As TV dramas have made clear, working in an emergency room is a high-stakes job. While many don’t have the stomach for it, Dr. Lane Patten and Dr. Holly Schrupp Berg excel under pressure. These two physicians work for the Emergency Physicians Professional Association and are stationed at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale.
After many shifts with little time to eat, they realized they had the stomach for something else, too: healthy food. To beat burnout and inspire their creativity, they decided to start a food blog called With Two Spoons, with a mission to “get people to rediscover the fun of the kitchen and to create stronger, healthier communities through food.” There, they share their “adventures—and misadventures—in the kitchen.” We met up with the duo at French Meadow Bakery & Cafe in Minneapolis to discuss food, healing, and beating burnout.
Thanks for meeting up with Minnesota Monthly.
Dr. Holly Schrupp Berg: Before med school, I was an intern at Minnesota Monthly. What got me thinking about leaving and going to med school was they sent me to cover a story on a plastic surgeon. I started pushing to get in on every medical story I could. I realized I’m actually really interested in this, so I applied to med school while I was there.
Dr. Lane Patten: It’s funny how life works that way. If you told me 20 years ago I’d have a blog about food—anyone who knew me knew I could burn water.
What do you love about working at North Memorial?
LP: Our group is amazing. It’s about 50-ish physicians. It’s super tight-knit—we’re super supportive of each other.
Does working in medicine change how you cook?
LP: I would say so.
HSB: I agree. The last couple years, we’ve both become more conscious of food almost as medicine—the importance of how what you eat changes your health. On the more practical side, we have really busy lives. We can’t be making 20-ingredient recipes. We’ve both come to appreciate good, simple food that is accessible and tastes great but also doesn’t take a long time.
It can be confusing to know what advice to listen to when it comes to healthy eating.
HSB: The science is really changing. There’s not a lot of good, solid, peer-reviewed data out there. I love [food writer] Michael Pollan’s approach: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The idea that “If your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, you shouldn’t eat it.”
LP: When it comes to talking to patients, that’s the best advice. Stuff without labels is always better.
Do you think food heals?
HSB: Initially, we started out wanting to keep food and medicine separate. As we’ve gotten more in this, we’ve started to realize maybe there is a space where they should be together. It’s still really early. We’re figuring that out. But it’s definitely an interest of mine, how we can use what we’ve learned to teach.
What are your favorite places to eat in town?
LP: In the Twin Cities, Alex Roberts is my hero. He’s behind Restaurant Alma and Brasa. He keeps things simple, but flavorful. I love the Lynhall for casual gatherings. It’s a great meeting space.
HSB: We love Travail in Robbinsdale, which is awesome because it’s right by work, and Pig Ate My Pizza. That group has been amazing for the Robbinsdale area. I have a love for this little sushi place in Excelsior called Yumi. I’m hopelessly addicted to the chocolate croissants at Bellecour. I love on my day off to get a coffee and croissant and go down to the lake.
LP: Coalition is a fun place. There’s one in Excelsior and one on 50th & France [in Edina]. I just did a cooking class at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. They’re a great, super fun thing to do.
HSB: The place I love to go in the summer is Sea Salt. Good food. Good beer. Go in groups and send someone to get drinks.
Which local food bloggers inspire you?
LP: I did the food photography class that Pinch of Yum puts on a couple years ago. That was really fun and inspiring. I follow a blog called Heartbeet Kitchen. The blogger from The Bitter Side of Sweet just moved here about a year ago, and it’s been really fun getting to know her. Greens & Chocolate is another fun one.
What are your favorite fall recipes?
HSB: I love soup.
LP: I’ve started liking farro. It’s an ancient grain. It’s really chewy. It’s got a lot of heft, which is good for winter.
HSB: Butternut squash. I use it for everything in the fall. I make butternut squash soup. Roast it. Put it in salads. Mash it. That’s my favorite.
What are your favorite things to do in Minnesota in the fall?
LP: I love walking around the lakes: Calhoun (Bde Maka Ska), Harriet, Isles. I got married off Lake of the Isles. I have a cabin in Crosslake—I spend most of my free time up there. Also, we work a lot [laughs].
HSB: Now that we have kids, I love the apple orchard. Going out to the pumpkin patch. I love to escape up to the North Shore, usually on weekends. Up toward Lutsen and Grand Marais, it’s amazing to see the leaves turn. Minnesota is amazing.
How did you get into blogging?
HSB: We were at a point where our careers were really busy. We were feeling a little burnt out. We were looking for something to express a different side of ourselves. I had been casually thinking about it for a while. I knew nothing about food photography and recipe development.
LP: Don’t drink wine before your first photography class. This is what we learned.
HSB: I casually mentioned to Lane it would be a fun challenge to learn these things and see what happens. I’m a little more like a dreamer, idea person and Lane’s the “take and run with it” kinda girl. She said, “I went to the bookstore and bought these books about starting a blog.” I said to my husband, “I guess I’m starting a blog.”
LP: We’re lifetime learners. We would be in school all of our lives if that was feasible.
HSB: One fun thing that’s come out of this for me is we’ve found these new communities that have been so fun and welcoming. People have been kind and helpful.
What does the name “With Two Spoons” mean?
HSB: Basically, the idea we had was to focus on the type of food that’s so good you want to dig in with two spoons. The secondary meaning is we’ve seen food as something that brings community. We want to feed our friends and family as an expression of affection.
LP: In the world of social media, we’re more connected than ever, but so disconnected. Food is a great equalizer. Everyone loves it. It’s a great way to gather and get people together around a table. And there’s two of us, so that worked out well, too.
Do you have advice for people who are facing burnout in their own careers and need a dose of inspiration?
HSB: Find a group of people that understand what you’re going through. We are fortunate to have a group of women we’ve met through our job who are also physicians. They get it. We’ve made a priority to have scheduled gatherings every couple months. Also, don’t be afraid to try something new, something totally different and outside your comfort zone.
LP: Find what you like to do and do it. No excuses. A lot of times, we’re busy saying we’re too busy. The truth is, you’ll find the time for what you love to do.
HSB: [Compared to the emergency room,] the worst thing that could happen in the kitchen is we burn something. Now’s our time to experiment.
LP: You’re never too old to learn. If I can learn to cook, anyone can learn stuff.
Follow Patten and Berg’s delicious recipe for apple-walnut granola here.
Two Spoons’ Favorite Food Organizations
These doctor bloggers are passionate about providing broader access to healthy food. Here are a couple organizations they’d recommend donating to.
A grocery store, wellness center, and community gathering space in North Minneapolis.
A Twin Cities food bank that distributes food for more than 81 million meals each year.
Recipe: Apple Walnut Granola
2.5 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dried apples, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 Tablespoons honey
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 350° F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly spray the parchment with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mix well.
3. Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine, ensuring all of the dry ingredients are evenly coated.
4. Pour the granola mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to cool and then break into chunks. Keeps in an airtight container for up to a week.