Tag Archives: Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn

A Letter To My Local Whole Foods Market

I would like to see more of the foods made by the prepared foods department for the hot bar, grab and go and deli department – follow the 4 pillars.  I have been patronizing your store since February 2012, and almost EVERY selection available contains canola oil or olive oil.  Most of the time, this addition of oil is completely unnecessary to the success of the recipe.

I moved here from St Paul, MN, our local WFM practices the 4 pillars, has 28 day challenges and almost none of the items available in the deli and the hot food bar have oil in them.  I always look forward to shopping at your store and would like to have lunch while I am there.  I am usually disappointed that of all the food available, I am stuck with making a salad as my only option.  I have previously discussed this with Lisa Markley, the Healthy Eating Specialist at your store via email and on the phone.  She said she would talk to the prepared foods department about it two months ago.  Nothing has changed.

I don’t expect you to cater to every lifestyle, for there are many personal choices in the dietary sector.  However, I have adopted a whole foods-plant-based-no added fats diet as prescribed by your own Health Starts Here Advisory Board, so I would at least expect you to follow your own 4 Pillars principles.  Having spent a weekend in Austin, TX with Rip Esselstyn, Dr. Caldwell B Esselstyn Jr., Jeff Novick, MS RD and the team at the Flagship WFM store in Austin, there are so many recipes and options available to your prepared foods team.  Dan Marek, the Healthy Eating Specialist there has so many recipes that fit the four pillars perfectly.  I’d love to see your prepared foods team make this change.

Thank you,

Ami Mackey

and the response I got today….

Hello Ami…

I am glad that you have come to KC and I hope that you keep coming to our department to check out the Hot food venues.  I am very sorry that you have been disappointed on the choices of the bars.  We are moving in a direction that you will hopefully be pleased with.  Lisa is currently working with Laura and Anthony…some of our kitchen staff to help create some recipes for our hot food venues.  Today we have Rip’s Sweet Potato Lasagna out and we will always try to have an Engine 2 or HSH set on both bars in the future.

Next time you are in please come by and check out the choices that we have to offer not only on the hot food venues, but in our Chef’s Case we have at least 3-4 HSH choices and on our Salad bar/Grain bar we have other offerings as well.

Thanks for your comments it helps us to know what our customer base is looking for.
Have a great day!

Terra Salser
Prepared Foods Associate Team Leader
Whole Foods Market METCALF


If you don’t ask…things may never change.


My Blog for Engine 2 – Coffee

If I close my eyes, I can still see myself in my Nana’s kitchen.  It’s breakfast time and I am up with the sun.  I can smell the coffee brewing and the sound of the percolator bubbling.  She always used a percolator so when I started drinking coffee in 1996, I did too.  Strong dark coffee with cream and sugar, yes!

Fast forward 10 years.  I became a barista at an independent coffee shop.  I LOVED my job.  I’d wake up at 4am, ride my bike through the deserted streets to get there so I could start brewing the coffee for the masses.  The shop was populated by a vast array of regular customers.  I could see a car pull up and have their drink waiting for them.  We’d chat at the counter for those few minutes a day, getting to know each other.  I moved from coffee to espresso at that point.  My 3 shot Americano with room for half and half and one Splenda. Aahhh…joy in a cup!

I became manager of the shop and started learning a lot about coffee.  Not just how to make a better brew, but the social aspects of it as well.  Day in and day out, my people would come and see me.  The caffeine dealer. Some came to study or to have a business meeting, others came to hang out with the other regulars.  Social circles from all walks of life gathered there around the cup I served.  From 6am to Midnight, our shop poured shots of espresso, glasses of cold press coffee, and mugs of light roast.  This spot was populated by friends and family.  I loved everything about the place, I even met my husband there.

When we would travel, we would seek out the best coffee shop.  I’d research ahead of time, by reading reviews and articles about the local coffee scene.  We had been making a tour of micro roasters we read about on CNN.  From NYC to San Francisco and places in between, we revered a fine cup of coffee.  We’d buy beans at each one to savor at home in our imported Moccamaster Technivorm brewer.  I had graduated to drinking black coffee.

