Why Attend IFBC 2017

Food Bloggers Conference

 

Disclosure : As an IFBC Citizen Blogger, I received a reduced conference rate in exchange for sharing three posts about my experience. This is the first of three. 

If it wasn’t for a little race called Ironman, I would have attended the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) 2016 conference, held in Sacramento, CA. But wait! What does an Ironman race have to do with interfering with plans to attend a food blogging conference?

Well, actually, Ironman training made a great many decisions for me in 2016, from what available time I had, who I socialized with,  how much and when to eat, and yes — even determining what conferences I could attend.

Last year, I spent 15-20 hours a week on top of my hours in the office as a private practice counselor, training for Ironman Mont-Tremblant. Every spare hour was spent in the pool or in the lake, riding my bike on a trainer or up and down hills, and running for hours. To do all those things, I also had to grocery shop, prep, and cook all my own meals and make my own race food.  Over time, my needs grew to the point that I could not eat outside my home, and could not spare even a day of food sensitivity by making inferior food choices. When the IFBC 2016 dates were announced, I realized they were just too close to the dates of my race, creating some risk for the Celiac athlete to try new food combinations or sample beverages. It didn’t make sense to put my race in jeopardy, so I took the conference off my plate (pun intended).

When I heard that the IFBC would return to Sacramento in 2017, my mind was made up: I would come back again. This was an exciting development, because I was really kicking myself for having missed the 2016 conference at that specific location.  This post is about why I’m attending IFBC 2017 as a “citizen blogger” for the second time. And it’s also about why you as a reader should care.

Continue reading

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Bacon Wrapped Duck with Cranberry Mandarin Orange Sauce

Bacon Wrapped Duck with Cranberry Mandarin Orange Sauce

Next time you need a special-occasion meal, try roasting a duck and adding a flavorful twist with cranberry and mandarin orange
Next time you need a special-occasion meal, try roasting a duck and adding a flavorful twist with cranberry and mandarin orange. Photo by Imei Hsu.

 

I don’t like Turkey. There, I said it. Gawd. I don’t like turkey meat.

Even if it was cooked well, with the juices basting the meat and leaving it tender, I find that I just don’t feel the same excitement about turkey that has people jumping up and down to make the perfect turkey dinner with side dishes to feed a small neighborhood.

Just a cursory look on my Social Media feeds this week gave me a pretty clear indication that everyone else I know are sticking to the traditional Turkey Dinner and sides food theme, with a gluten-filled pie of either fruit (apple), pumpkin, or pecan, all three of which I am prohibited from inserting into my pie hole.

Needless to say, my pie hole doesn’t get much pie on my special diet.

Since this isn’t a traditional Thanksgiving Day recipe, I decided to hold off trying to create one for the blog by Thanksgiving Day Nov. 24, 2016. Instead, I present to you a roast duck recipe that you can eat any time of the year, for a special occasion, holiday feast, or whenever you get a hankering for roast duck with a nutrient-dense, AIP friendly twist.   Continue reading

Sweet Potato Toaster Grilled Sammich

Sweet Potato Toaster and Grilled Sammich

White plate, with two slices of grilled sweet potato, one with nothing on it on the left, and one slice with ingredients piled on it on the right
Learn how easy it is to make your own Sweet Potato toaster (or toaster oven) Sandwich (bread free), Photo credit: Imei Hsu.

When you get a diagnosis of a food allergy, multiple food allergies, and/or a medical condition that improves with the removal of gluten and other grains, soy, corn, and milk dairy, it’s pretty natural to become not only hungry, but also angry (aka “hangry”). You become hangry because you don’t get to eat the familiar, tasty, and convenient foods that you see all around you. Suddenly, these popular foods sing their songs of exuberance:

“I am here, look at me!”

“I am so tasty, you want me more than sex, money, or power!”

These foods jeer too. “Ha ha,you can’t have me!”

Since the beginning, MyAllergyAdocate has been all about a lifestyle that holds naturally gluten-free foods that are also free of the main food allergens at the center, and foods that can be adapted to be compliant with a number of different dietary plans designed for people who are fighting autoimmune disease and other chronic medical conditions. I am not about “phood”; I am about real food, for real people,

In waltzes a lovely idea from the Internets, this one from Los Angeles by a well-followed food blogger Kelsey Preciado, who wasn’t even thinking about this food community; she was just thinking about making a sandwich, and she had no bread in the house. She substituted slices of sweet potato, and instead of grilling it on the stove top or in the oven, she put them in her inexpensive Oster toaster, and voila! Within two cycles of toasting, she had a cute, grain-free sandwich that could potentially pack a wallop of nutrients. Taking to Instagram, she has the first date and time-stamped example of this new food trend, and so I’m giving credit where credit is due. Thank you, Kelsey! You’re awesomesauce!

That was in May 2016, and ever since, food bloggers and followers have been posting hundreds of variations of this easy-to-create mouthful sensation. And for us hangry, Hungry Minions, this is good news! We can take that basic idea and make it work for us too.

