Food+Future Workshop&Makeathon

Sunday: Food+Future & IDEO Makeathon

Saturday: FFxBitten Workshop: A Clarifying Sprint

Some say "We Came, We Saw, We Conquered"

However yesterday, We Came, We Ate..and We Make(athon)

This was the Food and Future Makeathon

I'm going to continue off the questions raised these past two day's: How do we verify what's in our food? What's the truth?

With this question buzzing in my mind all weekend - on Sunday, 60 of the greatest bad-asses gathered to discover and answer this question. With 48 hours of curiosity itching behind me, I was eager to dive right in.

Here's the thing. We think we know what's in our food..well not exactly.

  • For Example - Human DNA in our hot dog: In 345 hot dog samples, human DNA was found in 7 and 10% labeled as vegetarian contained meat DNA.


Let me introduce to you Illuminate - a scanner decoding nutritional content of one-ingredient foods. Using molecular spectroscopy (throwback to science fair in high school when I tested for the polyphenols in various vegetables based on agriculture methods…funny how seven years later this was what I was trying to get at), analytical chemistry, and deep machine learning - F+F is bringing to light food transparency.

It decodes (provides the true nutritional content), gives the power to the consumer to decide (take action based on the quality of your food), and delivers transparency (through superior outcomes allowing a change in health and decision making).

What are the possibilities of this...why even stop at food?

Perhaps you want to understand where your clothes come from, or have access to your own personal health data, can this be a tool that educates children and engages them in life of healthy choices, can this be the end to allergy attacks, what if all toilets scanned our shit? This is what we explored, and in four hours, brought to life.

The human centered design Process - inspiration, ideation, implementation

Discovery - understand, prep, inpso

THE PROMPT: So fast forward 3-5 years, when Illuminate is a widely adopted technology (with competitors and a need for innovation to remain relevant) among retailers - giving them the power to hold distribution accountable…a world where food is purchased based on nutritional levels. This data is translated into actionable explanations for the common person (from a kid to grandma). In the long term, the consumer can even interact with this machine.. and we know exactly what is in our food. Illuminate needs innovation to remain relevant. Go

Four hours and four people later (an MIT+Cal Designer, Tufts Engineering Psychologist , and NYU Culture, Education and Human Development), we proposed a solution.


  1. Get inspiration - talk to people, listen..and more than with just your ears
  2. Make assumptions - like as if all the technology was available and this couldn't fail
  3. Think big - like super big (that also means no shooting down ideas)
  4. Be real - prototype, test, bring it to life.


OUR SOLUTION: Leveraging Illuminate’s technology - we created a brand extension...a pill that takes a snapshot of your individual gut biome to increase transparency about your health. The data collected is able to provide recommendations to optimize your personal biome - in particular, focusing on the pregnant population who commonly suffer from ailments (everything from morning sickness to gestational diabetes) directly related to their internal microbiome. Not only is there a live child inside a mom...but live bacteria..and mom's should care just as much. There's an abundance of emerging research on the topic of gut health, and most recently pertaining to this population. We discovered that gut bacteria has incredible short and long-term impacts on the health of a mother and the carried child.

The possibilities are endless. 

How we got here was even more fascinating.

Interpretation - frame opportunities, search for meaning

"How Might We" Questions and Design Thinking

  • How - assumes a solution; might - free from judgement; we - takes a team
  • A constant cycle of inspiration, ideation and interpretation to arrive at a human-centered designed approach
    • (We hit the ideation phase hard today)
  • It's constant reiteration. No to pressure. Yes to brainstorm.
  • "What if"…generate ideas
  • A balance between broad focus and narrow constraint.

IDeation - generate and refine ideas

Brainstormin' Rules: 

  • Defer judgment
  • Encourage wild ideas
  • "Yes, and" > but
  • Stay focused on the question
  • One convo at a time
  • Visuals!! People understand better through sight
  •  Quantity > Quality - in order to come up with a good idea, come up with a lot of ideas
*Ross in the wild testing our concept*

*Ross in the wild testing our concept*

Experimentation - prototype and feedback

  • Research and Prototype:  Build, listen, edit, repeat
  • Prototyping - fail early, repeat, creative confidence
  • Doing > describing
  • Ask the right q's
  • Learn from getting the product out in front of people (core users, experts, extremes)

Story Telling

  • NOT A PITCH - instead we are capturing all we learned 

Storytelling moves past words alone to help people understand and feel the power of your offering.  At the end of the day, you’re going for impact with a considered audience. Storytelling is the human way …think of it more as a fun science fair.

