Food & Nutrition Adventures in Atlanta at FNCE 2014

Liz and I both attended the annual Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Atlanta earlier this month, and we dish about our experiences on this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast.

Liz shared the highlights of her trip in an earlier blog post, and now it’s my turn. For me it’s all about the people. Don’t get me wrong, I love to go to educational sessions and learn new things, but it’s connecting with my RDN friends – both new and old – that really inspires me.

Janice in Atlanta at FNCE with Flat Matthew

My good friend and colleague, Joan Salge Blake, was on my plane from Boston so we shared a cab to downtown Atlanta. She brought along her nephew’s Flat Matthew and we had fun taking pictures of him with different people -including the Delta pilot and flight attendants, and me!

Southern Dining at Pittypat's Porch

My first night in town I followed my cab driver’s advice and ate shrimp and grits at the iconic Pittypat’s Porch with my friend Susan. Collard greens, beans, and cornbread rounded out our meal. Sometimes a girl just needs some southern cooking!

Janice and Susan selfie

The Academy is getting hip to the social media scene and had several areas for members to take selfies. Here I am with my best attempt at taking a selfie with Susan.

Constance Brown-Riggs, RD singing National Anthem

Before every FNCE opening session our amazing  colleague, Constance Brown Riggs, sings the National Anthem in front of the thousands of attendees. It always send chills up my spine to hear her beautiful voice.

Food products from FNCE 2014

Here are some of the foods that I saw and sampled on the Expo floor: breads made with ancient grains and nuts, pumpkin yogurt (YUM!), pre-washed kale and collard greens, and dried fruits. I’m sure this is the type of food you get at all conferences, right?

KIND bar samples

My daughter, Leah, had just one request for me on this trip: “Bring me back some KIND bars!” KIND was featuring their new Strong & Kind savory bars with flavors like Honey Mustard, Roasted Jalapeno, and Thai Sweet Chili. Leah tried them and decided she prefers the sweeter, original flavors.

Kate Geagan with Eat Well Embrace Life hummus

I ran into my good friend, Kate Geagan at the Eat Well Embrace Life hummus booth. The beet hummus was my favorite!

Biltmore Hotel Atlanta- Food & Culinary Professionals reception at FNCE 2014

I am past chair of the Food & Culinary Professionals subgroup of the Academy, and attending our networking reception at the Biltmore Hotel was a highlight of the conference. Just look at the beautiful room and the amazing food we ate. The champagne was fun to drink too!

Food & Culinary Reception with Kim Beavers, Deanna Segrave-Daly and Amy Myrdal-Miller at FNCE 2014

I couldn’t resist one more photo of the FCP reception. Here I am with RD pal Kim Beavers, and fellow past chairs, Deanna Segrave-Daly and Amy Myrdal-Miller.

It’s hard to keep up with all the great receptions during FNCE. Here I am sipping on a pomegranate champagne cocktail at the Wonderful reception with friends Maye Musk and Susan Latham.

Skyview Atlanta with Jackie Newgent, Katie Cavuto, and Susan Latham

I went up in the very cool Skyview Atlanta ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta with my friends Jackie Newgent, Katie Cavuto, and Susan. Thanks, Wonderful brands!

NCBA Beef Lunch and Cranberry Dinner at FNCE

I was lucky enough to be invited to some awesome sponsored events. At a beef-sponsored luncheon, learned how to cut ribeye steaks and then ate them for lunch. The first course was elegant Pickled Summerland Farm Beets.

The dessert in the photo is of an upside down cranberry semolina cake with raspberry sauce and cranberry-black pepper ice cream that I devoured at an Ocean Spray dinner. Wow, wish I could eat like this every night!

Swag from FNCE

It’s always fun to unpack your bag when you get home from FNCE and look at all the swag and share it with your family. I love my job!

In case you think that all I did was hang out with friends and eat good food I will tell you that I did attend a number of sessions and some of the buzz words I took back from the conference are fermentation (we need to eat more fermented foods) and microbiome. Did you know you have 10 times more bacteria than cells in your body? We need to make sure the good bacteria outnumber the bad. Fascinating stuff. If you want to learn more you’ll need to listen to our podcast!

Food & Nutrition Trends and Adventures at FNCE 2014 {Podcast #255}

It’s been one week since my return from the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Atlanta, and I’m still trying to dig my way out from under a GIANT pile of unread emails. (Some things never change!)

My conference began with a food photography workshop for dietitians that I helped teach. You can hear all about it on Cooking with the Moms podcast and read about it in my two-part blog series:  Smart Phone Food Photography and Smart Phone Food Photo Editing.

LISTEN TO COOKING WITH THE MOMS HERE! And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our show on iTunes.

#FNCE with dietitian friends

Once the workshop was behind me, it was time to network, learn, and play. One of the best things about FNCE is connecting with old and new RD friends. Here I am in front of a “selfie” wall with Carolyn O’Neil, author of The Slim Down South Cookbook (and my former co-worker at CNN where we covered food & nutrition news “back in the day”) and Janet Helm, a pioneer in nutrition communications and the blogger behind, Nutrition Unplugged.

