Recap of the Phoenix Gluten and Allergy Free Expo

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Imagine our excitement when we learned that the giant GFAF Expo was coming to the Phoenix, Arizona area.  I was honored to be able to attend the event as an official blogger.  It was quite refreshing to be able to attend a huge gluten free event within driving distance from Tucson with the knowledge that I didn’t have to worry about the weight of my luggage upon return due to the generous vendor samples and swag.

Our household, like many others, is full of different food intolerances in addition to celiac disease.  While I was eager to attend, I was also curious how many products would be a good fit for us and if many vendors would also be non-gmo verified as well as gluten and dairy free.  Honestly, we are not a totally organic household (sometimes FAR from it) but we are trying to eat better and be more mindful of what we are putting into our bodies. We were sublimely amazed to find all sorts of new items.  Of course, it isn’t possible to list them all so we picked a few to highlight.  Please note that we aren’t claiming that all gluten free food or any particular food is healthier than another but we hope to demonstrate that gluten free, dairy free and even non-gmo food can taste as fantastic as anything else.

Before we get into describing products, as a mom, a patient and an advocate, I’d like to thank some of the non-profit organizations who were in attendance because they mean so much to me and I’d like to give them mad props for all they do.  A million thank you’s are not enough to show our appreciation for all these volunteers do!

Isn't this CDF poster cool?

Isn’t this CDF poster cool?

The Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) has two chapters in the Phoenix area which include the Greater Phoenix Chapter and the East Valley Chapter.  Both of these units provide outstanding resources to those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  If you have questions, they have answers.  Both chapters do some pretty fun activities throughout the year so there is never a reason to feel isolated by your diagnosis.

Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE)  has a strong focus on raising awareness, advocacy and training for life threatening food allergies.  We also had the pleasure of meeting some of their advocates during an event we attended in Las Vegas.

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Arizona Food Allergy (AFAA) is an outstanding resource for parents.  The beginning of their mission statement says it all: “The Arizona Food Allergy Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by food allergy and anaphylaxis in the State of Arizona.”  AFAA is one of the most magnificent AZ advocacy groups I’ve come across.

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Now, let’s get to the real reason you’re probably reading this post.  FOOD!  We’ve attended a few gluten free conferences and expos so we know that happy tears are always the best.  Seeing a woman who is over 70 buying her first gluten free lipstick in years and smiling from ear to ear does a heart good.  Witnessing a child who can eat almost everything in sight and is pinging off the walls from sugar and happiness, thrills me not because he’s hyper but because he has options. His parents can help him focus on what he CAN eat instead of what he can’t.

While some of these companies may not be new to you, since we’re working on trying to eat a little better, some are new to us.

A few of the companies mentioned below are also free from other common allergens.

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Coconut Bliss from Luna & Larry’s is the best gluten and dairy free ice cream I’ve consumed so far.  Even though I’ve been to expos where this product was available, I didn’t dare go near the ice cream out of fear.  I couldn’t believe the vastness of flavor profiles available in their array of selection.  It’s also labeled organic in accordance with the USDA. What really  made my day was learning that all this deliciousness also doesn’t contain carrageenan which gives me migraines.  Yes!  To me, this might be a little pint of frozen heaven.

Holy Crap Breakfast Cereals may have quite an interesting name but I found their products to be an appetizing option for a grown-up’s breakfast or even a snack.  They are naturally gluten free and verified non-gmo.  I tried the Dragon’s Blend flavor and liked that it wasn’t sugary sweet.  The cereal was packed with good things like chia, buckwheat, hemp seeds, cranberries and apple bits.

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Beanfields called out to me because my kids can’t have the tasty cheesy chips in their lunch like their school friends.  I tried the nacho flavor and was astounded that they don’t contain dairy.  These chips are built around the plant based diet as well as being gluten free, dairy free and non-gmo verified.

Freedom Foods had a variety of different gluten free, dairy free and non-gmo cereals.  Imagine my surprise when they had Fruit Loop type cereal for my kiddies called TropicO’s.  Score!  I bought 4 boxes and could hardly wait for them to try all of these different flavors. Although I don’t typically like super sweet foods, I must admit that the fruity cereal got me almost as much as their Maple Crunch did.

