Wicked Healthy

Don’t be alarmed, only beets were harmed for this picture!

There’s long been a trope, a recurring idea that meat eating is an essential part of manliness. Veggies are for girls, and possibly girly men, but real dudes dig burgers.

Wicked, Healthy, Beautiful

This silliness couldn’t be further from the truth, and the latest book from Chad and Derek Sarno and David Joachim has masculinity all over it. It’s also very, very vegan.

From the tats to the “beet blood” spatters, the Wicked Healthy Cookbook lets you know that plant-based eating can support a testosterone-based lifestyle. If you crave the meatiest, most flavorful vegan food available, this book is for you. It is, in attitude and presentation, “badass.”

But don’t think this is just a stab at pleasing a macho segment of the market. The bros are masters at handling plant foods with some sensitivity, too. If you’re new to the world of vegan food, you might not know that Chad Sarno has been cheffing around the plant-based food world for many years, contributing to more than a dozen cookbooks, opening a line of boutique restaurants in Istanbul, Munich and London, acting as Senior Culinary Educator at Whole Foods, and much more. Brother Derek Sarno is Executive Chef and Director of Plant Based Innovation at Tesco, the big British based retailer, and he also did a stint at Whole Foods, and owned a series of restaurants of his own. David Joachim has written or collaborated on 40 cookbooks and knows his way around the plant-based kitchen, as well.

Badass Means Tasty

All this culinary firepower has been put to good use, and all the recipes employ ingredients and techniques to take dishes a step further toward flavor. Amping up umami, combining textures and flavors, and using techniques like searing, reduction and marination will become second nature to you after trying out a few dishes.

Wicked Healthy

Rice Paper “Bacon” in my kitchen

Take these recipes, which are good examples of plant-based and creative fare. The rice paper bacon pictured above is a clever way to use neutral tasting rice wrappers to soak up an intense “bacony” marinade and roast to a crunchy, sweet savory stand in for pork. Of course, there are multiple components to pile on the BLT- a plant-based aioli and an intense tomato habanero jam, so the sandwich has so much going on that you will forget about the piggy version.

Wicked Dessert

Then, like little vegan clouds of joy, we have the Almond Meringue Cookies for dessert. After the smoky, meaty sandwich, you can enjoy a light, dare I say, feminine dessert. Yes, it involves some serious tool usage, as you need to beat the heck out of some aquafaba, but with finesse.

These recipes are just a teaser, to tempt you to check out the book. Expect to see multiple components in some recipes, and don’t be afraid to make a special stock or sauce to take the dish over the top. Clever methods, like sandwiching a clump of maitake mushrooms between two hot cast iron skillets to make a super-concentrated “steak” are great discoveries, and will convince even the skeptic that meatless cuisine is delicious.

It really is Wicked Healthy, and Wicked Tasty!

Plant-Based BLT

Plant-Based BLT from Wicked Healthy (image by Eva Kosmas Flores


As kids, our family had BLT nights in the summer, and everybody would make sandwiches from a giant platter of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, squishy white bread, and a tub of mayo. Here’s our sexy, plant-pushing version.




  1. Choose your favorite bread, like a small ciabatta bread roll sliced in half.


  1. Lather on Herb Aioli (see below) and Tomato Habanero Jam (see below).


  1. Layer the sandwich with thinly shaved red onion, thin slices of vine-ripened tomato, your favorite Plant Bacon (see below), and then Bibb lettuce. Chomp down and enjoy with a crisp pilsner beer!






1 cup Plant-Based Mayo (page 264) or store-bought, such as Just Mayo

2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely grated with a Microplane zester

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

2 teaspoons minced or snipped fresh chives

Pinch of coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper



Whisk everything together in a small mixing bowl or jar. Use immediately or cover and chill in the fridge for about a week.



KILLER TARTAR SAUCE: Whisk in 1½ tablespoons finely grated (zested) fresh horseradish or prepared horseradish and ½ cup finely chopped pickles.







10 vine-ripened tomatoes, about 4 pounds

2 tablespoons everyday olive oil

1 sweet white onion, diced small (about 1½ cups)

6 cloves garlic, sliced wicked thin

6 to 10 habanero chile peppers, sliced or minced

2 cups organic cane sugar

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

½ tablespoon sea salt

Pinch of ground white pepper



  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Set up a bowl of ice water.


  1. Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato, then drop them into the boiling water and blanch until the skins start to peel back, about 30 seconds. Use a spider strainer or slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to the ice water. When cool, peel the skins from the tomatoes with your fingertips and a paring knife. Remove the cores and roughly chop the peeled tomatoes. You should have about 8 cups.


  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and sweat until soft, about 5 minutes. You don’t want to brown the onions, just soften or “sweat” them. Add the garlic and continue sweating for 3 to 4 minutes more.


  1. Add the chopped tomatoes and everything else and crank the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cut the heat to low. Let everything simmer gently until thickened to a soft jam-like consistency, 1 to 1¼ hours. With all that sugar, the jam will want to burn on the bottom. Don’t let it. Stir the pot often to keep the jam from sticking and burning. The finished consistency should be like thin jam. It will thicken up more when it cools.


