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Monday, Oct. 26, 2015

Healthy for the Holiday

Vegan chef preps for festive offerings


Jennifer Gieseke, owner/executive chef of Healthy Chef Meals LLC, is prepared to take the holiday season by a certain nutritional storm.
Healthy Chef Meals, one of the only local companies that is mostly organic and 100 percent plant-based, is ready to serve customers this Thanksgiving and provide delicious healthy alternatives to holiday favorites.
Gieseke was inspired to start Healthy Chef Meals when she made a commitment to eat vegan and suddenly realized how few options there were in town in which to do so. That’s where Healthy Chef Meals was born.
“I also know what it’s like to try to feed a family a healthy meal when your life is crazy busy,” Gieseke said. “That’s why Healthy Chef was created. Our goal is to give Shreveport-Bossier City clean (meaning organic and pesticide free) tasty and healthy meals. Most of our customers are not vegan – in the USA only 5 percent of the population is – rather our customers are people who like good food and benefit from the healthier options we provide.”
Gieseke, who was born in Maine, moved to Shreveport in 1991 and has been a vegan for six years, and hasn’t looked back since. But Gieseke hasn’t always paid so much attention to nutrition and health.
“Like most people, in my 20s and 30s, I didn’t give much thought to what I was eating,” she said. “Then we had children and it turned everything around. My eyes slowly opened to how nutrition can affect all areas of your life.”
Gieseke had quite the wake up call, and hasn’t been the same since.
“Learning about health and nutrition is an ongoing and interesting process. I have learned so much and I feel the need to share what I’m learning with others – this is truly life-saving information,” she said. “I’m deeply troubled by what is happening to children and their health in this country. I hope I can have some effect, especially educating the adults that are responsible for these children.”
Gieseke is fortunate to be able to make a living doing what she loves – interacting with people, food and promoting health and nutrition in appealing and tasty ways.
“My favorite part of my job is visiting with the customers,” Gieseke said. “I love hearing about the life food journey that everyone is on. I love hearing about how clean healthy eating is making them feel better and changing their health destiny.”
Over the next several years, Gieseke hopes to see her company continue to thrive and find success.
“We really want to continue to be here to help people that are trying to make a positive change in their lives,” she said. “We want to be a part of many support teams for people getting off their medication and improving health conditions through changing their diet.”
With Healthy Chef Meals in the area, time is no longer an excuse to grab fast food or over indulge in unhealthy food this holiday season.
“Our meals are delicious and fully prepared, as well as completely ready to reheat and eat. We offer a much healthier option than fast food or packaged meals that are loaded with fats, sodium, cholesterol and preservatives,” Gieseke said. “We are the best option for people who are busy and don’t have time to prepare meals, or for those that love to eat and don’t want to or even don’t know how to cook.”
This holiday season, instead of bemoaning the extra calories, consider having Thanksgiving dinner cooked for you.

A Vegan Side:
“My favorite thing to do is take ‘regular’ recipes and substitute vegan ingredients,” Gieseke said. “Most of the time you never can tell the difference. This recipe shared below is great on it’s own, it can also be used as a base for the ‘traditional’ sweet potato casserole. Simply substitute vegan marshmallows (Dandies):

Mashed Sweet Potato and Carrots
1 pound sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
1 tablespoon Earth Balance margarine
1/4 cup orange juice
Sea salt and pepper to taste
In a large sauce pan, cover potatoes and carrots with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer until very soft (about 15 minutes). Drain water. Mash vegetables with margarine until smooth, gradually add orange juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.


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