I took my talents to the windy city last weekend for the annual Food and Nutrition Conference Expo. You know I'm always down for a weekend getaway!
Thanks to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for covering my admission to FNCE in exchange for this post and thanks to Simple Mills for partnering with me on the lovelies donut meet and greet!
I stayed with my friend's brother in Bucktown, which reminded me a lot of Short North here in Columbus. I flew in Saturday morning and was ready for lunch before heading to the McCormick Center downtown so we grabbed grub at Goddess and the Grocer. We ate on the roof and the weather was absolute perfection!
Afterwards I met up with my pals Robyn and Meme and headed to an entrepreneurial panel with Siggi of Siggi's yogurt, Ellie Kreiger, and Jacyln London. I chowed down on Siggi's 9% chocolate yogurt which seriously blew my mind.
We walked a bit more before heading to Riverwalk for rose with Rachel and Kara. I'm so thankful to have the loveliest crew to power through FNCE with! We always catch up on business and blogging stuff, but we spend most of our time talking about real life and laughing. They're the real deal.
As we were leaving, we ran into a bunch of aspiring RDs including May, Emilie, and Connie who are all SO sweet. It's hard to believe we had never met in person! We chatted about the first time FNCE experience and bonded over our feet hurting from all the walking.
I didn't have much planned for the rest of the evening so I tagged along with Rachel and Meme and headed to the expo, which is essentially a gazillion food brands and free samples.
We ended up getting in a shuttle bus that took foreverrrrrr, so dinner was a late one. We arrived to CH Distillery starving our hineys off. The menu was pretty limited since it's really a bar with some food, but the half grilled cheese + tomato soup combo was absolutely divine. I don't know the last time I ordered grilled cheese at a restaurant! So comforting.
I went to bed exhausted from traveling and walking around all day so it felt incredible to sleep in on Sunday. I hung out in Bucktown for a bit before heading downtown again for my meet and greet lunch event with Simple Mills.
We enjoyed fabulous conversation with a bunch of other dietitians and a yummy spread including plenty of bread, cheese, hummus, Simple Mills crackers, cookies, and of course my Pumpkin Donuts with Salted Chocolate Glaze. I finally met Addie in person, who actually works for Simple Mills. It's so fun to meet people in real life that once only lived in the internet world.
I love how Simple Mills has built a small empire on wholesome, fun snacks that don't scream health. That's what it's all about!
Afterwards I met with a few brands like Pulses and Farmhouse Culture at the expo and then proceeded to eat a million more samples. Hooray for hot almond butter and jelly sammies on toasty Angelic Bakehouse bread! I also tried coffee with this divine Mint Cocoa creamer. Warmed me right up!
After walking around the expo we headed to a PR event with FoodMinds at Joy District. We enjoyed yummy Moscow Mules and talked about branding strategy, which can be really interesting but also super overwhelming. Robyn and I plopped on the couch for a while discussing at what point do you just throw your hands in the air and do you?
In the blogging sphere, there's always more to learn, to strategize, to optimize. I started all of this to inspire others and to personify my love for food; but it's easy to get caught up in all the business of it and lose that inspiration. That's noticeably been happening to me lately. It's okay to want to grow and optimize your content, but don't do it at the expense of your authenticity. That's a big gray area for a lot of people.
The last event of the evening was dinner at Bad Hunter with the American Pecan Council. It was hands down one of the best meals I've had in a LONG time. And would you look at that table scape?! Each course incorporated pecans, which I learned are the only indigenous nut to North America and have the highest polyphenol content of all nuts! Who knew?
The first thing they brought out was the most epic grilled sourdough with sweet pecan butter. I could've eaten that alone for my entire meal!
My other favorite was the warm cucumbers a la plancha. How had I never had cucumbers warm before?
The main dish was lamb but the farro salad with harissa underneath it was exceptional. And the pecan chocolate cake with poached pears for dessert...don't even get me started.
I can't. It was like a huge brownie in cake form and I straight up inhaled it. I'm salivating just thinking about it!
The next morning I met Emilie for breakfast at Le Pain.
I started off with an almond milk latte and then we shared a blueberry muffin. We both ordered the avocado toast, which was a massive piece of house-baked whole wheat sourdough with lemon and olive oil. Dreamy!
We walked around for a bit and stopped at La Colombe for more java.
Then back to the conference we went for more chatting. I attended a session on SEO with Abbey Sharp which was pretty interesting, but again I found myself wondering how much more about this stuff I actually want to know. The more I learn, the more I feel like I need to do outside of what I'm already doing. If it ain't broke...
That evening before heading to the airport I went back to Bad Hunter for a PR event with The Mushroom Council. We ate tons of yummy apps and cocktails featuring mushrooms so my belly was happy and full before the bumpy flight home.
That's a wrap! Hope you all have the loveliest week.