Change of Grains: GrainUp Twin Cities 2013

Do you want to see more whole grains in your favorite restaurants?

You can make a difference by participating in GrainUp!

Have you ever been at the beginning of something great? Something that feels full of potential? Something coming alive?

That was the sense in the room on Thursday during the first meeting of the GrainUp Consortium and subsequent kickoff dinner. The Grains for Health Foundation, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit, launched the GrainUp! initiative in an effort to increase the availability of healthier grain foods at restaurants and ultimately in our homes.

Chefs representing several local restaurants, manufacturers of grain products, suppliers of grain ingredients, researchers, students, and moms like me brainstormed ideas and possibilities for bringing this mission to life. It was the beginning of an important conversation. (Full disclosure: I used to work at Grains for Health, so I admit my partial bias. BUT was not involved in any capacity in the startup of this initiative.)

The beauty of this idea is that it hits the head on the nail, it’s where the rubber meets the road. As Americans we eat- a lot. There are two major sources of that food- our homes and restaurants. Admittedly there are several restaurant categories and economic factors involved, but the most important thing sometimes is to start. Start somewhere. Begin the change and keep pushing (and pulling) until we all get there.

Whole grains present an opportunity to start in so many unique venues- there are gluten-free whole grains, there are whole grain flours that are similar to the familiar refined (white) flour options, and there are trendy grains, like quinoa that make a “splash” on menus. Different whole grains appeal to different restaurant menus, but the availability of so many options promise any venue (or family!) the opportunity to start somewhere. For example, in our home we eat mostly whole grain bread products and rice, but usually eat refined grain pastas.

Len Marquart, President and Founder of Grains for Health, discussed the importance of realism when implementing healthier foods. He used a great acronym- PHAD: Practical, Healthy, Affordable, Desirable. Make healthy whole grains desirable. There doesn’t necessarily need to be a splashy sign designating it as more healthy, just make them taste good. So simplistic and yet so key.

If you’re in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area- check out the GrainUP! Twin Cities Whole Grain Dine Around, Sept. 19 – 29! There are more than a dozen restaurants involved in GrainUp! that will delight you with delicious whole grain items on the menu, like this fabulous dessert from the kick-off dinner at Spoonriver.


It was an honor to participate. Look for the eventual expansion of GrainUp! into other metropolitan areas in 2014.



It took 30 years, but she’s finally done it.

Minnesota brainwashed me.

This shoulda-been-born-in-California-Summer-Loving-Flip-Flop-Wearing Minnesota girl is…

E.X.C.I.T.E.D. for winter.

Never. Ever. in my life did I ever think that I would say that, but I’m thinking fall seasonal allergies may have something to do with it ;).

This past month at a team bbq for one of Adam’s classes, I mentioned that I LOVE Minnesota and couldn’t imagine making anywhere else home, at least not long term. This was in the presence of a transplant from Georgia, one from Panama, and others born and raised in Minnesota. Nearly ALL of them looked at me with that crazy look, you know, the one of “what kind of stuff have you been smoking?” But I stood by my claim, giving the best rationale I could muster under pressure- “I can’t imagine living anywhere that didn’t have all four seasons” I said with a smile.

There is just something about the nearly constant change and the cyclical nature of that change that is so healthy for us. My dad always says, “If you don’t ilke the weather in Minnesota, wait a minute.”


The cycle of the seasons is like our lives. There are seasons of new growth and regeneration, rejoicing rest and time on the beach, times of loss and comfort food, and times spent in a deep freeze of struggle, wondering if the sun will ever be warm again.

If you don’t live in Minnesota, you might not know what 30 degrees below zero feels like physically, but I bet your soul does. The times when it hurts to smile, when you wonder if you’ll ever be able to take a deep breath, and your snot freezes… ok, that last one might be stretching a bit. Change challenges us and reminds us of our strength. There are good reasons that people refer to us as “hearty Minnesotans.”

But it’s not all Seasonal Affective Disorder and frozen nostrils up here, there are good things too- like the fact that enjoying a Mint Condition from Caribou Coffee when it’s cold out is exponentially better than when it’s just nice out. Warm, fuzzy scarves are a GREAT way to look like you accessorize :). And summer?! Well, you appreciate summer a WHOLE lot more when you’ve come through a long winter.

Just like the seasons outside our windows, the seasons inside our hearts have so much to offer. Seasons teach us patience and how to find hope. Seasons teach us hard work (think: MARRIAGE, raising kids!, building a career…). Seasons teach us how to relax and celebrate. And seasons teach us how to dust off the running shoes and start over.

Life is a continual cycle of seasons- growth and change.

Our challenge is to find the latte that comforts us and the growth that makes us stronger in every season.

How about you? How do you find comfort in winter and rejoice in summer?