The Nutrition Twins at FNCE

Oh, and here I am with The Nutrition Twins who were helping to spread the word (excuse the pun) about I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, which has 70% less saturated fat than butter and also contains good-for-you ALA omega-3 fats.

Liz wearing a fat vest from Nasco at FNCE

You get to do silly things at FNCE like walk around in this 20-pound body fat vest from Nasco. The vest is used as a teaching tool, and based on the pain in my shoulders, it offers educators a way to reinforce the negative effects of weight gain.

There were hundreds of scientific sessions to choose from at the conference—everything from the gut microbiome and its relationship to human health to yoga and its connection to overall health—and on the exhibit room floor, there was ample opportunity to preview hot food trends … everything from protein (the new nutrition darling), to gluten free to healthier nibbles for kids to beans, beans, and more beans!

Almonds at FNCE

Back in the 80s and 90s when I first started going to FNCE, fat free, low fat, and cholesterol free were all the rage. Now at the show, foods rich in good-for-you fats like avocados, almonds, and seafood have taken center stage. (Thank goodness.)

More protein in breakfast cereals at FNCE

This year, I also noticed a lot of products touting protein like this Better Granola from Barbara’s with 9 grams of protein per serving. I just looked at some other granola cereals in my pantry and they have less than half that amount.

Beans are a trend at FNCE

Beans and legumes were all over the expo floor. I loved the Eat Well Embrace Life lineup of hummus flavors, especially their beet hummus made with white beans, beets, and tahini.

Cook Simple dinner starter kits at FNCE

And inside this meal starter kit from Cook Simple (think “healthier hamburger helper”) you’ll find wholesome ingredients like red beans, black beans and quinoa. Add lean ground beef or turkey, and you’ve got dinner.

Peanut dinner with Hugh Acheson at FNCE

Speaking of legumes, the National Peanut Board hosted a dinner with dietitian dynamo, Toby Amidor and celebrity chef, Hugh Acheson. I loved his Boiled Peanut Hummus, Peanut Soup with Pickled Green Tomato and Feta, and Pan Roasted Wild Salmon with Peanuts. (I was invited to the dinner, which I did not pay for, though the opinions in this post are my own.)

Hugh Acheson culinary tatoo at FNCE

Chef Acheson sports a culinary tattoo as well as a deep love of southern food and sustainability. He sources many of his ingredients locally including the peanuts featured on the menu.

At the dinner, we learned about the Peanut Board’s new resource website, PeanutAllergyFacts.org, so you may want to check that out.

Healthy veggie snacks from Bolthouse Farms

Back at the convention center, other interesting trends included healthier “kid” foods like these Veggie Snackers from Bolthouse Farms.

Siggi's squeeze yogurts at FNCE

… and siggi’s squeezable yogurt tubes with 5 ingredients or less and 6 grams of sugar or less. (I first tried Siggi’s yogurt in Iceland two summers ago, and it’s definitely now a favorite at my house.)

Joy Bauer with Nourish Snacks

Even Joy Bauer was there with her new mail-order line of Nourish Snacks. My favorite is the King Corn, and I may be wrong here, but I do believe that Joy’s line of better-for-you snacks will soon be available at some retail stores across the country. Stay tuned for that.

Luvo foods at FNCE

Another player in the home-delivery food space is Luvo. Their flatbreads are made with whole grains, and I loved the Chicken Chili Verde that they sampled at their booth.

Liz Weiss and Carolyn O'Neil at CNN Center

Since FNCE took place at Atlanta’s World Congress Center, I had an opportunity to stop by the CNN Center where I used to work with mentor and friend, Carolyn O’Neil, the first registered dietitian to cover food and nutrition on television!

 FNCE food and nutrition trends 2014

I always leave FNCE exhausted but inspired. My goals—other than the obvious one of tackling my ever-growing email pile—is to continue working hard to educate families about eating right. So stay tuned for more wholesome, flavorful recipes and advice from The Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen!!

Tips for Editing Beautiful Food Photos on Your Smart Phone (Part 2)

I have a lot of apps on my iPhone 5s, but the one I turn to the most is Snapseed, a fun photo editing app that I use to improve my food photos. This app crops, straightens, brightens, saturates, adjusts the white balance, and a whole lot more. It turns my food photos from drab to delicious in minutes. (Snapseed is available for Android and iPhone.)

Garden Turkey Meatballs image taken with Camera+ but not yet edited

I took this image of our Garden Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti with my smart phone. It’s OK …

Garden Turkey Meatballs image edited using Snapseed

But with a few Snapseed edits, it pops.

For the past four years at FNCE, the annual meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, I’ve worked with Regan Jones, RDN and Janet Helm, MS, RDN on teaching fellow registered dietitians how to improve their food photography. In Part 1 of my post-FNCE Smart Phone Food Photography series, I shared tips from the workshop for taking better smart phone photos by focusing on lighting, props, and composition.

