Dr. Stephan Esser on Bone Health, Inflammation and the Immune System + Plant Based Curry Chickpea Salad (oil-free)


Dr. Stephan Esser, MD, is a lifetime advocate for plant based nutrition. He completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and a Sports Medicine fellowship at Mayo Clinic. He is a nationally sought after speaker and writer on topics related to Lifestyle Medicine and plant based nutrition. He runs healthy living seminars and retreats in Jacksonville, FL. He also provides non-operative sports and spine care to patients in the Jacksonville region.

I loved chatting with Dr. Esser. His enthusiasm and passion for plant based eating will have you jonesing for broccoli and double-fisting Brussels sprouts.

In our talk you will find out:

  • Why your doctor probably hasn’t mentioned plant based nutrition as a way to get and stay healthy.
  • The best practices for bone health as you age.
  • Different types of inflammation and why inflammation can actually be a good thing.
  • Why it’s so important to have a strong immune system, especially during this pandemic, and how to make yours kick-ass.

I wish that everyone would watch this video! Dr. Esser breaks things down and makes it super easy to follow along and understand. After you watch this video, I encourage you to share it with your friends and family.

Closed captioning available.

For more Dr. Esser:


When you’re ready to up your plant based game, our weekly Meal Plans will show you exactly how in the most delicious way.

I would love to know your biggest takeaway from this video. Talk to us in the comments below!

Below are names of the various plant based eating advocates, past and present, mentioned by Dr. Esser:

Father Sebastian Kneipp
Dr. Russell Thacher Trall, MD
Dr. William Esser, ND DC
Dr. Dean Ornish, MD
Nathan Pritikin

Curry Chickpea Salad

Makes about 5½ cups
Author: Molly Patrick


Sauce Ingredients

  • ¾ cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 10 minutes (100 g)
  • 1 tablespoon Medjool dates, soaked in water for 10 minutes and chopped
  • ½ cup water (120 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • ½ tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper (about 10 turns)

Salad Ingredients

  • 3 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • cups red grapes, halved (225 g, can sub diced apple)
  • ½ cup raw pecans, chopped (60 g)
  • ½ cup celery, diced (65 g)
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced (35 g)
  • 3 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced


  • Drain the cashews and dates and discard the soaking water. Place the cashews and dates into your blender, along with the water, lemon juice, coconut aminos, curry powder, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Blend until creamy and smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of your blender as needed. Set aside the sauce while you assemble your salad.
  • Place the chickpeas into a mixing bowl and use a potato masher or large fork to lightly mash about half to three quarters of the chickpeas, leaving the rest whole.
  • Add the grapes, pecans, celery, red onion, chives, and parsley and gently mix together.
  • Add the sauce to the salad and stir until all of the ingredients are combined. Transfer to a container and refrigerate.


This is fabulous on lettuce leaves (as pictured), but it’s also really yummy as a sandwich, or on top of a salad. 

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with giving your body the fuel that it needs to do its job beautifully.


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  1. Elyse Sokoloff on May 2, 2020 at 9:34 am

    I’m so making this tonight. And you look gorgeous, don’t see a hint of itchy, red face. Muah!

    • Karin on May 2, 2020 at 10:07 am

      I picked up lung flukes in China years ago. You will feel much better when those devils are gone!

      • Molly Patrick on May 4, 2020 at 11:50 am

        I am looking forward to it!

    • Molly Patrick on May 4, 2020 at 11:51 am

      It’s amazing what good lighting and a little makeup can do.
      Just wait until you see the pics in my upcoming blog post ALL about it!

  2. Chelsea Kunst on May 2, 2020 at 10:27 am

    That was an AWESOME interview, so inspiring! Thank you both!!!

    • Molly Patrick on May 4, 2020 at 11:49 am

      You are most welcome! Glad you liked it!

  3. Estalee Kapleau on May 2, 2020 at 10:46 am

    3 stars
    Thank you so much for inviting Dr. Esser to join the conversation!
    My first takeaway, don’t forget activities to help improve and maintain balance. I’ve neglected this totally for the past 8 years since I stopped crewing in sailboat races! Using a recumbent elliptical is nice, so is walking the dog, but balance training needs much more.
    Let’s dance!

    • Molly Patrick on May 4, 2020 at 11:49 am

      yes! Love that you got this reminder!

  4. Jennie on May 2, 2020 at 11:19 am

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for having this conversation with Dr.Esser! He is a wealth of knowledge, and boosts many great reminders to keep moving and why we should be eating a diet rich in plants. Loved this!!
    (I also loved the Curry Chickpea Salad. Yum!! I didn’t have grapes so I used an apple instead. Wonderful!)

    • Molly Patrick on May 4, 2020 at 11:49 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the chat and the recipe!

  5. Lynn Lewis on May 2, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    5 stars
    This recipe sounds amazing….. but that interview with Dr. Esser was AWESOME! So much good information, thanks Molly.

    • Molly Patrick on May 4, 2020 at 11:44 am

      You are most welcome!
      I thought it was a great chat, full of useful info.
      So glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Nadege on May 2, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you so much for interviewing Dr Esser! I found him through Chef AJ. He is one of my favorite WFPB doctors.

