Roasted Chickpeas with Spinach and My Learnings from the BlogHer Food 2014 conference

Hi there everyone, how are you all doing? Oh my, I am so late for this week’s post!! The week has beenย crazy, I had to travel again for work and I had nothing prepared beforehand, so, ok, here we go! ๐Ÿ™‚

So, last week I shared my first Indian creation, and I must say, I got hooked with all the spices and the rich taste. So how fabulous I got to try such a lovely side dish during the BlogHer Food conference in Miami last weekend. In last week’s post I mentioned toย you I was going to this conference and many of you wanted to hear about it. I am happy to share some learnings with you, as some of the sessions were super useful and real “AHA” moments for me…. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But, ok, let’s go step by step, shall we?


The conference

I decided to participate in this conference as it was taking place in Miami this year, and well, the venue was basically just over the bridge from where I live. The conference fee was quite a lot to fork upย to be honest, $400 for a non-professional blogger as I am one, is quite some investment. Howeverย I thought I’d treat myself to this and I just was really curious how these events work as well. I have been to tons of event for work, but never to something related to blogging. Before the start of the conference, I was a bit nervous, as I didn’t know what to expect.

The first day started off with lots of goodies! As soon as we checked in to the conference, all participants received two humungous goodie bags from the sponsors – which I had to carry around for the rest of the day (ughhh), anyways, let’s not complain about free stuff right? ๐Ÿ™‚ The first day was a lot of general presentations and some of them were a little bit too far-fetched for me, like “Managing my business and staff” – uh, huh…which business? I wish my blog was aย business already! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Anyways, the breaks with the sponsors in their boothsย was great, lots of food and free stuff again!




One of the coolest boothsย was the from Pompeian, a vinegar and oil company, as you could mix your own vinaigrette there, including a self-designed bottle label!


The conclusion of the first day would be thatย I didn’t learn thaaat much, butย I had the chance to attend a session about how to turn your blog into a product line – and there I heard Jadah’s and Jen’s inspiring story about their blog Simple Green Smoothies. They started from nothing and I believe now they have something like close to 10 employees and probably more freelance ones. I also met some fellow bloggers, although I must admit that I found the vibe a tad competitive, as probably 80% of the bloggers are running their blogย full-time and therefore as a business, so it was not always as casual as I thought it would be.


What I enjoyed much more was the second day, as it was all about social media! My big take away from this day was that I really have to get more behind my Pinterest account. What all of the professional bloggers that attended the conference agreed upon, is that the majority (up to 75%!) of their traffic was generated by Pinterest, and not Instagram and Facebook. I just never had the patience to work through Pinterest as it just is soooo vast! And I was honestly getting a bit lost with all the social media I have been using besides my blog – don’t you feel the same way sometimes?


In the afternoon, we had the chance to attend small group Q&A questions with experts on topic such as “Indoor photography” (very important!!) and “WordPress” tune-up.


So to sum up, I would like to share with you my top 5 learnings and action points I want to take as followย up on the conference (once I find the time, that is – ha…. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) These are all tips that couldย help you, should you think about monetizing your blog one day….

1) Start to self host my blog (instead of hosted by WordPress, as it allows you to do much more and you would be able to join publishing networks, such as BlogHer). I just heard it takes a lot of time, anyhow, if anyone of you has gone through this and has an advice, it would be great to hear about it!

2) I am going to reviewย Anita’s (she hosted the WordPress tune-upย Q&A session)ย greatย Food Blogger Resource Listย (check it out if you have time, it could help)

3) Try to make pictures in a new style: Danille Tsi shared her tips on how to shoot high contrast photos with dark background and sheย is also going to post some photography tips on her website (I didn’t see them posted yet, but I believe she should put them up soon) – anyhow you should check her blog – theย photography is really stunning

4) Update my Pinterest account and start pinning!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ For Pinterest it is important to have strong caption for every image, and you should use hashtags. Use the power of group boards (I didn’t even know these existed), they can really help you to grow following and get more attention. An intruiging profile is also important, keep in mind that the first 12 boards are visible only and even less on mobile, so they should be really inviting and capturing the audience. Lastly, in case you want to schedule pins (instead of pinning manually), the tools “Ahology” and “Viralwoot” can help you with this. Lisa Wells from Cook Eat Paleo has put together her tips on 10 Pinterest tools for bloggersย which I find really useful.

5) Think about products my readers would be interested to buy, e.g. an e-book of a collection of recipes? On this point, it’s in general to know WHO your audience is and specifically target them. Jadah from Simple Green Smoothies even mentioned they would have a prototype of their ideal customer (an avatar) and make sure they speak to this person and use their language. You can also ask your audience what they would be interested in, their top 10 asked questions could also be a cue for a potential product line.


