When Marie Rama’s healthy, physically fit husband went vegan following emergency heart surgery in 2015, she was faced with her biggest culinary challenge: “I had to cook for him, and I never did anything like this in my career.”
Although this was on the heels of releasing her book Bacon Nation, the Yonkers resident by way of Yorktown quickly pivoted from meat to veggies to help her husband turn his life around. “I discovered that you don’t have to have huge, mad cooking skills to embrace this whole thing,” she says. The fact that she does have huge, mad kitchen cred and hails from a big Italian family of cooks, doesn’t hurt.
After a year or so of meatless meal-making and armed with “a little bit of knowledge and the confidence to do it,” Rama hit the local farmers’ markets with an organic, vegan Bolognese sauce, made with six vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts for texture, very little salt or fat, and no added sugar. “If you think outside the box,” she says, “you can find alternative ways to cook, and it doesn’t have to be difficult or too time-consuming.”
With that can-do mindset, she then devised a plant-based, dairy-free vodka sauce with slow-cooked, vine-ripened tomatoes and unsweetened coconut milk for creaminess; it’s also low in salt and fat and has no additional sugar.
Now, under the name Hudson Green (with the help of partner and son Will Reiter, a refugee from the world of corporate law), the Bolognese and Velvet Vodka sauces are (at press time) on the shelves in nine states, all four Whole Foods in Westchester, Wegman’s, and specialty food shops across Westchester and up and down the East Coast.
Not just for pasta, Rama has a host of recipes for Hudson Green sauces on her website and hopes that by offering healthy ways to limit the consumption of animal products, “we’ll maybe save some lives.” Short of that, the author of Cooking Basics for Dummies notes: “The sauce can make the meal, and you don’t have to sweat over it.”