Snapseed App for editing images

 

In this post, I’ll tell you how I edit my food photos on my phone using Snapseed.

Trail mix image taken in poor lighting. Not edited.

Calling this trail mix photo “drab” would be an understatement!

It’s downright “dreadful.”

This image, taken at the convention center during our workshop, is horrible. I think we can all agree on that. The artificial lighting in the room posed an enormous challenge.

Trail mix image / before & after using Snapseed app

But thanks to Snapseed, I improved the image dramatically.

Let me tell you how …

Trail mix

Once you download Snapseed, it’s time to get creative.

– To edit an image, hit the + sign in the upper left corner of the app, and then select the image you want to edit from your Photo Library.

– Once your image is loaded, you can do a number of cool things. Along the bottom of the app, you’ll notice about a dozen little boxes that you can scroll through.

– For this image, I started by straightening and cropping. From there, I tapped on the Tune Image option. To see the options within the Tune Image box, place your finger over your image and move it up and down; six options will appear: Brightness, Ambiance, Contrast, Saturation, Shadows, and Warmth.

– Let’s start with Warmth. Once you select it, you can then move your finger to the right or the left. Moving to the left reduces warmth while moving to the right warms it up. Since my image was already way too warm (AKA golden), I toned down the warmth considerably. Moving too far to the left, however, can make your image bluish. The key here is to get your whites as white as possible. Next, I typically boost the Brightness (in this case, a lot), and then I often increase the Saturation a bit.

– Another feature I always use is Details, which allows you to boost Structure and Sharpness. This will crisp up your image.

– Select Adjust is something else I use to edit a select area on an image. I won’t get into it here, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out once you start playing with the app!

Hornstra Dairy Farm photo using Snapseed app HDR Scape feature

I love this photo, recently taken by your’s truly at Hornstra Dairy Farm. I was able to achieve this very cool “look” by using the HDR Scape option. I also cropped the original image quite a bit and used Brightness and Saturation. HDR is a nice option for scenic shots.

Hornstra Farm

This is what the farm looked like before I edited. It’s a pretty dramatic improvement, don’t you think?

Snapseed also has filter options, but I prefer using Instagram for that.

This may all seem overwhelming, but I promise that once you get the hang of Snapseed, you’ll only spend about a minute editing each image!

Before I sign off, let me show you one more “before” and “after” editing example:

Quinoa with Almonds & Apricots #glutenfree

 Here’s a photo of our Quinoa with Almonds and Apricots. I took the shot using Camera+ and then put Snapseed to work cropping, brightening, and adding saturation.

And here’s what it looked like when I was done!

Quinoa with Almonds & Apricots #glutenfree

What are your favorite smart phone photography and editing apps? I’d love to hear about your favorites.

Tips for Taking Beautiful Food Photos with Your Smart Phone (Part 1)

As a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), I’ve always believed that if you want consumers to eat a healthy diet, you have to give them easy and affordable recipes that work, taste great, and look amazing and appetizing.

A healthy version of Beefaroni taken with an iPhone 5s Smart Phone

This is a gorgeous image of our Homemade Healthy Beefaroni made with lean ground beef, mushrooms and red bell pepper, and whole wheat pasta … and served with fresh asparagus and basil. Don’t you want to take a bite? I took this photo with my iPhone 5s and edited using Snapseed. {Keep reading for my top food photography secrets.}

But before I learned how to use my smart phone to take appetizing food photos, here’s what that same recipe looked like:

Homemade Beefaroni / bad food photo example

“No, Mom. You can’t make me eat that!”

With more attention paid to food styling, a better lighting situation, and a few smart phone photography / editing apps, the differences between my “before” and “after” images is quite dramatic. Best of all … IT’S EASY TO ACHIEVE.

 

#FNCE meeting in Atlanta

Earlier this week, I traveled to Atlanta, GA for the annual meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo—AKA FNCE—featured an array of lectures and workshops including From Drab to Delicious: Food Photography and Styling Tips for Dietitians, which I taught with Regan Jones, RDN and Janet Helm, MS, RDN.

#FNCE workshop: From Drab to Delicious, Food Photography and Styling Tips for Dietitians

My portion of the workshop focused on smart phone food photography. What follows are some of the tips and tricks I shared with the group:

Elements of Appetizing Smart Phone Food Photography:

– Use natural light

– Style recipes using interesting backgrounds and props

– Shoot from Above

– Use the Camera+ app to take your food photos (if you have an iPhone)

– Use the Snapseed app to edit your images

– Add fun graphics (if you so desire) with PicMonkey.com

USE NATURAL LIGHT

Smart phone food photography / Use Natural Light

Things to remember: Avoid the camera flash; shoot in daylight; position the food near a window but avoid harsh light and opt for diffuse, soft light instead; and reflect light back onto the subject using something like a white tri-fold, project board (I purchased mine at Staples for a few dollars.)

