Inspiration from Illness

Sheena preparing food with her daughter.

Suffering from an eczema flare-up that covered almost 90% of her body after the birth of her third child, Sheena Rozak tried a host of traditional and naturopathic remedies. Finding no relief, Sheena eventually sought out a blood analyst who recommended a full diet overhaul. It was an exhausting and arduous six-month recovery that required a strict alkaline diet of only fresh greens, avocado, lime juice and herbs. Once her body had fully healed, Rozak slowly reintroduced whole foods and harnessed her chef’s background to create delicious, nutrient-rich recipes for her family. Friends soon convinced her to host cooking workshops to share her knowledge and help them make better choices for their own families. It was from this experience that Rooted, Rozak’s locally sourced plant-based meal kit delivery, was born. We chatted with Sheena to learn more about her business, and how she balances managing everything from recipe creation and photography to food prep and box packing — while raising three food-conscious kiddos of her own.

Rooted’s plant-based burrito bowl

How does Rooted work?

Rooted is a plant-based meal service that provides families with all of the ingredients and instructions needed to make three chef-created recipes per week. Meal kits, which can be ordered on a weekly, bi-weekly or as needed basis, come in two sizes to accommodate both couples and families with children. I offer a vegan (dairy and egg free) and a vegetarian option and include step-by-step recipe cards with pictures. Each of the dishes are hearty enough to be served as a standalone meal, however some clients choose to pair an additional protein at home. Every week features a new mix of three recipes, and all the sauces and dressings provided are made fresh and free of fillers. The weekly kits contain the exact amount of ingredients needed, which helps prevent food waste. Clients can either pick-up their kits or use our delivery service.

Why is sharing your path to health with other moms so important?

In my mind, helping others is the purpose of life. It’s my passion, and how I feel most fulfilled. I started Rooted to share my journey, knowledge, and love of food with others. All of my recipe cards include a Food for Thought that explains the health benefits of the dish’s primary ingredient. I think understanding the ‘why’, helps people make better choices. It’s inspiring to know that I am directly impacting families for the better. One mom told me that my meal kits have changed her family’s life. Her kids are eating delicious and healthier food. Using the meal kits also reduces her stress and workload, and she feels amazing as a mother because of it. Another client shared that she could literally taste the love that went into my meals. Hearing this type of feedback gives me joy and drives me to do more.

Sheena creating new recipes for Rooted.

Why is sourcing local ingredients a priority for Rooted?

When I created Rooted I also wanted to find a way to help local farmers, as smaller producers have a much harder time with distribution. This is why I focus on buying local and seasonal first, and organic second. Choosing producers with ethical and sustainable farming practices that help protect the planet is part of my business model. It’s important to me, personally, and to the world we live in. If we reduce the distance our food travels it tastes fresher and has lesser impact on the environment. I choose whole, local ingredients whenever possible and make all of my sauces and dressings from scratch, including sprouting the raw nuts and seeds I use as a cream replacement.

How do you balance family and running a start-up business?

Family is my priority and I make sure to schedule time for them. Although I’m more of a night owl, I wake at 5:30 am every morning to plan out my day. I start with a brain dump and write down everything that’s on my mind. Then, I categorize my thoughts under four headings: Important and Urgent; Important but Not Urgent; Not Important and Not Urgent; and Not Important but Urgent. Seeing everything written out on paper makes it pretty clear where I should focus my attention. As quality time with my family is always important and urgent, I’m dedicated to completing my workday by 4:00 pm. I know that as an entrepreneur I’ll have busier stretches when this isn’t possible, and we plan as a family for this in advance.

What advice can you share with busy moms who struggle to prepare whole, nutritious, meals?

Start simple. Satisfying, wholesome meals don’t need to be extravagant. Try thinking about how to bring out the natural flavours of your food, versus trying to change them. I recommend buying ingredients in bulk, as doing so will save you both time and money. It also reduces the amount of packaging used. Shop for produce that’s in season — most fresh fruit and veg freeze well. Make a point of visiting your community farmers’ market and get to know the people who grow your food. If you ask farmers what they have an abundance of, there’s a good chance you can stock up at a lower cost. At the end of the day, most farmers would prefer to sell produce at cost than see it go to waste. I like to prep bags of mixed veg — like kale, corn, carrots and peas — and pop them in the freezer. I’ll cook a big batch of brown rice or quinoa at the beginning of the week and add my freezer veg, a couple of eggs and some seasonings for a quick five-minute stir-fry.

Sheena and her family preparing supper.

Any suggestions on how to inspire kids to choose healthy, whole foods?

My kids are always involved in our weekly meal planning. I offer six healthy recipes and allow them to pick their favourite. I’ve taught the older two (five and twelve) how to safely chop and dice produce, sauté on the stovetop and even use the oven — under my supervision of course. My three-year old also helps with age-appropriate tasks. Making homemade pizza is his favourite. While we’re cooking I talk about how each of the ingredients provide nourishment and fuel for our bodies. It’s amazing how delicious veggies will taste to your kids after they’ve prepared them.

How has committing to a nutrient rich, whole food diet changed you (and your family) for the better?

Beyond the physical health, it’s helped us to nurture a stronger connection with our food. Every day I close my eyes for 30-seconds and think about all of the people who contributed to my meal, and I feel grateful. A simple cup of coffee, for instance, can easily be taken for granted. But try to imagine all of the hands that it took for you to be able to enjoy it. On weekends, we’ll visit the markets together and tour local farms during the growing season. I’m trying to build an awareness about why we eat, where our food comes from and how it will make us feel. If my children can really understand this, then they will be equipped to make better choices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *