GrainUp event showcases local restaurants and whole grains

Spoonriver helps get the word out about whole grains all next week

Spoonriver helps get the word out about whole grains all next week

"I believe restaurants have a real responsibility in society to expose people to healthy, whole foods," says Brenda Langton, chef/owner of Spoonriver. "It's very gratifying for me and my staff to know that we are doing that every day."

As a longtime advocate of integrating more whole grains into our daily diets, Langton is one of 12 local chefs participating in next week's GrainUp Twin Cities Dine Around event. The Hot Dish caught up with Langton to see what she's cooking up at Spoonriver and to get her one hot tip for making whole grain eating at home fast, easy, and diverse.

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Spoonriver uses all kinds of whole grains in its breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes every day, from whole grain or rice and sorghum flour crepes to the famous house-made brown rice veggie burger. From September 19 through 29, Langton will add a new specialty entree in honor of the dine around event, sponsored by the Grains for Health Foundation.

"I know Len [Marquart, president of Grains for Health] from conferences and work I was doing to get school lunches to include more whole grains," says Langton. "The organization is so dedicated and doing such great work. I'm glad to see them working with restaurants."  

Langton's special entree will be a whole grain croquette made of buckwheat, potato, and quinoa with a local oyster mushroom sauce and braised harvest vegetables for $17. Other participating restaurants are offering equally inspired grain-centric options: a chicken and barley burger with cremini mushrooms and Jarlsberg cheese at the Local, whole grain minestrone soup at FireLake Grill, roasted beet and farro risotto at Restaurant Alma, and wild rice pilaf with pears and cranberries at Radisson Blu. 

The full list of participating restaurants is available here, but even if you can't make it out for dinner, Langton says it's easy to get more whole grains into the meals you cook at home. 

"My number one tip is just to cook a big pot of any one whole grain at the beginning of the week," says Langton. "Then you can serve whatever that is -- millet, brown rice, amaranth -- with beans or another protein the first day. The next day put it in a stir fry. Then throw in a few handfuls toward the end of simmering a soup for lunch. Fry it up crispy as a croquette or patty at the end of the week."

If you're looking to start your day with extra energy, Langton suggests blending cooked whole grains into your morning smoothie instead of protein powder. "Whole grains are alkalizing and the energy they give you lasts longer, so you don't get the spikes associated with sugars and simple carbs."

Langton's whole grain eating method of choice is to further cook whole grains down into a porridge with soy or whole milk and top with raisins, nuts, and apples. "It's the real deal Malt-O-Meal, only way better for you," says Langton.

For more recipes and ideas, check out Langton's Spoonriver Cookbook or sign up for one of her Healthy Eating/Healthy Living courses.

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