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  • Writer's pictureKevin May

Transforming the Table with Jenny Breen - Ep 04

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

Learn the joy of linking the pleasures of food and cooking with a commitment to community and the environment.

Episode 04 Summary

Happy Earth Day! We are thrilled to bring you this special episode where we explore the amazing connection between what we eat, where it comes from, and who was involved in its production. Our guest Jenny Breen has been a part of the the local movement in the Twin Cities for decades. From her early days of cooking at the Seward Café where she got to interact with the local farmers delivering their produce, to opening and running the Good Life Café, Jenny has incorporated her passion for the local food systems and people within it, into the delicious creations she shares through her educational courses, consultations, coaching, and her cook book Cooking Up the Good Life. In the episode we learn more about some of the things we can all experiment with while "sheltering in place" that can give us a greater appreciation for the food we eat. We will discover how to fill our pantry with nutritious healthy foods that can sustain us even when fresh produce isn't as plentiful, and what we can do with food items that might have been considered waste, yet still have nutritious value and are truly too good to waste.


Notable Quotes

We also have this opportunity to really bring back the dinner table or the breakfast table and to really, again, sit down and be mindful and engage with our food and give ourselves the time to absorb the nutrients.

I think that's something that intimidates people about cooking is they feel like it's a lot of work every day, and if we can remember that if we're smart and intentional, we can keep it pretty simple.

I can never tell you exactly what to choose, but I can give you as much information as possible so that whatever choice you make, it's made from a place of information. And that you're making it on purpose and sometimes that intentional choice is cookies and ice cream.


About our Guest

Jenny Breen has been a professional chef and advocate for local food and healthy food systems since the mid 1980’s. She has been working in the field of education for over 25 years. 

She has creatively centered her work at the intersection of cooking, health, education and justice by working to build networks within health and food systems for greater access to food, support for sustainable farming, and to promote cooking as a health and community building strategy.Jenny practices her collaborative and engaging approach while making connections and educating people through experiences and exchanges in the kitchen, about the critical role of food and cooking in health and wellbeing and in environmental and community sustainability. She gives families, community partners, health professionals, and culinary teams a practical understanding of healthy eating, why it matters, and how to apply it in their work and life.

She contracts through her business "transforming the table" as a culinary nutrition public health educator with local health departments, school districts, non profit food and farming organizations and community health based trainings, and consults with DR Kate Shafto as "Feed your Health--training and consulting from farm to kitchen to clinic".Jenny’s work makes food and cooking relevant to the bigger picture of health for people, communities and the planet. She shares a love of food, learning and well being, and brings a dynamic combination of skills, leadership, passion and experience to her work. 

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Cooking Up The Good Life - Creative Recipes from the Family Table

by Jenny Breen and Susan Thurston

If you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area you can support local by purchasing a book directly from Jenny by emailing her at

If you are outside the Twin Cities you can purchase the book on Amazon.

Roasted figs with gorgonzola. Lemon miso soup. Harvest lasagna, lentil walnut burgers, and ginger molasses cookies. Veteran Minneapolis chef Jenny Breen knows that cooking at home can be a joyful, rewarding, and healthy experience for the whole family. In Cooking Up the Good Life, Jenny Breen—along with local writer and photographer Susan Thurston—presents a scrumptious journey through the seasonal ingredients of the upper Midwest with an enticing variety of her most-loved recipes for the family table.

Written with both beginner and experienced cooks in mind, each section in Cooking Up the Good Life—from starters and sauces to soups, salads, main courses, and sweets—is organized by season to help bring our daily meals into harmony with local harvests. Recipes include imaginative “Family Kitchen” segments that suggest safe, fun ways to get kids involved. An advocate for inviting children into the kitchen, Breen has found that they are more apt to eat what they are connected to, whether by growing the vegetables, feeding the chickens and collecting the eggs, or helping prepare the food.

Cooking at home is also an opportunity to discover more about the ingredients we use and the people who bring them to our grocery stores, our farmers markets, and ultimately to our tables. Featuring refreshingly simple, creative, and unfussy recipes, Cooking Up the Good Life’s relaxed and encouraging style helps you cook with ease and serve with confidence wholesome dishes that highlight the natural beauty and elegance of Midwestern seasonal ingredients. Oh, yes—and they’re absolutely delicious. But don’t just take our word for it.


Mentioned in the Episode

Here are links to companies and organizations that were mentioned or are some of Jenny's favorites, we invite you to visit them.


Thanks to our Sponsors and Production Team:


Upcycled Food Association -

Produced by Hi-Fly'n Productions

Executive Producer | Host: Kevin May

Associate Producer: Amy Gilbert

Creative Development: Sue Marshall

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