6 shocking things I realized at FNCE 2017

 
The last day of FNCE was a Tuesday... so naturally, I felt the need to celebrate #toasttuesday using my favorite Expo samples: Rhythm Superfoods Beet Chips, Crazy Richard's Peanut Butter, and Schar Gluten Free Bread.

The last day of FNCE was a Tuesday... so naturally, I felt the need to celebrate #toasttuesday using my favorite Expo samples: Rhythm Superfoods Beet Chips, Crazy Richard's Peanut Butter, and Schar Gluten Free Bread.

 

6 shocking things I realized at FNCE 2017

Disclosure: My trip to FNCE 2017 was partially funded by both Rhythm Superfoods and Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter.

If you followed along on Instagram, you know I recently got back from a four day trip to Chicago for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE). I could tell you the trip was great, inspiring, encouraging, invigorating, motivating, and all around awesome… but I wouldn’t be doing it justice. So, instead… I’ll tell you the top 6 shocking things I realized at FNCE 2017.

I could never cut it as a cranberry farmer. Ok, I realize this might not be that shocking, but just go with it. OceanSpray has really evolved over the last 5-7 years in their work with dietitians. Cranberries have so much nutritional value, and they (OceanSpray) are making a strong effort to focus consumer’s and dietitan’s attention on these positive aspects of the fruit itself, rather than on sugar loaded cranberry juice or Craisins.  (I remember going to a breakfast that they sponsored at FNCE 2016 covering the latest research about cranberries’ role in preventing UTIs.)

This year, their booth was by far the best one in the Expo… I got to wade around (in actual boots and waders!) inside an indoor cranberry bog… with a massive inflatable swan. Don’t think I’ll ever be able to say those exact same words again… unless they do it again next year… which I kind of hope they do!

 
Me...in the cranberry bog... inside the Chicago convention center... in waders and boots... next to a massive inflatable swan. #totallynormal

Me...in the cranberry bog... inside the Chicago convention center... in waders and boots... next to a massive inflatable swan. #totallynormal

 

I’m not the only one who thinks putting beet chips on your sandwich is a genius idea. It’s official, the ladies on the Rhythm Superfoods marketing team are some of my favorite people. I got to hang out with them for a little bit each day and tell people all about my love for their beet chips and kale chips. AND, I obviously felt the need to tell everyone who came by the booth that the absolute BEST way to enjoy beet chips… is inside your sandwich! (Your mind was totally just blown, wasn’t it?!?) It’s the grown up version of stuffing Doritos in your sandwich at school when you were a kid… not that I did that or anything.

I think the main reason people always love Rhythm Superfoods chips (both beet and kale) is because they still taste a lot like the original fruit and leaf. They’re dehydrated, not fried, so the flavors and nutrients are so much better preserved. And the behavioral science dietitian in me loves that they take a little effort to eat. More chewing because they’re thicker and heartier, unlike super processed chips and crackers where it’s easy to overdo it. Not that that you could ever overdo it with beet chips or kale chips though…

 
See!? Delicious!

See!? Delicious!

 

There are other people in the world who think peanut powder on roasted cauliflower sounds delicious too. I also got to spend a lot of my time with the ladies from Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter … and tell people about all the random, and not-so-random ways I love to eat peanut butter. And just how important it is for any self-respecting nut butter lover to have a squeeze bottle that gives you the perfect PB drizzle.

And if you’re scratching your head about the cauliflower and peanut powder, just take my word for it. It’s AMAZING! Most people associate peanut butter or peanut powder with sweet things… but that’s only because most manufacturers add in sugar during processing. But not with Crazy Richard’s. They are completely “clutter free,” which means you can take them savory or sweet depending on what you want to make. Sprinkling some peanut powder on roasted or sautéed veggies is just like adding a peanut sauce or something similar… without the hassle of having to make it.

 
Loaded with fiber, protein, and complex carbs... this Peanut-y riced cauliflower will keep you full and satisfied for hours!

Loaded with fiber, protein, and complex carbs... this Peanut-y riced cauliflower will keep you full and satisfied for hours!

 

Dietitians gone wild” is an actual thing. The Expo at FNCE is filled with hundreds of vendors ready to give out free samples and random other things emblazoned with their company logo to anyone who walks by. Some of them are downright delicious and/or cool… others, not so much. But regardless, when there is free food and free random crap offered to 13,000+ dietitians… watch out!! While most people maintain their composure and behave in a semi-professional manner, there are those select few who make for awesome people-watching… no free sample, or stress ball with a logo on it is safe. In fact, I may have grabbed a free bag of popcorn from the Boom Chicka Pop booth and pretended like I was working... but I was actually just settling in for a great afternoon of people watching.

 

Gettin' "wild and crazy" at the Rhythm Superfoods booth on Saturday night... at 6:30pm.

 

The world, and face, of dietetics is changing.  It’s pretty common knowledge, or at least it is to dietitians, that seeing a male dietitian is about as common as spotting a unicorn in the wild. And while it’s still a pretty heavily female dominated field, we’re starting to see some new faces… and new ideas in dietetics. Less “conventional” ways of thinking. No more Coca-Cola and Pepsi booths front and center at the Expo. More natural-minded dietitians like myself speaking up for what we know to be true and proven, rather than just repeating “official” recommendations. Yes, I am a firm believer in practicing science-based nutrition, but I’m also excited to see that the type of science that is getting funded is changing… and that more food-based, natural topics are being investigated.

People had heard of Milk & Honey Nutrition and were actually excited to meet ME. So, believe it or not, this one was actually the most shocking to me. I had people stop and ask me if they could take a picture with me. People came by the Rhythm Superfoods and Crazy Richard’s booths just because they wanted to meet me. I almost asked them if they had me confused with someone else. (But, don’t worry… I didn’t, haha.) It was humbling and incredibly exciting at the same time.

And the best part was, these were my peers, my fellow dietitians. What an honor, and quite frankly the most humbling experience, to know that the message I’m trying to spread not only resonates with all of you, but also with my fellow dietitians. FNCE 2017 has left me completely encouraged and invigorated for the year to come. I’ll continue making pretty food with a little less added sugar (that’s gluten free of course so the hubs can eat it)… and counting down the days to FNCE 2018!

Here's a few more of my pictures (totally unedited), if you're interested...