Friday, October 16, 2015

Valley Vine & Harvest Throwdown

This past Sunday we hosted a fundraiser at the Lake Elmo Inn Event Center for Canvas Health.  The annual Valley Vine & Harvest Throwdown is a competitive food and wine event featuring the area’s finest chefs. Guests feast on seven delectable mini-entrees and sample complementary wines, then vote on their favorite meal. The winning chef receives the honor of Top Chef of the Valley.

This was a wonderful fundraiser for an amazing cause.  Canvas Health is dedicated to bringing hope, healing and recovery to people’s lives. They achieve this by helping children, adolescents, adults and families who struggle with mental health, chemical health, and domestic and sexual abuse.

These seven chefs brought their finest creations to the table and they did not disappoint!

The Lake Elmo Inn is so proud to once again host The Valley Vine & Harvest Throwdown and is humbled by the amount of people that came out to show their support at the event! Congratulation to the winner, Chef Chris Whalen from Acqua Restaurant & Bar!

Friday, September 11, 2015


The noise is always at a fevered pitch right before a game at the TCF Bank Stadium, as we get ready to cheer for our boys in maroon and gold. The impressive marching band and our favorite mascot are in rare form, welcoming both the fresh new recruits and seasoned veterans as they hit the field on opening day this year. The first Gopher Football game of the season and the noise from the fans is deafening as three parachuters land on the field during the National Anthem! Fans filled every one of the 51,000 seats in our open air stadium on a perfect late summer evening. Life can be so good on game day!

The student section is packed to the very top of the stadium with excited and energetic young people. They dance, sing, and chant throughout the game, not wasting a second sitting down. Jangling keys and traditional chants, you can count on them to add that extra excitement, as well as the many laughs that make live college sports different from any pro game you might attend.

As most fans know, some football games can have you on pins and needles the entire game, awaiting the final results. This game was no exception. Did the Gophers play a perfect game? They know they could have done a better job. But the fact that we held our own against the number two team in the nation is very exciting and the promise of a great season to come.

All of us at the Lake Elmo Inn Event Center have been anticipating the opening game for the last several weeks because we have the pleasure of spending time in training camp with the players and coaches. We served the meals to our hungry athletes as they prepared for the upcoming season. It is an honor, and exciting for us, to spend time with the team preseason as they develop and grow into the confident athletes you see on the field. Hopes are high and motivation is strong. Chef John Schiltz and Chef Mike Juelich attended a nutrition program years ago and work closely with the teams nutritionist to make sure these young people get what they need to perform at their best in very high stress training conditions. Our catering team will typically feed the Gophers four meals a day for one to two weeks each year during training camp. It is amazing to see the volume of food these young people can consume when they are working out at that level. This year we served 7200 pieces of bacon as part of their breakfasts for the 10 consecutive days we fed them. We also prepared over 1000 pounds of protein for their dinners. But it doesnt stop with the meat. Balance is the rule of the day. Imagine consuming 6 cases of pineapples, 8 cases of strawberries, and 10 watermelons a day! We do our best to make sure they have well rounded choices for all of their meals.

Coach Kill, who is in his fifth year at Minnesota, brought in his own special brand of magic that seemed to spread throughout the team and fans alike. As is his custom, the third year at a school usually turns into a memorable one. The University of Minnesota was no different as 2012 was the turnaround year for the Minnesota Gophers. You can feel the positive energy from the team as they run out on the field. Coach Kill preaches words and phrases like One heart beat, Legacy, Relentless, Loyalty, Brick by Brick, and Win for each other. He loves his team and his school, and they love him. We hear students chanting Jerrysota as a tribute to the loyalty he gains from these young people. It is inspiring.

I still like to brag that our uniforms are the sharpest in the league, our Goldy is the most endearing of all mascots, and I am even thinking to myself No one could have a better marching band than the University of Minnesota! It is an amazing feeling of pride one feels when they support their local community team. Our University of Minnesota Golden Gophers will always have a special place in our hearts! Ski-U-Mah!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Super Healthy Smoothie

Google the word Smoothie and youll get dozens of pages of website listings claiming to have just the information you need to start a new healthy lifestyle. Although the Smoothie has been around for decades, over the past couple years it has really taken off in popularity. You see the ingredients front and center at all the grocery and big box stores. From Chia Seeds to Protein Powder, suddenly these things that we were not all that familiar with are anywhere you shop.

A few months ago we were staying with friends and I was introduced to this delicious new breakfast habit that now I cannot seem to live without. For one thing, it was so easy. Most of the ingredients came right out of the freezer, adding in any fresh produce ripe and ready to use from the counter. If you didnt use the counter produce in time, cut and freeze it for another day’s Smoothie. Even the kale was chopped and frozen. Freezing all these ingredients was a new idea to me, but it is the key to making the daily creation of your Smoothie so simple and easy. Of course, you need a Magic Bullet for ease of preparing your single servings each day. 

There are books and websites that will provide you with hundreds of recipes and nutrition information on the endless supply of ingredients you can use, but you will also want something you love to taste. Here is the recipe that I currently use each morning:

    Fill the Bullet with about 2-3 of chopped frozen kale
    Add about 2 of water
    Two handfuls of assorted frozen (or fresh) berries: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries
    One half fresh (or frozen) sliced banana
    One teaspoon of PB2 powder
    One teaspoon of Chia seeds
    One teaspoons of Flax seeds
    Blend and drink. Makes one large glass of delicious. I like my Smoothies kind thick so I use a little less water than some might.

The only ingredient on my current list that can over ripen are the bananas. If I dont use all the bananas in time, I slice them and freeze for another day. Now Im a newbie at this so I anticipate my recipe will be changing regularly over time as I explore this new drink. I adopted this one I use from my friend. I have since collected many other ingredients in my freezer that I occasionally use, such as pineapple, peaches, and mango. I would imagine the development of the perfect Smoothie can kind of take many years.

I love a habit that is so effortless to maintain and at the same time tastes so good. You also feel good about doing it. What could be a better start to your day than a handful of kale and berries? Now dont just settle for my recipe, do some experimenting on your own. You definitely want to create something that you look forward to drinking. When you explore the various recipes out there, you’ll see that some are obviously meal substitutes drinks, while others are designed to simply add more fruits and vegetables to your day. Protein powder or other high-protein ingredients such as whole milk, eggs, yogurt, or seeds help keep you satisfied for longer periods of time.

Another friend recently told me about some superfoods that she adds to her Smoothie. I thought I would give some of them a try. One is Maca, which claims to provide energy and increase memory retention. Another is Acai, which is loaded with antioxidants. One other she currently uses are Goji Berries, which helps eyesight, boosts the immune system, and promotes longevity. Do these special ingredients really work? I cannot say for sure. My friend swears by them and reports an obvious change when she is eating them. In doing my own research, numerous books and websites also claim these ingredients to be extremely beneficial. But that is the beauty of the Smoothie. Ill try these out and see what I think. If I do not feel any benefit, Ill try something else. The wonderful thing is that you feel good about the journey and you learn about taking better care of yourself.

Other foods that are commonly used in smoothies are cucumber, avocado, apple, coconut, jicama, celery, spinach, beets, almond milk, orange, yogurt - the list goes on and on. So go ahead, google Smoothie and see what you find. Head to your local grocery store and explore the produce department in a whole new way. If you end up loving this habit half as much as I do, youll be starting out your days with a refreshing custom-blend Smoothie.

-Christine Schiltz
Owner & Catering Director
Lake Elmo Inn Event Center