Guest Post by: Rachel Cree-Lowe
My earliest memories are almost entirely based on colour. The way the sun looked coming through the leaves as my Aunt held me in her arms and splashed with me in the pool as vivid shades of green dancing above our heads. The cool blue of my cousin’s room with the blinds were drawn and light seeping through hitting the blue walls. Bright red strawberries hanging on a vine and the deeply rich insides of a pomegranate. It was all so intense and exciting.
Julie Anne was a finicky eater who hated pickled beets, too!

Julie Anne was a finicky eater who hated pickled beets, too

Smell was another thing altogether. It was intense but overpowering – and not in a good way. I clearly remember sitting at the kitchen table… all other plates and dishes long cleared away, washed and back in their places but I sat at the table with a plate holding the dreaded enemy… over cooked carrots and peas.
The orange had long faded from the carrots and they just sat there smelling watery and just ready to make me gag. My older cousin had this situation down pat. He had the ability to fill his cheeks discretely with any offending food and he held enough to make any self respecting chipmunk jealous. He would excuse himself and casually go outside ‘to play’ and spit it into the garden, taking care to bury it properly to avoid detection. He was the master. I wasn’t that lucky and usually made weak attempts to “drop” things on the floor or other less successful methods. So I sat. It was a battle of wills and my father maintained that either my mother or I would end up with an ulcer by the time I was 12. My mother would say “I wish 6 kids on you and NONE  of them eat.”
Fast forward to having kids of my own. Before the first was born, I did research on making baby food myself. How to ensure she would eat a variety of foods and not go on any ‘food jags’ of demanding mac and cheese for weeks at a time. When it came time for her to eat, I bought organic vegetables, fruits and meats, cooked, pureed and froze in ice cube trays. She ate almost anything. I was thrilled, my mother was envious.
Rachel's daughter, Holly point blank refusing to eat her food

Rachel’s daughter, Holly point blank refusing to eat her food

Enter child two, sixteen months later and I was confident she would be as easy as the first. HA! Not only was the second baby girl opposite in looks, disposition, habits and personality,  she was opposite in tastes. She spit all homemade food out. In desperation, I bought organic babyfood in a jar. It was painful but she ate.
This seemed to set the pace for what became normal at meal time; cooking at least two different meals… sometimes three and trying to get them on the table at the same time. As a vegetarian, not being able to eat the same as the meat eaters seemed a given but I was running out of patience, my love for cooking was dying and I was starting to do something I vowed not to do: throwing in a processed chicken burger for everyone and hope they ate. The odd time, I’d slip in a few purees of tomato and sweet potato, zucchini and cauliflower or spinach and blueberry in a corresponding dish but it still wasn’t “working” at meal times.
Julie Anne Rhodes with Duran Duran on her wedding day

Julie Anne Rhodes with Duran Duran on her wedding day

Enter a web search one day for a stunning model I had attempted to emulate when I was 13. Tiger Beat had run a picture of Julie Anne Rhodes in her wedding dress and the make up was stunning. Let’s just say more than a few babysitting dollars were spent on make up kits to try and copy the look. Even if it had worked, I don’t think it would have suited a 13 year old kid! Now this model was still as beautiful – if not more so. She was now  a personal chef and had a new website starting up on using a Personal Chef Approach™ to making dinner easier. I was slightly doubtful but willing to try anything.
As with a lot of people, times are tight but a dear friend paid my membership for me and I jumped in. The first day of cooking a week of meals was a bit daunting, I won’t lie but when it was all done, cooled and put away properly I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Not only did it get easier, everyone was eating, trying new things and liking them! Dinner went from dread to dream with the first time. If the girls have Aikido or ballet, we are usually coming home at 5:30 – 6 pm so instead of late dinners of processed food those days, we are sitting at our table eating in under 10 minutes as a rule. I can even substitute veggie “meats” for my portions!  It became such a routine that missing a week threw everything off and not having my back ups was really frustrating.
Not only does it save on time but living in an area where electricity is cheaper certain times of day or weekends, I can save on electricity bills and space in the fridge. The cherry on top is the improvement of overall health I’ve seen in us all. The girls are in school all day with kids suffering from colds and tummy bugs but they went almost a year without a bad cold. I am sold!
"this looks SO good mommy... this must be Julie Anne's"

A much happier Holly, “this looks SO good mommy… this must be Julie Anne’s”

Seeing the new menu items appear each week now gets me excited about cooking. The colour of the dishes is pleasing to the eye, I eat my peas and carrots and to have a six year old see her dinner and say “this looks SO good mommy… this must be Julie Anne’s” , and that means the world to me.
Sesame Carrots & Snow Peas

Sesame Carrots & Snow Peas

We eat more efficiently, save time and money, and enjoy healthier food all year round. Dinner has become simple no matter how you approach it (choosing your own recipes with the Custom Menu Planning Tool or Jewels’ Weekly Menu Plan), and it really does afford you the luxury of more time to spend with the people you love, instead of being stuck in the kitchen cooking for them night after night.
This post was first published March 1, 2012
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