My attendance at the Blog Brûlée was partially funded by Sponsors of the Blog Brûlée. Opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my time.
I had the incredible good fortune of spending last weekend at Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont for a jam packed weekend of food blogging paradise. The energy oozing from this fabulous group of ladies (and one gentleman) was infections and inspiring. My review can’t possibly do this experience justice, but I’ll try my best to take you through this delicious and awesome journey with my Blog Brulee recap:
Just in case you are unfamiliar with Blog Brulee- in the words of founders Regan Jones, Robin Plotkin, Deanna Segrave-Daly and Gretchen Brown, it’s an ”invitation-only, exciting, experiential weekend shared among a small, intimate number of healthy food bloggers and Registered Dietitian bloggers. The event is designed to provide education and professional development opportunities, as well as a forum for discussion and relationship building surrounding topics such as blogging and social media best practices, fundamentals of food photography, communication and marketing strategies, community niche development, brand identity and monetization.” It was definitely all that and much more!
Smuggler’s Notch is such a neat and inviting resort. We all stayed in condos with 3 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and beautiful porch. What would a blogger weekend be without swag waiting for us on arrival?
This array of local food and healthy products will certainly be fun to experiment with in the kitchen. We couldn’t leave Vermont without some authentic maple syrup, right? My roomies were Dana Artinyan of Art of Nutrition and Anne Mauney of fANNEtastic food (she was also a speaker, and all I can say about that is, WOW!)
Our first evening presented us with an opportunity to mingle and get to know one another. We were treated to scrumptious dishes, with many incorporating ingredients from the event sponsors including California Almonds, Siggi’s, Califormia Ripe Olives and Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs. I mean, what would Blog Brulee be without real crème brulee?
I also discovered 3 other fellow Penn Staters! We are…Penn State!
After dinner, Regan Jones (Healthy Aperture) and Deanna Segrave-Daly (Teaspoon of Spice) walked us through best practices of iPhoneography – yes, that’s a thing, and how to fix the most common food photography mistakes. A few simple secrets can really make your photos pop, thanks Regan and Deanna!
Saturday morning started bright and early with a fabulous breakfast yogurt parfait bar sponsored by Siggi’s. (One of my favorite yogurts for its lower sugar and super high protein content). Then we heard from Siggi himself about what inspired him to create the Skyr (pronounced skeer) yogurt he loved as a child in Iceland. We all had the opportunity to strain our own yogurt with cheesecloth (RDs LOVE to geek out a bit on the science). Note- I actually used to strain my own yogurt many years ago before Greek yogurt entered the marketplace. I’d make it really thick, mix in chives and spread it on bread, bagels, etc instead of cream cheese.
Throughout the day we were treated to many more sessions from both speakers and sponsors.
I loved learning about Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs- they are pasteurized for safety so you can actually eat them raw! That means no worries when licking the bowl from cookie dough or cake batter. Also, did you know that overlight, soft boiled and sunny side-up eggs are not actually considered cooked? To be sure you are not ingesting yucky salmonella or other food borne illness, pasteurized eggs are the way to go.
Katie Webster (Healthy Seasonal Recipes) showed us an impressive photo shoot set up which made my photography look like pre-school. She is such an inspiration and her photos are to die for. I can’t wait to see her new cookbook featuring maple syrup, YUM!
All the food photography made us hungry for this delectable BBQ lunch outside at picnic tables. We were so lucky to have gorgeous weather and really took advantage. Smuggler’s Notch really knows how to feed RDs: jicama slaw, grilled seafood skewers, Caesar salad, watermelon salad and fresh biscuits with maple butter…ahhhhhhh. So good!
After lunch we migrated over to the fire pit for s’mores! The view was beautiful at the bottom of a ski slope as we looked at the ski lift and pictured the scene covered in snow. Must be gorgeous!
After lunch, Lisa D’Agrosa from Eating Well Magazine shared her story of telling tales from both media and blog perspectives. This was super valuable information and I’m definitely going to apply her tips when writing in the future. Thanks Lisa!
We then heard from the California Ripe Olives commission. Did you know all olives start out green and the 7 day oxidation process turns them black? Cool, right? I love food science.