  • It's like an arc - you set the scene, you share your promise, and show were you end up now.
  • Formula < Structure
  • Convincing < Immersing
  • Professional < Personal
  • Important notes to hit: Empathy building, the promise made, business model, support (hiring), next steps
  • The Bar Test: pretend you’re at a bar with you buddies. Tell the story of your concept. Are they still listening 5 minutes later? The story of your concept should ignite emotion, ideas, and interest


  • Be visual - images, prototype
  • Be crisp. - time is tight..understand your points and communicate them
  • Be human - empathy, anecdotes
  • Be thoughtful - consider the strategy

Have fun maybe this isn't an explicit rule in Design Thinking...but I think it's an essential component of having a kick ass team like we did. Both days, I left bonded with incredible individuals who I not only learned from but created lasting friendships. It's sick when you can appreciate everyone's unique contributions, personalities, skills and makes the process exhilarating. It's for that very reason this weekend was so special - I was surrounded by absolute rock-stars, in an environment where people loved food and creating and learning as much as me, and I was constantly in a state of exploration and excitement. 

Whether at F+F, Boston, or in life, this same approach can be applied - finding inspiration, learning from others, coming up with ideas, creating and tweaking (as we grow)..and in the end, you may even have a good story to tell.

As long as you had fun. 


Periodization and Transition Phases - Approaching the Final Cycle of Business School


(Mostly) Mind (this week)

"The dream you are living is your creation. It is your perception of reality that you can change at any time. You have the power to create hell, and you have the power to create heaven. Why not dream a different dream? What not use your mind, your imagination, and your emotions to dream heaven?"

- Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements (Love More, Fear Less - it's inspirational as hell)

I often think of my life in terms of macro/micro training periodization cycles - here's a very simple picture to visualize how training periodization works (simply put, purposeful waves (gotta love me some water analogies). There are cycles of grinding and maxing out, testing your limits - but in order to grow and optimally perform, these challenging times must be followed my rest, relaxation, and recovery. 

In life, these 'down' periods (transition phases) take the form of reflection, allowing one to process absorbed knowledge and experiences, sometimes realize what you've even accomplished, and take a moment to learn from the past. If you push too far without this, a lot of the hard work and training will go to waste, you risk injuring yourself, you burn out, and you simply become over-trained, not yourself and no longer involved and benefiting from the process.

I'm fortunate to be in school where this type of transition phase is worked into my schedule (aka SPRANG BREAK!!). While many chose to take exotic trips or raging cruises - what I needed for a break was time to simply pause. This week was an active recovery week.

Of course, no surprise...I walked into this week with ambitious intentions - the business plans I would write, the personal projects I'd complete, etc. Yet, the moment I finished those final exams and completed the long trek home...all I could do was sleep (and eat). I had no idea how (unnecessarily) exhausted I was.

Three years ago when I was forced to do nothing but think during my hip surgeries, something I never paused and stopped to do, I promised myself that I would intentionally plan time for this in the future, as it is essential for growing (or else, like stated early, you burn out, or get sick, off-track, etc. and eventually are forced to stop).

Often times my greatest ideas, insights and intuitions come to me after I've taken a break for a few days. Like a taper from training - at first I feel 'off' or may question if I've even put in my best work, if it was good enough, could I have done better. Will it pay off in the end? In sports and life, there's uncertainty at this point because the work's behind you. However, along the way you trusted in the process, so shouldn't you believe in the outcome?

At about Day 5, as in training, I hit this point where everything starts to come together. The accumulation of learning, work, and training…and I realize "I still got this"…I'm on the right track. I'm thinking like myself. This "performance test" comes in many forms, often life challenges, ideas or direction for what's next.

When training, it's hard to stay in your own lane. We all have different goals - if you train or do the same as the person in the other lane, you will likely perform the same as them. If that's your goal, then that can be a beneficial training strategy...however, today that's not my goal.

There's plenty to learn from those around you. Those you surround yourself with can serve as motivation, challenge you to be better, or simply be there to keep you on track and remember your goals. However, when your goals and dreams differ from the focus of those you are around, it's easy to lose sight of what you came here to do.

After any test of performance, it's essential to redirect your focus and make changes to the next cycle of your program according to what's working and what's not working (and also what you may want to try experimenting). As I head into my last "cycle" of this semester, the final weeks of grad school, it's a time to refocus and align with my goals. Following what I love, doing what aligns with my long-term goals, serving other's, and fearing less.

"Imagine living your life without fear of expressing your dreams. You know what you want, what you don’t want, and when you want it. You are free to change your life the way you really want to. You are not afraid to ask for what you need, to say yes or no to anything or anyone."