FOCUS ON INTERESTING BACKGROUNDS & PROPS

Things to remember: Use surfaces with texture such as an old piece of barn board, a rustic table, or an interesting background board. (For tips on making your own, check out our DIY photography background board post.); use props that pop; layer plates, bowls, and linens; use relevant garnishes; and when choosing props, use those that reflect the personality of your recipes and your readers. At Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, we aim for playful, colorful, and family friendly.

Black Bean Soup photo using smart phone

For this smart phone photo, Janice and I used one of our DIY photography background boards, a yellow plate topped with a white bowl, an inexpensive fabric swatch from Joanne Fabrics, a lime wedge and baked corn chips, and colorful soup toppers: cilantro, shredded cheese, and sour cream. You can find this recipe for Last-Minute Black Bean Soup on our MEAL MAKEOVERS smart phone recipe app.

SHOOT FROM ABOVE 

Roasted Pickled Beets photo using smart phone

Things to remember: Smart phones don’t have the same depth of field as a DSLR camera, so your best shot is from above. Shooting from the side rarely looks as good because everything will be in focus (i.e. you can’t fuzz out the background). Don’t these roasted, pickled beets look deee-lish?!

USE CAMERA+ IF YOU OWN AN iPHONE

Camera+ iPhone app for great food photography

If you don’t have an iPhone, you can skip this part of my post. Camera+ is for iPhone only, and I use it instead of my phone’s built-in camera. It allows for touch focus and touch exposure, so you can bring more or less light into the shot depending on the amount of light you’re working with. In other words, if it’s a cloudy day outside and you’re in a low-light situation, the touch exposure feature will help you pull more light into the shot. Once you shoot your image, you can save it to your camera roll. FYI: I do NOT edit on Camera+.

POST PRODUCTION

The real magic begins when you edit. In my next post, I’ll tell you all about Snapseed, my favorite smart phone editing app. (Snapseed is available for Android and iPhone.)

grain salad photo taken in bad lighting conditions with smart phone

During the workshop, participants were assigned to one of six food stations and asked to style a scene. Here, you see a grain and veggie salad served up in various bowls. The artificial lighting in the convention center room was dreadful, but that didn’t stop me from ultimately getting a great shot. I took this image with my Camera+ app (this was the best I could do given the situation), and then I edited on my phone using the Snapseed app.

Here’s the “after” image!!

grain salad photo fixed and edited using Snapseed app for smart phones

In Part 2 of my Smart Phone photography post, I’ll tell you how I cropped, white balanced, brightened, and sharpened this image. The improvement was amazing and appetizing, and this image would certainly look more appealing in a blog post or shared on Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook :)

As food professionals, we need to put our best feet forward, and smart photos can help all of us achieve that goal.

Janet Helm, Regan Jones, Liz Weiss at #FNCE meeting

Just had to give a shout out to my co-presenters: Janet Helm, RDN, winner of this year’s AND Media Excellence Award, and Regan Jones, RDN, co-founder (with Janet) of Healthy Aperture and The Recipe Redux. These women inspire!

Morning Oats with Concord Grapes, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries + Grape Nutrition

Add flavor, color, and good nutrition to your family’s morning bowl of oatmeal by topping with dried cranberries, walnuts, and Concord grapes … which I’m about to tell you all about!

Morning Oats with Concord Grapes, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

If you struggle to get your kids to eat their fruits and vegetables, just visit a farmers’ market or local farm, or plant a backyard garden. It’s amazing what you might find or grow and how produce plucked straight from the garden can entice even the pickiest of eaters to try something new. My boys outgrew picky eating a long time ago, but I’m still on the constant lookout for interesting new fruits and veggies to keep their taste buds inspired.

Concord grapes growing at Meadow Mist Farm, Lexington MA via @MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

 Enter the CONCORD GRAPE.

Concord grapes growing at Meadow Mist Farm, Lexington MA via @MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Down the road and through the woods from my home in Lexington, a suburb of Boston, is Meadow Mist Farm, a gem of an organic farm that’s harvesting these gorgeous, sweet, Concord grapes RIGHT NOW.

Welch's dietitian picks Concord grapes at Meadow Mist Farm via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

I took a field trip to Meadow Mist last week with my friend Casey Lewis, the registered dietitian for Welch’s, which is located a few miles further down the road in Concord. Their juices and jellies are made with this same type of grape, grown on family-owned farms across the country, so I knew Casey would be interested in trying a bunch … or two … or three of this local variety.

Welch's dietitian picks Concord grapes at Meadow Mist Farm via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Janice and I carpooled with Casey to the recent Blog Brûlée retreat in VT  where Welch’s was one of the sponsors, and on the ride home, I took Casey on a detour to the farm. She wears many hats at Welch’s, working hard to spread the word about the power of purple foods.

Enter COOL INFOGRAPHIC.

Welch's - Think Purple for Heart Health infographic

Concord grapes are technically berries, and they’re rich in a natural plant compound called polyphenols. Eating foods rich in polyphenols keeps us healthy, especially our hearts … and of course, berries taste great, so adding more of them to the diet each day is an easy sell. (Needless to say, my family has consumed A LOT of polyphenols over the past few weeks.)

