Natasha Kwan decided to go vegetarian when she was just nine years old. She made the decision after spending the night with a friend whose family raised dairy cows.
“I came home and said I’m never eating meat again. They flipped out. My mom didn’t know what to do with me,” Kwan said.
Growing up in the country as the sole vegetarian in a meat-eating family wasn’t easy. She said she ate a lot potatoes and lentils—and put on too much weight.
Her childhood of unhealthy vegetarian cuisine colors Kwan’s business—Frida’s Deli, on 622 North and South Road in University City. Her deli is full of healthy vegetarian choices with recipes not only prepared fresh and in house, but without sugar.
She uses raw agave nectar, maple syrup and stevia, which are more healthy alternatives to white sugar. Kwan dedicated a page of her deli’s website to explaining some of the more exotic ingredients on the menu, like guanabana, raw cacao and tocos.
Kwan traveled a lot for a former employer, which allowed her to sample vegetarian restaurants around the country. She was surprised at how many places that seemed healthy but actually served fried foods and other veggie dishes heavy on fat.
“How I run my own kitchen is how I run the deli’s kitchen,” she said. “It’s a concept that a lot of vegetarians have. They use whole foods. It’s a lifestyle.”
Kwan said she’d wanted to open a restaurant of her own for 20 years. She’s bounced back and forth between Chicago and St. Louis during her life, but has finally settled down in University City.
“My heart is still in Chicago, but it’s too cold and expensive there,” she joked. She found the perfect spot for her deli in U City and opened last summer.
See what's on the menu at: Hold the Meat at Frida's Deli
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- Michael Costello: Local International Attorney Now Teaches Business at UMSL