Wow – what a whirlwind the past week has been! I’m home in DC now and wanted to share a recap of what I’ve been up to – from Friday to Tuesday, I was in Nashville, TN for FNCE, the massive annual Registered Dietitian conference. Nearly 10,000 dietitians from across the country attend, and it’s quite the event – 4 days of speakers and educational sessions, an enormous sponsor expo, and (for those of us in the media world) cocktail receptions and dinners with PR firms and brands. It’s nonstop go-go-go from the second you land.
This was my third year attending FNCE, and I was especially excited for this year because it was my first time speaking!
I was honored to present on Tuesday morning with Regan Jones, moderated by our colleague Danielle Omar. Our session was entitled “Mastering Your Domain: Using Technology to Grow Your Business Online.” Regan spoke about using and understanding Google Analytics data as a way to grow website/blog stats and focus promotional efforts, and I spoke about implementing and understanding SEO (search engine optimization), also as a way to drive more traffic (via search) to blogs/websites. From the feedback so far on Twitter and Instagram, it seems many of those in attendance found the session both helpful and interesting, which is good news. 🙂
For those who are interested in what we talked about and weren’t able to be there, good news – it was apparently recorded and will be available online for download! Here is the link to download the session once it’s available (although FYI that I think there is a fee to download the sessions once they are up).
I attended a number of conference sessions while at FNCE, but my favorite (besides ours, obviously) was one on Health at Every Size and Motivational Interviewing (<—link to download it when it’s ready). It was wonderful – touched on a lot of the Intuitive Eating approaches that I use in my AnneTheRD practice.
And now, here are some of the other highlights from the long weekend. A couple disclosures: as a speaker, I received a speaking fee and some of my travel costs were reimbursed. I also attended the conference as “media,” as I have in the past, which meant my conference registration fee was waived in exchange for this follow up post. (If you’re interested in attending FNCE as media, check out their media page to get more information for next year! To get approved to attend as press, you need to be either a) a writer on assignment, or b) a blogger that gets at least 20,000 unique visitors per month.)
Networking with Brands at the Expo
One of the fun things about FNCE is that there is a really large expo where brands pay to exhibit, meet dietitians in attendance, and share samples and product information. While not all the brands in attendance are those I would support, I was happy to see many of my favorites were also in the mix.
Some of the highlights, as pictured above:
- Saying hi to my Organic Valley friends – including a farmer whose farm I visited back in 2010 on a press trip – and enjoying some Organic Fuel & Balance protein shakes.
- Eating cheesy almonds (I believe this is the recipe –> Parmesan Herb Almonds) at the CA almonds booth
- Sampling fresh strawberries from my CA strawberry friends
- Popping in to say hello to the Wild Blueberry crew (and sampling some wild blueberries, of course!)
- Trying energy balls made with cooked red lentils at the US Dry Pea & Lentil council booth – and even a green smoothie with red lentils blended in at the Canadian Lentil booth (genius ideas – you couldn’t taste the lentils in either case – totally going to recreate these at home!)
- Noshing on a CA Walnut quinoa yogurt parfait
- And much more that went unphotographed, like enjoying avocado with the Hass Avocado crew, eating hummus with Sabra, etc!
Press Events and Brand Sponsored Dinners
One of the really cool things about attending FNCE as a dietitian that works in media/blogging is getting invited to attend cocktail receptions and dinners hosted by PR firms and brands. Here are some of the fun events I was lucky enough to attend!
- Daisy Cottage Cheese (love their cottage cheese because of the simple ingredient list – see also: My Favorite Breakfast) hosted a lunch event at a delicious and funky restaurant called Little Octopus. We enjoyed a photography skills and food styling class followed by a cottage cheese inspired lunch! I especially loved their watermelon with cottage cheese and cardamom (such a unique combo), and the savory salad with roasted grapes, fermented chili, tomatillo ver jus, and golden raisins. I want to try to make more savory cottage cheese dishes at home – never think to do that!
- The Mushroom Council hosted an amazing dinner at Chauhan Ale & Masala House. I was really impressed with this restaurant and their creativity with the mushrooms! To start, we enjoyed mushroom cilantro margaritas (no, seriously – they had mushroom powder in them, which you couldn’t taste at all, but which added an awesome Vitamin D punch) and sliders with mushrooms blended in to the meat (that’s one of my favorite tricks too). The dinner was hard to photograph due to dim lighting, sadly, so instead I will share a picture of the menu! The starter farro salad rocked my world, and I’m totally inspired to cook more often with mushrooms now. They are nutrition powerhouses!
- California Almonds and California Strawberries co-hosted a “Made in California” reception. The strawberry and shrimp ceviche shooters (<—recipe) and the mini strawberry almond parfaits were my fave.
- My Kura protein powder friends (remember them from my Lemon Ginger Berry Smoothie recipe?) hosted a breakfast at a cool spot called Events @ 1418. In addition to the usual eggs and potatoes, we also sampled some amazing smoothies made using their protein powder. I still think it’s the best tasting protein powder I’ve found! Their “snickers smoothie” (almond milk + frozen banana + dates + PB + 1 scoop chocolate Kura + crushed peanuts and dark chocolate on top) was a big winner. But my #1 fave was an unpictured green smoothie (coconut water + kale + pear + apple + avocado + vanilla Kura).
Connecting with Dietitian Friends
One of the best things about FNCE every year is of course connecting with fellow dietitians! It was so fun having many of my friends and colleagues in one place, and I love being surrounded by people who really “get it” in terms of what I do for work, since so many of my dietitian buddies are also doing a combo of blogging and private practice. I didn’t do a great job at getting photos because I was too busy chatting, but here are a couple fun ones. 🙂
Above with (from left) Min, Alex, Carlene, Meme, Kara, and Heather
Above with Meme, Rachael, Min, and Regan
I also loved getting time to catch up with my good friend Heather, who was my roommate for the weekend. Heather recently started working as Head of Nutrition at Spright, a cool new health/wellness online community, and hosted an early breakfast on their behalf at the Frothy Monkey one morning.
We snuck in a short run/walk afterwards. 🙂 It felt good to get some fresh air and sunshine!
Nice to see a little more of the city, too! Photo below courtesy of Heather, lol.
I was also super excited to finally meet Robyn, who I’ve chatted with online for awhile now but had never met until this weekend. I love her blog – she writes a lot about intuitive eating, mindfulness, and self care. We met up for an afternoon walking break one of the days in between sessions/events and ended up spending 2 hours talking nonstop. Love her!
I will end this long post with one final Nashville restaurant recommendation: try the tacos at Bakersfield. I treated my former intern Jackie (who is now a paid contractor working for me a couple hours a week) to lunch there on Sunday and the food was awesome. Great salads, too – I didn’t get a picture but we shared a great cumin-tastic arugula salad to start.
Whew. What a FUN and action packed weekend. As you can imagine, I am pretty exhausted now (and quite behind on emails) – but it was definitely worth it. I’m looking forward to next year already!