Extraveganza offers pittsburghers a slow-food brunch _ on the side _ pittsburgh _ pittsburgh city paper


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Photo courtesy of Mya Zeronis

Raw vegan pizza with sundried-tomato basil sauce, cashew ricotta, dehydrated seasonal vegetables, pine-nut parmesan and pea shoots

ExtraVEGANza Pgh hosts the latest installment of its Intercontinental Superfood Brunch, on Nov. 7, at Schwartz Market on the South Side.

“I want to help change other people’s lives,” says Mya Zeronis, the one-person operation behind

ExtraVEGANza Pgh.

Zeronis — who has dubbed herself “the 98-pound chef” — is an advocate of the slow-food movement. Originally from Burma (now Myanmar), she says she learned to cook a mostly whole-foods, plant-based diet at age 11.

“We ate meat maybe once a week,” she says, explaining that meat and dairy products were expensive in her country.

But when she moved to the U. S. in 2000, she said her health began to change.

“Everything was big in size, but so diluted in flavor,” she says.

While pursuing culinary arts, she worked her way through several U. S. restaurant kitchens, where to her disgust, she saw items arrive in boxes from institutional food distributors, and learned to smother everything in butter.

By 2008, she described herself as “unhappy and depressed in a 145-pound body,” rolling out pizza dough for an Italian bistro.

Now, she’s evangelizing that people can get full by mindfully eating whole foods, rather than empty calories.

Her ExtraVEGANza location, open Tuesday-Saturday, offers a raw, organic juice bar as well as a create-your-own organic smoothie menu. A savory menu features raw pizza, raw zucchini lasagna, and hot dogs made from carrots. And, for each monthly brunch, Zeronis promises a 14-item menu and four juice choices.

www.98poundchef-pgh. com

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