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A Transition to Plant-Based Cooking

Mon, 01/08/2024 - 15:10
Noah Zingarelli and Alex Burst of Springs are the founders of the School of Healthy Consciousness, through which they have created a cookbook, an LTV cooking show, and other nutrition-related initiatives.
Ryan Sherman/3 Mile Media

Noah Zingarelli and Alex Burst of Springs, the founders of a wellness method called the School of Healthy Consciousness, each had an "aha" type moment when it came to their commitment to plant-based eating.

For Mr. Zingarelli, it was his realization, upon the return from a college semester in London in 1996, that he'd gained a lot of weight and was feeling generally unhealthy. "I dove into nutrition and made some changes," he said last week. "I started eating cleaner, healthier foods and was amazed that in a short amount of time, just through eating mostly a plant-based vegetarian diet, I was able to lose weight, gain energy, and feel like I'd transformed my health without having to go to any kind of extremes."

Ms. Burst's moment came about 10 years ago when meeting a notable figure in the restaurant industry whose book she had read. "I was 23 or 24 at the time and he went off on me, telling me how I was stupid and making a huge mistake by going plant-based, that I'd regret it. Ten years later, I definitely don't regret it."

Fast-forward to today. Each with a background in holistic health practices and training in culinary arts, the couple has published their "Healthy Consciousness Cookbook" online as part of their holistic wellness method. Ms. Burst is a private chef who specializes in plant-based cooking and advance meal preparation, and they recently began producing a public access television show on LTV, "The Conscious Kitchen."

"People don't believe food can taste good without meat or cheese in it," Mr. Zingarelli said.

"It's tricky in the health and wellness field, where a lot of people are looking for a quick fix," Ms. Burst said. With some aspects of it, "people are hesitant, but with food, people can dive right in."

Some of their recent creations include green lemonade, consisting of kale, lemon, apple, ginger, and celery; a rainbow edamame bowl, with cabbage, carrots, red bell peppers, edamame, turmeric quinoa, and sesame miso ginger dressing, and a "crunchy cashew carob ball," ideal for a breakfast item or snack. They incorporate lots of aromatic ingredients and fresh herbs for flavor, and avoid adding salt and sugar. An example of their flavor profile can be found in the recipe that follows.

Salad ingredients span the colors of the rainbow in Noah Zingarelli and Alex Burst's kitchen. Alex Burst

"Each vegetable has a unique, fresh, incredible flavor, but when you are eating things that are overly processed, overly salty, with too much sugar, it's hard to taste that," Ms. Burst said. "But if you give yourself a solid three to four weeks of eating a different way, you will start to pick up on notes and flavors and scents that you have probably not been able to taste."

"The whole plant-based and vegan food movement has grown so much over the last 10 years," Mr. Zingarelli said. "There are so many incredible options out there. Fully plant-based vegan restaurants are opening. . . . There is good-tasting food that is good for you, too, that doesn't have the negative things that come with eating an animal-based diet."

For the culinarily curious, Ms. Burst advises starting out by "finding three recipes that you like that interest you that aren't so far from what you're eating anyway."

"Just because you can't do everything, don't do nothing," Mr. Zingarelli said, paraphrasing a quote attributed to former President Bill Clinton. "A lot of people say, 'I would be vegan but I could never give up cheese.' Fine, keep eating cheese, but eat a lot more vegan food. Just because you can't give it all up doesn't mean you can't do something."

Their cookbook, which costs $12, can be found at schoolofhealthyconsciousness.com. Information on their private chef services can be had by messaging @bakedbyburst on Instagram. Their LTV show will soon premiere on Channel 20 in East Hampton Town and on demand for a wider audience on YouTube and at ltveh.org.

Ginger Sesame Miso Dressing 

Ms. Burst and Mr. Zingarelli shared this recipe as an example of a great tasting, plant-based way to dress up a dish. Drizzle it over vegetables or use it as a salad dressing or marinade. 

Makes two to three servings.

2 Tbsp. red miso paste
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. Bragg's liquid aminos
1 tsp. chopped fresh ginger
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sesame oil

Place miso paste, water, vinegar, liquid aminos, and ginger in a blender. Start to blend and slowly add the sesame oil. Blend until smooth.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within seven to 10 days.

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