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How Much Added Sugar Should We Be Consuming?

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Our organization is all about connecting with you and, together, we keep current in the food and consumer science industry. Sugar intake has been a trending topic for some time. When shopping for groceries and reading nutrition facts labels, it seems like all food products have at least a small amount of sugar in them. Which raises the question, how much added sugar should we be consuming on a daily basis? What’s a healthy amount?

How Do I Know How Much Added Sugar Is a Healthy Amount?

Thankfully, we don’t have to guess. We can rely on research findings and our trusty 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans! These standards are developed by the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The recommendation may come to you as a surprise as you compare it to your daily dietary habits.

In general, we could all be a bit more mindful of our sugar intake. Sugar consumption and obesity have been linked in prior research findings. In turn, obesity is connected to health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Gettin’ Nerdy – Let’s See Some Facts

Here at FCS Professionals, we can get a little nerdy because we love our field! So, here’s a fun fact for you: according to the American Heart Association, the average American adult consumes around 77 grams of added sugar per day. How does that compare to the recommended amount? That’s more than three times what the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends.

The 2020-2025 guidelines state that no more than 10 percent of our calories should come from added sugar. To put it into practice, that means limited your added sugar intake to 200 kcals on a 2,000 calorie diet. For your convenience, we have calculated that that is equivalent to 13 teaspoons or 53 grams, or roughly the amount in a can of regular cola plus a bowl of sugary cereal.

Now, you may be asking WHAT IS ADDED SUGAR?

By definition, according to the FDA, added sugar is ANY sugar added during the processing of food. Thankfully, the recently revised nutrition facts label allows a space specifically for added sugars. You can also find added sugar in the ingredients list on a food product. If the ingredient ends in “-ose” then you can be sure it is a type of sugar. The following are types of added sugars you may commonly see: honey, granulated sugar, maple syrup, molasses, raw sugar, natural cane sugar, dextrose, sucrose, and concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.

But, on the other hand, there are natural sugars such as the sugar in fruit and milk sugar (lactose). However, milk typically contains added sugar when flavorings are introduced, like chocolate or strawberry milk.


Are Carbs & Refined Grains the Worst Thing in the American Diet?

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What an amazing speaker we had for our September virtual meeting; Dr. Julie Miller Jones is amazing!  Over 60 participants joined us in kicking off our program year with renowned speaker Dr. Julie Jones and a program centered around carbohydrates and refined grains.  Susan Vance, FCS President-Elect, summed up most of our feelings when she shared how excited she was to be kicking off this “Season of FCS Professionals.”

Consumers are subjected to many mixed messages about carbs and refined grains. It is difficult to know what to believe.  Dr. Jones shared her vast knowledge about this subject and addressed some of the current research findings.   We learned that in most countries outside of the United States, it is recommended that people consume a 50% of their calories as carbs.  Yet, in the United States many popular diets tell us to reduce carbs.   Should we eat carbs or not? Let’s look at some data Dr. Jones shared.


We learned that in order to be healthy it is important to have the right mix of carbs, refined grains, and whole grains in our diet. This graph Illustrates that even though carbohydrate intake in the U.S. has gone down, obesity rates have continued to rise.




Over 40% of the U.S. population is considered obese. If carbohydrate consumption is decreasing, why are we getting heavier?  Calories are the reason! We have 600 Kcal more available overall than we did in 1970.  We are eating too many refined grains and half of those are not staple foods like bread but from indulgent refined grain foods that dietary guidance recommends ‘to eat sparingly.’  Think donuts and cookies! It was also fascinating to learn that a higher intake of whole grain foods is associated with lower disease risk.  Think oatmeal and bran flakes!



With diabetes also of concern in the U.S., Dr. Jones discussed current research and her thoughts on the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels, measured by a scale called the Glycemic Index.  Her conclusions were these:

Carbohydrate quality should consider all attributes of a food – its nutrients and its detractor components such as sugar.

  • Glycemic Index is too highly variable, misused and misunderstood to be used as a measure of carb quality
  • Glycemic Index Tables do not predict glycemic response of many meals and foods

For weight issues and many disease states, carbohydrates are not the problem.  It is the extra calories consumed!

  • Americans often have poor diets, choosing foods with little nutritional value, eating portions that are too large and have too many calories.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle choices (too little exercise, smoking, overuse of alcohol) also contribute.

