What will be on your dinner table when you dine with your nearest and dearest for the holidays?

Thanksgiving (especially) and Christmas are often an open invitation to overeating and drinking too much. Consuming becomes a measure of a successful holiday.

Others look forward to socializing but their experiences have led them toward “eating healthy.”

For Alex Diestra, changing his eating habits is reflected in what is on the menu at Clarklewis, one of Portland’s premiere restaurants. As executive chef, his key goals are organic, simplicity and farm fresh.

Foster-Purvine conducts tours when she travels to India and this year she brought two nurses. The group will spend seven days in Coimbatore in South India where there is an orphanage for severely disabled children.

At Families for Children, she and tour members feed children, do massages and whatever else is needed for the 350 or more residents.

“We have brought dolls donated by Dollies Make a Difference and this year we are bringing four blow-up swimming pools,” she says. One of her sons, Austin, is joining the tour.

For anyone interested in the orphanage, visit shantiom.com/fami....

Happy holidays, readers!

Bhakti Foster-Purvine of St. Johns says her family will sit down to a dinner following ancient Ayurveda principles for establishing balance and harmony in the belief that “You are what you digest.”

Could this be the year you try something new?

When Diestra started working out with a personal trainer two years ago, he changed his eating habits.

Instead of snacking all day (that’s what happens when you work in a kitchen), he now chooses vegetables or fruit to curb his appetite during 15-hour days.

The result, for him, was a loss of more than 15 pounds, better energy and sense of wellbeing.

Foster-Purvine is an owner and teacher at Shanti Om, a yoga studio. She and her husband Jay, a psychotherapist, will adhere to genuine Ayurveda practices that are used to treat everything from sciatica to cancer in India.

In fact, she has traveled to India for 10 of the past 12 years, including this year, with the goal of becoming a teacher of Ayurveda lifestyles. That includes taking classes at Kerala Institute and mandatory internships in two hospitals in India.

Understanding Ayurveda, which bases itself on three doshas – vata, pitta and kapka – helps a person determine which foods and spices are best for each dosha during different seasons.

Take an online quiz at ayurvedaacademy.com/academy/resources/doshaevaluation.

Back here in Oregon, Diestra focuses on local produce.

“Here at Clarklewis, where we are so close to farmers, the focus is on seasonal vegetables and fresh salads,” he says. “If a person orders steak, we serve it without sauce and use sauces with our vegetables.”

For the holidays, he recommends organic turkey marinated overnight with sage, oregano, thyme, garlic shallots and olive oil.

For either turkey or prime rib, he recommends cranberry sauce with a “light kick” using chili flakes, wine vinegar and orange zest.

With that he suggests root vegetables such as turnips and rutabagas seasoned with salt and pepper, and a good olive oil tossed and finished with lemon juice.

For those who love mashed potatoes, he would switch to roasted potatoes with herbs (such as thyme and oregano) with some lemon juice and finished with red onions.

Diestra believes adding lemon juice adds acid to food and brings flavors together. He also recommends rice vinegar or filtered lemon juice.

Instead of rich desserts, Diestra would serve Minnesota melons cut in half, scooped out and grilled. He would then add flavor with mint, basil and some sea salt.

And, if you must, add a scoop of ice cream.

Diestra couldn’t even cook an egg when he moved to the United States from Peru at the age of 19.

He got a job prepping in the kitchen at Embassy Suites, learned the trade, studied at Cordon Bleu and worked his way up to executive chef, first for Bruce Carey’s saucebox establishment and then to Carey’s Clarklewis two years ago.

“I tell people to take care of yourself now because later is too late,” he says.

Foster-Purvine has always had good health but credits what she eats for her good energy.

“I suggest being mindful for what you put in your mouth,” she says. “I recommend a book called ‘Eat, Taste, Heal.’”

She recommends cooking with clarified ghee butter to improve health. “It lubricates the inside of your body, including joints, and is a tissue builder,” she says.

Ghee is an ancient healing food known to be used since 2000 B.C. “It is rejuvenating,” Foster-Purvine says. “It is basically organic butter cooked down.”

(from “Quick and Easy Indian Cooking” by Madhur Jaffrey. This simple carrot dish can be served with most Indian meals, and leftover can be added to salads.)

5 medium carrots (about 12 oz.)

1 teaspoon olive or peanut oil

½ teaspoon urad dal

½ teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds

2 dried hot red chilies, broken in half

1 teaspoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons finely grated fresh coconut, or defrosted frozen coconut

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro

Peel the carrots and cut them in 1/3-inch rounds. Large pieces from the top of the carrots should be halved.

Put the oil in a frying plan, wok, or karhai set over medium heat.

When hot, add the urad dal. As soon as it begins to change color, add the mustard seeds and chilies. When the mustard seeds pop and the chilies darken (a matter of seconds), add the carrots, ginger and salt.

Mix well, and then add 4 tablespoons of water. Cover and cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Add the coconut and cilantro and mix well.

Serves 3-4.

Turmeric Rice

(Turmeric is known to be helpful in healing inflammation in the body. This could be the main side dish and serves 4 to 6 people.)

2 cups of basmati rice

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

4 cardamom pods

1-inch stick cinnamon

2 gloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons finely sliced chives or the green part of green onions.

Put rice in bowl and wash well in several changes of water. Drain and leave in a strainer set over a bowl.

Put the oil in heavy saucepan and set over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, put in the cloves, bay leaf, cardamom pods and cinnamon. Sir once or twice and put in the garlic. As soon as the garlic turns medium brown, put in the rice, turmeric, and salt. Stir gently for a minute.

Add 2 3/4 cups of water and bring to boil. Cover tightly, turn the heat down to very low, and cook for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with chives before serving.

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