend to drink any kind of milk but in a recipe, or over cereal I’ll use whatever happens to be open in our refrigerator, which is usually either plain oat milk or almond milk.

VBG: Where are all the recipes that didn’t make it into your cookbook?

JE: I have a huge holding file with all kinds of ideas, and I am always working on new recipes!

VBG: Are you considering a sequel?

JE: I am working on another project right now with Rip, but I cannot discuss it quite yet! We will know more about it very soon, and we’ll keep you posted!

VBG: Jane, thanks so much for talking with me today. One last question…what’s for dinner tonight?

JE: Hmm…good question. I haven’t really thought about it yet, but maybe a simple bowl of red beans and rice with vegetables.

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