Potatoes and grains, both whole grains and enriched grain staple foods, are a low-cost source of important nutrients, providing fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, folate, and various vitamins which are often under-consumed.

The Last Word from Dr. Jones:  For good health and longevity, include the right mix of carbs in your diet. Make half your grains whole and focus on staple carbohydrate foods – breads, pasta, cereals, rice.  Enjoy indulgent grains – doodles, ding dongs and doughnuts occasionally.

Nordic Cooking at Puustelli Kitchen Showroom

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Members and guests had a fabulous time exploring the Puustelli® Kitchen Showroom and cooking with “Chef Anna” on Wednesday, June 12th!

Bjorn Freudenthal, co-founder of the Minneapolis showroom, kicked off the evening with an introduction to Puustelli which has been in business for 100 years. The cabinets and designs have been the favorite for kitchens in Finland for over 30 years. The showroom is set-up with a variety of functioning kitchen areas so the consumer can have a “real” experience shopping for their design preferences. Many options can be viewed for kitchen, bath and bar cabinet layout and options, finishes, countertops, and hardware. If anyone is looking to update their kitchen with sleek, modern, eco-friendly lines then Puustelli is a must stop and shop to see all the possibilities.

The food fest kicked off with a glass of prosecco wine and appetizers. Chef Anna spoke a bit about her cooking philosophy which is essentially recipes are merely a starting point! The group then broke up between five cooking stations to work together to prepare our Nordic inspired meal for the evening. The five recipes included; Nordic Summer Vegetable Soup, Lohikeitto (Finnish Salmon Soup), Vispipuuro (Whipped Cranberry Porridge), Karjalanpiirakka – Karelian Pasty and a variety of juicing beverages. The group was also offered a Raspberry Gin beverage and wine throughout the evening. Chef Anna floated among the groups to talk about the recipes and lend a helping hand. People could also move between groups to experience all the different tasks. The conversation was loud and lively!

Once all the recipes were prepared the group served themselves from each station and enjoyed more conversation until good-byes were said.

Here is the refreshing Raspberry Gin recipe for summer enjoyment.


½ cup fresh raspberries, divided

2 ¾ oz. gin (or vodka)

2 ¾ oz. limoncello

Juice of 1 fresh squeezed lime (lemon juice will work too)

¾ cup sparkling water



Puree half the raspberries in a food processor or blender. Place smashed raspberries into a shaker with ice. Add gin, limoncello and fresh squeezed lime juice. Shake to blend.

Dip rim of serving glass in water and then in sugar (if desired). Pour raspberry mixture into prepared glass, garnish with a whole raspberry and top with sparkling water.


**Thank you to Debra Zwiefelhofer for providing the program recap****

What’s Trending in Customer Care and 2018-19 Annual Meeting and Awards Recap

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On May 23, FCS Professionals and guests gathered at Land O’Lakes in Arden Hills for an evening of fabulous food, a dynamic speaker, awards and recognition!

After a delicious dinner (including some Land O’Lakes products!) we were treated to a presentation by our own member (and President-Elect) Vicky Cherne.  Vicky is currently the Manager of Consumer Affairs and Customer Concerns at Land O’Lakes.  Her department plays two roles–one to be the voice of the brand to the consumer and second to be the voice of the consumer back to the business.  At one point in time it was merely thought of as the “complaint department”  customer care is now reached beyond handling consumer gripes.  The platform for communication has changed also from being primarily phone contacts to now encompassing Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.  Vicky shared how consumer ratings effect customers perceptions of a product.  A consumer review is trusted 12 times more than a manufacturer’s description and 92% of people will look at product reviews before making a purchase.  Consumers are wary of too many 5 star reviews as it is perceived as “fake” or “paid to give high marks.”

Vicky also talked about the new world of self-service and artificial intelligence in the form of chat bots and voice assistance.  These tools can be very helpful to companies but can be frustrating for consumers to interact with.  The third trend discussed was consumers need for personalization.  In a contact center, that might mean a customer’s contact info popping up on their screen to better assist.  In marketing that might be personalized emails, personalized selections or suggestions based on past consumer behavior.  These can be well received by customers but as we discussed, can also give pause to consumers feeling like companies know too much personal information (big brother is watching!).