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Way Better Snacks offers a wide range of gluten free, dairy free, non-gmo chip flavors that can with go with your hummus, dip, salsa or be eaten naked.  Although my family and I have previously consumed many of their Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips, I sampled the Sweet Chili Tortilla Chips and wished I could have stood at the booth and ate the whole bag.  Sure, that’s not moderation but ehh!

Pascha Chocolate has organic dark chocolate for even the child’s taste buds.  Their 55% cacao tastes very close to milk chocolate without the dairy or gluten.  Even though I sampled the goods, I couldn’t believe my eyes when my kids were doing the happy dance with their chocolate covered mouths.  Pascha also had yummy dark chocolate bars for this wine loving mommy and won my heart by pleasing my palate.  I haven’t had chocolate in a long while so this was a huge treat for me.

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Bakery on Main has snack bars for those who prefer chewy and those who prefer crunchy.  They also offer some incredible types of granola from sweet to salty, instant oatmeal of all sorts of neat varieties (blueberry scone and carrot cake for example) and more. Their product line is gluten free, dairy free and non-gmo project verified.  Pure deliciousness.

Even though we have previously mentioned the following businesses in previous expos or on social media, I’d like to thank them profusely for making some of the finest gluten free products and being truly hard working advocates.  The gluten free community appreciates all you do!  Whether you are new to living gluten free or an old pro, go check out these websites when you have a moment.  You won’t be sorry you did.  Check out the mini-montage below this post to see more.

Red Apple Lipstick  because every woman needs to feel beautiful no matter what she’s hiding under her ravishing smile.

Hail Merry for pure healthy indulgence made with coconut oil and almonds.

Enjoy Life Foods for products that are free from the Top 8 Allergens, made in a dedicated facility and have nothing artificial included in their products.

Celiac and the Beast for your soul.  If you haven’t read the book, you should.  I promise you’ll laugh about your autoimmune disorder at least once.  Erica doesn’t “just review products,” she tells it like it is and we could all use a little more humor with our reality every now and then.

...these are a few of our favorite things...

…these are a few of our favorite things…

February’s Gluten and Allergen Free Expo to be held Arizona

 

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Have you heard about the incredible Gluten and Allergen Free Expo?  This fabulous event is heading to the Phoenix, Arizona area February 22 and February 23, 2014.  We couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity to attend as “Official Bloggers” without flying to a different time zone.  During previous years we’ve traveled to Dallas and Chicago to check it out and were impressed on all accounts.

In the past, we have had several fantastic one day gluten free events in Arizona that were jam-packed with people looking for products and information about living gluten free.  The GFAF Expo has hosted multiple events throughout the United States with 1000′s of attendees at each one.  Come check out this amazing two day affair featuring over 100 gluten free vendorsclasses, professional presenters and so much more.  We recommend attending this function on both days so you can take your time to absorb the plethora of information from the presentations and get to know the manufacturers who produce your favorite products.

Did I mention the abundance of free samples, swag and products available to purchase?

If you have additional food intolerances or allergies, the GFAF Expo offers something that we haven’t seen at other gluten free events.  

Photo Courtesy of GFAF Expo

Photo Courtesy of GFAF Expo

These tent cards display additional common food allergens that may be present in the offerings from each food vendor’s table. Because we are a multiple sensitivity household, this card has helped us avoid accidentally ingesting something that would cause us distress later.  For extra assurance, look for this tent card and feel free to speak to the product representative before sampling or purchasing their items. 

To buy your tickets click here. Don’t forget to enter the code BLOGPHX to save 35%

The venue for this spectacular shin-dig is:

Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa
9495 W. Coyotes Boulevard
Glendale, Arizona 85305
Phone: (623) 937-3700
www.renaissanceglendale.com

Free parking is available as long as you park and enter the gates open to the garage on 21 through the 23.  Otherwise there is a fee for the self parking garage or valet parking.

If you’d like to follow the Expo on social media, just look for the hashtag #GFAFEXPO or connect with them on Twitter at @gfafexpo.

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We have a few tickets to giveaway!  Head on over to The Cheeky Celiac on Facebook and leave a comment to enter.

