Three Days of Food in Minneapolis, MN

I spent the long (President's Day) weekend in Minneapolis with family per my annual tradition and of course we had a fantastic time. The Minneapolis food scene has just exploded in recent years and every time I visit I have such a positive experience. After having talked with a co-worker yesterday, we agreed that there is often a misconception about this - it's a totally underrated city at times! I wanted to recap everywhere I ate and drank so if you have plans to visit the twin cities any time soon, you have a resource to reference for some good eats. 

Hygga 

Hygga 

St. Paul Farmer's Market

A low-key and partially indoors winter market that includes a nice variety of vendors who sold everything from cheese spread to barbecue to strudels and infused juices. The market was smaller than we were anticipating but it could have just been the day (edited to add: the market is much more extensive in the summer!). The "Lowertown" location is great - it shares a building with OCTO fishbar and James Beard Award winning bakery Salty Tart (see next) so you can hit a few different places in one stop if you want.

Salty Tart

After perusing the market, do not miss the chance to visit this bakery on your way out. Our group split the sour cherry chocolate chip cookie and a croissant (obviously) and both were insanely good. I am no croissant expert by any means but this was for sure the best one I have had. The seating is limited but they also have a lunch menu that I would love to try out on another day. Side note: on my way out of town I noticed one of these in the airport as well! 

Hygga

Just down the block from the market is Hygga, a charming cafe with a very community feel to it. By the way if you are unfamiliar with the term, "hygge" it seems to be all the rage lately and refers to acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special. My mom and I split a BLT, cup of broccoli cheddar soup and a beet salad. Everything was tasty but I was most impressed with the atmosphere. I could see myself hanging out here for hours with some coffee and a book. 

Bread & Chocolate

A solid coffee shop on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul, Bread & Chocolate was the perfect place to grab something warm to drink while browsing some of the local shops. I ordered their apparently well-known Swedish coffee (which was served with milk and spiced with cardamom and cinnamon) and it was the perfect amount of sweetness after lunch. 

Urban Growler Brewing

Urban Growler Brewing

Urban Growler Brewing & Bang Brewing

We visited two breweries on our trip but only ordered a beer at the first. Urban Growler was hosting a Bock release party and the weather was nice enough to have fire pits going outside for the celebration. My group split a couple of their pre-selected flights and really enjoyed all of the tasters (I especially liked the Midwest IPA). They also have a lot of indoor seating and a food menu which is a nice treat for a brewery. We popped into Bang next door to check out their space but unfortunately ran out of time and were not able to stay for a drink in there. Next time!

The Curry Diva

One of the highlights of this trip was a pop-up Sri Lankan dinner hosted at Our Kitchen (a diner that serves breakfast and lunch) in Minneapolis. Due to the Valentine's Day holiday we were treated to a five-course meal and it was such a unique experience. Heather Jansz (also known as The Curry Diva) hosts these dinners on Wednesdays and Saturdays on a weekly basis. You have to make a reservation in advance but I would highly recommend trying this out for a special non-traditional night out. We were served butternut squash soup, a beef/chicken cutlet over vegetables and yogurt sauce, a lamb dish, vegetable roti, then a warmed pear dish for dessert. Everything was seasoned just perfectly and was layered with so many amazing flavors. It was delicious food and a great dining experience all rolled into one. 

Lawless Distilling

We visited Lawless for an after-dinner drink and while I was not a fan of the drink I ordered (a variation of a gin and tonic that tasted watered down) a few people in our group ordered hot buttered rum and it was served with a s'more! So creative and fun. You even get to roast your own marshmallow and assemble it yourself, which definitely makes a visit here worth it. 

Young Joni

Young Joni

Young Joni (Back Bar + Restaurant)

If you are looking for a restaurant with amazing food without the pretentious vibe, look no further than Young Joni. In fact they describe their atmosphere as "both welcoming and sophisticated" and I think that about nails it. 

To start, they have a speakeasy attached that more than makes up for the long wait times with creative and boozy cocktails that you can enjoy before sitting down to dinner. If you like peanuts you must try the Good Grief (just trust me on this one). Once in the restaurant, my group immediately commented on the stellar service. This is one of those places where family style dining is recommended and the plates come out as they are ready, so if you feel comfortable enough to share amongst the table I would go for that option. We went with the cauliflower, short ribs (the one thing I probably wouldn't order again although tasty), Japanese sweet potato and La Parisienne pizza which was just perfect. This is a place I would definitely want to hit again the next time I come back to town.

buddha-bowl.JPG

Agra Culture Kitchen & Press

On my last day, we ate lunch at this bright and clean fast casual place and I really loved the Buddha Bowl dish that I ordered. It was a good size (especially since I couldn't take leftovers with me), the presentation was nice and the flavors really worked together. They also have soups, sandwiches, fresh squeezed juices and even some beers on tap if that's what suits your mood. This would be a nice option for a faster, yet still delicious lunch while bumming around town. 

In Defense of White Potatoes

White Potatoes Blog Hero.png

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, how many times have you heard that you should "eat the rainbow"? This is nutrition advice at the most elementary level and something that most of us have probably heard since we were children (and for good reason!). I appreciate this advice because it might be the simplest way to promote variety. Just as there is no one perfect type of exercise, there is no one perfect food - our bodies require several nutrients to function optimally. 

Something that tends to get left out of this discussion is white or neutral colored fruits and vegetables, and a question I have heart often from clients in the past is some variation of, "are white potatoes bad?" or "which foods are nutritionally devoid or a 'waste' of calories?" My response: stop blaming the vegetables for being a bland color (or lack thereof I suppose).

