At this time each year, I seem to assemble a stack of seed catalogs that began arriving at my home early in January. In other years, I might have taken a quick glance and tossed them in the recycling. But this year, I will take a closer look. Last summer, I joined the tens of millions of Americans who have planted a vegetable garden. Although my garden started modest in size, over the course of the summer it expanded as my adult kids offered suggestions as to what could be added. What motivated me? The desire to eat a healthier diet and to expand the repertoire of vegetables I serve. Maybe I was also inspired by the fact that Michelle Obama even got in the dirt and planted a garden at the White House . To be honest, what really inspired me, was the way the First Lady got children involved in the effort of both growing and eating healthy food. I see now that she was laying the foundation for a larger effort that was just launched last week on childhood obesity . I applaud this effort as obesity is a major driver of healthcare costs. It is estimated that 17% of children  and 25% of adults  in the U.S. are obese.
Later this month, the Center for Spirituality & Healing  is once again offering what has turned out to be a very popular series of evening classes on Health Eating/Healthy Living  taught by Brenda Langton. Brenda is a well-known pioneer of the local grown, healthy food movement and owner of Spoonriver Restaurant and Bar  in Minneapolis. (In 2006, Langton also founded the Mill City Farmers Market  in downtown Minneapolis.) She is also a senior fellow at the Center for Spirituality & Healing. In the three evening classes, Brenda will focus on learning simple and wholesome ways to better nourish ourselves and our families. In addition to watching the food being prepared, participants will have an opportunity to sample several menu items, leaving the class full and inspired with new recipes and motivation to take charge of their health. With more than 30 years of experience to draw from, Brenda will share creative breakfast options; savory snacks to get you through the day; simple and delicious soups; vegetables and legumes; entrees using plant-based proteins; and delicious desserts without refined sugar. To secure your spot for the class, register here .
As we all know, it won't be long until the University's own Farmers Market  is once again bursting with fresh produce. I suggest you make an effort to stop by and gather simple ingredients to start your own path toward Healthy Eating/Healthy Living. And, if you are considering planting your own garden this summer, check out the many workshops offered through the University of Minnesota Extension Services . Take your first step toward a healthier you!