Now, back to the farm

Meadow Mist Farm in Lexington, MA via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

This is Lauren Yaffee, farmer extraordinaire at Meadow Mist. Here she is snipping grapes for us.

Meadow Mist Farm - Lexington, MA via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

And here’s Simon (on the right) and a friend visiting the farm a few days later. It took no arm twisting at all to get them to pick (more than) a few grapes to sample.

Concord Grapes for a healthy snack via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

So how can parents add grapes to their family’s diet in a way that keeps things interesting? Try some of my healthy snack and breakfast ideas:

SNACK ON GRAPES out of hand: Fresh fruit is one of nature’s most nutritious fast foods, and grapes are as portable as they get.

FREEZE THEM for later: Wash the fruit; remove from the stems; pat dry with a paper towel; place in a single layer on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet; pop in the freezer and freeze; transfer Individually-frozen grapes to re-sealable bags and place back in the freezer. Nibble on frozen grapes any time or use them later in pancakes or muffins.

Yogurt, granola, Concord grape parfait via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

 Add to a parfait layered with yogurt and granola …

French toast topped with Concord grapes and raspberries via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Use as a topping for French toast …

Morning Oats with Concord Grapes, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries

Add to oatmeal. For this “recipe,” I cooked up a half cup of quick-cooking oats in the microwave and then topped it with Concord grapes, dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, and a drizzle of Vermont maple syrup.

Janice and Casey - Concord grape plants via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Meadow Mist Farm is only about a mile from my house, so whenever Concord grapes are in season, I’ll stop by. As for Janice, she’s also a big fan of the grape. Last year, after attending an event at Welch’s HQ in Concord, MA, she left with a few grape plants of her own. She planted them in her backyard, and they’re growing like crazy. (I gifted my plant to Janice knowing full well I’d kill it if left to my own devices.) Stay tuned for the Bissex harvest!

To hear more about Concord grapes as well as our recent adventures at Blog Brûlée in Smugglers’ Notch, VT, tune into this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, episode #253.

Pumpkin Chia Pudding + Blog Brûlée Highlights {Podcast #253}

Autumn is in the air, and after an action-packed weekend at the first annual Blog Brûlée healthy blogger retreat at Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont, we created this healthy and delicious, fall-inspired Pumpkin Chia Pudding recipe for you and your family. (As invited speakers, our travel and lodging was paid for, and we received an honorarium.)

Pumpkin Chia Pudding via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

We’ll tell you more about this easy dessert recipe further down in the post. But for now, indulge us a bit as we share highlights from Blog Brûlée …

Blog Brûlée toasting marshmallows

The theme of the weekend was “Setting Fire to Better Blogs,” and our small gathering of dietitian bloggers achieved that goal with the help of Blog Brûlée’s founders (left to right), Gretchen Brown from Kumquat, Deanna Segrave-Daly from Teaspoon of Spice, Robin Plotkin from RobinsBite, and Regan Jones, founder of Healthy Aperture … as well as a lineup of well seasoned speakers.

LISTEN TO THE BLOG BRULEE HIGHLIGHTS O COOKING WITH THE MOMS HERE! And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our show on iTunes.

Blog Brûlée founders via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Speakers and Topics:

Food Photography Basics, Food Styling, and Post Processing with Gretchen Brown and Regan Jones {The post-processing information presented reminded us to focus more of our editing attention on tweaking exposure}

iPhoneography with Deanna Segrave-Daly {Who knew Snapseed, a smart phone photography app, could do SO much}

The Art of Online Storytelling with Brierley Wright from Eating Well Magazine and Robin Plotkin {A great reminder that an event like Blog Brûlée could lead to multiple stories and blog posts … and a double reminder to maintain an editorial blogging calendar}

Defining and Delivering SEO with Carolyn Ketchum from All Day I Dream About Food {Aunty Em, we’re frightened, but we’re already implementing Carolyn’s tips and reading The Beginners Guide to SEO on Moz.com}

Building Your Virtual Community with EA Stewart, The Spicy RD {We need to (a) get comfy with Google+ and (b) not focus all of our efforts on commenting on others’ blogs, but rather, share others’ content. Show the LOVE}

Branding in the Blogosphere and Beyond with Liz and Janice, The Meal Makeover Moms (that’s us!!). We talked about the ingredients needed for a successful brand: Authentic, Reliable, Responsive, Engaging, Evolving.

Show Me the Money: Monetizing Your Brand with Anne Mauney from fannetasticfood {We’re working on our Media Kit as we speak, and we’re using Power Point per Anne’s suggestion!}

smugglers notch, Blog Brûlée

The retreat was held at Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Vermont where the service was topnotch. Groups of three were assigned to cozy condos complete with fireplaces, well-stocked refrigerators (more on Liz’s foray into microwaved eggs with roommates Meme and Min in a future post), and gorgeous views. Returning back to reality in MA got us thinking more about our editorial calendar—formerly somewhat loosey goosey but presently more definitive!—as well as the first story we wanted to “tell” post Blog Brûlée.