It's only after these tests you realize it was pretty damn irrational to have ever worried or questioned yourself. I believe this emotion does serve a purpose those - because without out any sort of discomfort, we would just casually go about things, perhaps not attentive, without anticipation, never feeling the extremes, no satisfaction or appreciation.

"Imagine living your life without being afraid to take a risk and to explore life. You are not afraid to lose anything. You are not afraid to be alive in the world"

This is why I've grown to love the process of business creation - it's often a game, an internal sport. There are no rules when you it comes to your original ideas, no process on how to take principles and concepts and turn them into creative advancements, no one to tell you what's the right way to go about it, no one is making you do it...there's only the optimal level of intrinsic motivation to create in a flow state...there's no wrong, there's only learning.

It's a game, because most of the time while there is a process and plan to the madness...I have no idea what I'm doing or what's going to happen until after I perform. 


Spring Break involved lots of meals full of wholesome and fresh food from our greenhouse and chickens. I discovered the magic of frozen avocado's in smoothiess and experimented with improptu recipes when my friend and fellow foodie from school (s/o to Kristen) stopped through for a couple days to join me in eating and exercising all day.

If there's one thing for you to takeaway - I ask you to never waste a rotting avocado again. Dice and pop in the freezer for later use. Thank you.


Lots of yoga took place this week (where I was introduced to this week's quote)...a time for releasing and re-centering. I couldn't pass up the free time to create and introduce a new lifting phase, and I enjoyed two long, adventurous, warm, sunny bike rides on the C&O Canal. 

Here's one of my favorite, fun workouts that kicked my ass: 

Full Body Barbell + Dumbbell Blast (45 minutes)

  • 10x each exercise, 3x each cycle
  • Followed by 1 minute sprint


  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Reverse Lunge
  • Sprint: 1 min banded jumping jacks


  • Push up
  • Row
  • Chest Fly
  • Sprint: 1 min hops over barbell

3. CORE (I used a TRX and was in pushup position)

  • Circles (5x each direction)
  • Knees to elbows (Oblique crunches)
  • Pikes
  • Sprint: 1 min elliptical 

4. ARMS 

  • Chest Press
  • Delt Row
  • Rev Fly
  • Sprint: 1 min hops over barbell


  • Hip Trust
  • Squat Pull-Through
  • Lateral Lunge 
  • Sprint: 1 min banded jumping jacks

It's as hard as you want to make it depending on the weight and type of each exercise. The point is to move everything, keep your heart rate up, and challenge it's a flexible workout format to switch in/out whatever you'd like. 


Of course, much more has occurred these past months besides the thoughts between these two ears, what I (primarily) share to be occurring in the kitchen, and my gym chronicles.

I continue to be surrounded by loyal friends (and jeez..realize how lucky I am) and family who I cherish and share many special moments and relationships. I included some of the fun...but of course photos don't always do it justice. 

make it a great week! - ap

Christmas in July, Grad(e) School, and a New Type of Bar(re)



For 7 days I've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of (well at least what hopefully would be) something very special to me. What I received was far beyond my expectations.

It all begin when a classmate filled me in on her latest discovery...she immediately messaged me..knowing that I too would share her excitement.

For $20 Lowes Food compiles the regions best of the best goodies from the farmers into a crate.

Introducing - The Carolina Crate.

I can promise what I received was valued far more than $20 worth of food (and I always make sure I'm getting my money's worth)...never mind my effervescent state that even 24 hours post-opening has not dulled the slightest. 

So why am I so excited? I realize how ridiculous this is. And that most people would rather just have a meal delivered. And they would probably be just as happy.

What I love about this is how it combines everything I love - a surprise of local produce that I'm forced to work with and transform into a masterpiece. If it were up to me I would just stick to the same ol' but this forces me to put my creativity to the test using minimal ingredients.

There were so many directions I could go with this but I knew I wanted this week's dish to have a summer flare. 

The final masterpiece:

A lively summery salad w/ roasted roots.

In with Quinoa went the basics (Evoo, S+P) w/ squeezed Lemon and chopped dill to add some dat zest. Chickpeas roasted to perfection in Evoo ( simple but key). The refreshing Cucumber-dill dressing was the magic touch (pureed a seeded Cuc with Evoo, Red Vinegar, Dill, S+P and squeezed Lemon). Enjoyed over a bed of the fresh Green Kale.

