This week the spotlight is on Jen Haugen, RDN, LD, the mom behind the blog and business Down to Earth Dietitian and the star of one of my favorite TED talks, How Moms Can Change the World.
Jen first started blogging in March 2012 as a way to share her ideas on recipes and gardening with other moms. Down to Earth Dietitian grew into a business as Jen began to partner with brands like California Almonds and the Midwest Dairy Association. Growing up on a crop and hog farm in Minnesota, Jen brings a unique perspective to her business as an RDN that not only understands the science behind food but also where it comes from and what goes in to growing and producing it. She has written for companies and sites like The Family Dinner Project, Food Nutrition and Science, Chobani, Welch’s, Around the Plate and Supermarket Nutrition. She’s also a Recipe ReDux blogger, Kids Eat Right volunteer and writes for Food & Nutrition Magazine on their Stone Soup blog.
Read my interview with Jen to learn how she’s made connections with well-known brands, her advice for new entrepreneurs and more.
You keep up a pretty amazing blog with everything from Homemade Strawberry Apple Fruit Roll-Up recipes to career advice and words of wisdom for busy moms. Do you see a return on investment from blogging?
Over the past year, I’ve been able to connect with some brands that have allowed me to be able to write some sponsored posts. But blogging also just helps develop your niche and leadership in that area. Developing a connection with the reader is super important – it means you are making a difference.
You’ve worked with a lot of well-known brands. How did you make those connections?
Collaborating with brands was something I wanted to do and it started when I was working as a supermarket dietitian. I frequently worked with brands as a way to showcase those foods in the grocery store. Over time that grew into a relationship. That’s what really matters when working with brands – developing that relationship. I make an effort to work with brands and companies who have the same values I do: family, health, purpose, spirituality and balance.
Which do you enjoy more– behind the scenes work like writing or being in front of the camera?
I did TV for 4 years every week and really enjoyed it. I’ve always loved writing too – sometimes I think I enjoy writing even more every time I do it! I especially like the act of actually writing something on paper. Makes me feel accomplished.
Have you had any embarrassing TV moments?
I take them all in stride – one time I tipped over one of the ingredients I needed and had to fake it. Another time I saw a piece of hair in the finished dish. Glad the camera didn’t catch that one!
What first got you interested in nutrition?
I’ve always been interested in food – from the time I was little growing up on a farm and pulling weeds in the family garden. I was in 4-H too and took a lot of food and nutrition projects each year and one day it all came together when I ended up doing a job shadow of my aunt who’s a dietitian (now retired)!
Has becoming a mom changed the way you think about food? Has it changed your counseling or coaching style?
I’ve always been realistic and practical with my recommendations but being a mom for the past decade has made me even more cognizant of my recommendations as to what’s really doable. But most of all, listening is the key to success (in both being a mom and an RD!)
What is the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
Having the confidence to just keep going, for me it’s all about the purpose – knowing what is really important.
Do you have others working for you?
No, but occasionally I have an intern.
What is your favorite meal to make at home?
Anything with pasta is a winner.
Do you follow any certain diet?
Just a balanced one!
Being from a farming background, what are your thoughts on organic foods? Do you feel strongly one way or another?
I’ve given presentations on food and where it comes from with both organic and GMO topics. It’s an emotionally charged issue. I prefer to rely on the facts with food based on research. There are some great resources on both of these subjects on www.bestfoodfacts.org.
Do you believe in calories in vs. calories out for weight loss is there more to it?
While I believe calories in vs. calories out is really the simple way to explain it, there are many complex issues that come up with weight loss like emotional eating, lifestyle choices that affect food choices and others. It’s important to take into consideration the big picture when working with a client on this issue.
What would you like to accomplish (can be career or non-career related) in the next 5 years?
My goal is to write a book!
What is the best advice you can give a new entrepreneur?
Don’t be afraid! One of the most needed things when you venture out of the box is courage. Listen to your intuition.
Connect with Jen: