I attended the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo, for the second time, this past weekend as an Official Blogger. Here is my recap of the expo.
BFree Foods hosted the bloggers who were in attendance. People, I haven't had a bagel in 2 years. Not only did I have a bagel, but I enjoyed the bagel. So much so that I have been to two local Jewel stores with no success in finding and purchasing BFree bagels. I'm on a mission, though. I will find those bagels and I will enjoy them! Do you know how hard it is to find gluten free bread that doesn't crumble or taste like a hockey puck? These folks at BFree are changing how GF bread can be enjoyed.
After I enjoyed a very nice breakfast of amazing bagels and fresh fruit, I was allowed to wander the expo floor prior to it opening to the public. SCORE!
Fresh Thyme had an amazing display and some great offerings for samples.
I then found the Daiya booth. People, PEOPLE! I have been using their shredded cheese for roughly 6 months. It's a new find for me. I got to sample their pepperoni pizza - woah! Now, if you have ever tried any gluten free pizzas you know that they often times resemble cardboard. Oh, not this stuff! It's soy free, gluten free, dairy free and plant based!
"The humble pizza goes gourmet and crave-worthy. Welcome to the first ever plant-based, soy-free, gluten-free meatless pepperoni pizza. Frozen for convenience. You’ll love the zesty tomato sauce and artisan crust. The meatless pepperoni is made with Daiya’s own special blend of mushroom and pea protein crumbles. Eat freely, pizza lovers, one delicious slice at a time." (Daiya website)
I was told to cook the pizza just a little longer than instructed as it will get a nice crispy crust. *noted*
I also sampled their Greek Yogurt alternative. I may have shed a tear. Do you know what dairy free yogurt is like? It's runny and lacks any consistency to yogurt. This stuff, GOLDEN! So much so that when I went shopping at my local Mariano's and noticed they did not stock their yogurt (they do stock their cheese), I requested for them to stock it. It was amazing, and I'm looking forward to being able to purchase some soon.
Gluten free, soy free & dairy free = safe to enjoy. And, enjoy I will.
I then stopped by the SunButter booth prior to going to the first workshop. Their nut free alternative is really good.
"SunButter Sunflower Butter is scrumptious, packed with nutritional benefits, and is free from the top 8 food allergens." (SunButter website)
I then made my way to the first workshop. My goal this year was to attend every workshop, and I did!
First up was Dr. Heather Wisniewski. She shared on the advances in diagnosing gluten intolerance. I was shocked to learn that current testing (such as Genova, which is the test my son had done) only tests 8 of the 18 gluten proteins. So, you can test false negative to a gluten intolerance and actually have one. She recommended the test that is run through Cyrex Laboratories. Just putting it out there should anyone be looking for information.
After the first workshop I headed back down to the expo floor where things were picking up. There were thousands of people there. THOUSANDS!
I won an awesome Udi's shirt at the Udi's booth. Udi's was the very first gluten free product that I purchased after finding out my son's intolerance to it. A lovely Whole Foods employee found me crying in one of their aisles as I was looking for a birthday cake alternative and turned me on the Udi's. My son has already tried stealing my shirt from me. Not happening, kid.
I then attended the second workshop by Dr.Peter Green. His was quite interesting as he explained the pitfalls of a gluten free diet and cautioned attendees on the current anti-science movement, and to beware of pseudoscience, profit makers and the dietary supplement industry. Though I felt that his presentation went against the purpose of the GFAF Expo, I did find it very informative as I do know some people who are gluten free because it's a fad or are trying to loose weight by eliminating gluten as opposed to being gluten intolerant. He is a doctor at the Celiac Disease Center at CUMC.
I then headed back down to the expo floor as I was informed by Enjoy Life via Twitter that I could in fact go through their super fun booth, that it was not just for kids (which is what I falsely assumed).
I first learned about Enjoy Life and their chocolate chips at last years expo. They have been a game changer for me when it comes to baking for my son.
"Dairy-free, nut-free and soy-free, our Semi-Sweet Mini Chips are delicious in cookies or straight from the bag."
Here is the thing, my son has a casein sensitivity, not just a dairy one. So, finding safe alternatives is often extra tricky. Not with Enjoy Life though.
Additionally, I may now be addicted to these, and I'm kind of okay with that.
I then made my way back upstairs for the third workshop which was presented by Kim Koeller on allergen friendly eating while traveling with the Gluten Free Allergy Free Passport. Very informative. She also stressed something that I live by and that is always travel prepared. Plan to take foods that are safe for you while traveling because often times you may not be able to find safe foods.
I returned to the expo floor again and made a pastagram
Ronzoni Gluten Free pasta is solid. I won a box of spaghetti noodles at the expo and was given coupons for free product and was able to obtain a pene and macaroni noodle as well.
If you couldn't tell by now, I was having a lot of fun at the expo.
I then made another lap through the expo floor and found Path of Life Foods and got to sample their kale and butternut squash vegetable side. So, SO good! I found some at my local Jewel (FYI).
I also stopped by Sweet Ali's table and bought cookies for the boys. They all enjoyed them, by the way.
I then went to attend the final workshop. It was full. Every chair was taken and there were people standing. And, it was the workshop that I was most interested in given that I have Endometriosis. Tiffany Hinton shared her story and gave some great tips on dealing with inflammation. Most I am already doing, but I did get some take-aways to try, which I'm super excited about.
People, I opened and closed the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo in Schaumburg - it was awesome! I encourage anyone with food allergies, sensitivities or intolerance's to attend. You will be able to connect with companies and brands, sample food and walk out more informed. That was super important for me. I am looking forward to returning next year and seeing how the face of gluten free and allergen friendly food has changed, again. Now I'm off to hunt down some BFree bagels!