Monday, June 18, 2012

BlogHer Food 2012

This is potato salad.  Marinated onion, little ball of blue cheese, pickle, bacon, disks of potato and a little pipette of mayo.  Potato salad.

Even a week after BlogHer, I'm still talking about the food.

I was blown away.  I'm a nutritionist, so I go to nutrition conferences constantly, but we've never had anything like this.  Our conferences seem to specialize is trays of green beans drowning in butter and sad little chicken cutlets floating in an unknowable sauce.  Not so at BlogHer Food 2012, because ladies and gentlemen, these are food people!

Gazpacho, marinated tomatoes with caviar, spinach salad, curry chicken salad and a fruit cup for dessert

I don't think I've been to a better conference.  Every session was fascinating, even those I wouldn't have chosen for myself.  I volunteered as a mic wrangler for the event, meaning I ran around with a microphone for people who wanted to ask questions of the presenters.  I love being involved behind the scenes of any event and as a mic wrangler, I could pretend I was a key player, though truthfully I was just a volunteer that showed up for a couple of days.

So, why did we need every single person to speak into a mic?  Was the conference really that big?  Yes, there were a respectable number of participants and staff (I heard one estimate around 500 attendees) but the true reason for the mics is that they were recording every session so we can all listen to sessions that we missed!  I'm not sure how to access the audio yet, but the live blogs of all the sessions have been posted in the BlogHer Food '12 Virtual Conference.

Janet Helm speaking alongside Amelia Winslow and Kath Younger on Friday morning

A highlight for me was meeting Janet Helm during my first session as mic wrangler in a session titled "Separate Food Fact from Fiction and Enhance Your Credibility." I'll admit, the topic of this session didn't thrill me.  I'm an RD.  I spend all my time looking at research and shooting down food myths, but Janet Helm is a force to be reckoned with in the nutrition world and I enjoyed the opportunity to hear her speak.  Janet is the great mind behind the Nutrition Blog Network and Healthy Aperture, both excellent resources for nutrition and healthy eating.  And, full disclosure, yours truly is a contributor. 

I met so many fabulous people that I have a stack of business cards an inch thick.  I'll have to go back through and renew the tenuous connections we made at the conference.  I will say that I've never met a nicer bunch--not one crochety old lady in the mix!  I'm particularly excited to have met hometown girl Adina of Gluten Free Travelette, Polly, BlogHer conference programmer extraordinnaire and writer of Lesbian Dad, and Singrit of Craving Something Good.  For the rest, I will slowly go back through my cards, putting faces to names, reading blogs, connecting on Twitter, and slowly building the friendships we started in a short two days.

Tangerine juice with honey foam on Saturday morning

On Friday afternoon I attended "How to Shoot a Video on a Budget" with the creators of Weelicious and I honestly could have stayed there all day.  I'm so excited to use some of their tips and tricks to shoot some fabulous (and short) videos for FoodWise Nutrition.

Lunch at Thoa's Restaurant after my photography session

Another session I got to attend and not work was "Taking your Food Photography Outdoors" with Taylor Mathis.  This man has inspired me to continue to lug my camera and a diffuser or two out to dinner, much to Ben's chagrin.  I'm not strange, just part of a minority that wants a perfect photo of every meal.  What's strange about that?

There's so much more I could write.  I could tell you about recipe copyrights (lists of ingredients aren't copywriter, and methods only are if they contain "substantial literary expression") or how Bryant Terry re-energized me to advocate for sustainable food.  I could tell you how thrilled I was to have gluten-free choices at every meal or how much fun it was to talk to the reps for Bob's Red Mill and All Recipes.  I could bore you to tears with details.  Truthfully, I'm still looking over my notes and digesting everything I learned and remembering fondly everyone I met.  I hope that someday you, too, can attend a conference that you enjoy every part of.  

On to BlogHer Food 2013 in Austin!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Food for Four, NYT-Style?

This food price comparison infographic was published in the NY Times in September of 2011.
Yes, it is cheaper to eat whole foods instead of buying McDonalds, but there are a few issues with their comparison meals:
  • I wonder: why did they serve milk instead of water with the last two meals?  One cup of milk has 6-10 grams of protein, which doesn't matter all that much for the chicken meal, but in the beans and rice meal it nearly doubles the amount of protein per serving.
  • Where are the seasonings and condiments?  I don't know about you, but there's no way I eat a roast chicken with just salt and pepper or beans and rice with no chiles or cumin!
  • Where are the vegetables in the beans and rice meal?  Yes, there are two bell peppers and an onion, but divided four ways...  Eating so few veggies on a regular basis won't do you any favors.
  • The serving sizes of carbs in the chicken and bean meals seem extravagant, especially in the pictures of the full plates.  I tell my clients to serve themselves a carb portion equal to the size of their fist.  The chicken meal can definitely lose the bread and the bean meal can halve the rice, which will open up more room for veggies.
  • Where's the brown rice?  One of the simplest health changes you can make is replace white processed grains with brown, helping you fill up on fiber and essential B vitamins.
  • It's an aesthetic choice, but why is there bacon with the beans and rice meal?  Would it be so bad to show a vegetarian meal?  Perhaps this is me picking nits, I don't know.
  • Finally, this is obviously nowhere near organic.  I wonder how prices would change if they were serving organic (or at least free-range) meat and organic veggies, beans and rice?  That would be a truly interesting contrast, and food for thought.
What do you think?  Is this an accurate comparison?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Roasted Garlic Scapes

It's raining today in Seattle, one of the intermittent downpours that is actually not that common here.  Don't get me wrong, it rains a lot, but it's usually a light rain or drizzle, not this sky-opening drench.  June here is always horrible, which I think everyone forgets year to year.  May was lovely, and it will be bright and sunny in July, but for now it's cold and damp--hats and umbrellas required.

In just a couple of hours I'm heading downtown to do volunteer training for the BlogHer Food conference!  I'm going to be a 'mic wrangler' for several sessions Friday and Saturday, so if you're attending the conference, flag me down and say, "Hi!"

In between working this morning and volunteer training in the afternoon, I made a quick batch of garlic spears to go with left-over chicken curry for lunch.  I'm always on the lookout for new vegetables, both because veggies are delicious and I get bored eating the same broccoli, kale, lettuce and green beans over and over again.  Lately, my grocery store, Central Market, has been featuring garlic scapes, the flowering tops of garlic.  I'd eaten them once last year at a friends BBQ, but they were grilled (not my favorite way to eat veggies) and a bit overdone.  I decided to give them another shot when I got to sample them at the grocery store.

Garlic scapes have a light garlic flavor when cooked and cooled, and their texture reminds me vaguely of asparagus, though not as stringy.  I couldn't find a nutrient breakdown for garlic spears but nutritionally, I expect they're similar to the shoots of most vegetables, high in vitamins A and K, with lots of B-vitamins and minerals to boot.

I roasted these puppies in a 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes with a little olive oil and salt.  When they were finished I tossed them with a garlic vinaigrette to help bring out the natural garlic flavor and add a little sour to the mix.