I remember way back in the day, I fell for that whole "iceberg lettuce is lame" thing. But now I realize that sure, while it might not pack the same nutritional punch as arugula, it's still a delicious addition to enchiladas when it's shredded. It's hydrating, crunchy, and adds freshness to a wedge salad. It's also a great vehicle for lettuce wraps with that perfect bowl shape it has when you peel it apart from the whole head. Essentially, it has redeeming qualities just like almost every other food.

In addition to just iceberg lettuce, think about all of the other pale colored foods that could fit in to this category, yet are awesome in various ways:

  • Cabbage & Cauliflower - cruciferous vegetables are hugely trendy right now and are known for boosting our liver's detoxifying enzymes. This is the legit way to detox by the way, no cayenne cleanses necessary. They also provide a strong dose of antioxidants which can aid in cancer prevention. 
  • Mushrooms - these are a great plant-based meat replacement that also contain hard-to-come-by vitamin D along with selenium. 
  • Garlic - garlic adds so much flavor and depth to just about any dish and as a bonus, contains immune boosting compounds. 

The list could go on. I found a really great article that goes into more detail on this and to quote, 

Potassium and magnesium are both present in white vegetables and were explored in detail because potassium, as previously mentioned, has been identified as a shortfall nutrient, and widespread magnesium underconsumption may be related to increased chronic disease, suggesting that this mineral is an emerging nutrient of concern. 

A "shortfall nutrient" as the article describes, is one that Americans tend not to consume in sufficient amounts. Data which shows eating patterns in the U.S. is a key reason for certain policy changes such as fortification laws and school lunch guidelines. These are not just arbitrary out-of-the-blue changes! 

Another review that I came across called out potatoes more specifically for their powerful doses of vitamin C, fiber and potassium (fiber also being a nutrient of concern in the United States).

Potatoes are often maligned in nutrition circles because of their suspected link to obesity, and popular potato foods often contain more fat calories than carbohydrate calories... All white vegetables, including white potatoes, provide nutrients needed in the diet and deserve a prominent position in food guides.

A valid point is made in relation to the fact that potatoes are most-often associated with french fries and potato chips, but they can be enjoyed in so many other ways including baked, mashed, roasted, sautéed, in latkes or pancake form and as a hearty soup ingredient. As with anything, sure it's important not to overeat them.

Potatoes are delicious, cheap, versatile and highly satisfying. So unless you dislike the taste or texture or have some other specific reason to avoid potatoes, there is really no need to stress about enjoying them!

The Ultimate Guide to Valentine's Day by Dietitians

If you haven't heard, Valentine's Day is on Wednesday. Totally kidding - I know you know. 

In lieu of a recipe I decided to do a beast of a blog post round-up sharing some content from other dietitian bloggers who already have a plethora of mouthwatering creations on their blogs. I like a fancy date night out on the town as much as the next person but I also LOVE (see what I did there?) making something fabulous and special at home and passing on the crowds and overpriced wine in the process. Plus then I get to wear my comfy clothes. I wanted to make sure that if you feel the same way, you are fully armed with recipes, no matter what your preference. 

Whether you are looking for festive red breakfasts, special occasion worthy dinner ideas, or desserts, I've got you covered. And as a bonus, many of these also have some sort of heart health component or nutritious twist which makes celebrating all that more fun. I love the creativity that went into these (especially the desserts!) yet none of them look like they are lacking in flavor because let's be real, that's the most important part. 

Oh and I also threw in some articles and "just for fun" resources at the end including a podcast on why you should eat more chocolate (sold), a link to some free Valentine's Day card printables, and a list of alternatives to treats if that's not your thing.

Without further ado, I present to you my ultimate guide to Valentine's Day by dietitians. I hope you find it useful and if you do, share away my friends!

photo credit: Grateful Grazer (www.gratefulgrazer.com) 

photo credit: Grateful Grazer (www.gratefulgrazer.com

Breakfast

Valentine's Day Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie by Lively Table
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Granola by Empowered Nutrition
Red Velvet Smoothie Bowl by The Foodie Dietitian
Sweetheart Fruit Salad by Jenny Shea Rawn 

Dinner

How to Make a Healthyish Snack Board (by me)
3 Herb and Arugula Salad by Food Pleasure and Health
Fish and Lemon Mustard Caper Sauce by Food & Nutrition Solutions
Sweet & Spicy Turmeric Roasted Carrots (by me)
Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili by Food & Nutrition Solutions
Hearty Beef and Vegetable Stew by Jessica Levinson
Apricot Tomato Chickpea Vegetarian Stew by Champagne Nutrition

Desserts

Black Bean Avocado Brownies by Kroll's Korner
Dark Chocolate Bark (2 Ways) by Grateful Grazer
Spicy Chocolate Truffles by Side of Sneakers
No Bake Almond Bars with Berry Chia Jam by One Hungry Bunny
Creamy Lemon Raspberry Bars by Desi-Licious RD
How to Make the Perfect Chocolate-Covered Strawberries by Angelica Lee

On Heart Health

Omega-3 Fats for the Heart (and more!) by Food and Nutrition Solutions
How I Eat for Heart Health by Amy Gorin

Just for Fun

Alternative "Sweets" to Valentine's Treats by Family Food Fiesta
Healthy Valentine Ideas + Free Printables by 360 Family Nutrition
Why You Need to Eat More Chocolate by Mary's Nutrition Show

Leave a comment and let me know which one of these looks most interesting to you or how you are celebrating this year. Happy Valentine's Day!