When looking at the food label and ingredients for one of their lunch options late Sunday morning, a frozen vegan pizza, Michael Blue asked, “I’m not sure, is it a buy or a leave?” That question was asked several times during a vivacious game at the first Healthy Giraffe Event of the year Saturday evening. What a night it was capping a theme of eating “Plant-Strong” via Rip Esselstyn and the Engine 2 Diet to start the year.
In my blog, Plant-Strong the Engine 2 Way, I provided the foundation of the “Plant Strong” guidelines Rip established for his Engine 2 product line. Basically if you buy an Engine 2 product you know it is pretty darn healthy and when matching the labels and ingredients to a competitor product it will win. The guidelines include:
- ZERO Animal Products
- ZERO Added Oil…Ever!
- 100% Whole Grains
- Minimal Added Sugars, If At All
- Less Than 25% Total Calories From Fat
- Less Than 1:1 Ratio of Milligrams Sodium to Calories (Exception: Condiments)
Backing up just a bit from this weekend, Tuesday night Rip presented at the Clearwater Whole Foods on his Engine 2 Plant Strong Tour. He talked about the seven pillars from his latest book, Engine 2 Seven-Day Rescue Diet. After the event he signed books and I brought my Engine 2 Cookbook. Anthony Douaihy, Elia Luti and I were still there from our larger group that came for the presentation. We were fortunate enough to get a few pictures (shown below) with Rip as well.
We hit it off well right from the start and before you know it Anthony and I were having dinner with Rip at the Whole Foods cafe. We discussed so many things – our journeys to live healthy, running, swimming, cycling, family, juggling all of our priorities and more. It was an amazing experience to say the least.
This bridged to the Healthy Giraffe event Saturday evening. This event was Engine 2 themed. I found a two recipes from the Engine 2 Cookbook that we would make together. In addition to the two recipes, Rip also commented in a promo video last year how he liked to create meals where you can mix and match ingredients, thus making meals seem quite different just by what you choose for that specific dish. So that was a wrinkle to one recipes I found in the book that I added. We would make the recipe but I also added in a few more things to cook illustrating how we could have really different outcomes with everything we were using.
I split the group into two cooking teams, one making his Corn Muffins while the second team would make the 8-Minute Black Beans. The energy was fantastic as the teams worked on the recipes. While that was happening we also brought out the additional dinner options including a variety of leafy greens, brown rice, quinoa, salsa, non-dairy cheese, and wraps. You can see the final spread in the picture below. In the bottom left of the picture are the added ingredients the 8-Minute Black Bean team made that included a variety of peppers, onion, mushrooms, and spices.
In addition to what we made together, Jennay Gump and Michael MacDonald brought homemade onion rings while Anthony made his tremendous Lebanese chickpea salad with “a twist” for appetizers/sides. For dessert Ronnie Medlock made Engine 2 brownies while Karen Henderson and Keith Crouse made Engine 2 Chocolate Covered Blueberries. Everything was fantastic!
After we ate dinner, we grabbed our desserts and it was game time. It was the first Healthy Giraffe Game Night!!! I created a game based on the Engine 2 guidelines and previous blogs I had written on how to read food labels. I really thought this was either going to be pretty fun or bomb and I expressed that as we started. I was thankful there were no tomatoes to throw at me if things went wrong…
The teams remained the same as the cooking assignments. We had the Bean team vs. the Muffin team. The games consisted of a dozen rounds where each team had a representative face off one-on-one vs. another. A food label/ingredient list would flash upon the screen and then it was simple. Either choose if you would “buy” or “leave” it based on the Plant-Strong guidelines shared above. As in most party games, it got loud, there was some heckling, but all in good fun. It went over so much better than I ever anticipated.
My learning and development experience was telling me this type of game would help some of the concepts being retained when everyone would go out and shop or look at was already in their kitchen.
Sunday morning rolled around and I received a text message from Betty Blue with the statement Michael Blue made to start this blog. That made my day. Bringing awareness to what we put in our mouth is one of the most important things we can do. There are a lot of attempts to influence or fool us by the way foods are presented – on the front of a box or package. Don’t ever believe what is on the front of a package. Go to the label and ingredient list and see the true story.
It was a special evening in another way as Jenn Torr and Chris Smith celebrated one year of being Plant-Based. I am so proud of them and the transformation they made. (first picture below) Who’s next?!?!?
What an amazing start to the year with the Plant-Strong theme. This night represented how simple creating healthy and tasty dishes can be and how to create various versions of dishes by just changing a few ingredients.
If you haven’t joined us for an event at the Giraffe’s Den or on road trip to a local healthy restaurant, come join in on the fun. Great people, great food, great energy….that is my kind of community!
– Add Health to Your Life