Day 2 was the official first day of the DC National Conference, and it started bright and early. Considering I had a long travel day the night before, and my sister text messaged me at 12:30 am (forgetting about the time change), I was definitely low on energy when I dragged myself out of bed at 6:45 am. Somehow though, I made it to breakfast in plenty of time.
Before leaving my hotel, I had a few spoonfuls of my Liberté Mango Orange Greek Yogurt, and a glass of the green juice.
I figured this way if breakfast was only so-so, I would have at least gotten in something decent to start the day. As it turns out, the buffet spread was pretty good – fruit, cheese, muffins, scones, bagels, yogurt parfait, oatmeal, coffee, tea. I grabbed a small plate of eats, and found a spot to sit down and enjoy.
I never actually used the peanut butter, because I didn’t have the foresight to grab a knife to spread it on my muffin (I blame lack of sleep). And the parfait was good, but would have been better with a thicker, preferably plain yogurt. What can I say – I don’t like runny fake sweet vanilla yogurt.
After breakfast and chatting with a few conference attendees who sat near me, I made my way from the host hotel over to the Shaw Conference Centre, where the Conference Opening Lecture was being held.
The opening lecture is the Ryley-Jeffs Memorial Lecture, given by a member being honoured for “exemplifying the ideals of dedication to the profession and a proven ability to chart new directions in the field of dietetics.”
This year’s lecturer was Lynda Corby. She gave a great speech, and it was a good way to start off the conference, especially for an RD to be such as myself. It’s always inspiring to hear about what others have achieved working in the profession, and it makes you strive to accomplish even a fraction of what they have with their careers.
After the lecture, we all made our way back to the host hotel. Now, the walk itself between locations is maybe 5 min. But the design of the conference centre is such that you have to walk down a very long, steep flight of stairs…which means you have to hoof back up those stairs on the way back. Built in stair climber workout right there!
Back at the hotel we had our first snack break (didn’t we just have breakfast?!). It was sponsored by the Almond Board of California, so it wasn’t too surprising that almonds were featured.
Not only did we get a cute little bag of almonds, but there were smoothies made with almonds, fruit, milk, and other things. Not sure how I feel about the almonds in the smoothie – I think I would like them blended in a bit better. Hence why I always add nut butter to my smoothies at home.
My first session of the day was “Media, Food, and the Dietitian.” It was a good exploration of the way nutritional information gets to the general consumer, the accuracy of the media, studies done on media messages, and some practical advise on how to approach media opportunities yourself. At first I wondered if it was the best choice for me as a student, but I realized that just by having a blog I am already using media to get out a message, and that there are things I can use even now.
Guess what came after the session…yes, lunch!
Hello horrible cell phone photo. I couldn’t hold my hand still to save my life. Just some salad, wraps (one turkey, one grilled veggie), and some carrots and honeydew melon. What’s up with melon always being the fruit of choice for catering events? I like it and all, but it’s not always in season, and doesn’t always taste that great. Just saying.
While eating lunch I checked out some of the research posters and chatted with some of the BC RD’s I know. To be quite honest, I’m not sure what I did throughout the 2 hour lunch break, but soon enough it was over and I was into my afternoon session – “Traditional Aboriginal Foods and Dietetics.”
I had…higher hopes for this one. I had thought they would go more into the actual traditional foods of various First Nations groups in Canada, but felt that part was only glossed over in favour of how these foods are used in practice, and other food security and nutrition programs being undertaken in many of the remote northern First Nations areas in Canada. One shocking thing they showed was the price of a 4L milk jug in a northern Manitoba First Nations community – it was $12.99! And you wonder why food security is an issue…
With the afternoon session complete it was…time to eat!
Chocolate dipped strawberries and a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. Afternoon sugar kick 😉 Considering how fast I was fading, I needed it! It helped fuel me on the walk back to the convention centre for the AGM, Awards Ceremony, and the Keynote Address.
I was very excited for the Keynote Speaker – Liane Faulder, a local Edmonton Food Writer (check out her blog: Eat My Words). The title of address was “Food Can Change Your Life”, and it was just excellent. I loved the way Liane talked about her food memories and foodie events that have impacted her life in various ways. She was a great speaker, and I felt so guilty that I could feel myself nodding off. I wasn’t bored or disinterested – I was just that damn tired. FYI – you can actually watch the whole talk here. I highly recommend it if you love food and have the time.
The day was still not over though! We had the Welcome Reception to attend. Fortunately, there was 30 min between the keynote speech and the reception, so I trekked back to my hotel to drop off my stuff, wash up, fix up my makeup, and head back out to be social and enjoy some good eats at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. It was tempting to just put my feet up and stay at home and sleep, but I forced myself back out.
The Fairmont is a swanky hotel. The reception was held in a beautiful ballroom, and man was it busy when I got there!
I arrived at 6:30 pm (30 min after the reception started), and I was a little surprised to see many of the food stations completed empty. I thought they might come out and refill them, but alas, they did not. But don’t worry, I didn’t starve.
I grabbed some of the cold items on my first go around – a shrimp spring roll, brie and berries on…something, veggies, cheese (that I must have consumed before taking the picture), and a crab salad on a cucumber item. Horrible descriptions, I know. But they all tasted good – other than I had to pull out the cilantro in the spring roll.
Next up was my favourite eat of the evening.
That would be a sweet potato “martini”. They had a mashed potato/sweet potato hot station set up, where you could choose your potato (I went with sweet), sauce (a mushroom gravy or baby shrimp cream sauce – I went with the cream sauce), and top it with your usual potato toppings – cheese, green onion, fried onion, and bacon. I passed on the bacon for some reason, but it didn’t matter. This was freaking awesome. So awesome it deserves another photo.
It was tempting to go back for another. Or see if they could just give me a bowl full of the stuff. Probably not proper reception etiquette though 😉 I wonder if I could recreate this at home.
I spent a little time out on the patio off the ballroom enjoying the beautiful view and gorgeous evening.
It was great they had the doors to the patio open – there were so many people there, and the room was quite warm and quite loud. The patio was a popular place to escape to.
I did eventually go back in to check out the other hot food station.
When it was my turn, I asked the server to give me “a little of everything”. What I got was a mushroom risotto with a glazed chicken, basmati rice with salmon and a citrus butter sauce, and a couple of prawns. Thumbs up to it all!
Shortly after I finished that, I had to head home. I was fading fast, and totally craving something sweet. That would be one of 2 criticisms of the reception – no dessert/sweet items at the end, and the fact that many of the foods were stocked once, and were gone less than 30 min into the reception.
I thought I might find a bakery or somewhere to stop in for a little treat on the way home, but no such luck. So I did the worst thing possible – I ordered dessert from room service.
This monstrosity would be the Cookies & Cream Cake – chocolate brownie layers with cream cheese and broken soft centre chocolate cookies, filled with milk chocolate ganache and sprinkled with cookie crumbs and chocolate drizzle. Say that 5 times fast.
It was okay. It got rid of the sweet tooth, but it wasn’t amazing.
And let’s not even mention what I paid for it. Room service is a waste of money people – remember that!
I spent the rest of the evening getting sucked into shows on the Food Network and stayed up way later than I should have considering how tired I was. I did take the time to photograph the random items I collected from the conference throughout the day though.
I’m actually looking forward to using the recipes provided by both the Peanut Bureau of Canada and the Almond Growers of California.
Which brings this insanely long post to a close! Next up…Day 3!