Friday, October 24, 2014

FNCE Recap

Hi, friends!

As some of you may know, I spent this past weekend in Atlanta for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) and it was so incredible that I felt compelled to share it up here on the blog! Here we go...

I got in to Atlanta late Friday night, hit the hay, then woke up bright and early on Saturday for a day of exploring the city!

My view from the room!

Tips from Atlanta-native friends and a little Google searching lead me to piedmont park Saturday morning for a (short) run. It was absolutely stunning!

How cool is this raised-bed community & teaching garden?!

After a few miles, I wandered back to the park entrance, where I noticed a farmer's market being set up earlier (because only I could fly to a new city and wind up at a farmer's market less than 12 hours later...).

I got some delicious coffee and a few snacks (and a "lettuce buy local" shirt - ha!), then headed back to the hotel to meet up with my friend Alexa who was arriving for the conference!

We set out right away in search of Octane, a cool coffee shop with an adorable bakery attached. Pure heaven.

 I got their homemade granola with local honey and yogurt, plus a to-die-for apricot and ginger scone. Alexa had a savory bread pudding with kale (such a good idea!) and a mini apple cranberry tart, which I really want to recreate for the holidays! On top of that, their coffee was ah-ma-zing.

From there, we frolicked around Atlanta, unexpectedly finding an insane Halloween street party in the funky neighborhood of Little Five Points!

We met up with my friend Sam, who I met back in junior year of high school at a Johnson and Wales summer program, and headed out to dinner at a healthy southern eatery, Bantam and Biddy. We hit up Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream for dessert, which was without a doubt one of the highlights of my trip. My friend Olivia is heading to the Jeni's headquarters in Columbus, OH for an internship this winter - it was so exciting to see and taste what she'll be working on!

I got the yazoo sue with rosemary bar nuts (a smoked porter beer ice cream with cayenne-spiced sweet and savory nuts) and the sweet corn and blackberry, both of which were out of this world.

Now...on to the conference itself!

We got up early on Sunday, headed to registration to get our badges, and got our first session at 8 am - an introduction to integrative and functional medicine. We learned about several medical institutions that practice integrative medicine, essentially meaning that they use a whole-body approach, focusing on all factors of health to treat the root causes of disease, rather than treating individual symptoms and health issues. Really interesting stuff - it's awesome to hear that a lot of hospitals are jumping on board with the idea of food as medicine and whole-body healing rather than acute symptom resolving, which can often rely on extensive medication. 

In between sessions, I caught up with my incredible RD mentor Anne! I've been interning for her for over a year now, enjoying every minute of it. Go check out her blog and be inspired for yourself!

(photo credit to Anne)

Next, Alexa and I went to a session on fermentation with one of my food heroes, Sandor Katz. He's the author of The Art of Fermentation, my go-to guide for all things fermented and gut-friendly, and it was awesome to hear him speak. Big takeaway: Sandor talked a lot about our current "war on bacteria" (think hand sanitizer, antibiotics in our meat/food supply, etc.) - but bacteria can actually be really beneficial to our health! Fermentation allows for the controlled growth of bacteria that can actually boost the vitamin content of certain foods, improve digestion, circulation, and possibly even mental health status. By consuming fermented foods, especially those with live cultures (yogurt, kimchi, other non-heated/cooked fermented foods), we can work towards improving our health and reversing the war on (beneficial) bacteria!

After that, we hit up the expo! Oh my goodness, it was overwhelming. We loaded up on one two three reusable bags each of free samples, coupons, and other goodies until it felt like our arms were going to fall off!

One of my favorites was the California Strawberries booth's build your own strawberry bar! Check this creation out: strawberry, goat cheese, toasted almonds, and rainbow sprinkles 
(hey - moderation, right?!)

After dropping off our bags at the hotel, Alexa and I went to the most overwhelming, yet exciting, internship fair out there! Over 100 dietetic internship programs crammed into one room - whew! I talked with some of my top choices, which was so encouraging and exciting! That fair really solidified my determination to get matched to an internship this spring, I can't wait to share my passion with other dietetic interns wherever I end up!

Day one of FNCE: Check! Exhausting, exhilarating, everything I was hoping for. 

Now for day two...

We got up nice and early again and headed to a an 8 a.m. session on earning a dietetic internship! It was great to hear the perspective of a few dietitians who went through the application process recently. 

Next, another expo trip (because how could we not?!). But this time, we walked away with cookbooks in addition to free samples! Woohoo!

I got to meet one of my RD idols, Ellie Krieger. She's such a sweetheart! I used to watch her Food Network show every single day, dreaming of being a dietitian just like her - so cool to meet the woman who started it all for me! 

I also got to meet one of my chef heroes, Marcus Samuelsson! He's so down to earth - and stylish!

Lastly, Hugh Acheson. Another great chef with a hilarious personality. He also wins my award for coolest socks (wish I took a picture of his fun rainbow ones!).

 Last stop on the FNCE train: a session on creating your personal brand! I loved hearing about how to market my strengths, create a positive social media presence, and define my specific passions. Definitely helpful information to keep in mind for applying to dietetic internships! Anne was used as one of the presenter's examples on having a strong personal brand, which was awesome to see. What an incredible mentor I have!

I headed out to the airport shortly after that session, tired but very inspired. I'm so glad I made it all the way to Atlanta for FNCE - what a fun time meeting dietitians, chefs, dietetic internship directors & instructors, and other like-minded students. 

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