So on my recent trip to Austin, TX for the Farms 2 Forks Immersion Weekend I planned to have my morning cup of joe at the event.  I had read in the welcome email that breakfast and coffee would be served at 7am. Great!  No need to find a place open early on a Saturday.  As the breakfast service begins, I stand dumbfounded in front of the industrial carafe of DECAF. Next to it sits another container marked HOT WATER.  I spin around in circles thinking surely there must be CAFFEINATED coffee here somewhere?!

Wow. Nope. Nada.

Of course there wasn’t.  Silly girl!  You didn’t really think the Rip and his team were going to serve you caffeine now did you? I had read the books.  I knew that decaf only was the way to go. I knew the reasons why.  I somehow chose to gloss over this info when I read it, repeatedly. Didn’t want to hear it, uh huh. Not giving up my coffee, no way no how! Forget about it.

The day progressed, a lovely day, full of interesting information, wonderful people and a brilliant piercing headache. Wowza! By 3 pm, my head interrupted my thoughts every two minutes.  Like a psychological tap on the shoulder saying, “Um…haven’t you forgot something today Ami?? Where is our caffeine??!!!”  I pushed through it, had an amazing day at Farms 2 Forks and made a B-line for the hotel gift shop to buy some ibuprofen.  I couldn’t believe I felt that bad, over one missed coffee.

So at 6am on Sunday, guess who was first in line at Starbucks? Later that day, I listened to Dr. Esselstyn talk about the detriment of caffeine on our endothelial cells.  Having learned an invaluable lesson the day before I decided that once I was home, I was giving it up.  I wanted to be free of the addiction, and I wanted to be 100% compliant with the program. I will always love my coffee. It played a huge roll in my life.  I can’t say that I will never have another cup, but I will not be beholden to it anymore. Besides, it seems to be working for me, but it’s not for everyone ;o)

Do you want to quit your caffeine addiction?  My best tips: Plan ahead! Start on a Saturday or another day of the week when you don’t have a lot going on.  Don’t try it on a Monday morning before a big day at the office!  Know that you probably will get a raging headache if you have self-motivated by morning joe for years.  Plan to eat as much green leafy vegetables in the next few days as you can muster.  I feel that the minerals and nutrient density of greens helps, not only with detoxing, but to keep you full.  Caffeine tends to suppress appetite so I was voraciously hungry on day 2 of no coffee. Drink a lot of water to help cleanse your system and to keep you full. Apples are great snack! You will probably be tired for the first few days.  I know I took a nap one of the early days of being caffeine free and I am NOT a napper. It does get better, I promise!  If you have made the leap to eating Plant-Strong, you can make this leap too.

So I am now caffeine free for over a week.  It hasn’t been easy.  The first day I concocted 16 different reasons why I needed to be at the grocery store (where the beans live) or a certain shopping center (where the espresso is made) and even eyed up the soda machine in our condo building, thinking a diet cola isn’t coffee now is it? – I didn’t leave the house and I didn’t buy anything out of the machine. But I wanted to.  The second day I had to go to the grocery store for more Kale and I actually held my breath walking past the bulk coffee beans so i didn’t have to smell them.  I wasn’t going to fall into the decaf trap either.  From the chemicals use to process the caffeine out of the bean to the fact that it is a slippery slope for me to be loitering in the coffee shop or the coffee aisle, I decided to abstain.  I settled on a nice roiboos (red tea) chai that is naturally caffeine free, so I could have a hot cup of something in the morning.  So far so good, it’s working.  I had a great workout at the gym this morning and I really feel great!

The Whole Adventure Pt 1

Farms 2 Forks – from their web site…

“An Immersion with Engine 2 is a nutrition education program designed to give you what most of us have never received—a true education about what foods are good for you. Learn the science of food—how amazingly good and surprisingly bad food can be for your body.”