Pumpkins at Boyden Valley Winery & Spirits via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Coming up with our first story was actually quite easy thanks to our Saturday afternoon field trip to the picturesque Boyden Valley Winery. We were drawn to these just-picked pumpkins perched on an antique wagon, while at the same time, jarred by the realization that our warm and sunny New England summer was over and autumn was in full swing. So a recipe featuring pumpkin became the obvious topic for this first post.

Pumpkin Chia Pudding via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #pumpkin #chiaseeds #pudding

This week we got cooking in the Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen with a pudding makeover made with canned pumpkin, organic soymilk, maple syrup, and chia seeds as well a few other goodies from our Swag Bag …

Pumpkin Chia Pudding Ingredients and toppers via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Lake Champlain Chocolate, Vermont maple syrup, and Fat Toad Farm caramel.

Pumpkin Chia Pudding

Makes 2 Servings

Sticking to our MEAL MAKEOVER mission, we whipped up this easy-to-make pudding packed with kid appeal AND great nutrition. This recipe is so simple, your kids can make it in minutes by placing the ingredients in a Mason jar and giving it a shake, shake, shake!

  • 1 cup vanilla soymilk
  • 1/3 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch salt

1. Place the soy milk, pumpkin, chia seeds, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a 16-ounce wide-mouth pint-size Mason jar (or any other jar you have in your kitchen), shake vigorously, and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours to overnight.

2. Serve with any number of optional toppers including: caramel, shaved chocolate, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, or your favorite fruit.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1/2 cup):  190 calories, 9g fat (1g saturated, 4.4g omega-3), 180mg sodium, 24g carbohydrates, 11g fiber, 8g protein, 120% vitamin A, 30% calcium, 10% iron

Print Recipe

Blog Brûlée attendees via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kithen #blogbrulee

Every blogger at the retreat brought something to the table. We learned from one another, became instant pals, and left the weekend with a commitment to nurture and support one another. Pictured here are a few of our new friends; we’ll tell you more about the group in our follow-up posts.

{Bottom row from left to right: Julie Harrington, RD from RDelicious Kitchen, Anne Mauney, RD from fannetasticfood, Rachael Hartley, RD from An Avocado a Day, and Kara Lydon, RD from The Foodie Dietitian}

{Top row from left to right: Holly Larson, RD, Grass Roots Nutrition, Meme Inge, RD from Living Well Kitchen, Min Kwon, RD from The Adventures of MJ and Hungry Man, Marisa Moore, RD from Marisa Moore Nutrition, Ashley Galloway, RD from The Fresh Beet, Jen Haugen, RD from Down to Earth Dietitian, and Ann Dunaway Teh, RD from Dunaway Dietetics.

Picking Concord Grapes at Meadow Mist Farm with the Welch's RD via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Writer’s cramp has set in, so we’ll have to sign off soon. But stay tuned for a few more Blog Brûlée posts including foraging for Concord Grapes with Casey Lewis, the dietitian from Welch’s (an event sponsor), one of Janice’s favorite activities from the weekend—a wine and cheese tasting with Cabot cheese at Boyden Valley Winery—and Liz’s first experience cooking eggs in the microwave (microwaves hadn’t been invented when she was in college).

Blog Brûlée 2014

For more information on the conference sponsors, visit the Blog Brûlée website.

Here are the Blog Brûlée blog posts from our fellow speakers and nutrition bloggers. We’ll update this as more go “live.”

Blog Brûlée Recap by Anne at Fannetastic Food

Blog Brûlée + Clean Eating Recipe RoundUp by Danielle Omar at Food Confidence

Blog Brûlée: What I Learned & What I Ate by Kara at the Foodie Dietitian

Mindful Eating: What’s Chocolate Got to Do with it? by Diane Boyd at Cape Fear Nutrition

Best Blogging Conference: Why Families Belong in the Kitchen Together by Jen Haugen, Down to Earth Dietitian

Blog Brûlée: Soaking it All In by Julie Harrington at RDelicious Kitchen

Blog Brûlée Recap (AKA The Most Epic Blogger Sleepover Ever) by Kylie at Immaeatthat

Blog Brûlée Recap & Grilled Cheese Recipe Round Up by Min Kwon of MJ & Hungryman

Blog Brûlée: Quick Recap by Marisa Moore at Marisa Moore Nutrition

Autumn Chopped Salad with Apples, Fennel, Cheddar Cheese, Macadamia Nuts and Apple Maple Vinaigrette by EA Stewart at The Spicy RD

Blog Brulee + Weekly Eats by Kristina Larue at Love & Zest

Making Your Dreams Come True: One Simple Lesson from Blog Brulee by Regan Jones at Healthy Aperture

Easy Chicken & Rice Meatball Soup

This Chicken & Rice Meatball Soup was created for the Boston kickoff of the Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest sponsored by Uncle Ben’s. It’s an easy recipe that your kids can cook with you, and it’s healthy and delicious too! 

