For all of us who have struggled with unhealthy eating practices or  eating disorders, for all of us with daughters, and for those who place the emphasis on weight instead of a sensible healthy diet – Personal Chef Approach member Rachel Cree-Lowe’s guest post this week is both shocking and packs a powerful message on a subject that could effect your children’s health and self-worth for life.

Julie Anne in her "five lettuce leaves" day

Julie Anne in her “five lettuce leaves” day

Last fall, my eldest daughter decided to join the cross country team at school. Being as she is the smallest and youngest in her class, I was thrilled she had the self-confidence to do so. The team spirit, the team mentality, the physical activity and the whole idea of extra activities was very exciting to see her take hold of.  The slightly scary part as a mom was remembering the cardiologist who came to see us when she was in the NICU. The cardiologist who told us she had a slight valve issue and would never be an Olympic athlete. Even though this was a bunch of 8 and 9 year olds racing, it was still in the back of my  head.

Rachel's daughter Holly and teamate waiting to run a race

Rachel’s daughter Holly and teamate waiting to run a race

Her meets were fantastic events for me to attend as a parent. A few times they were held a few kilometers from her school so I volunteered to walk with the kids.  On the bus meets, she had plenty of support from my dear friend Anne as well as her grandma. Everything was going so well until she informed me that she and her friend Kristianna had talked about losing a few pounds to help with their running. These kids are 8 and 9 years old. What were they thinking about losing weight when not only are they that young, they are also petite and active kids to begin with. To make sure I wasn’t over reacting, I asked a few friends with kids the same age what they thought… all of them reacted with the same surprise as I felt. One even said her daughter (also a healthy, active child) had talked about this the year before. What was going on and where were these girls headed if they thought they were ‘fat’ at this age?

I eat a high plant based protein diet and limit my sugar and carbohydrates do to personal dietary restrictions but suddenly this little girl was talking about fat free products… no sugar added products… diet products and food making people fat. I won’t lie… I panicked. Panicked because I remember as a 13 year old I would restrict my intake, count calories and obsess over pounds. As a 16 year old I was purging, and at 18 I was popping laxatives like candy. The thought of my own little girl looking in the mirror and loathing what she saw (as I had) was frightening for me. Where was this message coming from since I was so careful about the message I sent as well as what she was allowed to see in media?

Daughter Ava know healthy eating practices and exercise trump dieting

Daughter Ava know healthy eating practices and exercise trump dieting

We have been a PCA family now for years. It has become essential in our home not only for time saving reasons but also for health reasons and besides, the food tastes amazing. It’s obviously wasn’t a message of diet and low fat. PCA is a message of local, healthy and nutritious eating. As it turns out, it was their gym and health teacher preaching the message of low fat and dieting. I was speechless to find out at first … this is, after all, a HEALTH teacher.

Why wasn’t he promoting the lessons of eating healthy, moderation and organic instead of processed, low fat and packaged? A letter went in to school addressing our concerns and the review of why we eat by the PCA method was reviewed at home. Ava has been reading Julie Anne’s blogs again and slowly the message being taught at school is being replaced by the real message: organic, healthy, homemade and moderation … thanks to Julie Anne and the PCA community.

Proud Holly after her first meet

Proud Holly after her first meet

My point is, our children… male and female are bombarded with messages in the media about how they should look and what products are more than willing to ‘help’ them with that. This is clearly not the way to go. History has hundreds and thousands of examples of why this will not work. If we dig a little deeper past that surface and learn by the example of teachers like Julie Anne, the great chefs and yes, even our grandmothers we will see the real message is really quite simple. We CAN eat healthy meals with quality ingredients. We CAN eat great tasting meals prepared with love and in a short amount of time when we plan ahead, and we CAN win the race by following these methods and come out first in more ways than one. So… ready, set, cook!

Focus on nutritious home cooked meals

Focus on nutritious home cooked meals

Thank you Rachel! Focus on eating healthy, sensible portions of organic whole foods instead of processed foods, and you won’t need deprivation diets of any kind. Try this Asparagus & Eggplant Filo Roll recipe (that fits well within Rachel’s plant based, high protein diet), or one of our other 350 client-tested and approved recipes to fit within your specific healthy lifestyle.

Asparagus & Eggplant Filo Roll

Asparagus & Eggplant Filo Roll

The light flaky exterior is perfectly balanced with the creamy savory filling to make this exquisite dish a vegetarian main course, fabulous side dish, or an elegant first course. It is also extremely versatile, so feel free switch it up by trying different vegetable and/or cheese combinations, or try adding some crab meat, lobster, or cooked finely chopped turkey or chicken.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Asparagus & Eggplant Filo Roll

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 pound asparagus trimmed and chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant chopped
  • 5 ounces mushrooms chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5.2 ounce Boursin cheese
  • 16 ounce package filo dough thawed in fridge + see note
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter melted, or butter flavor cooking spray

Directions

Filling

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, add minced shallot and cook until softened over medium-low heat, about 6-8 minutes.
  2. Turn heat up to medium and add eggplant, cook 5-6 minutes, browning on all sides. Add asparagus and mushrooms, and continue cook with the lid on, stirring occasionally, for a further 4-6 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add Boursin, stirring until melted. Remove from heat and let cool completely before making filo rolls.

Rolls

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Take one sheet of fill dough, and brush generously with melted butter or spay with butter flavored cooking spray. Repeat, topping each buttered sheet with another, six times. Please see note below before beginning.
  3. Spread the filling evenly over the prepared fill, an inch from the edges. Roll, tightly, tucking the corners under like a burrito. Brush the outside with melted butter or butter flavored cooking spray, then refrigerate to set back up a minimum of 10 minutes. You can also freeze at this point to bake off at a later date.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until filo is golden brown. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with green vegetable of choice on the side.

Heat To Eat

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place roll on a sheet pan and heat 5-10 minutes in the preheated oven to crisp back up; or eat sliced at room temperature.

Variations

Use any combination of vegetables you have on hand, try with different cheeses like goat or fontina, and/or add a chopped protein of choice.

Notes

Working with filo is not as complicated as it seems. All you need to know is to keep the dough you are not working with yet covered with a damp cloth to keep it from drying out (it dries quickly), and be sure to work as swiftly as possible with the sheets you are brushing and covering with the next sheet.

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