Linden Hills Spice available at farmers market, local shops

Linden Hills Spice has only been on the market for a year, but Maggie Collins has used her “Spice It Up” recipe for the past 30.

“I was working full-time in health care. I would come home at night and have a half-hour to get a meal on the table before the kids would leave for activities,” she said.

As a nurse, Collins was concerned about good nutrition, and she didn’t want to resort to the boxed meals other busy families ate. She started pre-mixing “Spice It Up” (a blend of herbs and spices including garlic, paprika and organic lemon peel) and tossed it on everything from meatloaf to salad to homemade vinaigrette dressing. The brand name came from her kids saying, “You need to spice this up,” and she’d respond, “Go get the jar.”

“My son uses it now in almost everything,” she said. “He has a mason jar that he wants refilled regularly.”

When she decided to give her salad dressing an upgrade using ingredients from Vinaigrette at 50th & Xerxes, staff there encouraged her to go into business.

“They kind of hounded me to bring it to market,” she said.

Collins’ other spices include “Smokin’ Maple” — she recommends sprinkling it on Brussels sprouts with a little olive oil, chopped bacon and red onion and popping it in the oven for 20 minutes. She recently launched a new spice called Baking Bliss, a blend of sweet baking spices with Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean.

Collins appears about twice monthly at the Linden Hills Farmers Market. Her spices are also available at stores including the Linden Hills Co-op, Clancey’s Meats & Fish, Bibelot, Vinaigrette and Coastal Seafoods.

Collins is retired and lives a block-and-a-half from where she grew up in Linden Hills. She was hesitant about bringing her spice to market, but now has no regrets.

“I’m enjoying it so much,” she said. “I enjoy talking to people about good food and good cooking. … Fresh food doesn’t come with seasoning packets.”

Spice photo by Robert Sonnen; product graphic design by Debbie Christensen of Christensen Creative