 

 

Omission Beer now certified gluten free by the Celiac Sprue Association

While attending the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, I was informed by the Omission Beer representative that their products had become certified gluten free by the Celiac Sprue Association (CSA).  This news is sure to intrigue beer drinkers who reluctantly surrendered their favorite beer when diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).

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Click here for the press release from CSA announcing that they have given a Recognition seal to Omission Beer for their Pale Ale and Lager.  This does NOT apply to Omission’s IPA at this time.

Excerpt from the press release:

CSA conducts independent tests of products under consideration for its Recognition Seal, and has found that Omission meets the organization’s criteria. In evaluating Omission Beer, CSA also reviewed detailed results and analysis from recently conducted mass spectrometry testing, which showed that the trace amounts of gluten remaining in the beer did not contain any known toxic amino acid sequences. CSA also requires documentation of ingredient sourcing, allergen control and sanitation plans, training procedures for controlling cross-contamination, and an inspection of packaging materials.”

CSA has also published this Q & A to provide gluten free consumers and celiac patients with further information.

Because there has been so much controversy in the gluten free community surrounding Omission Beer, I asked them to provide facts showing the process used to remove gluten from their beverages.  They complied and provided me with the information about mass spectrometry that I asked for.  I’m not ashamed to say some of the scientific facts are way beyond my understanding. Unfortunately, I am neither a scientist or a physician nor have I played one on TV, I am just a girl who wants to be able to have cold beer safely once in a while.

What I can say is that having consumed several of these beers, I have yet to have a reaction. Yes, I am a celiac who has dreaded, unmistakable and immediate gastrointestinal symptoms upon consuming minute amounts of gluten.  That said, I’ve heard that others with celiac disease and/or NCGS  have had reactions after consumption of this product.

As always, exercise your best judgement when deciding what products are safe for you.  Trust your body.  If ANY product labeled gluten free doesn’t agree with you, don’t consume it.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Will you be partaking in a beer party with Omission Beer soon or will you be avoiding this product as you have in the past?

 

Food Allergy Bloggers Conference 2013 #FABlogCon

 

FABbannerThere are simply not enough words to express the immense gratitude we feel towards Jenny Sprague and Homa Woodrum for planning and executing the phenomenal Food Allergy Bloggers Conference.  I came across a quote by Melody Beattie that sums it up better than I ever could as these ladies not only united food allergy bloggers of every kind but provided them a chance to learn, socialize and truly appreciate each other.

 ”Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity… It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

We arrived in Vegas on Thursday to check things out and had fun family time on the Vegas strip prior to the conference.  Late Friday afternoon, I bid farewell to my children and husband so I could prepare for the dinner arranged by the wonderful Caroline of Grateful Foodie.  Having dinner at Don Vito’s with this smaller group of bloggers made me incredibly anxious due to possibly not knowing anyone in person.  Fortunately, the lovely Selena of Amazing and Atopic had agreed to meet me there as we had chatted quite a bit via social media.  My anxiety could have easily kept me in my room had it not been for her genuine kindness.  When I walked into the restaurant, I immediately recognized Cheryl Viirand the founder of Freedible because we had met in person during BlogHer Food in Austin.  Her smile was infectious.  Sitting next to her was a man who was destined to become our lifelong friend, Ritesh Patel. I have never met someone so sincere and compassionate.  As soon as I was seated, the conversation flowed as naturally among the people at the table as it would during a high school reunion.

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 Chef Keith Norman came to greet us and answer questions regarding the menu he had created for us.  He was reassuring and confident given that a single, simple mistake could send someone to the ER or worse.  As someone who enjoys dining out, Chef Norman is the type of person who puts you at ease instead of making you want to run for the door because they lack information regarding the food you are about to consume.

On Saturday morning, we had planned to meet in the lobby to head over to the FARE Walk.  As you may have read in my previous post, my kids and I were more than excited about participating.  If you know me at all, you won’t be shocked to discover that we missed the entire event due to not one but two unfortunate issues.  According to their web page, the FARE walk has raised over $93,000.

The much-anticipated conference began on Sunday and it was immediately obvious that despite what brought each individual blogger to Las Vegas, we were all united for a cause.  The majority of bloggers, attendees and presenters that I spoke with had someone with allergies to at least one of the Top 8 food allergens in their household, several live gluten free due to celiac disease and there were so many more food related health issues that I can’t name them all.