And now to the yummy part of the post!! Hope you are still with me!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ As mentioned above, I had this side dish for lunch at the conference and was totally in love with it, so I re-made it. The recipe was created by the sponsor of the lunch, Mc Cormick spices.

This dish contains following Superfoods:

  • Spinach
  • Tomato
  • Garlic
  • And probably most of the spices have some benefits too!

Roasted Chickpeas with Spinach

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 2 cups baby spinach


  • Preheat the oven to 350ยฐ F (= 180ยฐ C), toss the chickpeas with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, then roast on a baking tray for about 8 – 10 minutes until they are nicely browned
  • In the meantime, heat a pan and add the coriander and cumin seeds, cook for about 1 – 2 minutes until they release their fragrance, remove from the pan and crush them either using a food processor, mortar or a rolling pin
  • Now heat the other 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan and add the chopped onion, cook until soft, then add the garlic, mustard seeds, curry powder and the crushed cumin and coriander seeds, mix well and cook for about 1 minute
  • Now add the chickpeas, the stock and let everything cook for about 3 minutes, the liquid should get almost completely absorbed, add the spinach and tomatoes in the end, cook for another minute, until the spinach and tomatoes are lightly cooked


Well, I hope the report about the blogger conference was not too boring andย maybe even useful for some of you! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Let me know in case you have any questions. Hope you enjoyed the recipe too!

Have all a lovely weekend! I will be traveling to Montrรฉal, as it is a long weekend here in the US – I’ll be trying some Canadian food and hopefully have some new recipes to share from that!!!

hugs, Sylvia

92 thoughts on “Roasted Chickpeas with Spinach and My Learnings from the BlogHer Food 2014 conference

  1. Thanks for the recap of the blogger food conference! I am happy to learn that you learned a lot, me by reading this post too! ๐Ÿ™‚ Your chickpea salad, is one that I eat often! I love it too! ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  2. Thank you so much for your tips from the BlogHer Conference! It’s so wonderful to see bloggers supporting each other and your recap has inspired me! ๐Ÿ™‚ The chickpeas look delish as well!

    • Thank you so much Steph! So happy you found the recap somewhat useful! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Oh yes, I am totally for supporting each other, it’s one of the fantastic aspects of blogging, to meet so many great, like-minded people! I need to check out your blog right now! Thanks again & keep in touch!

  3. I appreciate you sharing your learnings, I’ve been curious about self hosting but not too sure how it works and kind of intimidated by it. I’ve also been a bit lazy on Pintrest… Aand these chickpeas look great, they’re something I always keep stocked up on and definitely want to try this recipe!

    • Thank you so much Alex! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I know, there is so many more things we could do and the To Do list keeps getting longer…lol ๐Ÿ˜‰ We just have to take one step at a time. Yay, happy you liked the recipe and hopefully you’ll get to try it soon! hugs & thanks for stopping by!

  4. Hey, just wanted to let you know I ended up making the chick peas. My husband forgot to pick up the spinach, so I used quite a bit of frozen that I had in the freezer. The result was probably very different – a little like there was some saag paneer mixed in there – but it was really delicious. I’ll definitely be making it again. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yay! That makes me so happy to read this! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Really makes my day each time I learn that someone made one of the recipes I posted! So glad you liked it! The frozen spinach sounds delicious, it was probably a bit more creamier, but the taste I can imagine was very similar. Thanks for sharing this! hugs

  5. What a beautiful looking dish! I love chickpeas ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s so exciting you went to the BlogHer conference! You deserve two big bags of free stuff for that amount of money! It looks like a great experience though ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks so much dear for your kind comment! Hahhaa, you are right, the entrance fee was worth more than the two bags ๐Ÿ˜‰ But they also had some really illustrious guests and most meals were in included, so I guess it was ok. It definitely was a good experience, although I doubt I would go to a conference if it’s not somewhere close. It was great to attend this one just to see how it is ๐Ÿ˜‰
      thanks for stopping by & hugs

  6. Thanks for sharing your experiences from the BlogHer conference! I have not yet been to a blogger conference yet myself, but hope to some day. I came across your blog today for the first time, I love your pictures! I just started following you on Pinterest so I hope to see you start pinning!

