Friday, September 19, 2014

Blog Brulee Recap

Clockwise from top right: Holly, Meme, Min, Marisa, Ashley, Jen, Ann, Kara, me, Ann and Julie

Last weekend was the most important weekend for me, both personally and professionally. I attended Blog Brulee with an amazing group of dietitian bloggers at the gorgeous Smugglers' Notch Resort outside of Burlington, VT. Making the choice to start a private practice and focus on my blog was a terrifying, but any lingering doubts were wiped away after the weekend! I left inspired, enthusiastic and with a 50 point to-do list that I can't wait to attack!

{Disclosure: My attendance at Blog Brulee was partially sponsored. I was not compensated to write this post}

First, let's recap. After spending a few days in Montreal with my mom, we grabbed a quick lunch in Burlington then she drove me to Smugglers' Notch. The drive was incredible, winding through mountains, old farms and gorgeous fields of wildflowers. However there was traffic. Yeah, in the middle of nowhere Vermont! Go figure. When I arrived with just minutes before we had to leave for the start of events, I was totally frazzled, but luckily my amazing roomies Kara and Holly made me feel right at home.
My lovely roomies, Holly and Kara

Our swag bag, filled with all sorts of VT foodie goodies!

First we all socialized over a yummy appetizer spread of Cabot cheese, fruits, veggies, and whole grain crackers with lots of yummy healthy dips (the tofu one was bomb!). Dinner included gluten free and regular flatbreads, chicken and vegetable kebabs and lamb sliders. For dessert, of course we were served creme brulee! After we all had met, we all sat down for a presentation on food photography for DSLRs and smart phones from Regan and Deanna. If you're an avid instagrammer, you'll definitely want to download Snapseed.

Learning all about iphone photography. Snapseed. Do it. 

After our lectures, we went back to our amazing suite and enjoyed some roomie bonding time before hitting the sack. Kara, Holly and I all recently started private practices, so we had lots to talk about.

Gorgeous sunrise from my room!

We woke up bright and early for a talk on the art of online storytelling from Brierley from Eating Well and Robin from Robin's Bite.

Then it was off for wine and Cabot cheese tasting at Boyden Valley Winery. I probably should have felt some shame in the fact that this was my third time cheese/wine tasting at 10 am in the past two weeks...but I didn't!

Cheese heaven.

Boyden Valley Winery specializes in sweeter wines, like dessert, fruit and ice wines. Normally, I prefer my wine dry, but I really enjoyed their dessert wine. I'm kind of regretting not getting a bottle. It paired perfectly with sharp cheddar!

Wine tasting with Kylie and Ashley (my new Charleson buddy!)

Roomie <3

Once back at Smuggler's Notch, we enjoyed an amazing lunch! My favorite moment was when they were describing the dishes and said "jicama salad," the entire room responded with "oooooh!!" Only would a room full of dietitians obsess over jicama salad!

Afterwards, we braved the cold and rain drizzle in the high 50s and made s'mores by the campfire! I'm probably the only weirdo who doesn't like s'mores (freak, I know), but I do love eating the charred part off marshmallows.

Jenna, Min, Liz, McKenzie, Jen and Julie

After lunch, we got a lesson on food styling from Gretchen, learned about SEO (without my brain exploding!) from Carolyn and EA taught us how she built her virtual community.

For dinner, we had a small roundtable discussion led by Anne over sesame salmon, coconut rice and veggies. The discussion started out innocently enough, but somehow we ended up sharing horror stories of firework injuries and dog bites!

After dinner, we did a chocolate tasting with Lake Champlain chocolates. It was amazing how many different flavors I noticed when I slowed down rather than gobbling it up. The spicy aztec chocolate was the clear winner with this group!

After chocolate tasting, we went back to the cabins and a group of us played a game of popcorn, basically a combination of charades and catchphrase. So much fun! I don't think I will ever look at asparagus or the pioneer woman the same way!

Meme is the charades champion of the world

The next morning, we learned about branding from two experts, The Meal Makeover Moms, Liz and Janice. These two are a seriously hilarious and a dynamic duo! It's no wonder they've been so successful! Next up was Anne of fANNtastic Food, who discussed working with brands and monetizing your blog. We ended the lectures with a discussion on negotiating contracts.

Love these two!

Smugglers' Notch

We all hung around the resort for a bit before heading off for Burlington. A group of us decided to explore the city before catching our flights. We wandered through downtown and of course found a juice bar. I had a sweet potato and pumpkin juice which was incredible! Who knew sweet potato and pumpkin were juicible?? The group dwindled down and eventually it was just me, MinMeme, and our umm, interesting cab driver. According to them, I'm very skilled in handling weird people. I think that was a compliment??

Lake Champlain

Diane, Holly, Ann, Min, Jenna, Meme, me and Karmen. Why am I the only one awkwardly squatting??

Pumpin juice. Do it. 