  1. When the hot jam is nice and thick but still pourable, ladle or pour the jam into a pint-size Mason jar. Screw on the lid and let the jam sit at room temperature until cooled, 1 to 2 hours. The heat in the jar should create a vacuum, sucking down the lid. When cooled, store the jam in the fridge. It will keep for a few weeks.









RICE PAPER BACON: Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using 10 rice papers (about 8½-inch diameter), dip each in warm water to soften, then pat dry with clean kitchen towels. Dip a pastry brush in the marinade and paint the paper all over with marinade. Fold the paper in half to make a half-moon shape, then cut it crosswise into strips about 1 inch wide. Place the folded strips on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining rice papers. Bake the strips (in batches if necessary) until crispy, about 20 minutes. Alternatively, pan-fry the marinated rice paper as described in step 4; but they are very delicate, so use tongs and handle them gently.




¼ cup tamari or soy sauce

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1½ tablespoons Homemade Badass Sriracha (page 276) or other sriracha

1 teaspoon liquid smoke (mesquite preferred), optional

½ tablespoon granulated onion

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

2 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil, for frying (a bit less for baking)


TO MAKE THE MARINADE: In a bowl or jar, whisk or shake together the tamari, maple syrup, sriracha, liquid smoke if using, granulated onion, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper.


Excerpted from the Wicked Healthy Cookbook by Chad Sarno, Derek Sarno, and David Joachim. Copyright 2018 by Chad Sarno and Derek Sarno. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life and Style. All rights reserved.

Oh yes, they are vegan!



In the fall of 2015, we featured these cookies on several catering menus. We usually made them with dried fruit powder like raspberry, then dried the meringue in sheets and broke it up into shards, as in Brûléed Pineapple with Spiced Panko, Berries, and Meringue (page 231). Flavor the cookies however you like (see the Options), but try to stick with freeze-dried fruit powders. Liquid extracts and flavorings tend to make the meringues fall. —Chad




Plant-Based Meringue (see below)

1 teaspoon almond extract

Seeds scraped from ½ vanilla bean

¼ cup finely ground unsalted roasted almonds, optional



  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


  1. Make the meringue until it is fully whipped. Whip the almond extract and vanilla seeds into the meringue.


  1. Spoon the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Or use a zipper-lock bag and cut off a corner. If your parchment is curling up from the baking sheets, dollop a little meringue under each corner to secure it. Pipe cookies into pointy mounds about 1½ inches in diameter. They should look like big Hershey’s kisses. You need only about ½ inch space between cookies because they won’t expand much during baking. Sprinkle the ground almonds, if using, evenly over the cookies.


  1. Bake until the cookies look dry and off-white in color, 2 hours. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking for even heating. Cool completely on the baking sheets. Store in well-sealed containers. Humidity and moisture will make the cookies sticky, so store them in a cool, dry cupboard.



RASPBERRY MERINGUE COOKIES: When making the meringue, add 1/3 cup powdered freeze-dried raspberries (buzzed in a clean spice grinder) along with the sugar. Omit the vanilla and almonds, and substitute raspberry extract for the almond extract.


LEMON MERINGUE COOKIES: When making the meringue, add 2 tablespoons lemon peel powder (buzz the dried lemon peel in a clean spice grinder) along with the sugar. Omit the vanilla and almonds, and substitute lemon extract for the almond extract.

CANDY CANE MERINGUE COOKIES: When making the meringue, reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons and add 3 to 4 tablespoons crushed candy canes along with the sugar while whipping. Omit the vanilla and almonds, and substitute 1 teaspoon peppermint extract or a few drops of food-grade peppermint essential oil for the almond extract.



This recipe still blows our minds. You mean the leftover liquid from a can of beans (called aquafaba) can be used to make desserts?! Most people pour their bean liquid down the drain. But surprise—it has enough protein to whip up just like egg whites. Voilà—plant based meringue! You can use this meringue as a base for everything from pancakes and pastries to meringue-topped pies and Almond Meringue Cookies (page 236). All without a hint of beany-ness. You can even use aquafaba to make Plant-Based Mayo (page 264).




1 can (14 ounces) no-salt-added chickpeas

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ cup semifine (see Pro Tip) organic cane sugar



  1. Strain the chickpea liquid into the bowl of an electric mixer. You should have about ½ cup. (Use the chickpeas for something else such as the Four-Bean and Sweet Potato Slow-Cooker Chili on page 166).


  1. Add the cream of tartar to the bowl and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until the mixture increases in volume and stiffens a bit, 4 to 6 minutes.


  1. Reduce the speed to medium high and gradually add the sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. Blend about 4 minutes more, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The meringue is done when it holds its shape as the whip attachment is lifted. You should also be able to hold the bowl upside down without the meringue falling out. Continue whipping until you can do that. Otherwise, the meringue will not hold its shape when cooked.



To make semifine sugar, grind it in a food processor or Vitamix for 10 to 15 seconds.

 Excerpted from the Wicked Healthy Cookbook by Chad Sarno, Derek Sarno, and David Joachim. Copyright 2018 by Chad Sarno and Derek Sarno. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life and Style. All rights reserved.