    • Hey Kelly, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your comment! I just went over to your blog and simply love it!!! I see you did the self-hosting and you are using the genesis framework and foodie theme too, I was told it’s really good – would you also recommend it? Anyways, really great to have met you and looking forward to be in touch! hugs, Sylvia

      • Thanks for checking out my blog Sylvia! Yes I would definitely recommend the foodie theme – I really like the layout and customizing is fairly easy. Feel free to email me if you have questions about it or self-hosting!

      • Thank you so much Kelly – I will definitely get back to you on that in case of questions. I just haven’t had the time to get to it at all, work has been busy and weekends too! ๐Ÿ˜‰ But soon I’ll have some vacation and will be looking into it! hugs & thanks again!

  7. So interesting to hear about your experience at the conference and some of the tips you took home with you. Just like you, I haven’t invested that much time into pinterest…maybe I’ll have to start looking into that more. Your recipe looks wonderfully tasty!

  8. Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips to us, Sylvia. Glad that you had fun during the conference and I am sure the fee was worth it. ๐Ÿ˜€

    The chickpeas looks stunningly delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe and we are looking forward to reading more stories regarding your travels. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks so much dear Jhuls ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yes, I think it was worth it for this time, but I don’t think I would travel anywhere far and incur additional cost to attend another conference. If there is one in Miami again, I would think about it. Happy you liked the recipe – and yes, will share about Montreal soon, we had such a great time! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hope you had a great weekend too! hugs, Sylvia

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  10. Hashtags on Pinterest?! Didn’t even know those exist. I’ve been on it for ages, and apart from several recipes I get virtually no traffic with the others. Must be doing something wrong! Will check out that link, so thanks for that.

    And I really like the idea of your chickpeas served at room temperature.

    • Thanks so much for your comment Johnny! Hum, interesting, so you get not that much traffic? Yes, I guess maybe those tips will help – most bloggers were totally convinced that pinterest was their best traffic driver. Some blogger friends here from our FF group also suggested Foodgawker, must check that too! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for stopping by!

  11. I’m glad you shared this great info with us Sylvia. Quite helpful. And I’m off to add those ingredients to my shopping listโ€ฆ I just love the look of those chickpeas!

  12. What great tips!!!! I feel like I should chip in some conference fee as you are giving us such a valuable information ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thank you SO MUCH, Sylvia ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you so much Pang! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hahha… worries, it was a pleasure to share and I am actually just happy to read that it was somewhat useful for you too! Let me know how it goes & thank you so much for stopping by!!

    • Thank you so much dear, I am so glad you found it interesting! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Montrรฉal is so amazing!! And I always get new recipe ideas on these trips – some “superfoodized” Canadian dishes… hehhe ๐Ÿ˜‰ hugs & thanks for stopping by!!

  13. Sylvia, your chickpea dish looks wonderful, and thank you for sharing your insights and points from the conference — all new and useful info! I had no idea about all the pinterest options, and these are all good tips to put into practice, if I can only find time & figure the tech side out ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Thank you so much Laura! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am happy you found the information useful! I know, Pinterest is really crazy and such a vast tool. It’s quite fun too though, but I also must find some
      time first and really dive into it ๐Ÿ˜‰ Other blogger also recommend Foodgawker as a good traffic driver, I will check that out too ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for stopping by & enjoy your weekend!! hugs

  14. Such an insightful post Sylvia! Thanks for sharing all the wonderful things you learnt. Very helpful for relatively new bloggers like me ๐Ÿ™‚ and also great yummy chickpea recipe!

  15. Hey Sylvia, thanks so much for reporting on this conference and all your tips. I also wonder about Pinterest; I haven’t tried it yet but had the same experience you describe with Twitter ๐Ÿ™‚ But like some others here I can really recommend Foodgawker, it’s easy and quick and links to your WP blog, i.e. no self-hosting needed. Speaking of which, I think your blog would be perfect for self- hosting because it has such an interesting and unique topic and style!

    • Thank you so, so much for your kind and really encouraging comment ๐Ÿ˜‰ Great, I must really check Foodgawker, it seems to be a really great traffic generator. I agree Pinterest is such a vast feel, not sure yet when I will be ready enough to take the leap for all the steps I mentioned, I think one after the other ๐Ÿ˜‰
      I am really a big fan of your blog too and thanks again for stopping by!! hug

  16. Such a great post Sylvia. The conference you attended seems to have been really interesting…. even though I’m sure you didn’t need a lesson about food photography, your pictures are already stunning! Love the recipe you’ve posted, I’m always there where there are chickpeas around!
    I read that you are currently in Montreal… No way! I’m leaving for Italy.. it would be great to meet you! Enjoy the city, I hope you can have great time here!