Getting in my car before to dawn to drive to Austin, TX for the Farms 2 Forks Immersion Weekend was my first ever solo road trip.  Twelve hours and 737 miles by myself.  I cruised through Kansas in the dark. I talked to my Mom through half of Oklahoma.  Bill called to check on me as I entered Texas.  The driving was a piece of kale ;p

Upon check in at the Omni Southpark Austin hotel, exhaustion set in.  My plan of hanging out over in the SoCo was squashed.  I let everyone know I arrived safe and sound, ordered some room service for dinner and fell asleep at 8:30. The bed at the Omni was top notch.  One of the best hotel beds EVER.  I fell asleep to the ‘Turn Down’ station – meditation tv to sleep to…yay!

Up on the first beep of the alarm, down to the gym to sprint a mile, showered, braided hair, books in my tote, ready to roll on over to Boggy Creek Farm for festivities!

I was early.  Like a kid on Christmas.  Once I was checked in, I grabbed a seat under the tent lined with string lights.  By chance or design the woman who sat down next to me turned out to be the first of many gifts I would receive. After a bit of conversation about why we were there, I start talking about my garden, my tomatoes, my pride: the black cherry tomatoes that we grew last year. My table mate gives me a little funny look and says: “really? I own a seed company and my husband developed that variety” …I grab my phone to show her my photos…dozens of tomato glamor shots that hang on the wall in large format in my dining room.  She chuckles and says that she thought she was the only one walking around with a phone full of vegetables.  I am delighted to have shared the space with this kindred spirit..

Breakfast is served and we get started with the program.  Rip Esselstyn is full of silly energy which he displays throughout the day.  I like him immediately.  He is the perfect pitch man for this lifestyle.  Strong, knowledgeable, a man’s man as they say, but approachable and humorous enough to shed light on the silly ways we got here.  He is the ultimate cheerleader for being plant-strong.

Jeff Novick is up next. He is a great speaker!  He is instantly likeable, funny and entertaining while he imparts the most crucial information about nutrition.  Filled with energy and Brooklyn charm, his jokes are hysterical and he breaks down the info in a way that makes perfect sense.

Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. – the Varsity as Rip says – takes a complicated subject like Asymmetric dimethylarginine ADMA and the life and times of the endothelial cells and makes us a group of Nutrient Dense Warriors by the time he is done.  Teaching us all how to seek out Nitric Oxide forming dark green leafies and get down to the business of repairing our arterial walls. At 78 years old, Essy is a stunning example of good health.

We are treated to a great boxed lunch served on the farm.  Boggy Creek Farm – an urban organic farm in East Austin, TX is a wonderland for me.  I learn about maximizing my yield in my urban garden by wandering the rows of vegetables.

Dr. Doug Lisle mesmerizes us with his artful drawings and humor.  Breaking down the Pleasure Trap so we all can understand, how this nation and the world at large has packed on the pounds over the past 50 years and why the convenience of fast food, processed foods and the fat/salt/sugar trifecta is killing us.  It’s all about Genghis Khan, sharks and status you see. ;P

We learn how to make some simple tasty appetizers from Leanne Valenti – a shining sprite of enthusiasm who exudes a love for her profession unparalleled. She is the Student Services Coordinator at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts. This girl gives a commanding demonstration, naturally at ease in front of the group and does so with a joy for vegetables that makes me want to thank her personally for being part of the show.  I love watching those who love what they do – shine.

Carol Ann – owner of Boggy Creek Farm is up next and I cannot wait to learn more about the farm.  She starts talking about her farming life and I find myself nodding in recognition of the principles she speaks about.  When she talks about the history of the farm property I learn the original settlers were from North Carolina.  When she talks about the joy of growing tomatoes a wave of emotion washes over me. Carol Ann is my heroine. Another gift!

It’s time for dinner out in the field with the vegetables and flowers. The tables are set with plates of hummus and vegetables.  We sit and talk to our neighbors, sampling crackers from the upcoming Engine 2 food line. When everyone gets in line for the soup course, I find a quiet spot to call Bill to tell him I love him.  On my way around the corner to speak privately, I look up to see a house being built on the farm, it’s almost done and it is spectacular. It is an 1840 Texas Dog Trot style house.  I stand stunned, tears well up in my eyes as I call Bill telling him about my amazing day and the fact that I am standing in front of a real life example of the house we want to build in North Carolina.  I had only ever seen one in a photo. Carol Ann has an urban farm and a dog trot. I am in awe.

