Melinda Hemmelgarn is a registered dietitian, “investigative nutritionist,” award-winning writer and Food Sleuth Radio host. With 35 years’ experience in clinical, academic and public health nutrition, she’s a trusted consumer advocate, and an engaging and energizing national speaker. 

For 20 years, Melinda wrote a weekly, trademarked Food Sleuth newspaper column for the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune. She has published articles in the Today's Dietitian, Natural Awakenings, ACRES,  and Edible Communities magazines. 

Prior to her freelance writing, speaking and radio career, Melinda developed and directed the Nutrition Communications Center at the University of Missouri. In 2004, she received a Food and Society Policy Fellowship which allowed her to connect the dots between food, health and agriculture. Today she uniquely applies critical thinking skills to media messages about food and farm policy to advance "food system literacy." 

Melinda received her B.S. in Dietetics from Florida State University; her M.S. in Human Nutrition and Food Systems from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and completed a dietetic internship through Cornell University at the New York Hospital. 
She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, National Association for Media Literacy Education, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’  Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Practice Group.

Food Sleuth Radio has been produced by Dan Hemmelgarn at KOPN Studios in Columbia, MO since June, 2009. The “Mother Nature Network” ranked the show among the “top national green food radio shows” in 2009, and in 2011, Food Sleuth Radio won 1st place for radio interview from the National Federation of Press Women. Food Sleuth Radio airs on ~50 stations nationally, through Pacifica and PRX, and is available as a podcast on Stitcher, iTunes and Spotify, as well as


Saffron Vegetable Casserole

¼ cup boiling water

1teaspoons saffron threads

½ cake tofu, sliced thin

¼ cup nutritional yeast

1 t. curry powder

¼ t. salt

1 Tbs. coconut oil

splash of Tamari

2 cups Cauliflower, florets sliced ¼” thick

1 tablespoons virgin coconut oil

1 medium onion, sliced into slivers

1 orange pepper, cut into strips

2 cups fresh spinach, chopped

2 Tbs. fresh cilantro

1-1/2 lb small red potatoes, sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

½ cake tofu

1 cup coconut milk

¼ t. salt

½ t. curry powder

2 Tbs. chopped cilantro


  • In a Pyrex cup, pour ¼ cup boiling water over the saffron threads, and set aside
  • In a pie pan, combine the nutritional yeast with the 1 t. curry powder and ¼ t. salt. Bread the tofu cutlets on both sides with the nutritional yeast.  
  • Slowly sauté the tofu cutlets in 1 Tbs. coconut oil until golden brown
  • Splash tofu cutlets with tamari and let sear. Remove to paper towel, set aside
  • Lay the potato slices out on cookie sheet covered with sprayed parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool.
  • In the same sauté pan that you used for the tofu, add the remaining Tbs. of coconut oil, and sauté the onion slivers until soft and translucent. Then add the peppers and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  • Spray the bottom of a casserole pan with oil. Cover the bottom of the casserole pan with half of the potato slices.
  • Add ½ of the onions and peppers, and spread out over the potatoes. Sprinkle 2 Tbs of cilantro over casserole
  • Add the chopped spinach and spread out evenly over the onions and peppers. Then add the cauliflower and spread out over spinach.
  • Slice the tofu cutlets into small pieces, and spread out evenly
  • Add the remaining onions and peppers and spread them out evenly.
  • Cover the top with the remaining potato slices.
  • In a food processor, combine the ½ cake of tofu, the saffron water and threads, and cup of coconut milk. Add ¼ t. salt and ½ t. curry powder. Pulse and process until smooth.
  • Pour mixture over casserole, and spread out evenly. Bake in 375 oven for 40 minutes, until topping is set. Remove from oven and garnish with fresh cilantro.