    • Molly Patrick on May 4, 2020 at 11:41 am

      Isn’t he awesome?
      I love his energy and his attitude.
      So glad you liked the interview!

  7. Elyse Sokoloff on May 2, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    5 stars
    So much yum. I used raisins instead of grapes; love the apple idea as well. This will become a staple in our house. We served with Indian spiced spinach and Indian spiced rice.

    • Molly Patrick on May 4, 2020 at 11:46 am

      I’m so glad you liked it!
      I could eat this every damn day!
      Good call on the raisins. I will try that the next time I make it.

  8. Julia W on May 4, 2020 at 9:49 am

    This is the first time I ever heard of Dr. Esser. He has a great message. My children are 3rd gen vegetarian and I thought we were unusual. How wonderful that he is using the advantages he has to help others. Thank you for that interview.

    • Molly Patrick on May 4, 2020 at 11:37 am

      Hi Julie,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I loved talking with him.
      High fives for 3 generations of plant eaters!

  9. Linda on May 5, 2020 at 11:16 am

    Really loved this! I need to up the movement big time! I am 72 and love me some plants. ❤️

  10. Tammy Snowden on May 5, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    5 stars
    I love the chickpea salads with the grapes in them. Only one my husband will eat. I have to say how much I love the new close captioning on your interviews. I’ve had a migraine for two days and could really enjoy the interview. I can’t wait to share it. So much great information. ❤️

    • Molly Patrick on May 6, 2020 at 5:02 pm

      I hope you feel better soon! Happy to offer closed captioning.

  11. Pamela Patrick on May 6, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    What an amazing, totally awesome, enthusiastic and supremely knowledgeable guest! Dr. Esser does indeed come from a strong, multi generational background of healthy lifestyle choices. What a joy it was to watch this well directed interview. Thank you Molly for inviting Dr. Esser to share his story and his wisdom. And yes, NOW is the time to make the shift to a WFPB way of eating for all the reasons spelled out in the interview. Cause and Effect. It is undeniable. Sustainability, it is critical going forward. We all have to fuel our bodies. CFDG leads the way with the MOST delicious recipes, the most exciting and various Menu Plans, and the BEST community anywhere. Who could ask for more?

    • Molly Patrick on May 6, 2020 at 5:02 pm

      Thank you, mom!
      You taught me well.
      I love you!

  12. MamaTree on May 16, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    This sounds so tasty. Can’t use any nuts (allergic), so planning to sub pumpkin seeds; also soy & coconut-allergic, so subbing in a soy-free-Soy-Sauce. Curious about whether seeds will need soaking … will report back. Full of gratitude for the recipe & the community; many thanks.

    • MamaTree on May 20, 2020 at 10:03 am

      5 stars
      Friends, this is hella delicious. Made it with soaked sprouted-lightly-salted-pumpkin-seeds in the sauce & those pumpkin seeds in the salad instead of pecans, due to pesky nut allergies. This version of sauce needed 5 tablespoons more water to behave in my Vitamix & is a bit grainy on its own, but once on the salad is so yummy that texture isn’t an objectionable issue. Very tasty on hearty mixed greens. Thanks, y’all.

  13. Beth on June 2, 2020 at 9:54 am

    5 stars
    Wonderful interview, and I absolutely loved this recipe! The second time I made it, I made a full batch of dressing, and a half-batch of the salad, used the dressing needed for the salad, then blended the rest of the dressing with a chunk of tofu for an delicious vegetable dip. So creamy and delicious! Thank you!!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on June 2, 2020 at 10:00 am

      Hi Beth! What a great idea to make a yummy dip with the dressing. That’s how you do it – make a recipe and see if there is a way you can use it for other purposes so your time spent initially preparing is spread over more meals. We are glad you enjoyed Molly’s interview with Dr. Esser, too! ~Karen

  14. Uta on June 17, 2020 at 1:50 am

    5 stars
    This is my all-time favourite chickpea salad. I always have a whole batch prepared for when we go camping on the weekends. It keeps really well and is a crowd-pleaser (though I am greedy and don’t really want to share – especially when I am camping and my supply of CFDG meals is limited *hehe*).
    I usually use chopped apples, walnuts instead of pecans and add in some raisins. It’s a great sandwich spread but also really good with brown rice and spinach or just on its own with chapati.
    Oh, and I already (successfully) subbed sunflower seeds as well as silken tofu (7-8 0z silken tofu instead of the cashews and the water).
    And thanks for the great interview. I really enjoyed it (though tbh I only came for the recipe…).

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on June 17, 2020 at 7:18 am

      Thanks for taking time to share, Uta! You’ve inspired me to make this for lunch today. We appreciate you sharing that you’ve used sunflower seeds and silken tofu as subs – this is helpful for people with allergies. We share these same subs when we get asked about how to work around cashews, but hearing from someone who has tried them and gives a thumbs up is even more motivation for others to give it go. ~Karen

  15. Adrienne Muller Goldstein on July 16, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    I never even heard of this guy before! Thank you for doing this interview.

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