    • Thank you so much Margherita! You are just the sweetest! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Means a lot coming from you, as I absolutely adore your photography! I am fascinatinated by the high contrast photos, where the photographer uses dark background, actually similar to your style. In the course, the instructor showed us how she does it and I hope to give it a try sometimes!
      Oh, that’s right, you live in Montrรฉal!! How wonderful would it have been to meet you!! We arrived yesterday at lunch and had a poutine right away and then an excellent dinner too – it’s a beautiful city and we are having a great time. I will write about it in one of my next posts ๐Ÿ˜‰ And think about a Canadian recipe that I can “superfoodize” ๐Ÿ˜‰
      How long are you going to Italy for? Well, enjoy a lot, it must be nice to see family!! hugs

  17. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe, and about your conference experience! I haven’t been to one yet, but BlogHer sounds like a good one to go to!

  18. Hi Sylvia, that chickpea and spinach looks great. I’ve been really trying hard lately to eat more vegetarian and learn more about superfoods so I can keep healthy and sane. This recipe is a quick and easy enough side dish I can cook up one of these nights, so thanks for that! Also, your conference experience sounds very interesting. I’m already overwhelmed with blogging just as a hobby (it’s hard to find time some weeks to interact with everyone!), so am staying far away from self-hosting and advertising. However, I wholeheartedly support you in doing it and think the ebook idea is a fantastic one! I would be the first to purchase it if you got that off the ground. ๐Ÿ™‚ Pinterest is sooo overwhelming to me, I quit almost as soon as I started. The www is a huge place and I’m pretty content to just have my teeny tiny speck of space. ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great weekend! xx

    • Thank you dear Ngan, yes, totally agree, it is quite overwhelming and I am really not sure when I would make the leap as I also find it hard to keep up with everything, I think I need to take it step by step ๐Ÿ˜‰ Right now, I just also enjoy the great interaction with all the lovely fellow bloggers out there, and I especially love reading your comments, you are always so sweet and supportive!! thank you dear & have a lovely weekend!!!

    • Thanks so much dear ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hope you’ll get to try the recipe! Yes, lol, Pinterest is a total mistery to me too! But it looks fun and very visual too, so I guess it might not be too bad to spend some time on it. Thanks for stopping by!!

  19. Hi Sylvia! This was a super interesting post! Love your recipe and I think I will make it for lunches this week! Very yummy! Thanks also for the info about the blog conference. I guess it is a wonderful medium for people who have a business, but I really enjoy this as a hobby. I would need to clone myself several times over if I wanted a business as well! Thanks also for the links from the conference. I will check them out! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Thanks a lot Julianna – hope you will enjoy the recipe!! ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Oh yes, you are right, it is really overwhelming for us who do it as a hobby, but it was a good learning experience nevertheless. Now I just need to see what I want to do with all of this. Definitely also keeping as a hobby for now, totally agree, it’s super time intensive otherwise!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ hugs & thanks for stopping by!!

  20. This was really well written and informative, big thanks for sharing. I am excited to attend the one in Seattle this year and perhaps Camp Blogaway next year. Too bad it sounded less social (leaning on competitive); one of my favorite things about blogging is the connections to community (as in we are all in it together, sharing, talking, learning and cooking). I am addicted to chickpeas (help…) so of course I will be roasting the cup of cooked chickpeas I have left hanging out in my fridge (and making your recipe above). ” Frankie’s Feast” posted a great falafel recipe last week that I have been cooking and doing variations with ever since I saw it (you might want to check it out too); I will be posting something on that soon. Thanks again and have fun on your vacation!:

    • Thanks so much dear Stacey! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Very glad you found the post useful!! Yeah, I was actually a bit surprised too that not all of the participants were like open and helpful. I mean, the majority definitely was, but from the community we have here in wordpress, I was just used to this super kind and supportive crowd, so it was sometimes, well, a bit a wake-up call that when it becomes a job, things can change… Anyways, it was great fun nevertheless and I had some very great social connections and made friends with other bloggers that live even nearby.
      what’s the conference in Seattle? Is it also from BlogHer or another blogger network? I would definitely love to hear from your experiences as well! it’s great to share learnings ๐Ÿ˜‰ hugs

  21. Hey Sylvia, thanks for sharing what you learned from the conference. As a new blogger, all this stuff is overwhelming to me. Oh well, one thing at a time:)

    • Hey Lily, totally agree, it was really overwhelming at times, but it was still a good learning experience. For me also, step by step, not sure yet when I will ever get to implement my 5 action points ๐Ÿ˜‰ thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!!