Speaking of food, Chef Keith Norman of the South Point Hotel devised an allergy friendly menu to be served during the conference and also for the entire hotel/casino.  This meant that no matter which of their many restaurants we popped into for a bite, we could easily find options that were free of all of the top 8 allergens.  Each server I questioned had answers.  Sounds surreal, huh?  IT HAPPENED.

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 There were a plethora of educational sessions spread out over Sunday and Monday.  Although many bloggers enjoyed the dual track of sessions, I often felt torn between learning about how to improve my blog and learning how to become a better advocate.  Due to various reasons beyond my control, I did miss many of the sessions I had planned to attend.  As aforementioned, if I plan to do something, chances are life will put a stick in the spokes of my bicycle.  (I accept that with a smile)

Unfortunately for me, one of the presentations I missed was Nitty Gritty – Make it Pretty by Mary Fran Wiley of Franny Cakes.  However, Mary Fran has graciously allowed for this session to be viewed and downloaded from her website here.  From what I’ve heard this was quite an informative session about cleaning up your blog and making it beautiful.  Bloggers were raving about it.  While I was quite sad to miss it, I will say that I am so blessed to know this lady.  She is absolutely inspiring.  If you haven’t already, check out her motivating Chronic Positivity Project.

Imagine my joy when I was able to attend the Art of Recipe Development with presenters Colette Martin, Kelly Rudnicki and Cybele Pascal.  All of these women are absolutely incredible and accomplished in the area of recipe development.  For example, Colette Martin has written Learning to Bake Allergen Free based on her own experience with her son’s allergies to wheat, milk, soy, egg, peanuts and her family’s journey with eosinophilic esophagitis (EE).

During this presentation, I was once again reminded the importance of writing down your ingredients so you can recreate your recipe with the same outcome every single time.  The way I cook, I rarely measure (the correct way) and though my food is almost always edible – it doesn’t always look or taste the way I envision it.  One of the suggestions to remedy that is to keep a log of what you are doing, adding, subtracting or in other words, write down any changes you make to the recipe.  Another great point was to change only one thing at a time when adjusting a recipe.  These may seem like simple points but again, I don’t write things down when I’m cooking and often try to recreate the same dish with very different results.  While I will most likely never write a cookbook, I would be delighted to share some of my successes.

The session I most enjoyed was about 504 plans.  For resources and other information regarding food allergy advocacy, please visit Green  Laurel Documents.  Another fantastic resource for parents  is the online community called Kids with Food Allergies (KFA).  KFA also offers online webinars to help guide you on your journey to become a stronger advocate for your child.   After the session, I learned more about Jan Hanson and the services offered through EFFA (Education for Food Allergies).  If you are struggling to get what you need from your child’s school system, I urge you to look at these websites and reach out for help.

I left this lecture feeling more confident that what I know about 504′s and IEP’s is correct.  I’m now armed with more resources for the future.  As a mom, I can’t begin to express the importance of knowing your student’s rights when it comes to food allergies.  In our case, gluten and dairy play a ginormous role in school attendance and the ability to concentrate in the classroom.  What a struggle it was when our child needed to have an IEP in place.  If I can ever help another parent avoid the anguish our family went through, I will do whatever I can.

The closing panel of the conference was appropriately called Filling the Gaps.  As I looked around the room in amazement, the message was very clear.  Despite our individual food issues we all need to work together in order to ensure that safe legislation continues to be passed pertaining to food allergies and continue to raise awareness.

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 Special thanks to the Sponsors and Vendors at the FARE walk and conference.  Your helped ensure this event would be outstanding. Just a few of my favorites are Allermates, Lauren’s Hope, Attune Foods and Enjoy Life.

Although it’s not possible to list every amazing blogger and/or advocate that I was able to meet in person, I do want to mention a few that are truly fabulous.  Check out these blogs especially if you are avoiding gluten due to either celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity:

Celiac and the Beast – Don’t forget to check out Erica’s new book when you visit her blog

Gluten Free & Dairy Free at WDW - If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, you want to read this blog

Gluten Free Green Bean

I’m a Celiac

Keeley McQuire - Need some inspiration for that lunch box? This lady is beyond creative.

