New Juice Bar, Health Food Shop At the Giving Room Nurtures Body, Soul

Healthy juices and smoothies, yoga and a spirit of helping others come together at the Giving Room.

Photo Credit: Paula DiDonato
Photo Credit: Paula DiDonato
Clients who head to the Giving Room in Southold for a unique blend of art, yoga, and giving back to the community now have options for healthful juice and food choices.

The Giving Room, founded in 2010 and located at 56215 Main Road in Southold, was created by partners Paula DiDonato and Judy Teeven, both former VPs of marketing at American Express. Teeven is currently the senior consultant to the Super Bowl Host Committee 2014.

"We established the Giving Room in 2010 as a center of art, yoga and community involvement," DiDonato said. 
With a strong focus on giving back. over the past three years, DiDonato said they have grown the yoga program significantly and raised over $35,000 for local charities including The Retreat, Maureen's Haven, CAST, A Love Shared, which is dedicated to finding a cure for ALS, and others.

In 2012, she said, the partners developed a successful Stand Up Paddle Yoga program and started serving watermelon juice during the paddles.
"Watermelon juice is great for hydration and is actually a natural sunscreen," DiDonato said. "Our clients loved the juices, so we started juicing in the back of the yoga studio. That was a big hit."

In September, the Giving Room expanded and the Giving Room Juice Bar & Health Food Shop was born.

"This expansion has been a great success," DiDonato said. "Our yogis love the convenience of ordering a juice before class, and enjoying the juices right after class. We have also developed an entirely new client base of people that are new to the Giving Room. The are excited to find an all organic juice bar. So now we have a very successful yoga studio, juice bar and health food store. It is all part of a mission to promote wellness and a healthy life style."

The juice bar offers a menu of juices designed to be flavorful while providing health benefits. The most popular choice, DiDonato said, is the Great Green, made with KK Haspel's spinach from The Farm in Southold, kale, and parsley, as well as ginger, celery, dandelion and lemon.

"It is a powerhouse of nutrition and it has the anti-inflammatory benefits of ginger," she said.

Another fruity juice that's a popular is the Sweet Heart, made with pineapple, cucumber, ginger, beet and apple.

"We try to deliver diversity in our juices to please all palates," DiDonato said. 

Also on the menu are Vitamix Smoothies, with or without protein powder, for those who prefer the benefit of meal replacement options.

The most popular smoothie, she said, is the Yummy Smoothie with vanilla protein, made with fresh-squeezed almond milk, bananas, strawberries and blueberries along with a vegetable-based protein powder and spinach.

Also available are some light food options including hummus wraps, avocado toast, almond butter and jam sandwiches. In addition to the juice bar a complete selection of health foods and drinks is also offered.

The premise for the Giving Room came out of a desire to help the needy, DiDonato said. "Three years ago, my partner Judy Teeven and I were hosting a dinner party the day after Thanksgiving. We had extra food from the meal and we contacted Maureen's Haven to see if the homeless shelter could use any of our food. They told us that Thanksgiving week was not when they needed help. They indicated that throughout the winter they would be more appreciative of financial support for their operations. That was when we decided to create a center of giving."

Guests at the dinner party included a yoga instructor, an artist, some business people and a few farmers.

"We decided to join together to create a place where local artists could show their works, and yogis could have a new place to practice. That is how the Giving Room was established."

Today, fundraisers are organized to provide local charities with needed funds; the partners also donate a percentage of their profits to groups, and people, in need.

The yoga studio has a full schedule of classes appropriate for all levels of practice and fitness level; Zumba and meditation classes are also on the schedule.

Every Tuesday, a free gentle class is presented "as a way to introduce yoga to those who might not think it is something for them," DiDonato said. "This has become one of our most popular classes with a dedicated group of repeat clients."

Personally, the North Fork has become a symbol of healing and spirituality for both DiDonato and Teeven, who were both down at the World Financial Center on 9/11. They moved to the North Fork in 2000, and the Giving Room is an extension of their desire to reach out to those in need. 

"We felt very grateful for all we had been given in our lives and we both feel a very strong desire to give back to the community that had given us so much,' she said.

The juice bar is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. Everything served can be taken home, including prepared juice cleanses for people looking to detoxify their systems or lose weight. The Juice Cleanse consists of a daily menu of six juices or five juices and a salad.  Some clients, DiDonato said, cleans for three to five and up to ten days. 

The juice bar helps to promote a healthier body and mind, DiDonato said.

"Organic juicing, yoga and meditation deliver a powerful combination to optimize brain and body health," she said. "The practice of yoga leads to reduced weight, spiritual well-being and increased flexibility and spiritual well-being. Meditation helps calm the mind and reduce stress. Juicing provides important nutritional benefit for a strong body and a healthy brain."

She added, "I would like to live a full life, which includes being healthy physically, mentally, intellectually and spiritually. I'd also like to see others have this blessing. I believe the combination of being part of a giving community, with yoga, meditation and healthy eating is the recipe for this healthy lifestyle."
Jacqueline Di Donato December 31, 2013 at 09:52 PM
Beautiful Paula, we are all lucky to have you and The Giving Room xo


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