About Us

Above the Grain caters to customers seeking healthier eating habits with our weekly meal service and catering services for those that have special goals or dietary needs. Our unique menus includes high quality ingredients without the use of gluten, soy, dairy or legumes. Real food made from natural ingredients purchased from local farmers and markets whenever possible. Above the Grain does catering and has the ability to be mobile. The goal is to offer clients the ability to eat healthy while on the go, that aren’t able to cook or don’t want to cook for themselves.

Our mission:

Above the Grain’s mission is to be the first healthy mobile food service in the Sarasota & Manatee County areas to provide delicious healthy meal options to our residents, visitors, and athletes of our community. Our community is all about being healthy, fit and eating right.

What we serve:

Above the Grain serves many dietary options and programs which include home style heathy, paleo, keto, weight loss, gluten free meals which are mainly based around being gluten, dairy and soy free. The menu includes pre set weekly meal options and ala carte dishes. Above the Grain offers ready to warm and serve meals to take home and keep handy for those days you need a quick meal or a more regimented program. We specialize in catering and automatic weekly meal plans. We offer them delivered to your home or business for a small fee.

The Impact:

This service will provide much needed resources for the natural health communities of Sarasota and Manatee Counties. These towns promote a great emphasis upon health, diet and good food. We will work together to support our local farming communities by using only locally grown produce and meats whenever possible.

Who I Am:

Jenn Burns

Jenn-before and after CrossFit and Paleo

Jenn Burns Owner, Above the Grain:

Through a series of obstacles I have been faced with while growing up, in October of 2011 I found something that has truly challenged me and brought me to a healthier way of living. Let me back up…I haven’t always been in shape, in fact for most of my life I have been over weight. Growing up I never had a good relationship with food. I ate when I was hungry, sad, mad, tired, stressed, uncomfortable…you name it and it was an excuse to eat. My weight hit its high of 265 pounds my senior year of high school and stayed there for a few years. About a year after graduating I moved out on my own and had a roommate that always seemed to be have all the attention on her if you know what I mean. Eventually I had enough of being uncomfortable in my own skin and wanted a serious change. At that point I decided to join weight watchers. In addition to following the program and going to meetings I started doing the elliptical at my apartments fitness center. I remember my first day there, I could barely do five minutes on the elliptical on a low level. I went home that night in tears wondering how I was ever going to tackle this weight loss if that was all I could do today while gasping for air. I stayed at it every night and was able to do more and more each time. The weight started to come off and I was hooked. After a few months I decided this little fitness center wasn’t doing it for me anymore and I joined Lifetime Fitness. I spent every spare minute I had after work at Lifetime Fitness. If you have ever been to one you will understand how amazing their gyms are, they have everything! Over the next 2 years I managed to loose 95 pounds which brought me to 170 pounds. I had maintained that weight for the last 8 years until I started to slip here and there and gained about 14 pounds back. I knew I either needed to fix what I was eating or work out harder and because I love to eat I decided I would loose it in the gym. So in addition to my usual hour on the arch trainer at the highest level I added a bike ride to the gym. It still wasn’t cutting it, I wasn’t loosing the weight. This brings me to my opportunity to join a Crossfit box.

In October of 2011 my mom called and told me she had just finished an order for t-shirts at a local Crossfit box.  She wasn’t sure what it was all about but thought since I worked out every day I should give it a try.  I had heard of Crossfit a few times before and wanted to try it out but it had always been a little too far.  However, this time it was right by house!  I had already lost 80 pounds on my own and figured it couldn’t be much harder than that, right?  Wrong!  So I sent the owner a message and the very next day I was there taking my first class.  I can’t say I enjoyed getting my butt handed to me but I will say it humbled me enough to motivate me to go back for more.

Over the next few months I did one on one training with Alexis Pennington. She has pushed me harder than I ever thought I was capable of!  My idea of working out was one hour on the arch trainer at the highest level while reading a book.  If you have ever been to a Crossfit class you will know how different it actually is.  A few months in we got into food and nutrition and that is where I found my passion for cooking!  I have always loved to cook but my choices were far from healthy.  Alexis wanted me to start the Paleo diet.  The term Paleo refers to a time period. Eating Paleo means eating food that are readily available today that best replicate what our ancestors were typically able to hunt and gather.  The staples of the Paleo diet include everything being gluten and dairy free and consist of mainly eating meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.  I think my response to her was, “You must be crazy!”  That eliminated all of my favorite foods that I love but I have come to learn those foods do not love me back.  I figured maybe I can slowly work into this to make it less painful.  So that is exactly what I did, little by little I changed what I ate.  I thought to myself there has to be a way I can make the food I love but make it healthy and according to this style.  Next, Alexis introduced me to Cait Mann who has been an amazing teacher showing me the Paleo ropes!!! Seriously she is an awesome cook!!!  So working with her we tried to find recipes for foods I like such as spaghetti, chili or chicken curry.  As I made my new dinners I brought them for Alexis to try.  Needless to say she was impressed!  Next thing I knew I was cooking for her and her boyfriend three days a week.

At some point she said to me, “Have you ever thought about doing this for a living?”  I really hadn’t  at the time but figured why not start something small and see where it goes.  So as I cooked myself dinner every night I made a little extra and started bringing it to the box (Crossfit Gym) after class for some of the members to try.  I received a great response and the next thing I knew I had more people asking me to cook for them.  I had built up a clientele large enough to start a business and that’s where Above the Grain was born!

Through my journey I have empowered many of my friends and family along the way.  For example, my brother John was born with Hirschsprung’s disease.  Per the Mayo Clinic, “It is a condition that affects the large intestine (colon) and causes problems with passing stool.  Hirschsprung’s disease is present when a baby is born (congenital) and results from missing nerve cells in the muscles of a portion of the baby’s colon.”  Over the years he has had many problems come up because of his eating patterns and the disease itself.  I introduced him to the Paleo eating lifestyle and the Crossfit community just before he moved across the country to Seattle.  So at that point I could only hope he would stick with what I have taught him and he has.  John says he feels so much better eating healthy and doing Crossfit.  He just did his first Crossfit competition supporting Toys for Tots, I couldn’t be more proud of him!  Who knew that bringing his eating habits back to the basics could be the key to cure his pain?

As I started my research on food start ups and searched for a space in Sarasota I simply could not find what I needed; there weren’t very many resources available to me. I also found that many restaurants were not suitable for me to use with the high risk of cross contamination involved with making gluten free meals. Therefor I came to the conclusion I will have to have my own space. I took the plunge and purchased a mobile commercial kitchen as well as a brick and mortar. I couldn’t be more excited about it, I love my space!

This way of eating is not only a diet, it is a lifestyle and I want everyone to benefit from what is has to offer. Above the Grain offers fresh healthy meals and catering for those who either choose not to cook or just do not have the time.  So why not eat as healthy as you possibly can while still enjoying what you eat on the go.  The demand is there and I can’t wait to be able to cater to you all!  This business model is unique and one of the first to come to this area over 5 years ago. Time flies when you are making big changes to a community.

 

Thank you all for visiting this site, reading my story, believing in me and helping me obtain my dream!!

Special Thank You’s:

  • All of my friends who guided me in this direction and supported me
  • Alexis Pennington from Drive SRQ for supporting my project every step of the way and in every way being a major influence for this project. She is the best trainer in this town, check her out!
  • Cait Mann for all of the endless Paleo lessons and for also sharing her delicious recipes with us.
  • Special thanks to my family for teaching me all that I know and supporting me all the way.