My Gluten-Free Kitchen

Raising Jack With Celiac

Vegetarian Mamma

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 If you want to see more about this conference or what is happening in the world of food allergens, look for the #FABlogCon hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.  Not only will you obtain loads of information about living with food allergies and/or celiac disease, you’ll see the fun that we had while learning and socializing.  Follow the #FABlogCon hashtag on Twitter & Instagram and help keep it going until the next conference in 2014.

 

 

Las Vegas FARE Walk and Food Allergy Blogger Conference

In just a few days, we will be heading to Vegas for two fabulous events.  First, we’ll be participating in the Las Vegas FARE Walk .  My children are pretty excited to check out more than 50 allergen friendly vendors, face painters and plethora of kids activities. They are also pretty amped about eating safe food and meeting other children who live with food allergies.  My kids would love to connect with more of their peers who are avoiding gluten and dairy.FAREsafari

We’ve even joined a team to raise funds for food allergy research. If you can make a small donation towards this important cause, please do.  If not, that’s okay too.  Just in case you are feeling generous with a few seconds of your time, please share this fundraising link then use it to see if there is a walk close to you.

The Las Vegas Fare Walk will be held on Saturday November 2, 2013.  Please click here for exact location and details.

Did you know?

• Approximately 15 million Americans are living with food allergies.  This estimation includes  5.9 million children.

• The number of children living with a peanut allergy has nearly doubled from 1997 to 2002. 

• In the United States, food allergies send someone to the emergency room every three minutes. 

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The second event that we’ll be attending has many desirable components for food allergy advocates, bloggers and parents in general. The Food Allergy Blogger Conference will be held at the South Point Hotel on Sunday, November  3rd and Monday November 4th.

As a mom/advocate/celiac, I am looking forward to two days of presentations regarding living with food allergies and intolerances.  Included in these sessions are details pertaining to 504 plans, coping with the social aspects of dietary limitations and all sorts of useful data.  For a complete agenda click here.

With the added bonus of the Wine & Sign Book Club & Cocktail Party during the evening of November 3rd at the South Point Hotel, this conference is going to fantastic.

fabwineDuring this party some of the most incredible writers, bakers and bloggers will be available to answer questions and autograph your books.  Just of few of my favorites in attendance are:

 

We’re looking forward to seeing our friends and making some new ones too.  Hope to see you there.  If not check us out on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook for info and pictures from the event.

 

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Eat Write Retreat! “Timing is Everything”

Ever since I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008, I have been on a non-stop journey to learn as much as possible about living gluten free.  After reading massive quantities of books and surfing tons of websites, I found that I could learn more about my required gluten free lifestyle by attending any gluten free conference and/or expo that I could.  By attending these events, I could find answers to many burning questions about the medical research and history behind this autoimmune disorder.

Five years later, I still haven’t stopped learning about celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  This quest for knowledge will never end.  Now that I am no longer serving on the board of our local non-profit support group, I find myself growing more intrigued by the creative ways social media allows us to share newfound information with others.  Like many, I have entered the blogosphere.

In addition to learning about the social media channels available to spread awareness, a plethora of “how do I’s?” need to be answered.  Now I’ve developed a “need” to attend conferences aimed at making my blog successful, networking with brands and writing books.

EWRlogoThinking about how expensive it has become to travel to different cities and states in order to attend these conferences can make you cringe.  Airfare, hotel stays and tickets to the various events add up quickly. For a person that must live gluten and dairy free, meals must also be planned in advance for fear of getting ill which increases both my anxiety and expenses.

Many blogging conferences also have scheduling challenges.  What I mean is that there are usually two sessions scheduled at the same time that I want to attend.  I have to miss something that I really needed or wanted to go to. Why does this annoy me?  Well, I‘ve invested my time and money, burnt a few of my husband’s good graces points, and don’t always feel I get the most out of the conferences.

