Holistic chef gives tips for healthy eating around the holidays
WADSWORTH, Ohio — Jeanne Givelekian has a love for food, family and friends.
The holiday season is one of her favorite times of the year, but as a holistic chef and functional nutritional therapy practitioner, it’s also a time she urges caution.
“I’m very guilty myself, it’s like you want to indulge in the holidays and then January comes, you’re like, okay, I have to change everything now because I did too much over the holidays,” said Givelekian.
Givelekian is the owner of Purposeful Eats in Wadsworth, a wellness bar and teaching studio that offers gluten-free, healthy choice options for those who are looking to support their bodies with health and wellness. Her motto is what you eat matters. She helps people find healthy alternatives to their favorite dishes now, so they don’t have to undo as much damage in the new year. Inside Marigold Wellness Collective sits her Wellness Bar where yearround, she hosts cooking classes, individual food coaching and educational, private and corporate events.
“If we’re very conscientious and thoughtful about what we’re doing this time of the year, as we go into the turn of the new month, we shouldn’t have to be making drastic changes, they should start to be more changes that we’re incorporating into our lifestyle on a continual basis,” said Givelekian.
The holidays are a time for fun, family and friends, but she said you don’t have to ignore the delicious food at holiday gatherings to be healthy.
“You can make wise choices and it really comes down to mindset like what is your focus? What is your goal?” said Givelekian. “How you respond to the food both emotionally and physically is always an important part of knowing and enjoying your holiday experience.”
She said you just need to get creative. At her Christmas dinner this year, she plans to have a host of dishes that aid in digestion.
“That way we have proper digestion and proper detoxification because typically, holiday meals are very rich in fats rich in heavy meats. And while that’s all fun, you know, we still need to have some mindfulness as we approach the holiday season,” she said.
What’s on her plate
She plans to start with an arugula and pear salad with pecans, pomegranates, goat cheese and homemade ginger dressing.
“The ginger dressing is made with extra virgin olive oil, a little bit of apple cider vinegar, which again, is fantastic in supporting digestion, very, very bitter, but fermented food which fermented foods help to support digestion,” she said. “We’ve added a little bit of dijon mustard to that. I’ve added some maple syrup because both the apple cider vinegar and the ginger can be a little pungent, so we’re adding just a little bit of sweetener.
“I like to use natural sweeteners. So, we’ll use a little bit of maple syrup, some fresh ginger which I’ll grate with the grater, and then to that just some salt, pepper. So it’s a really simple recipe very shelf-stable. It is an all-natural dressing. I like to make my dressings from scratch. Dressings typically have a lot of refined oils in them so I can control that by making the dressing myself by using extra virgin olive oil.”
TRY THE GINGER DRESSING HERE.
She said food should be fun. Overindulging can leave us feeling groggy. Considering your portion sizes is another way to be able to enjoy those traditional meals without the guilt of being overstuffed and miserable.
“Typically, our dinner plate is a 10-inch dinner plate, and then we feel like what we need to put a lot on the dinner plate. If you can go to a smaller plate serving, that one helps you to be able to eat this food more slowly, then you could actually assess after you finish the plate. Okay, did I have enough? Do I need more? Am I full?” said Givelekian. “It does take a little bit of self-control in that way. But I think you find it very rewarding.”
She recommends bringing vegetables as an appetizer.
“People will graze on vegetables, surprisingly, a little bit more liberally than they will if they were forced to sit down and eat a plate full of it,” said Givelekian. “The more you can encourage and offer opportunity, the more likely somebody is to entertain it. So why not be the person to do that?
And maybe swap the deserts with sweet foods like dates to give guests better options. She enjoys dates with pistachio and honey filling or herbed goat cheese. She even wraps a few in thin prosciutto slices.
“Dates are a really fun food, it has a lot of versatility to it. We use it a lot as a natural sweetener here in the wellness bar,” said Givelekian. “It’s a nice sugar alternative. Instead of grabbing all of those cakes and cookies, go for a date that offers a little bit of protein. Dates are a natural sugar but you’re getting the vitamins and minerals with it as well which offers that healthy component.”
When it comes to drinks, she said a mocktail could replace those high-calorie cocktails.
“We have a sparkling water added to this, organic cranberry juice, apple cider vinegar, a little bit of maple syrup as a sweetener and then half an orange and you mix it all together and you can garnish it with cranberries, you can garnish it with an orange slice which looks really pretty and your favorite cup,” said Givelekian.
3/4 cup sparkling or still water
1/4 cup cranberry juice, unsweetened organic
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 lemon or orange
1/2 cup ice
Cranberries, orange or lemon slice as garnish
In a mixing cup, add the sparkling water, cranberry juice and apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and juice of 1/2 lemon or orange. Stir to combine maple syrup into beverage.
Add ice to serving cup. Pour mocktail over ice.
Garnish with fresh cranberries or lemon or orange slices.
Givelekian lives by the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time, she tries to make wise food choices so that 20% of the time, she can enjoy those indulgences.
After all, she said eating is all about mindfulness and moderation, and most importantly, memories. Her biggest tip is to not be too hard on yourself.
“Intuitive eating is really a part of releasing the guilt and finding the enjoyment or the thankfulness or the gratitude in what we’re eating,” said Givelekian. “Just enjoy it because that really is what the holidays are about is enjoying family, enjoying food, enjoying the time of the year it is and just the fun, magical experience that the holiday season brings.”
For more information on Purposeful Eats visit here.