Guddia Singh is a classically trained chef, as well as a licensed wellness coach. We spoke to Guddia about nutrition myths, career pivoting, and her go-to meal for bringing people together.
What inspired you to become a chef?
One of my first real jobs was in corporate America at a financial institute. I worked on the human capital management side (aka: wellness for the employees). I realized that many smart and educated people did not understand how to take care of themselves (via their diets) during their hectic work days. So many people would tell me 'I can eat whatever I want if I’m working out every day!” and it’s not true. I wanted to have the ability to learn how to make delicious food, but in a healthy way, and then advocate that to the masses.
What do you find is the most annoying myth about nutrition?
A lot of people think that eating healthy is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. You can actually find healthy ingredients to be comparable in price to unhealthy food. What you have to understand is that being healthy is something you have to do mindfully, so it requires a little extra time and planning.
What is your absolute favorite dish to make and why?
Ah, this is always a tough question for me to answer because I love to eat everything! It really depends on what’s in season, but I love a really good salad. The base has to be cruciferous and fresh (i.e. a bed of baby spinach, kale, romaine or arugula). I'll top that with fresh green vegetables like celery, cucumbers, or blanched broccoli. Then comes something tangy such as pickled red onions, artichoke hearts, or hearts of palm. Usually, I’ll put a tablespoon or two of whole grains like quinoa, farro or some nuts and seeds. Then, if I need some more protein, I could add garbanzo beans, edamame, grilled chicken, or salmon. I like to finish with some slivered parmesan or feta cheese and some type of herb, such as basil, dill, or mint. Regarding my dressing, I like to do a tablespoon of hummus or avocado on the side with a fresh squeeze of a lemon wedge. This type of salad will fill me up for hours!
As a chef, what’s your go-to meal when you want to bring people together in your community?
Anything in a bowl! Rice, grain, or salad bowls are always popular and having assorted toppings is always fun because everyone can put their own spin on it based on their flavor profiles. I like to have uniformity with personality. Food is such a personal thing; what tastes great to me might not taste as good to you. I like to also discuss the food and dish with the group so everyone can understand what they’re eating.
The last year has been kind of insane. What has grounded you throughout? How have you taken time for yourself?
This global pandemic has really put a lot of things into perspective for many of us. I learned to understand that everything is fleeting. I have three young kids and as a working mom, life is challenging. Instead of complaining about my lack of time or energy to focus on certain things, I try to embrace the chaos, knowing that this phase of life will not last forever. Additionally, I started prioritizing my mental health by incorporating daily exercise and meditation into my routine. Lastly, I have picked up gardening and discovered how much I love it. I even started getting my kids involved in it and it has become a fun activity for us all to do together.
As you know, we’re all about community. How does your community help you personally and professionally?
I was taught about primary foods and secondary foods in integrative nutrition school. Primary foods are what feed your mind, your physical activity, career, spirituality, and relationships. Your secondary foods are what your body needs to survive—food and water. My community is a wonderful primary food for me and it’s two-fold; my immediate family and friends, and my social media family and friends. Both of these communities are my heart and spine. They give me confidence when I lack it and coddle me when something doesn’t go well. Throughout the last few months especially, I can honestly say that my communities have given me all the courage and strength that I could ever wish for to be equipped to take business risks and create something new. It’s been eye-opening and humbling to know that there are so many people out there that care for my success.