After Vicky’s presentation the annual meeting and awards portion of the evening began.  Guests were welcomed (Catherine Fox, Dorothy Rademacher, Royalee Rhodes, Sharon Smith, Karoline Stoerzinger, Sydney Wyffells and Karen Wyffels ) and introduced as well as recognition of two new members Sierra Kaptain and Molly Lass.  The 2018-19 officers each presented a brief report on their respective areas.  The full reports were provided in the annual report.

Next it was time for awards. Karen Smith, Nominations Chair presided over the awards ceremony.  

Award winners:

FCS Professional of the Year—Susan Vance

Volunteer of the Year– Vicky Cherne

Spirit Award– Marge Ryerson

Behind-the-Scenes Star– Alyssa Ambrosius

Emerging Leader Award:  Lisa Krause

Award winners were presented with a  certificate and a beautiful plant.  The meeting closed with a reminder to sign up for the final 2018-19 program of the year–a Nordic cooking class limited to 25 participants!


2018-19 FCS Professionals Award Winners

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On Thursday, May 23 at our annual meeting, Nominations Chair Karen Smith presented the following awards for 2018-19!

FCS Professional of the Year— Susan Vance

The FCS Professional of the Year Award recognizes and honors a member for her/his leadership in their profession and outstanding service to this organization. This is the highest organizational award a member can receive.

It is with great pleasure to announce the selection of Susan Vance for this award. Susan epitomizes the criteria for this award because she is a FCS Professional member who has continually given of herself within our organization.

Brian, Susan’s husband, sums Susan up perfectly on Facebook. He said “spent her birthday in the same way she lives her life, full of selfless love for others.”

Since becoming a member Susan has been our newsletter editor & blogger. She coordinated & planned our tour at US Bank Stadium. Susan is the one suggesting we have a Laundry Camp meeting at Mona Williams featuring Patric Richardson. Both of these events had high, high participant raves!

Words that perfectly describe Susan are:

· Kindness for all

· Friendly

· Sympathetic

· Punctual

· Resourceful

· Exceptional

· Thoughtful

· Dependable

· Inspiring

· Admired

In addition to volunteering and sharing her time with Food and Consumer Science Professionals you’ll see Susan volunteering at her children’s school, her church, and in her neighborhood.

Susan has truly made a huge impact with her time and commitment to FCS Professionals over the years. Thank you and congratulations, Susan!

Volunteer of the Year–Vicky Cherne

The FCS Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes a member who represents the community- involvement-spirit of FCS Professionals through community outreach/enrichment they perform.

It is with great pleasure to announce the selection of Vicky Cherne for this award. Vicky is genuine, authentic, incredibly kind, and helpful. She absolutely represents the community-involvement-spirit of FCS Professionals through the many community outreach opportunities she partakes in. Vicky is also a wife and mom of three and is very active in her church community, playing a large role in fundraising activities at the parish. She is known for spending her nights and weekends before a bake sale in the kitchen baking and setting up for the fundraisers, even if that means doing so only a few short hours before catching a flight for a work trip.

Vicky is the past national chair of the SOCAP Consumer Packaged Goods committee and the current SOCAP Minnesota Chapter President. As if she has time to spare, she served as President Elect this year for FCS Professionals and helped immensely on the Membership Sub-committee to brainstorm ideas for increasing our member numbers and traveling to local colleges to speak about FCS Professionals encouraging students to join. She is always willing to help us secure meetings at Land O’Lakes headquarters each year, works with the on-campus catering to plan delicious meals that feature Land O’Lakes products, and often volunteers to lead a tour through the Test Kitchens. We are beyond fortunate to have her serve as our FCS Professionals President this upcoming 2019-2020 year and are excited for all of the wonderful accomplishments we will have under her leadership!

Vicky gives of her time and many talents and represents FCS Professionals in the community doing this without seeking recognition. She is very deserving of this award as a small token of appreciation for all she does for FCS Professionals and the many other organizations she volunteers with on a regular basis!  Thank you and congratulations!

Spirit Award–Marge Ryerson

The FCS Professionals Spirit Award recognizes a member that’s shown particular championing behavior for FCS Professionals.

Who knows the importance & benefits of belonging to a professional organization? Who wants FCS Professionals to survive & thrive?  It’s our Membership Chair & longtime member Marge Ryerson!

