Hawaiian BBQ Tacos

By Rip Esselstyn

These barbecued tacos won “Tastiest and Most Creative Dish” the evening of our 2010 July Austin (TX) Fire Department Engine 2 potluck.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Makes 8 to 10 tacos



10 corn tortillas, toasted 

16 ounces tempeh, crumbled

2 tablespoons tamari sauce

1 16-ounce jar barbecue sauce

1 cup shredded lettuce 

1 to 2 cups fresh pineapple, cut lengthwise, cored and sliced into thin pieces

1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and sprigs 



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Drape the corn tortillas over the oven rack, side by side, so that the two opposing sides of the tortillas hang down like a wide, upside-down taco.
  3. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until crisp through and through.
  4. Place the crumbled tempeh in a nonstick pan over medium heat and cook, stirring.
  5. Stir in the tamari.
  6. Add the barbecue sauce and stir until all of the tempeh is coated with the sauce.
  7. Remove the warm corn tortillas from the oven rack and admire your new taco shells. Scoop the tempeh onto the toasted corn tortillas. Add thin slices of pineapple and a sprig of fresh cilantro on top.



Instead of taco shells, use romaine lettuce leaves as the vehicle for transporting the barbecued tempeh and pineapple to your mouth.


Rip Esselstyn is a mission-driven man. As a swimmer at the University of Texas at Austin, he was a three time All-American. As a professional athlete, he was one of the premier triathletes in the world for more than a decade. As a firefighter for the Austin (TX) Fire Department, he helped people and saved lives. As a friend to other firefighters, he transformed the way Austin’s Engine 2 ate to save firefighters’ health. Now, as the author of The Engine 2 Diet, he is teaching people the irrefutable connection between what they put in their mouths and their ability to reach their ideal weight and their ideal health. Recently, he has teamed up with Whole Foods Market as a Healthy Eating Partner to raise awareness for Whole Foods Market team members, customers, and all of America about the benefits of eating a PlantStrongÔ diet composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Rip comes from a family steeped in medicine. His great-grandfather, George Crile, co-founded the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, where his father, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., was chief of the breast cancer task force and completed one of the most extensive studies ever conducted on the relationship between the heart and diet–proving that a plant-based diet can stop, prevent, and even reverse heart disease.  

Rip serves on the Board of Directors for The Wellness Foundation, EarthSave’s Meals For Health Program, and the AllergyKids Foundation.

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