  22. Oh what a fun experience Sylvia – and sounds like a little overwhelming too. I tell ya, there is nothing like having more added to your to-do list. Feel free to message me when you get ready to self-host because I have lots of tips and things to avoid before starting. And I agree – Pinterest is a way better source for getting viewers to your blog. Instagram is fun and easy, but it’s almost like a separate blog on it’s own…lots of followers, but they don’t seem to travel outside IG. Foodgawker is also pretty awesome for getting traffic…you should start using it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Is self-hosting a huge time commitment, especially for the “un-technical”? I am half considering it but afraid of screwing it up. What are the major benefits? The things that a non-monetized blogger might want to do but can’t from a hosted blog?

      • I would not consider myself a techie person, so in the beginning I have spent countless hours of learning and “fixing” things like the layout and which widgets to install…stuff like that. The major reason I switched over was to advertise on my blog…and it has sort of taken off from there with things like an added recipe widget so people can print out just the recipe and not the whole post. You can check out my site at Stacey and see what it looks like. I highly recommend going with a Genesis Framework and using the Foodie Theme if you have a food blog…it really is the best out there right now. Genesis is like the parent and Foodie is the child…if that makes sense. I purchased mine though StudioPress. Anything you need help with they have excellent and fast support!

      • Hey Tammi, thanks so much for your comment – it’s super helpful really! I was actually wondering which framework and theme to use. And your new layout does look absolutely gorgeous indeed!! Did you have your logo designed too? Because I think it’s super cool as well! Well, I’ll be definitely reaching out to you once I decide to make the leap into self hosting!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ hugs

    • Hey Tammi, thanks so much for leaving your lovely note! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I actually thought right if you when I mentioned the self hosting!! I would definitely let you know when I am brave enough to do it!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ For now, I just don’t have the time, but everyone says better sooner than later!
      Thanks for the tip about food gawker!! sounds excellent! can I also join that without a self-hosted blog?
      and yes, agree with you about instagram, it’s fun, but I am also a bit tired of it and I find it so competitive too somehow…
      How nice to have such a generous and truly kind blogger friend as you are one my dear! hugs

  23. Hi Sylvia, Looks like an interesting conference. Even though I really enjoy my blog, I don’t think (for now anyway) I want to go that extra step off and try to monetise, incase it starts become a chore and enjoyable…Never say never, (hey, a year and a half ago I never dreamt I would even HAVE a blog!!). It looked like you learnt a lot! And you even learnt a new recipe! I am completely obsessed with coriander, cumin and curry at the moment, so I can understand you liked the taste and wanted to make this yourself ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

    • Thanks so much Sofia! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yeah, I am also not so sure what I want to do right now with my blog. It’s really still a hobby and creative outlet – and you are right, it does entail a huge amount of work to make changes…But it was great to see what would be possible!
      Yes, aren’t those spices just fantastic!! I am so hooked ๐Ÿ˜‰ thanks for stopping by!!

  24. Great post – thanks for sharing about your experience at the conference! I’d been really curious to hear the perspective of someone who hadn’t been before, and who wasn’t a full-time blogger by profession. And yesss…I definitely agree with you about feeling lost in social media sometimes – I just joined Twitter recently, and feel like an old lady trying to learn the lingo of young whippersnappers!

    • Thanks so much dear, so happy to hear you found it interesting!! Yes, it was a really interesting experience, although a bit intimidating at times. I would probably go again if there’s one close by, but I don’t think I would travel far to join another one. Thanks so much for stopping by!!

  25. Great healthy recipe + great helpful report = great post! Have a great weekend eating all the great Canadian food. Try the great poutine. I missed it last time I was in Canada. Would love to know what you think of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hey dear Angie, thanks so much! So happy you found the post useful – you are one of my gurus when it comes to blogging tips!! It’s great to share learnings and help eachother ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Ohhh…just had some poutine, oh my, so good!! Hubby is watching the champions league final game (soccer) now and I am taking some time to check in oh my blog…everybody is happy… lol ๐Ÿ˜‰ hugs to you my dear

  26. Thanks for sharing your experience! I have always been curious about those conferences, but have felt it would probably be overkill for my little blog. It sounds like it was interesting.
    Meanwhile, that dish sounds divine. Am definitely going to make this when I get home next week. Thanks again for sharing! Glad you had a good time at the conference. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hey dear, yeah, totally agree, it was indeed a bit intimidating ๐Ÿ˜‰ so many professional bloggers in one room, but we all start somewhere, it was definitely interesting to see how these conferences are, but I doubt I would travel far to attend one. If there’s another one close to where I live, I might go ๐Ÿ˜‰ hugs & thanks for stopping by!!

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