Next were the magic roasted veggies.The crock pot came in clutch letting me cook, tan and swim all at once. Just put em 'Taters,  Eggplant, Carrots, Green Beans, Beets, and Tomatoes in and let it do it's thing. I was diggin' the root veggies included in this week's present..but in a "a Summer-y alive and easy zest" type of way...not a "Fall savory warmth and comfort". I needed to inject some lightness...and what better way than making use of the abundance of Cucs and some Lemon and Dill.This dish had the summer warmth without the comfort of Fall. 

The coolest part? My friend got the same box. With the same ingredients, Kristen and I took 2 totally different routes. She wanted to try multiple different meals this week (now I'm wishing I did the same!) and went with a more comforting Curry Stew with her first meal. 

Tomorrow we are each bringing our dishes for lunch and trading (cue the excited clap). Sort of like elementary school lunch all over again  (here's a formal apology for everyone's food I ate throughout elementary and middle school and my extensive/expensive appetite). 



Speaking of elementary's only fitting I'm now trading at lunch too.

If I could sum up my first week of class in two words:

Grade School

This week I had a grown up version of picture day (it's no different than how you remember it). Not only did I take my picture but I also had to pronounce my name which was even more unnatural than this photo...hard to imagine, I know.

I've been blessed with not only a name tag to wear, but one to bring every day to class to put in front of my desk. Much fancier, definitely an upgrade from Kindergarten, but I can't doodle on it this time (except for the message I wrote on the back saying "DONT FORGET ME" hopes that I won't lose it for the fourth time this week. 

Packed lunches, assigned seats, team bonding activities.

Basically this whole week has been a bundle of new faces, food, excitement, and knowledge - all the best parts of being a kid in one. Funny how I'm here going to school more, you know..suppose to be 'adulting'.. yet I feel like I'm only reliving the greatest parts of my childhood. I kind of like it. I still pack a lunch twice the size of anyone else, trade food, draw on my name tag,  love love love working with my team, and ask too many questions - so far not much as changed. 



It's hard to top that. But I've been experimenting with new forms of exercise as well. If you don't care about Pure Barre, spare yourself my overly in-depth analysis and scroll on. 

Two weeks ago Hayley and I made the decision to test out Pure Barre for 30 days. I use 'test out''s more like if we were allowed to do two-a-days we would be there three. Basically I'm determined to get every penny out of this and form a valid opinion by completely Barre-ing it up - going to every class, instructor and immersing in the community. 

I was very skeptical. I think as an exercise scientist it's in my nature to be overly critical of workouts, cognizant of trends and keen to form and proper technique.

I had the choice to sign up with a $99 a month or a $25 class (+ $13 socks)…I figured I might as well just pay $100 and get my money's worth and learn to love it.

All I did was think.

I thought about the music. Which they rocked (except for when Demi Lovato came on twice and I almost had to leave).

I thought about the people. Every single person had this unreal amount of welcoming energy and bubbly fun pep for 6am. Early morning classes you never know what you will get in terms of energy but damn I admired their positive attitude and exuberance!

I thought about the exercises. We used a band strapped to the bar but all I could think of was all the other possibilities for future classes that we could be doing with the one band. 

Myself, what I'm doing, what the class is working on, corrections, the beat, style, people, technique, flow...the state of awareness was quite intense. 

Slowly I'm becoming incredibly fond of Pure Barre. Not in some fad ballet transformation way but for the application to my day. It awakens and activates the tiny and necessary muscles for functional "work form" (aka sitting all day).

As I am no longer bouncing, striding and leaping my way through the day, proper posture is much needed and often compromised after heavy lifts that leave me hunched. Barre wakes up the functional muscles - allowing carryover into the day. 

Some say it's this cross between Yoga and Pilates with ballet spunk - I consider Barre intensive and necessary pre-hab accountability. Sort of like a full body physical therapy session. 

Most the women in the class are so aesthetically perfect with their form that Hayley and I marvel through the mirrors attempting to mimic their movements but just look like well….fish out of water. 

So no it's not a sweat sesh and sure anyone can do a billion reps and it's totally a trend AND I'm paying for prehab BUT I'm totally loving it now, it keeps me from getting injured and I feel it would be an excellent compliment to someone with an intense workout regimen who could use some cross training. (Swimmers especially).



And these certainly can't go without mentioning: 

Hayley and I spontaneously attending the Charlotte vs Swansi soccer game Wednesday after class (including our "rage bus" ride, traffic bonding, and my first Charlotte adventure).

And I (almost) went to Vegas! The weekly Wednesday phone call with the Carl's was delayed until Friday night...little did Camo know it was because Carly would be surprising her in Vegas for her birthday. I kinda went..did the best I could and made my appearance via video but basically experienced Vegas.