Savor: Eat Your Veggies

BY CJ Williams

The recent worldwide surge of vegetarianism might seem like a new fad but the vegetarian lifestyle has been around since the 5th century BC. Pythagoras the famous Greek mathematician responsible for the Pythagorean Theorem was an outspoken vegetarian so much so that until the 1800s vegetarians were referred to as “Pythagoreans.” Other famous vegetarians include Leonardo da Vinci Mahatma Gandhi Albert Einstein Mr. Rogers and Paul McCartney.

With such a long history and noted following theres solid substance to the vegetarian culture despite the fact that the guidelines for what vegetarian food actually is are not as clearly defined.

There are in fact several different subcategories or distinctions as to what exactly makes someone or something vegetarian: Semi-vegetarians/flexitarians those who eat mostly vegetarian but occasionally eat dairy and meat; Pescetarians vegetarians who eat fish; Ovo-lacto-vegetarians vegetarians who eat eggs and milk; Ovo-vegetarians vegetarians who eat eggs but no milk; and Vegan the strictest category of vegetarianism those who eat only plant material (some even restricting themselves from honey and yeast). And then there is the Vegan Raw lifestyle which is more complicated but in essence means eating vegetarian food in a raw uncooked state with enzymes alive and active.

Three local vegetarian chefs have philosophies that differ slightly in one aspect of vegetarian cooking or another but all agree on one thing: eat organic. If you arent eating organic you most likely are not receiving the healthiest amount of the nutrients your body requires from the food you eat. Since vegetables make up a great part of the vegetarian diet going organic is a universal theme that stretches across every facet of the vegetarian dynamic.

Michele Lucido private chef and head chef at Tidal Creek Cooperative Food Market (910) 799-2667 believes that the vegetarian lifestyle varies from person to person. “I think people sometimes get so intimidated that [vegetarianism] has to be by-the-book that theyre afraid to just go for it ” says Lucido. “Theres no scientific theory to my method but I think you have to find a balance for your body starting slow and adjusting your diet depending on how you feel. If I eat eight of my 21 meals a week vegan its a good fit for me but I think it depends on the individual. Your body tells you when youve had enough of one thing or another so trust it.”

Lucido attended the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City and two years ago with her husband and son moved to Wilmington. Within two weeks she found herself at Tidal Creek where she now serves up delicious meals that feed the full spectrum of vegetarian eaters.

She also consults as a private chef through her business The Whole Plate where she meets with people to instruct them about eating whole complete meals. “As people get interested in getting healthier they get more interested in healthier foods so I want to be able to show them how to get started ” Lucido says. “If you arent going to learn to cook now with the state of things then youll never learn.”

Marie Montemurro owner/chef of Loveys Natural Foods & Caf (910) 509-0331 has been cooking since she was six years old. Her approach to vegetarian cooking is all about taste. “The way to do it is just to take your favorite flavors and use them to prepare vegetarian meals ” Montemurro says. “I dont use measurements but I like a lot of flavor a lot of spices and color. Taste is first but appearance is almost as important. You have to mix colors because they all give you different things. You want orange yellow purple and as many greens as possible; green is the way to go.”

Montemurro came to the Cape Fear region 12 years ago from New York opening Loveys with her partner in 2002. The same recipes she remembers from her Ukrainian roots find their way onto the Loveys menu.

After 25 years of cooking vegetarian Montemurro factors in all the variations of vegetarianism when planning and preparing the Loveys menu. “We have vegetarian; we have raw; we have vegan; we have cheese; we have shrimp; we basically have something for everybody who wants to eat healthy no matter what or how they like to eat ” she says.

Krista Noschka Living Light Certified Gourmet Raw Food chef and instructor (910) 620-9191 has been “living raw” for almost four years and feels better than she has in her entire life. The philosophy of raw is all about getting back to the basics of what nature intended.

“Your food is your medicine ” Noschka says. “Our bodies are innately self-healing given the correct fuel. When food is cooked at high temperatures the enzymes and nutrients are destroyed. Raw foods retain their natural state so your body doesnt have to waste energy breaking the food down. As your body receives the proper nutrition cellular rebuilding can successfully take place and wellness and vitality always follow suit.”

Cooking since she was old enough to stand on a chair Noschka has always been in love with making great food. She once owned a 50s-style diner and has managed a handful of restaurants in her past. “I had recipes for the best steaks and burgers you would ever eat ” she recalls “but you cant live and eat like that.”

To prove that point she became ill. “I was stiff my blood pressure was going up I didnt have any energy I was overweight and depressed and the doctors just wanted to give me anti-depressants. I was scared out of my mind ” Noschka says.

She turned to the raw diet and says it took her three months to know that she was on to something big. “My goal originally was to better myself but the more I learn and understand about raw my goal now is to share this incredible lifestyle with anyone that might wish to learn about it ” Noschka says.

“Just go and get a couple of raw food books and start trying recipes ” she advises. “Its so much fun to play with. The closer you can keep things to organic and natural the better the flavors are going to be. To me when you leave out the dairy the acidic de-natured parts of all the other diets you have the perfect diet with raw vegan because you have maximum enzymes maximum nutrition and maximum flavor. What more can you ask for?”

Vegetarian Recipes

Tidal Creek’s Chickpea Burgers over Spinach Salad w/ Mango Chutney Vinaigrette

(Serves 6)

1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas rinsed and drained

1 small yellow onion peeled and quartered

1 1/3 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)

1 cup purified water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon Spike seasoning

tablespoon tamari

tablespoon ketchup

Flour for dusting burgers

Place beans and onion in a food processor and grind until texture is coarse. Add the oats water salt pepper garlic powder tamari ketchup and Spike. Pulse for ten seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix the ingredients. Remove the bowl from the food processor and place in the refrigerator to chill for 25 to 30 minutes.

Lightly flour you hands and form the mixture into six burgers. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches if necessary place the burgers into the pan pressing them as they cook. Cook for four minutes per side or until golden brown on each side.

Spinach Salad

2 bunches fresh spinach washed dried and stemmed

2 crisp apples

cup scallions chopped

2/3 cup cashews toasted


1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

cup sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons mango chutney

1 teaspoon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste 

Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl until well blended. Toss with the spinach apples scallions and cashews in a large bowl.

Serve the chickpea burgers over the dressed spinach salad. Enjoy!

Vitality Soup

Krista Noschka

1 cup nonchlorinated water

cup fresh orange juice

cup lemon juice

6 ounces greens (such as spinach sunflower or kale)

1 medium apple quartered and cored

to 1 full medium avocado quartered peeled and pitted

1 cucumber chopped

1 garlic clove crushed

1 green onion chopped

habanero chili (optional)

1/8 to teaspoon ground kelp or dulse

1 tablespoon unpasteurized light miso

Sea salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Adjust flavors to taste and serve at room temperature.

Noschka’s Pure Energy (910-620-9191) and her partner Pat Delair’s Conscious Integration (910- 200-6884) represent a two-pronged approach to reinvigorating with the raw diet. The pair will attempt to guide interested parties to better health through classes demonstrations and private consultations.

Our Favorite Vegetarian Dishes Around Town

Mega Veggie Pizza
Mellow Mushroom

Eggplant Parmesan
Freddies Restaurante

Black Bean Philly
Two Guys Grille

Tofu Quesadilla
Flaming Amys

Butternut Squash Ravioli
Osteria Cicchetti

Veggie Dog
Trolley Stop

Vegetable Drunken Delight

Bean Curd Pita

Broccoli Fettucini Alfredo
Terrazzo Trattoria

Spinach Burger