Our last education session of the day featured Katy Widrick (KatyWidrick.com) sharing her insights in delivering high performance SEO for her blog. MIND BLOWN! The wealth of knowledge Katy has in this area made me want to kidnap her and chain her to my computer desk forever. Sorry, Katy. You may be hearing from me often 🙂
Break time! Many people chose to take a yoga class given by Alex Caspero- the photos were amazing as the class was held outside surrounded by the mountains. Beautiful!
I am not a yoga gal, so 5 of us decided to go on a hike. That was quite a workout as we trekked up into the mountains. Nothing like a good hike to bond with your fellow RDs!
After a great workout it was time for dinner! I think this butternut squash soup may have been the best I’ve ever enjoyed! From scrumptious Firecracker Salmon to awesome Apple Galette with Maple Whipped Cream, I was stuffed and smiling.
Sunday morning began with what I like to call the Blog Brulee Breakfast Challenge. Our condos were stocked with food before our arrival and now it was time to cook! Given these ingredients- what would you make? It felt like being on Food Network’s Chopped:
Since I am a bit obsessed with breakfast, I volunteered to cook for my condo mates. The result was 3 entrees:
Creamsicle Overnight Oats made with oats, Siggi’s vanilla yogurt, milk, orange zest and sectioned oranges.
Protein Pancakes made from eggs, mashed banana, oats and topped with sliced bananas and almond butter.
French Toast made from whole wheat bread dipped in a mixture of 2 eggs and a container of Siggi’s Mixed Berry and Acai yogurt with a splash of milk.
Sorry the photos do not do this justice, it was pouring outside so no good natural light for photos 🙁
I think my roomies enjoyed it, Anne Mauney dubbed me the breakfast queen- thanks Anne!!!
Setting fire to our final day were Lindsay Livingston (The Lean Green Bean Blog), Sally Kuzemchak (Real Mom Nutrition) and Kylie Held (ImmaEatThat). Social media is a mystery to many and each of these ladies shared their inspiring stories about what worked for them to help grow their businesses and social media followings by building a community around their individual brands. Thanks to all for your generosity and encouragement.
Fellow RD, Lauren Shelar from California Almonds, gave a great presentation about snacking trends- lots of surprising info there. 97% of people surveyed reported snacking at least once per day with 43% of people stating they snack 3-4 times per day. That’s a lot of snacking. Good thing there are healthy items like almonds which contain protein, healthy fat and fiber to keep us going.
Last but absolutely not least, we were treated to Anne Mauney’s (fANNEtastic food) presentation about how to monetize your brand. She is such a great role model in the food blogging world and a breath of fresh air to be around. She shared so many amazing tips with us, my laundry list is pages and pages long.
Even though this ended our time at Blog Brulee, a few of us spent time in downtown Burlington for a bit before our flights. It is the CUTEST town, so charming and such nice people. Lake Champlain was really pretty and I’m thrilled we had the chance to stop by for a few minutes. We were dodging raindrops but the view was breathtaking.
This weekend was overflowing with great food, new friends and fulfilling learning opportunities. I’m so grateful to everyone for this indescribable experience. Make sure to check out all of my new friends and their recaps of Blog Brulee:
Alanna Waldron, RD – Eat Real Food
Emily Hein, RDN, LD – Zen & Spice
Lisa Lin – Healthy Nibbles & Bits
Katie Oberwager – 24 Carrot Life
Sally Twellman, RD – Twellman Nutrition
Whitney Reist, RD, LMNT – Sweet Cayenne
Selena Sharpless – The Nutritious Kitchen
Amee Livingston – Amee’s Savory Dish
Alexandra Caspero, RD – Delicious Knowledge
Vicki Shanta Retelny, RDN – Simple Cravings. Real Food.
Jennifer Pullman, MA, RDN, LDN – Nourished Simply
Sara Haas, RDN, LDN – Sara Haas, RDN
Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD – Mom’s Kitchen Handbook
Emily Cooper, RD, LD – Sinful Nutrition
Anne Danahy, MS, RD, LDN – Craving Something Healthy
Deborah Davis, MS, RDN – Dietitian Debbie Dishes
Dana Artinyan, RD, LDN – Art of Nutrition
Marisa Westbrook – Uproot From Oregon
You go girls!!!