Working to build a strong base for FCSP and keep FCSP strong, Marge:

· Reviewed & redesigned our membership brochure

· Assumed the lead & worked tirelessly on updating our bylaws

· Picked up the membership recruitment pace and diligently hand wrote personal notes to 75 plus non-renewing & potential new members.

· Presented to students at local universities/colleges promoting FCSP and encouraging membership

· Planned a new way to recognize new members at meetings. ($10.00 bill refund)

· Suggested changes for our website working with our administrative assistant

· Attended the Michael Brand presentation and is looking at ways to incorporate his suggestions

The following qualities have been used to describe Marge:

· dependable

· always prepared

· supportive

· organized

· courageous

· motivated

· dedicated

· writes eloquently

Marge has truly made a huge impact with her time and commitment to FCS Professionals. Thank you and congratulations, Marge!

Emerging Leader Award–Lisa Krause

The FCS Professionals Emerging Leader Award recognizes professionals who are new to their industry, have been members of FCS Professionals for 5 years or less, and have made a notable contribution to the organization.

The Emerging Leader Award goes to Lisa Krause. Lisa has been coming to meetings and has enjoyed the networking and learning that are a part of FCS Professionals. In fact, she has agreed to serve on the FCS Professionals Board in 2019-2020 as Nominations and Awards Chair.

Lisa has been in FCS education in the Becker School District. The majority of her career has been in ECFE as a parent educator and coordinator of the Early Childhood and School Readiness programs. Recently she changed positions and is a middle school FCS teacher in Becker. She is a life-long learner currently taking classes in Kitchen and Bath design!

Not only is Lisa an excellent educator but a wonderful mother and wife. She volunteers with her family at Operation Christmas Child, the St. Cloud Salvation Army serving meals together on Christmas Day, and Cyclehealth events.

In February Lisa received recognition at the MAFCS Symposium receiving a best practice grant to purchase funds for a classroom photography studio to be used in the eighth grade Life Skills class. She shared, “During the class experience students are taught basic food photography concepts that they then use in lab experiences as well as a final project. The studio provides all lab groups a professional experience to demonstrate the skills they have learned and are mastering. Students use the photographs to complete final evaluations of their culinary unit experiences.”

We are excited to welcome Lisa to the FCS Professionals Board and look forward to the leadership she will add to our organization. Thank you and congratulations, Lisa!

Behind-the-Scenes Star Award–Alyssa Ambrosius

The FCS Professionals Behind-the-Scenes-Star Award recognizes a member who works diligently to execute programming, results, and/or innovation, within the organization but aren’t in any formal position on the board.

Who has a genuine big smile? Who is always poised & professional? Who loves the world of FACS? Who is supportive of FCSP programming? Who has been coming to our meetings for several years and joined this year?

It is Alyssa Ambrosius! Alyssa is our supportive & shining star. For our 2019-2020 year, Alyssa has volunteered to help programming with innovative & creative ideas and venues. Programming is looking forward to her suggestions!

In addition to Alyssa supporting and actively participating in FCSP programming, Alyssa has:

· Been a contributor to the MN FACS Frameworks collaborative project

· Diligently worked on MAFCS Annual Conferences recruiting presenters & creating conference themes

· Is an innovative and enthusiastic Family & Consumer Science Teacher at Monticello High School with a really cool indoor school garden in the FACS department

· Co-authored a Farm to School curriculum available at LearningZoneXpress

· Supports Twin Cities Girls On the Run

· Is organizing the 2nd Annual FCS Summer Career Pathway: Culinary Arts Farm 2 FCS Symposium on June 20th at St. Paul College

Alyssa has truly made a huge impact with her time and commitment to FACS in Minnesota over the last few years and I am honored to present this award to her. Thank you and congratulations, Alyssa!

April Program Recap: Laundry Camp!

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The first attempt of our April meeting was sidelined by an unwelcomed April snow storm!  The skies were clear on Thursday, April 25 and FCS Professionals and their guests were treated to a fantastic program at the Mona Williams store at Mall of America.  Our speaker for the evening was Patric Richardson, also known as “The Laundry Evangelist”, owner of Mona Williams.  Participants snacked on individual meat, cheese and cracker trays and yummy desserts while learning from Patric!

Patric’s love of beautiful clothing began as a child growing up in Kentucky.  His granny loved designer clothing but there was not a dry cleaner in town so she learned how to wash the clothing herself and passed along this knowledge to him.  Patric also studied textiles in college and learned more about fabrics and their care.  He came to Minnesota when he was hired by Neiman Marcus and then went onto a management position at Nordstrom.  He opened Mona Williams first in Minneapolis and then moved the store to Mall of America.