Easy Chicken & Rice Meatball Soup via @MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

This week, we helped Uncle Ben’s kick off the third annual Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest at Sportello restaurant in Boston.

 Bens Beginners via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

 

Chef Barbara Lynch showed a group of kids and their parents how to make this easy Chicken & Rice Meatball Soup, and we were on hand to answer nutrition and mealtime questions. Read on for highlights from the event, information on how YOU can enter the contest, and of course, the recipe. {We were hired by Uncle Ben’s to help with the event; all ideas and opinions expressed here are our own.}

Ben's Beginners kickoff event at Sportello, Boston via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Getting kids excited about cooking is the focus of the Ben’s Beginners program. We love the campaign, because as dietitians, we know that when children become invested in the shopping, preparing, and mealtime process, they’re more likely to eat a healthy diet.

Ben's Beginner's Kick-off Event at Sportello, Boston

The contest: Parents can submit a video of their child in grades K through 8 and themselves preparing a rice-based dish and discussing their experience cooking together. Any recipe is fine, as long as rice is one of the ingredients. This year, there will be five winners, and each prize will include $15,000 cash, a hometown celebration and a $30,000 cafeteria makeover for their child’s school. Submissions for the Ben’s Beginners Cooking Contest will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. EDT on Oct. 10, 2014.

Easy Chicken & Rice Meatball Soup via @MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Chicken & Rice Meatball Soup

Makes 4 Servings

Recipe courtesy of Chef Barbara Lynch. Try it at home with your kids … and feel free to use it as your featured recipe if you enter the video contest :)

  • 1 cup cooked UNCLE BEN’S® Brand Rice, such as Natural Whole Grain Brown Rice, cooled
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus additional for serving
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup thinly sliced peeled carrots
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked and cooled UNCLE BEN’S® Brand Rice with the
 ground chicken, onion, garlic, parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano and egg. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Shape mixture into meatballs that are roughly 1/2-
inch in diameter. Roll them in seasoned breadcrumbs, shaking off excess and arrange on a nonstick sheet pan. Drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil and place in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

4. Place chicken stock in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add carrots and simmer until tender. Add meatballs and spinach and stir until spinach is just wilted. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

If your kids are in grades K through 8, we encourage you to enter the contest; the prizes are amazing … and so is this recipe. For how-to tips on making carrot flowers, check out this YouTube video.

{We were compensated for attending the Uncle Ben’s kick-off event, but not for this blog post.}

Asian Pork Tenderloin and My Adventures in Oregon (Podcast #252)

This recipe for Asian Pork Tenderloin is rich in protein and flavor, and you’ll definitely want to include it in your family’s weekly meal planning!

On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, Liz and I dish about our summer food and fitness adventures and share recipes for Asian Pork Tenderloin and Wild Blueberry & Chia Seed Smoothies. On the show, we take you traveling to the wild blueberry barrens of Maine, the beautiful island of Nantucket, and my two favorite states in the Union: Washington and Oregon. Read on for highlights from my family’s vacation in Oregon.

Astoria, Oregon

Check out the view from our hotel in Astoria, Oregon, and notice the bridge from Washington to Oregon, which is in the background. We could practically jump from our balcony onto the boats!

A flight of beers at St. George's Brewery

In addition to producing fabulous Pinot Noir, Oregon is also known for their microbreweries. Since Carolyn is 22, we decided to include her in our tasting of a flight of beers at Fort George Brewery.

Tillamook Cheese

Did you know Oregon is also known for their cheese (rain = green pastures = happy cows = lots of milk)? We visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory—they welcome about a million visitors per year—and sampled lots of cheese … and a little bit of ice cream!

Olive Tree

Can you identify this tree? It’s an olive tree at the Oregon Olive Mill at Red Ridge Farms. That’s right: Oregon, not California! Each olive tree is hand harvested before the first frost and yields enough olives to produce about 8 ounces of extra virgin olive oil.

Olive Mill

Erin was so sweet and gave us a tour of the olive grove and olive oil processing room. Of course, the best part was tasting the amazing olive oils. If you think Italy makes the best olive oil, I challenge you to try the olive oil from Oregon Olive Mill!

Asian Pork Tenderloin via MealMakeoverMoms.com

After a long day touring the Oregon countryside, we ended up at my sister Diane’s house for a home-cooked meal. She made her “famous” Asian Pork Tenderloin and served it with wheat berries, grilled summer squashes, local green beans, and salad from her CSA.

Asian Pork Tenderloin

Makes 6 Servings

My sister clipped this recipe many years ago from the FoodDay section of the Oregonian, and she’s been making it ever since!

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (I use reduced-sodium soy sauce)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 pork tenderloins, about 3/4 pounds each

1. To make the marinade, place the soy sauce, honey, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, curry powder, ginger, and pepper in a large bowl or Ziptop bag and whisk together until well combined. Place the pork in the bowl or bag and marinade for 1 hour or up to overnight.

