By Peggy Matthews Rose
How does a career-minded young lady go from life as a model, communications major, and event planner to owner and executive chef of a raw food restaurant?
The turning point for Jenny Ross came when her body rebelled against the traditional American diet - you know, the one we all grew up on; cereal for breakfast, burgers, fries and a shake for lunch and pizza and soda for dinner. For Jenny, early misery was the key to eventual joy.
"I was diagnosed with GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease) at a very early age (16)," Jenny recalls. "And thank God! I had to stop drinking soda." However, from that point forward she had terrible issues with digestion, bloating, and at one point IBS (irritable bowel syndrome - another common disorder in our society). She said her mental clarity was also fogged and would try to stay awake with caffeine.
"I just knew that this is not how God designed our body to be, so I began looking for answers," said Jenny. "I would check in with my body and every time I ate something that caused these adverse reactions then I'd begin to leave it out. The only problem was that didn't leave much I could eat. So I started looking into a plant-based diet."
A book told her that if you eat natural living foods in their natural state, your body and mind will be better aligned and you will feel better. "Well, sign me up!" Jenny said, and she shifted into application mode.
"Within a few short weeks I had so much energy I didn't know what to do with it all. I suddenly realized all my digestive issues were gone! I finally felt free - happier, more enthusiastic about life, and feeling like I could do anything."
The biggest payoff has come in the area of outreach. Jenny "became incredibly enthused and passionate about wanting to help others have the same experience. When I finally took the steps to be in business for myself and share this food through restaurants and related products and services, I had no idea how it would be received, but in listening to my heart and keeping the faith, the experience now has helped transform so many lives. I really understand God's purpose with this path."
By 2006, Jenny had opened her own healthy eating restaurant - 118 Degrees in Costa Mesa, California - followed by a raw bar within the Whole Foods stores. She's even authored two healthy eating books, Raw Basics and The Art of Raw Living Food.
Another healthy move in Jenny's life came in 2004, when she and her husband began attending Saddleback Church. Of course, she couldn't have known then that The Daniel Plan was coming. "I was so excited that a church was making the choice to support its congregation in making this important shift. I really felt compelled to keep people inspired and connect them to resources that would help them keep their commitments to the plan."
Jenny's early modeling career has morphed into a Daniel Plan model. "When you really feel health in your body, a whole world you never could imagine opens up for you. Unfortunately we have become somewhat distracted and blindsided by all the world has to offer, we forget to treat our body as a temple. Faith provides us with the idea that if we make a commitment to honoring our body in the grandest way that there will be unfathomable rewards. It's true! If you stay connected to your purpose, the reasons behind the decision, you will find such incredible joy and freedom in the gifts that you find there."
Chef Jenny, as she is known, is a "regular" here on The Daniel Plan site, where she appears in several food preparation videos and will be a featured instructor at three Healthy Living workshops this August. Check out her recipe for a Super Green Smoothie here!
At 118 Degrees* and Jenny's raw bars, "Our mission is to serve and educate people about the healing qualities in living foods and empower folks to live their greatest life by finding this vibrant health," Jenny explains. "We don't believe it's an all or nothing proposition, but through artful presentation of delicious living foods we aim to inspire people to explore these possibilities for themselves and start adding more living foods to their daily/weekly diet.
"We cater to the major issue of food allergies and specialized diets - an area where most people really feel frustrated. If you've just learned you have a gluten intolerance, for example, suddenly your food world is upside down. You don't know where to eat or how to eat. We have been very successful in helping folks make that transition as well."
* "Living or 'raw' foods are those that have not been heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the commonly agreed-upon temperature when plant-based ingredients begin to break down and lose essential vitamin and mineral content, as well as enzymes. Pure and simple, raw foods are natural foods in their natural state." From Raw Basics: Incorporating Raw Living Foods into Your Diet Using Easy and Delicious Recipes, by Jenny Ross (Hay House, July 2011)