Patric shared more tips and tricks about laundry than one could possibly put in a blog post!  For those that were unable to attend, Patric holds public “Laundry Camp” sessions.  Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance.  Click here for dates and times.  Also, Patric has a book that will be published within the next year!

Some highlights from Laundry Camp

  • You can machine wash anything–except wedding dresses and fur coats.  Those can be washed in the bathtub!  Yes–you can machine wash your wool coat and favorite suit!
  • Never use fabric softener or dryer sheets–they coat the fabric with oil making it harder to remove stains, increase fire risk, and contain chemicals known to disrupt your endocrine system! Use wool balls with drops of essential oil instead.
  • If you have “crunchy towels” it’s likely they are full of detergent–we use way too much detergent.  One Tide Pod could wash 5 loads of laundry! Use 1 T soap or 3 T commercial detergent per load
  • Always wash on “warm” cycle–never cold.  The cold setting is too cold to activate the detergent so the residue stays in your clothes
  • Never use bleach
  • Athleisure items and swimming suits should be their own load.  Add 1 T bleach alternative to the load to get them clean.  Bacteria tends to build up in spandex.
  • If you have an extra dirty load of laundry, add 1/4 c baking soda.  He recommends getting the big bag from Sam’s Club or Costco
  • There is no such thing as a “set stain”.  Some stains take more effort–but he believes you can get out any stain
  • Treat the stain immediately before washing.  Do not pre-treat and then throw into the hamper for a few days

If you want to learn all of his tricks I highly recommend attending Laundry Camp.  His enthusiasm and wit are so endearing and bullet points just don’t do it justice!

Mona Williams is located on the first floor between Nordstrom and Macy’s.  Thank you to Patric and his assistant Martha for a wonderful evening!

February Program Recap: Beyond the Basics–The Future of Food and Food Safety

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On Friday, February 22 FCS Professionals hosted their second annual Beyond the Basics conference at the Edina Country Club.  This year’s theme was “The Future of Food and Food Safety.”

The first speaker of the morning was Kim Carlton, MPH, REHS, CFOI—MDH Food Safety Partnership Unit Supervisor.  She presented, ” The MN Food Code: The Road to a Long-Awaited Update and Beyond!” Kim first walked participants through the background history of developing the new food code.  We all quickly learned that this was certainly not an easy nor fast process!  She then explained some highlights of the new food code. A document of FAQs surrounding the new food code can be accessed here.

She also provided the following website from the Minnesota Department of Health that has many resources for food business safety.  That website can be accessed here 

After a short break, our next speaker was Craig Hedberg, PhD, MS, Epidemiologist & Co-Director of the Minnesota Center for Food Safety Excellence.  His talk was titled, “The Power of Information to Prevent Foodborne Illness”.  There are 48 million reported food borne illnesses (FBI) yearly in this country which equates to less than one FBI per 5,000 meals consumed.  In his work, they are predicting that more unusual food items will come forward as we are getting better at identifying them.  For instance, at one point it was thought that tomatoes could not be a source of FBI because they were “too acidic” but they now know that not to be true at all.  Tomatoes are less acidic than they used to be in order to be more palatable to consumers.  They have found that tomatoes soaked in salmonella contaminated water will absorb salmonella into them!

Dr. Hedberg talked about PulseNet which is a public health surveillance tool. They believe that since the inception of PulseNet that 270,000 cases per year of FBI have been prevented resulting in a savings of 1/2 billion dollars in medical costs and lost productivity.  He said we are getting much better at finding outbreaks.

Following Dr. Hedberg a buffet brunch was served after and participants were able to refuel for more learning!


The next speaker was Angie Ames, the Food Safety and Quality Assurance Coordinator for Kwip Trip, Inc.  Kwik Trip, Inc is so much more than a gas station–their convenience stores have evolved to include healthy, fresh items at great prices.  They make eighty percent of their brands themselves.  Their main distribution center is located in La Crosse, Wisconsin and includes a bakery that can produce 225 loaves of bread per minute!

