The inspiration for this blueberry explosion of a smoothie bowl started with a blogging retreat to Minneapolis, Minnesota. And it ended in between the seemingly endless rows of blueberry bushes at Turkey Hill Farm in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
Each experience was highly rewarding in it’s own way. Friendships were nurtured. Food was gathered. But the outcome was the same: my body, mind and heart were full.
Also, I was very sweaty. Don’t let the cold winters of Minnesota fool you – that place is HOT in the Summertime. Damn. Picking blueberries under the blazing mid-day sun was no match for the weather Minneapolis served up that weekend.
Food blogging is an interesting career. For a job that is so tightly tied to a daily social media routine, it’s surprisingly isolating. We work alone most of the time, in the confines of our kitchens. It can feel empowering. But it can also feel lonely. So to have the opportunity to travel across the country several times a year to gather with some of the other people with whom I share this virtual space with is like hitting the re-fresh button on my soul.
Our #BossBabeFestMSP was organized by Amanda from Heartbeet Kitchen and Sherrie from With Food + Love. Ten of us came together in Minneapolis for a long weekend of eating, drinking, laughing, crying, smiling, hugging, exploring, learning and most importantly, just being. Being ourselves. Without walls. And without judgments.
If you’re not familiar with some of the creative beauties in this photo below, I urge you to get familiar with them. You will, for sure, be inspired.
Vital Proteins was our official sponsor for the retreat, and it’s really with their support that we were able to make this event a reality. Throughout the weekend, we incorporated their collagen supplements into everything from hummus to smoothies. And I’ve used their Collagen Beauty Greens to boost this Blueberry-Avocado Smoothie Bowl.
In my humble opinion, the best thing about smoothie bowls is ALL THE TOPPINGS. You can certainly customize them to your liking, but I urge you not to skip the chunks of dark chocolate in this version. The combination of chocolate and blueberries is to die for.
Below the recipe I’ve added a few photos and words about our weekend. I actually didn’t taken as many photos as I thought I did/would. I guess I got caught up in the moment of it all!
#BossBabeFestMSP Retreat re-cap:
I was the last to arrive on Thursday afternoon (airplane travel never goes smoothly for me). But there was an army of smiling faces and an array of snacks waiting for me, including the most beautiful deviled eggs made with pasture-raised Vital Farms eggs. And some blushingly pink champagne cocktails. Cheers to that!
That evening we enjoyed a private cocktail making session from Erik Eastman of Easy & Oskey. We sipped (and photographed) our seasonally inspired drinks on the roof-top before heading downstairs to have a fabulous 5-course meal at St. Dinette. The entire meal was vegetarian, gluten-free and absolutely mind-blowing. Power to the plants, people.
On Friday, General Mills graciously sponsored a visit to their national headquarters. We learned about their goal of removing artificial dyes from all their cereals. And how they are addressing various environmental issues, such as water usage. Then – and this is the best part – they let us loose in their test kitchen and challenged us to create a recipe using one of their cereals. Jayme and I paired up and, of course, we made a cocktail. We infused some milk with Golden Grahams cereal and then mixed that with a little rum, vanilla, coffee and some crushed Golden Grahams for garnish. It was pretty gosh darn good, if I do say so myself.
After we filled our bellies with pizza from Pizzeria Lola, we headed to Willful Goods for flower crown making. You guys. Talk about feeling like a princess. It’s impossible not to feel giddy when you have a beautiful crown of flowers encircling your head. And what a joy it was to create something that wasn’t food related. It stretches the imagination.
That evening Sherrie and Amanda prepped ingredients for vegetable grain bowls, complete with Bob’s Red Mill quinoa and sorghum. We ate our rainbow creations outside, overlooking the lake, and talked shop. It was these moments of “downtown” that were my favorite parts of the trip.
The next morning, we prepared smoothie bowls and toast, using ingredients from Udi’s Gluten Free, Rodelle Vanilla and NOW Foods. We had to put a time limit on how long we allowed ourselves to photograph our breakfast, because we could have easily spent half the day doing just that. #foodbloggerproblems.
We spent most of Saturday afternoon talking about blog business and photography. Sarah is a wizard with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, and she taught me a few tricks that have seriously changed my life. The evening kicked off with a mocktail hour sponsored by La Croix. The light just sparkled that evening, as it streamed in through the windows and scattered across our dinning room table.
For dinner, we enjoyed a 5-course farm-to-table meal from Create Caters. There were fits of laughter, a few tears and some intense real-talk in between all the artfully crafted dishes that were being served to us, which included the best pavlova I’ve ever had in my life. So far, I haven’t seen a single photograph of this meal. I think we were all too busy enjoying the moment (and enjoying each other) to be bothered with our cameras and phones. And in the end, I think that was really the whole point of the trip.
The next morning we said our tearful goodbyes (happy tears!) and went our separate ways. The trip left me feeling rejuvenated. Which was what I needed at that exact moment. Thank you to Amanda, Sherrie and all our sponsors for making this weekend happen. Love you all. XOXO.
In an effort to sell you on this milkshake, I was tempted to write something like “this milkshake would be a great way to use up leftover Halloween candy”. But then I reconsidered that statement. Because who really has leftover Halloween candy. Not me. I just eat it right up. I don’t need any tricky ways to try to consume it all. It somehow manages to disappear just fine all on it’s own.
So instead, I want you to make this Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pumpkin Milkshake for one reason and one reason only: it’s delicious.
I’m sure you know that peanut butter, chocolate and ice cream are already excellent friends. The pumpkin purée in here just kicks things up an extra notch. It makes you think “hey, what else is in this milkshake?”, and then forces you to take another sip to try and figure it out. It’s highly addicting. You’ve been warned.
In addition to slurping down a couple of these milkshakes (recipe testing = tough job!), I also indulged my sweet tooth this past weekend at the famous Chocolate Bar at The Langham in Boston. Abby and Sara came up to visit me, and we decided that an entire restaurant dedicated to chocolate was just the kind of place that three food-obsessed bloggers should dine at. It was a good decision. The photos of our table spread should be evidence enough.
Definitely check it out if you’re ever in the area. And in the meantime, DEFINITELY make yourself a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pumpkin Milkshake. No leftovers required. In fact, you should probably go out and purchase extra peanut butter cups (hello day after Halloween candy sales!) just so that you are sure to have enough.