As I mentioned before, I spent this past weekend in Miami, surviving the rain, storms and crazy tornado by hanging out at the Hilton Hotel for the BlogHer Food 2014 Conference. After reading numerous comments from readers curious about the event, I decided to share what happened in Florida with you!
BHF took over the entire ballroom floor on the second level of the hotel for the Conference. They held breakfasts and lunch in the largest room, scheduled a few panels and discussions in the 3 smaller rooms, and saved the fourth room for the snack lounge. But the biggest attractions actually lay in the center hallway…
The Sponsor Expo!
Over 20 official sponsors set up booths at the Conference, while quite a few more simply sent PR reps to the sessions. Everyone at the sponsor tables was friendly, offering free mugs, totes, spices, snack packages and cake bites while collecting our business cards almost as readily as little kids snap up baseball cards.
After walking up and down the Expo over the course of 2 days, I ended up with an entire suitcase overflowing with swag and samples! And as I reflected about the weekend on the airplane trip home, I realized that interacting with brands and making those face-to-face connections was one of the most valuable parts of the Conference.
But the sessions were still helpful too! Called “Breakouts” and hosted by specially selected bloggers themselves, we chose whichever ones we felt like attending. If two interesting topics overlapped or the talk we initially chose wasn’t as informational as we’d hoped, it was perfectly acceptable to walk and out and sit down in another one—or you could completely ditch altogether and head to the beach. So different than regular business meetings or college classes!
BlogHer also organized specific conference-wide Keynotes with invited speakers. We gathered in the main ballroom and listened to panels delve into the best Pinterest practices, blog business strategies, and the fun dynamic between brands and bloggers. The most amusing was the interview with David Lebovitz; it was as if he and Elisa (the moderator and one of the BlogHer founders) had invited us into their living room while chatting over a cup of coffee. Such a relaxed, comical and memorable talk!
Outside of that official Conference agenda, many brands also hosted smaller parties in hotel rooms and invited bloggers to sample and share their product, collect our business cards again, and begin relationships with us. Although I’ll save that topic for another time, suffice it to say that we rarely had time to sleep with that jam-packed schedule. I only got 13 hours in 3 days!
So when I finally arrived home, I desperately needed caffeine. With the temperatures close to 100°F again, something chilled sounded perfect, so I mixed up this Skinny Mint Chocolate Chip Frappuccino. With its rich chocolate and pleasantly minty flavor, it truly tastes like the popular ice cream flavor—just in caffeinated form!
Like with my other healthy frapp recipes, this one is super easy, and I have a secret to making the best frappuccino: blend it in two steps! First, you’ll mix together the coffee, milk and cocoa powder. Because cocoa powder tends to clump when added to liquids, blending it before adding the ice minimizes the chance of large clots clogging your straw.
Then you’ll add in the peppermint extract, ice and sweetener and pulse until smooth. Make sure you have a really tall tumbler ready—this clean-eating recipe makes about 16 oz of delicious smoothie! Top with some chopped chocolate chips; sprinkling them on top reduces the chance they’ll clog your straw as well.
I have another frappuccino secret: xanthan gum! If you add just a tiny pinch, it helps thicken the drink and prevents the frapp from separately as quickly. It’s mainly an aesthetic thing and doesn’t affect the flavor, so you can omit it if you don’t own any. Be sure to add it at the very end along with the ice; if you over-mix it, the xanthan gum loses some of its thickening properties.
Despite its indulgent flavor, this Skinny Mint Chocolate Chip Frappuccino is actually a low-fat and low-calorie treat! Cool and refreshing, it’ll slide right down your throat and disappear almost as quickly as you can make it. Trust me—I nearly gave myself a brain freeze with how fast I polished off this one!
Now that I’m fully caffeinated… Is it time for next year’s BlogHer Food yet??