2. Remove pork from marinade; reserve marinade. Grill the pork over medium heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 155°F, 20 to 25 minutes. The pork should still be slightly pink in the center.

3. Meanwhile, place the reserved marinade in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Slice the pork and serve with the sauce.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 250 calories, 10g fat (2.5g saturated), 490mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 25g protein

Print Recipe

The day before we left Oregon, we stopped by Flat-Top Frankie’s Summertime Corndog Fry. Frank is friends with my sister, and he graciously hosts this event every year for his neighbors and friends.

Frank is also a home brewer and produces vast quantities of beer to go with his corndogs. Frank’s motto in life is to “Spread Extra Joy,” and he lives up to that in all areas of his life.

I don’t know how many corndogs were served at Frank’s party, but it was a lot. My sister Diane is sure enjoying hers and I have to admit that I also loved every bite … and sip. :)

Wild Blueberry & Chia Seed Smoothie: The Wild Blueberry Barrens of Maine

This healthy smoothie recipe is made with frozen wild blueberries, frozen mango, chia seeds, Greek yogurt, and orange juice, and it’s an easy snack for kids and families.

Wild Blueberry & Chia Smoothie via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

I’ve been on a bit of a wild blueberry binge since returning from a three-day trip to the wild blueberry barrens of Maine last month. Surrounded by thousands of acres of low-lying wild blueberry bushes and stunning views from our home base of Bar Harbor, I was joined by fellow food and nutrition bloggers and top-notch growers, harvesters, processors, and researchers. Read on for some behind-the-scenes images from the tour as well as my newest recipe for Wild Blueberry & Chia Seed Smoothie.

Wild Blueberries of North America via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

 The Wild Blueberry Association of North America hosted our trip, and as you can see, they put us to work harvesting blueberries by hand. While most wild blueberries are harvested nowadays by machines, sometimes the terrain dictates a hand rake!

{Disclosure: All expenses for the trip were paid by WBANA. All thoughts and opinions are my own}

Wild Blueberry Barrens via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #wildblueberries

Here’s the harvester! At Cherryfield Foods, they harvest three million pounds of wild blueberries a day during the growing season, which is actually coming to an end. But there’s no need to be sad, because well over 95% of the fruit is frozen. So you can find wild blueberries year round in your supermarket freezer section.

Wild Blueberries via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Here’s one of the places where they freeze wild blueberries! We toured Wyman’s processing facility, where we learned that within 24 hours of harvest, the fruit is frozen, so nutrients and freshness are locked in. The blueberries travel throughout the plant where they are washed and frozen with a technique known as IQF: Individually Quick Frozen. {Photographed above are Regan Miller Jones from Healthy Aperture, Danielle Omar from Food Confidence and Carolyn O’Neil with O’Neil on Eating}

Wild Blueberries via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

So here’s the amazing fact I could barely wrap my brain around on the trip: In the state of Maine alone, there are well over three million different varieties of wild blueberries that grow on the barrens. The end results are tart and sweet flavors and dark and light colors, which make munching your way through a handful so fun to eat. Oh, and here’s another cool fact: One wild blueberry plant can be as big as a football field :)

blueberry smoothie - Version 2

Wild blueberries have twice the antioxidants of the cultivated (tame) variety and they have a more intense, varied flavor. Blueberries—wild and cultivated—are also versatile. I made this smoothie for Simon when he got home from soccer practice yesterday to refuel and re-hydrate him. (It was 90 degrees outside!)

Wild Blueberry Smoothie Ingredients via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The ingredients are simple: frozen blueberries, frozen mango, vanilla Greek yogurt, orange juice, and chia seeds.

Wild Blueberry & Chia Seed Smoothie

Makes 1 to 2 Servings

The great thing about smoothies is their ease as well as their ability to pack in a lot of nutrition quickly.

  • 3/4 cup 100% orange juice
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (low-fat or regular)
  • 1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds

1. Place the orange juice, yogurt, blueberries, mango, and chia seeds in a blender, and blend until well combined.

2. Pour into individual glasses and serve with a straw.

Nutrition Information per Serving (total yield = 1 3/4 cups): 210 calories, 2g fat (1g saturated), 60mg sodium, 44g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 6g protein, 10% vitamin A, 100% vitamin C, 20% calcium

Print Recipe

Maine

Now, back to my trip to Maine. Besides blueberries, when I think of Maine, images of sailboats and beautiful views come to mind, and so do succulent lobsters, gnarly traps, and colorful buoys.

Lobster dinner at Islesford Dock Restaurant via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Lob-Stuh dinner at Islesford Dock Restaurant on Little Cranberry Island.

Bar harbor

Everywhere you turn in Bar Harbor are wild blueberries: pie, iced tea, ice cream, you name it.

Bar harbor

Goodbye Bar Harbor: View from our hotel, the Bar Harbor Inn.

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