The solution to these enormous out of pocket costs and scheduling conflicts is now available thanks to Casey Benedict, the co-founder of Eat Write Retreat, which is a conference for food bloggers.  A video collection of the speakers from the three day conference is now available for those who can’t or prefer not to travel. The fee for the videos is an affordable alternative to traveling to obtain this wealth of food writing knowledge which makes my husband infinitely happier with my obsession.

EWRDebbie-KoenigI had the honor of previewing the video “Timing is Everything” which features Debbie Koenig.  Debbie is a blogger, food writer and cookbook author so she knows how to get the most out of her day. Her writing can be found at Parents Need to Eat Too and Feed the Parents.  Debbie has impressively written for many others in addition to her blogs.  The New York Times, Parents, American Baby, Weight Watchers, and Fit Pregnancy are among the publications who have featured her writing.

The segment “Timing is Everything” is about time management or the art of juggling your life, social media and blogs.  Debbie Koenig gives some fabulous tips the best ways to organize your time. This is something I need personally struggle with on a daily basis.  Who doesn’t, right?

Whether you are curious about attending a conference or unable to travel due to costs, this is a fantastic way to begin your journey.  You can purchase one session or the whole shebang here.

BlogHer Food 2013 – Austin, TX

Bl0gHer Food 2013

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I am about to burst with anticipation!  In just a few days my daughter and I will be attending our very first BlogHer conference in Austin, TX.  While I have gone to many gluten free and/or allergen free expos, this is my first attempt at a large, food based social event since being diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008.  In fact, neither one of us has been to an event quite like this.

We’ve never been to Austin, let alone a BlogHer Food event and don’t know what to expect as far as gluten free food accommodations.  That means we are doing all of the following to ensure food safety on this trip:

  1.  Packing an extra carry-on just for “safe” food.  This bag will include:  Lara Bars, seaweed snacks, hot cereal, crackers and rice cakes.  Nut butter and stevia will also be in tow along with tons of coconut water to wash it down and stay hydrated.
  2. Checking out websites for gluten free dining options on the off chance that I won’t be inside the hotel for the whole weekend.  The two sites we’ll be using most are Stuffed-Pepper and ATX Gluten Free.
  3. Calling ahead to the hotel to be sure that I will have a refrigerator and/or microwave in my room.
  4. We’re also bringing the “just in case” kit – activated charcoal (which we know about because Chrissy from Glam without Gluten gave me some in CA due to an gluten emergency), ginger capsules and kombucha tea bags.  Better to have these handy helpers along than to assume no mistakes will happen on this trip.  Accidental gluten ingestion can happen any time – regardless of the precautions taken.

So why on earth would someone go through all this trouble just to travel to another state and listen to people talk about their brands and blogs for hours on end?  Well….

  1. Inspiring people create more inspired people.
  2. Even if ALL of the attendees aren’t gluten free, I will be surrounded by those who love food.  They take pictures of it, dream about it, create it, write about it.  It’s always nice not to be the only one at the table with your camera out, rearranging your food like you’d prep a small child for a picture.
  3. Experience of others who are innovators in the foodie revolution who have already been in my shoes will be shared during these sessions.  We’ll hear about some of our blogging/writing idol’s trials, tribulations and successes.
  4. With a plethora of sessions on writing, food photography and video, this sounds like heaven to me.

One important deciding factor for me was learning about the closing party at Stubbs with a gluten free twist.  World Famous BBQ, music and dancing. (I will be way too full to bust a move.)

Can’t wait to see some old friends and make some new ones.

Have I mentioned that I am a wee bit excited about attending this event!

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CDF Conference and Expo Recap Part 2

The second day of the CDF Conference & Expo featured CDF’s stand alone gluten-free product expo.  As expected, it was phenomenal.

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There were gluten-free foods galore and tons of people needing to eat gluten-free in order to stay healthy.  Guess what?  They were all happy to be there.

Since I was there as an official blogger, I decided that instead of reporting back to you on the major companies that you’ve most likely heard about such as Enjoy Life, Rudi’s, Udi’s, I’d pick a just a handful of companies for you.  This a small sampling of books and companies that were available at the expo.  How awesome is it to be able to try sample’s from all of these incredible vendors represented in one place?