Last summer Kwik Trip made headlines as an outbreak of food borne illness was traced to Del Monte veggie trays sold at Kwik Trip stores in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Angie’s presentation, “Protecting Your Brand Through Food Safety” discussed ways in which Kwik Trip has processes in place designed to minimize food safety issues and also to deal with such outbreaks.  In their quality system, the first step to protecting themselves and the public is through thorough checks of their suppliers to ensure their safety standards are on par with their own standards for things made in house.  It’s an ongoing process of audits and vendor relationships.  It was fascinating to learn of the quick action taken by Kwik Trip to minimize exposure once they were notified of the problem.  Communication went out to stores immediately with product being taken off shelves and the extra step of opening the packages prior to disposing so there was not the risk of people taking the veggie trays out of the garbage and consuming them.  Food banks were notified and corporate vending machines were emptied of the product.  The outbreak was attributed to cyclospora which was responsible for the lettuce issues of last summer as well.  After thorough testing and running cultures, they unfortunately were never able to identify the source of the cyclospora.

After a short break, the conference switched gears to the future of food.  Dr. Da-Qing Yang, PhD from The Hormel Institute of Health spoke on, “The Cutting Edge, Using Food Compounds to Treat Cancer.”  He has been researching breast cancer in mice.  In one study they looked at using calorie restriction (a 25% calorie reduction from standard diet) by means of a low fat and also a high fat (but still lower calorie) diet.  In that, they found that the mice on the calorie restricted diet had a lower instance of mammary tumors.  In a different mouse study, the mice were injected with cancer cells.  Some mice were given reversatrol (an antioxidant found in red wine) and others placebo.  One of the mice given this antioxidant did not develop mammary tumors (leading researchers to wonder if there was a mistake!).  Those mice that did develop the mammary tumors did not have the same discomfort with the tumors as the placebo mice.  For the mouse that did not develop the mammary tumors (despite being injected with the cancer cells), five days after stopping the reversatrol, the mouse developed a tumor!  Dr. Yang was quick to point out that the mice were given purified, concentrated reversatrol and this does not give us license to drink all the red wine we want.  But it was an interesting first step in the role of antioxidants in cancer prevention and treatment.

Our last speaker of the day was Amanda Archibald, founder of “The Genomic Kitchen.” Amanda is a registered dietitian and is passionate about “Cooking for Your Genes.”  She used an analogy of putting out a fire.  Would you rather put the fire out with a tea cup or with a fire hose?  The key in cooking for your genes is to consume foods that turn on your metabolic pathways to reduce inflammation. That is the fire hose! It is also not just a matter of consuming certain foods, but also preparing them in the most effective way and also serving them in such a way that you aren’t turning “off” the pathway!  She gave many preparation tips including the “hack and hold.”  With crucifers chopping releases an enzyme that makes it heat stable.  But you should wait an hour after chopping to put it to heat in order for enough time for that enzyme to be released.  Also acids can turn off the anti-inflammatory effects of the food so serve dressing on the side.  She also gave an anti-inflammatory grocery list of produce:  onions, garlic, leeks, watercress, arugula, cauliflower, radishes, bok choy, rutabaga, pink grapefruit.  For herbs/spices she recommends: turmeric, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and sage.  Amanda is currently working with a hospital system in San Diego where they have teamed up with chefs and totally redeveloped the hospital menu to include these practices.

It was an amazing day of learning and networking.  Thank you to the FCS Professionals members who played a role in the planning and execution of the day!




March Program Recap: “Spring Break” at Catrinas!

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On March 18th, FCS Professionals and guests gathered at Catrinas Cerveza & Mexican Grill  at their St. Paul location for our March meeting. During the first portion of the evening, attendees enjoyed the happy hour drink specials to enhance the Spring Break vibes of the evening while they mingled and snacked on salsa, guacamole, and chips, all made in house daily.


Owners Lorenzo Tejeda and Paul Marshall then kicked off the event by sharing their story.  They have been friends for 10+ years and after working together in corporate restaurants they were ready for a change and thought, “Why can’t we open our own restaurant”? That is when the idea of Catrinas was born and they got right to work making that a dream a reality. They spent many long hour days getting their first location in Oakdale ready and on December 22nd, 2014 (yes, just a few days before the holiday), they opened their doors. They had twelve customers the first day, but did not let that deter them. 3M headquarters is about a mile away, so a few days after opening, they loaded their car and took samples for employees to try. Unfortunately, they were not allowed into the building due to security protocols. What do two guys with lots of delicious samples in their car eager to share them with people do?  Drive around campus and look for people outside on a (smoke) break, of course! Thanks to their quick thinking, it worked and those people who sampled out of the owners’ vehicle the day before, brought their friends to the restaurant the next day. Each day they got more and more new customers and as word continued to spread their customer base expanded. Today, the line wraps around the whole restaurant, but customers will tell you (and those in attendance at our event can now also agree), it is definitely worth the wait, not only the food, but the customer service and genuine appreciation shown by the owners and staff!