Ready? Read on.  Continue reading

Discovering Food Trends

How do you spot the latest food trends? And will this spice before the next big thing?
How do you spot the latest food trends? And will this spice picture here  be the next big thing?

 

When the 2015 International Food Blogger’s Conference offered a “Citizen Journalist” discount for participants willing to write three posts about the IFBC, I jumped at the opportunity. While I wouldn’t have defined myself as a food blogger, the past two years of dealing with Celiac Disease, plus all the years previous with revolving food allergies and intolerances have made me more interested in talking about food in general, food safety in specific, and culinary delights to obsession.

I am a hungry, sometimes ‘hangry’, but ever Sensible Celiac. And I like food!

And so, I found myself at a food blogging conference for the first time. What surprised me most was that while I was looking for the latest in food trends, what I found was so much more. But I’ll leave my discovery for the end of this post. For now, I’ll share with you a little bit of what I saw about food trends from two speakers, Katie Ayoub (Managing Editor of Flavor and Menu), and Judith Dern (AllRecipes.com).

Ayoub spoke to identifying the pathway of food trends, such as:

Chipotle —> Jalapeno —> Sriracha

and

Tacos  —> Sandwiches —> Savory Waffles (with bacon!)

Now, if you thought what I did when I saw these two examples, you too would be thinking, “Well, I already knew that, so how is that a food trend?” It’s such a great question, even for a newbie like myself. According to Ayoub, when we see a food trend, we’re really describing what used to be one part of a twelve-year cycle of a food idea moving from “conception to ubiquity”. Part of the reason you know it’s a food trend is because the cycle has been shared multiple times before it becomes mainstream and even “old.” Only, now that cycle has been diminished to something closer to a five or six -year cycle, since Social Media proliferates these concepts much more quickly. Blink, and you miss something, right?

Two current trends Ayoub mentioned in this breakout session are worth disseminating:

  1. Butter. Fat is no longer a dirty word, thanks to the FDA changing its recommendations on the kinds and amounts of fat that are considered healthy. It makes sense that part of the response from food creators is to put full-fat butter and flavored butters on just about everything.
  2.  Harissa. Harissa is a hot chili paste made from several types of chilies, garlic, seeds like coriander or caraway, and oil. I would often find Harissa served in Middle Eastern restaurants that specialize in spicy dishes from the MIddle East. Seattle even has a restaurant named after this pungent, mouth-watering paste.

[Note to self: I still can’t have milk dairy, Now I can’t have alliums. Damn it. Move along, these are not the food items you are looking for…]

In the second half of the seminar, Dern talked about how Allrecipes.com uses its massive database of recipes to track the most popular trends in food. How can you argue with the data, right?  Dern listed these popular trends from their database:

1. Lemon brownies (Sept 5-11 2015)
2. Squash with chorizo (August 28 – Sept 4 2015)
3. Zoodles ((August 21 -27 2015)
4. Fresh Fig and Goat cheese tarts (August 14-20 2015)
5. Cinnamon Roll Waffles (Aug 7-13, 2015)
6. Three-Ingredient Peanut butter cookies (July 31 – August 6 2015)

The big question, of course, is whether or not tracking the past trends can help you identify the future ones — the ones no one has heard of…yet!

So what happens if you think you know what the next new food trend is? Is it DIY Indian cuisine at home, like making your own roti? Or is it vegetarian sushi as appetizers,  served with tamarind sauce (gluten free and soy free)?

The takeaway: if you think you have a good idea for a new food concept, you can and do have the potential to influence the food community and see your idea get shared at the speed of the Internets. You can use a search engine to see how many Indian roti recipes are shared, adapted, and reinvented, and how many of them grace the insides of popular food publications. And you can take a stab at calling it before most everyone else receives their first waft.

I felt that as a newcomer, it’s a great idea to sit back and study how food trends are conceived and shared, and learn from the process. The world isn’t going to get bored of food any time soon!

My Discovery

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that I made a special discovery. Because I have Celiac Disease, I usually pack my own snacks, and during this seminar on food trends, I felt a bit peckish. Seated at a large but mostly empty table, I pulled out my bento box and attempted to discreetly slip food from the container to my mouth. Within a few moments after the seminar ended, several ladies had moved over to my table and asked if they could look at and photograph my bento box. It turned out that the bento box became a topic of interest among a group of ladies who create bento box meals for children.

As I soon learned, bento boxes for children and adults are a hot trend. Parents are interested in getting their children to finish their lunches, only to find out that school lunches are not always the healthiest or tastiest choices available. Bento boxes packed at home are also a great option for food allergic people like myself, who need a safe way to carry large amounts of food to the office and keep the foods free of cross contamination when stored in a shared refrigerator with other co-workers.

I wonder how long it would have taken me to learn these facts if I hadn’t attended this workshop on food trends. I’m not sure I would have thought to try tracking it as a trend in itself on Google, even though I’m wont to track other kinds of subjects, such as cats with hats, and best pet costumes.

In the midst of tracking down the latest food trends, I discovered something else.

I had found my tribe. That discovery itself was worth it’s weight in gold and harissa.

P.S. My tribe thinks I’m smart.