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Lucy’s cookies are made in a dedicated facility and are free of milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and gluten.           Dr. Lucy Gibney was being interviewed by the LA Times during the Expo and there is no way I would have been able to remain as calm as she was during all of the chaos.  When Lucy’s son was diagnosed with multiple and severe allergies, she took action by changing her mom’s recipes into scrupulously safe cookies for all children whether they live allergen free or not.  Try these delightful cookies today.  As Lucy says, ”Start eating what you’ve been missing.” Available at Well Amy.

Andean

Andean Dream makes some pretty impressive and flavorful cookies, pasta and soup.For now I will focus on their Andean Dream Quinoa Cookies. These yummy little morsels come in a carton as pictured and are individually wrapped for freshness.  All of the packaging is recyclable for those of us that are greenies.  For variety, they are produced in five flavors which are all free of gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn and nuts.  After tasting these protein packed treats, I bought a package of each kind for my kiddos to have with lunch.  I love the coffee and they love the coconut.  Can’t wait to try their other products!  Available at Well Amy.

Heavenlyorganics

Heavenly Organics Oh my!  This company really does live up to its name.  With many types of patties and Himalayan Honey to sample at their table, I could have stayed there all day.    So before I go off on a tangent about honey and how fabulous it is for your health and how bad sugar is for your body, I’m going to zoom in on my favorite flavor of patty.  Pomegranate.  Made with organic honey & dark chocolate this product is also gluten and dairy free.  Don’t you love when your food only has three ingredients(that you can pronounce) and tastes like heaven?  A magically delicious way to have a dessert without adding sugar.Available at Well Amy.

ArnelsArnel’s Originals  For some reason, I really connected with this lady right off the bat. When I got home and went to her website, I read the story of her journey and knew why.  We definitely have plenty in common as mother’s.  From what I read, it took 14 years to obtain a celiac disease diagnosis.  After all those years of frustration,  this woman had a mission to make some phenomenal gluten-free bread.  She also wanted it to be healthy.  Not stopping at just healthy, it needed to be dairy free, gluten-free, soy free and lastly GMO free.  The result was Arnel’s Originals Buckwheat Bread.  Made with organic buckwheat flour, organic brown rice flour and other wholesome ingredients, this bread has an awesome texture.   Arnel offers mixes and online baking videos so you don’t have to go through the 8 year process that she did to make such goodness from your oven.

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Jilz Gluten Free Crackers – These crackers were so delish that I had to buy several containers and mixes.  Hopefully this health conscious company will be around for quite a while.  Our favorite flavor so far is Mediterranean.  Salty goodness.  Support your smaller gluten-free start-up businesses.  Find Jilz on Facebook by clicking here.

kiddWeeknight Gluten Free by Kristine Kid For over 20 years, Kristine was the food editor of Bon Appetit magazine.  One look through this book and it’s pretty easy to see why.  This cookbook’s main focus is healthy living while offering you gluten-free recipes that are yummy but easy to make.  This book has something for everyone and features gorgeous food photos that make your mouth water.  Some of the recipes are so simple that my children can make me dinner too.  It hurts no one that they all happen to be healthy in addition.  There’s even a section called “Meatless Meals.”   Can’t wait to try Steak and Rajas Tacos and make Coconut-Rum Caramelized Bananas for dessert.

Well Amy Wouldn’t it be a wonderful time saver if you had someone who could research all of the gluten-free products on the market for you and find some of  healthier options for you?  Well there is.  Well Amy has recently launched their online market.  Go take a look.   Shop for your needs all in one place.  I was so pleased to see some of the booths at the Expo marked with her Well Amy logo because it made it much easier for me to seek out the type of vendors that I was looking for as a consumer.

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Well Amy also offers you a way to connect with people who are like you whether they are living an allergen free, eco-friendly or are into healthy living.

Gluten is my Bitch by April Peveteaux is one helluva book.  I don’t think that I have ever laughed so hard about my gastrointestinal symptoms in my entire life.  It took me over 25 years of having these symptoms to be diagnosed.  That’s a whole lot of damage.  There is nothing funny about that.  BUT COME ON!  We need to laugh sometimes.  Why not laugh until you cry? I did.