Dinner was amazing.  The people and conversations were such a warm welcome.  Afterward, I find Carol Ann so I can thank her for having us here.  We have the nicest conversation.  I tell her about the tomato lady with the seed company, I tell her about my urban farm, about our property in North Carolina and about the dog trot coincidence.  If you believe in such things.  I don’t.  I believe everything happens for a reason.  We have a nice chat and on my way out, I remember I had not introduced myself.  I tell her my name is Ami and start to walk away.  She turns and says, “hey! My daughter’s name is Amy, she lives in North Carolina.”


Day one comes to a close. I float back to my car and the hotel on a cloud. I feel beyond blessed and thankful to be here, exactly where I am supposed to be.  Everything about this day feels right and true.  This is my future.  I am going to be as energetic as Rip, strive to be as good at sharing information about this lifestyle as Jeff, I want to be as encouraging as Doug, that we can overcome the hurdles to live this way for life, I want to shine like Leanne when I demonstrate how to cook something, and I want to be a farmer like Carol Ann when I am living in our dog trot in North Carolina.

Stay tuned for Day Two…

My Plant-Based Road Trip!

Tomorrow morning at about this time, I will be driving near Wichita, KS on my way to Austin, TX for the Farms 2 Forks Immersion weekend.  I am so excited to be on this journey!  Over two years ago, I bought Brendan Brazier’s book – Thrive.  I read it cover to cover and attempted a couple of recipes.  Then it sat collecting dust.  I wasn’t ready.  The following year, we tried Dr. Barnard’s 21 day Vegan Kickstart.  It worked, but we fell off the wagon in Chicago.  Damn you Gino’s East Pizza!

During that time I had purchased Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn’s book Prevent And Reverse Heart Disease.  I read it cover to cover, made a couple of recipes and then…well…same old story…Dr. Esselstyn sat on the bookshelf next to Brendan shaking his head in disappointment.  Spring came last year and found us at our heaviest in years.  I bought The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon.  I remarked to Bill, that this..this I can do! I can eat this way and be happy!  I bought The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn shortly there after.  Building a compendium of information and recipes to sustain us. A few weeks later, Bill Clinton was going to be on CNN talking about his new found Vegan lifestyle and how it changed his life.  We watched rapt, in silence to find out he was doing what Dr. Esselstyn told him.  “HEY! We have that book!”

Summer came and went, 2 major changes in jobs, one for each of us, a ton of stress and more pounds later and finally on our trip to San Francisco, we decided…when we get home…we are SERIOUSLY going to do it this time!  A few days being home, I stumbled upon Forks Over Knives on Netflix.  That’s it. Yes!!!


December 2011 we got down to business.

Several false starts, fear, excuses and laziness prevented us from getting started earlier.  As we had the tools all along. Sitting there collecting dust and waiting for us to get smart and get busy.

Since then, we got our behinds to the gym, found fitness that is fun for us, learned a lot about ingredients and what we are truly capable of accomplishing.  I am enrolled in a Plant-Based Nutrition program through the T. Colin Campbell Foundation and Cornell University so I can learn even more from the author of the renowned China Study.  I have a new focus and a career path for many Plant-Based Adventures in the future.  From helping people learn how they can have an urban garden, start a community garden, change their life through plant-based whole foods, cook amazing recipes and feel better than they ever have before.  I want to help people educate themselves to create a positive change for their families.

It’s working for us and we feel better than ever.  Bill has lost 37 pounds, I have lost 20.  We have lost so many inches, gained a bunch of muscle, but most of all, we gained the empowerment of knowing we can sustain this lifestyle.  We are going to Thrive!

This weekend, I get to meet athlete, Brendan Brazier, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn and his wife Ann, Rip Esselstyn, Dr. Doug Lisle, Jeff Novick and Carol Ann Sayle from the Boggy Creek Farm – an urban organic farm in Austin.  I can’t wait to be part of the community of folks that are coming from all over the country to learn more, just like I am. People hungry for change, for the knowledge to make it happen and the tools to be successful in that endeavor!