By Rachel Forrest / More Content Now
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Michael Pollan’s succinct guide to eating well and healthfully from his 2008 book, ” In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” has become something of a mantra in our home. Eat real food, he urges – whole grains, fruits, vegetables – and stay away from processed foods found in those middle aisles of the supermarket. Three years before that book came out, chefs and brothers Chad and Derek Sarno were already very far along in living a lifestyle that embraces plant-based eating and cooking. The Seacoast, New Hampshire natives launched an organic farm in South Berwick back in 2005 and Derek was a big part of the region’s culinary scene as a founder of the 100 Club, Mizuna, a local cafe and Mahalos, a catering company. Both brothers spent spent several years at Whole Foods Market in executive culinary roles and Chad is a renowned restaurateur and plant-based foods educator. Now Derek lives in London and Chad in California and both are spreading their message about cooking and enjoying tasty plant-based food.
The brothers have collaborated with cookbook author David Joachim to share their secrets to making killer vegan meals in “THE WICKED HEALTHY COOKBOOK: Free. From. Animals,” complete with a foreword by Woody Harrelson. Beautifully photographed by Eva Kosmas Flores, the book celebrates the role beautiful, plant-based food plays in our health and vitality. The more than 125 plant-based recipes are great for everyday cooking and more luxe soirees and reflect what the Sarnos call the “Wicked Healthy way” – “shoot for 80 percent healthy and 20 percent wicked, and you’ll be 100 percent sexy.”
One of the many great things about this book is that while the recipes and dishes will appeal to vegetarians and vegans, meat-eaters will find them just as satisfying. Sloppy BBQ Sliders use jackfruit, a high protein fruit and a vibrant smoky BBQ sauce. King oyster mushrooms are transformed into “scallops” in a rich plant-based butter with a hint of tamari and corn dumplings in a coconut corn broth are made with eggless dumpling skins and the best our summer corn crop has to offer.
Take a look at the back of the book for a guide to which recipes are best for those eating gluten-free, soy-free or sugar-free as well as nut-free or oil-free and get tips on making your own sriracha and a cheese sauce made from cashews, soy milk and spices, that creates the base for comfort dishes like Mac & Cheese. They give a recipe for a Mornay sauce made from pureed cauliflower and cashews and even a mushroom gravy for a crave-worthy poutine. The brothers even go back to their New England roots with a lobster roll made from lobster mushrooms and a plant-based mayo with just the same texture as one made with fresh-from-the-boat lobsters.
Featured throughout the cookbook are little pro tips and informative sidebars giving innovative cooking techniques like how to press and sear mushrooms until they reach a rich and delicious meat-like consistency and learning how to eating healthfully on the run. Get tips on which brands of plant-based butter, cheese, yogurt and more are best and do try the Samurai Burger with wasabi, sesame, kimchi mayo and cucumber made with a Beyond Burger. My vegetarian husband, Jim, and I had one at the brothers’ book launch party in Austin, Texas, and I’ve been asked to make it at home many times since. The plant-based Reuben on Rye made with from-scratch seitan is another favorite in our home and you’ll find recipes for great cocktails, too, like the Sarno Sazarac made with vanilla anise-infused whiskey.
Pick up this book and get started or continue on your own 80-percent healthy, 20-percent wicked cooking plan, the wicked ninja Sarno way:
“We make real food (mostly plants) taste great. Whether it’s shrooms, plant-forward appetizers, comfort food or cheezy dishes, we want to help you use your freakin’ brain by showing you how to go easy on added sugars, saturated fats, and salt; eat lots of plants, mushrooms, other whole foods, and make an effort to move around every day and more! We don’t want to just tell you about this formula. As professional ninjas in the kitchen, we can show you incredible new ways to enjoy real food and celebrate what tastes great. We’re all about celebrating what you should be eating, not shunning what you shouldn’t. We’re plant pushers, not meat shamers! We want to motivate, empower and show you how to make the best wicked healthy food choices by offering delicious, easy-to-make dishes with accessible ingredients. Everything you see here you can replicate at home to become a more awesome, wicked healthier you.”
Find out more about Chad Sarno at www.chadsarno.com
Learn more about Derek and Chad Sarno at https://wickedhealthyfood.com and find out where to buy their new book. Buy local at your hometown bookstore.
CORN DUMPLINGS in COCONUT CORN BROTH
Dumplings are hands-down my favorite finger food. They’re also perfect as a first course in a small bath of flavorful broth. Save these dumplings for the height of summer when sweet corn is super fresh. Some fresh corn shows up in the creamy filling and some in the corn broth, which you make by simmering the corn cobs in coconut milk with lemongrass and other aromatics. When you nestle the dumplings in a small bowl of broth with a few drops of chile oil and some Thai basil leaves, they make a sensual little starter.
SERVES 6 TO 8
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels or frozen sweet corn
3 tablespoons plant-based butter
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 cup freeze-dried corn (see Pro Tip, below)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass
1 teaspoon minced or thinly sliced red chile
2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 packages (12 ounces each) round eggless dumpling skins, about 3 1/2 inch diameter
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Spray oil for steaming, or cabbage leaves or bamboo leaves
1 1/2 to 2 cups Coconut Corn Broth (see recipe below)
Chile oil, for garnish
Several small Thai basil leaves or more sliced green onions, for garnish
1. To make the filling, soak the cashews in water to cover at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. Drain and rinse. You’ll add these later to the filling.
2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Set up a bowl of ice water. Drop the fresh or frozen corn in the boiling water and blanch for 30 seconds. Use a spider strainer to transfer the corn to the ice water. Let cool for a minute or two, then transfer 2 cups of the corn to a blender (set aside the remaining 1/2 cup kernels).
3. Add the butter to the blender and blend until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the drained cashews and garlic and blend until smooth. The puree should be nice and thick. Scrape it into a mixing bowl.
4. Grind the freeze-dried corn in a clean spice mill or coffee grinder to a somewhat-coarse texture, similar to cornmeal. Add to the cashew cream in the mixing bowl along with the…