After their first anniversary, Lorenzo and Paul knew they had outgrown their first location and opened their second location in 2016. The trend continued and in July 2018 they opened a third location in Saint Paul -the space our event was held. As Lorenzo and Paul shared their story, we quickly learned that hard work, long hours, perseverance, determination, and great customer service, along with the power of “thank you”, really pays off. This is evidenced not only in their continuing growing customer base, but also their many awards and recognitions received.  They have won several awards including: Best Tacos in MN (twice!), Best Catering, and Best Lunch under $10.  They have been featured on a segment on Fox 9 Morning Buzz and  Pioneer Press this past November.


We also learned about the significance of the restaurant name and logo. The photo at the top defines “catrina”. The photo below is an example of a catrina.  Along with the logo, they use the slogan “Mexican to the Bone”


One thing that makes Catrinas unique is that they focus on fresh ingredients and flavorful dishes that are made by hand fresh each day – they don’t even have a microwave! The meats are all slow cooked and seasoned to enhance the flavors. They have a range of eight salsas from mild to hot available daily. Their spiciest salsa, Salsa Quemada, is an 8 or 9 out of 10 on the heat scale, yet it doesn’t burn your mouth, because they value the importance of good flavor. In addition to the standard salsas, they also have a daily salsa. Between the owners, cooks, and managers, they have at least forty salsas in their wheelhouse and are always coming up with new ones to try.


How did their cooking journey begin? Lorenzo admitted that growing up in Mexico City he did not pick up his kitchen skills–if you asked him to boil water, he would’ve burned it!  When he moved to the U.S, he started working in a restaurant as a dishwasher and over time started taking on more responsibilities.  Most importantly he had an awesome mentor, the head chef, that took him under his wing. Over the years, he started tweaking recipes he learned until he developed his own style and flavor profile. Paul has worked in the restaurant industry his whole career, starting as a dishwasher and moved through various positions in the kitchen, and his interest and skills developed over time until he too developed his own style in the kitchen. Their combined skills and recipe portfolios matched perfectly to allow them to create the delicious brand that Catrinas has become.

For those who were unable to make the event or are looking for another chance to try Catrinas, they will appear this summer at Target Field as part of their Pop Up Restaurant Series featuring local restaurants. Also, to add to their vast array of choices on the menu, Catrinas also features the following specials during the week along with Happy Hour M-F 4-7 p.m. and all day Saturdays:

Monday – Gorditas

Tuesday – Enchiladas

Wednesday – Tamales

Thursday – Flautas

Friday – Fish tacos


After Lorenzo and Paul shared their story, they walked attendees through a sample platter of their various meat offerings and then attendees got to build their own dinner with the choice of Tacos, Burrito, Catrina (taco) Bowl, or a Taco Salsa with all the toppings of their choice. They also got to enjoy their choice of two traditional refreshing drinks, Horchata (sweet rice drink) and Jamaica (Hibiscus tea). While we were enjoying the meal, Colleen Glenn, Program Co-Chair, taught the traditional word to use before sharing a meal of “Provecho” which roughly translates as “Good Health”. This would be similar to saying “Salud” or “Cheers” before enjoying an alcoholic beverage. She also shared her personal connection to Catrinas. She counts the owners of Catrinas as very good friends who are more like family. Also the manager of the St. Paul location (and also designer behind the Catrinas logo), Jorge, just so happens to be Colleen’s boyfriend!  Thank you to those who attended. It was a fun event and all felt like they were experiencing a Spring Break vacation right here in Minnesota!

 Thank you Colleen Glenn for organizing this event and providing the recap! 

How to Clean Your Smartphone!

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At our recent conference, “The Future of Food and Food Safety”, the use of smart phones by food service personnel was discussed.  This article talks about the microbes that are hanging out on your cell phone and how to get rid of them!  Click here to access the article