Words can't express the gratitude I feel for the founders, Regan, Deanna, Robin and Gretchen for inviting me to be a part of this event. They worked so hard to make this a fun and educational event for all of us attendees and it was all that and more. They have all been incredibly successful in their own endeavors. Rather than hoarding their vast reservoir of knowledge for their own benefit, they've fostered a community of dietitian bloggers who pool resources and help each other out.

The lovely founders, Gretchen, Deanna, Robin, and Regan

To everyone at Blog Brulee, thank you all so much for making it such a memorable weekend. As I looked back through the list of attendees, I realize I learned something new from each and every one of you. I feel so blessed to have gained so many new friends!

Of course, I must also give a huge shout out to our sponsors who made this weekend possible. 

Smugglers’ Notch Vermont: America’s Family Resort // Holy gorgeous! Even the drive to Smugglers' Notch was worth a trip alone! Smugglers Notch, I will definitely see you again!
Cabot // Love their commitment to family farms as much as their incredible cheese. The clothbound cheddar is where it's at!
Boyden Valley Winery & Spirits // If you're in the area, their beautiful winery is a perfect place to stop. Check out the Gold Leaf and Glogg!
Mountain States Rosen Company // They offer grassfed, pastured lamb seasonally! 
Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs // They sell pasteurized eggs, reducing your risk of salmonella. 
Kashi // I announced it on twitter, but we were the first to find out Kashi is launching a new sprouted cereal at Costco! Now I just need to find a friend with a membership. I love where this company is going!
Welch’s // I was excited to learn about Welch's commitment to family farms.
The Soyfoods Council // I mean, y'all already know I love my tofu and tempeh. Do I need to say any more?

I learned so much over the weekend that I want to share with you all, but I know I've already rambled on too long, and I listened when Robin and Brierley told us not to verbal diarrhea all over the page. So stay tuned next week for a separate post on the life lessons I learned at Blog Brulee.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vegan Chipotle Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Chipotle Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I'm bracing myself as I type because I know I'm in for some serious backlash after this confession. But, I have to come clean. It's the right thing to do and I just don't want you thinking I'm someone I'm not.

Pumpkin is not my favorite fall vegetable.


I know, I know. As a 30 year old woman I should have spent the last month counting down the days until the PSL debuts working pumpkin into all my meals and snacks. Don't get me wrong, I do love the big orange gourd. I mean, this is the same girl who just geeked out over pumpkin juice and brought you such pumpkin-centric dishes as slow cooker pumpkin cinnamon rolls and pumpkin macaroni and cheese. Clearly, I can get down with pumpkin. It's just, there's another one I truly love. 

The humble sweet potato. 

Vegan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mason Jar Peach and Arugula Salad + A Giveaway!

Use up the last of your summer peaches in this convenient mason jar salad from "Mason Jar Salads and More," a fantastic cookbook provided by Ulysses Press for me to review!

mason jar peach and arugula salad

Like most happily married couples, the most common arguments my husband and I have are over pretty silly things. Netflix infidelity and whose turn it is the vacuum the dog hair are common themes. Most frequently we bicker about my pet peeve, his forgetting to pack part of his lunch. The idea of having random leftovers or him spending money on lunch because he brought his greens sans toppings drives me mildly insane. Salads are the worst. With so many separately packed components, it's a recipe for matrimonial disaster.

When I first learned of mason jar salads it was life changing information. Have you heard this genius trick? Basically, by layering dressing and sturdy vegetables on the bottom of a mason jar with the greens on top, you can pack a complete salad more than a day in advance without wilting. No more forgetting your salad dressing or carrying a lunch box with 12 different containers of toppings! 

sliced peaches for peach salad

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Favorites Featuring Blog Brulee

Happy Friday Favorites from Montreal! My mom and I decided to visit Montreal for a few days before heading off to Blog Brulee in Vermont. It's a gorgeous city, almost like a mini-Paris. And they definitely love their food. Can't wait to tell you all about it, but until then, check out instagram. Today, I've got an extra-special Friday Favorites featuring the dietitians who will be at Blog Brulee! In case you missed my post about it, Blog Brulee is a partially sponsored blogging conference in Vermont and I'll be attending along with 19 other dietitian bloggers. Be sure to follow me on twitter and instagram for updates!

Caramelized Banana Chia Seed Creme Brulee (Yeah...Imma Eat That) --> Woah woah woah. Y'all know I love caramelized bananas. But as a topping for creme brulee? Mind. Blown.

8 Tips for Washing Fruits and Vegetables (Nutriciolicious) --> Seems like every other week you hear about a new outbreak of foodborne illness. Buying local is a smart way to reduce your risk, but make sure you wash your fruits and veggies too.
Tteokbokki (Adventures of MJ and Hungryman) --> My absolute favorite Korean dish! These chewy rice cakes are addictive and so is the spicy sauce.