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I’ve never heard the word beshatting used in a sentence either.  No one else that I have ever met has ever had the guts to write a whole chapter about poop.  Kudos to April for discussing the matters of gluten-free living in adult words.  She will always be my GFF.  This Brooklyn girl has a whole lot of Chutzpah.  It was certainly refreshing to read a bunch of naughty words mixed with good advice after having deep and intense medical discussions during the previous weeks….months…years.

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CDF Conference and Expo Recap Part 1

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Allow me to begin by saying what an honor it was to be chosen as an official blogger for the 2013 CDF Expo and Conference in Pasadena, California.  I was among vivacious people who all shared a common interest that bonded us together.  That interest was to raise celiac awareness.  No better time to do so than during the month of May which is also known as Celiac Awareness Month, right?

I’ll have to admit that I was a bit nervous about meeting a slew of people that I didn’t know.  In the end, it felt like a small family made up of extroverts.  dinner2

Introducing the cast of official event bloggers in alphabetical order so you can’t tell who my favorite is:

Alison from A Girl Defloured

Andrea from Rockin Gluten Free

Brian of East Bay Celiac

Chrissy of Glam Without Gluten

Erica of Celiac and the Beast

Kim from Thriving Gluten Free

Sarah of Can I Eat Here  

The first day featured a full day of learning via educational sessions by guest speakers such as Dr. Joseph A. Murray and Dr. Peter Green.

During these sessions, we all picked up interesting facts.  Since I’ve attended a couple of conferences, I zoomed in on some that I hadn’t heard before and some that I had that are really important to everyone.

From Dr. Murray’s slides, I learned that people from certain regions and origins lack the genes for celiac disease.  Something I had never thought about until that moment as I live in my own narrow world.  I found the cultural diversity for the genetic predisposition of celiac to be completely enthralling.  I may be the only one but thought I would share that tid bit.

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Dr. Murray also spoke at length about the “Celiac Iceberg.”  He stated that although it is pretty above the surface it is very dangerous underneath.   Kind of like the berg that sunk the Titanic.

Murray also discussed some very crucial information.  CELIAC DISEASE CAN DEVELOP AT ANY POINT – IN ANY ONE’S LIFE!  He suggested retesting often because you are NEVER too old to develop celiac REGARDLESS of whether you have tested negative in the past.

Remember folks, undiagnosed celiac is not benign.

During his presentation, Dr. Murray recommended testing for all of those with type 1 diabetes.  He also mentioned that something has changed in our environment to promote celiac disease.

Dr. Peter Greene’s informative lecture began afterwards and divulged a plethora of information about silent celiac disease with numerous supportive slides.  Just a few of the symptoms that have no typical gastrointestinal manifestation are down syndrome, osteoporosis, anemia, dermatitis herpetiformis and a myriad of other symptoms including neurological presentations.

Dr. Green also discussed the gender difference in why more women than men are diagnosed.  It doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me that women are more often diagnosed with this or any illness as we are more likely to seek medical attention.  We are just smarter.  Ok, low blow but wanted to make sure you were still reading.  Check out the slide to see why Dr. Green thinks this is the case.

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If you want to know all about the products from CDF’s stand alone gluten free Expo, part 2 will be coming soon!  Stay tuned.

****Would you like more information about the Conference?  Please visit any of the above mentioned blogs or find #CDFExpo on Twitter/Instagram for slides from the presentations

Thank you to CDF for this fantastic opportunity to blog about your Annual Celiac Conference and Expo.  We can’t think of a better way to kick off Celiac Awareness Month!

CDF EXPO

CDF-Expo

CDF Conference and Expo

We’ve found an awesome way to begin celebrating Celiac Disease Awareness Month.  We’ll be attending the Celiac Disease Foundation’s National Education Conference & Expo on May 4th and 5th in Pasadena, CA.

I am so thrilled to be chosen as an “official blogger” for this event that I am actually speechless.  If you know me, you know that is almost impossible.

This two day event will feature an educational conference on May 4th and an Expo of gluten free products & services open to the public on May 5th.

Conference and Expo (for attendees only) Information

May 4, 2013 from 730 am to 430 pm at the Pasadena Convention Center.   This conference will be quite an educational opportunity for those following the gluten free diet whether they have celiac disease or gluten intolerance and for those who are involved in their lives.  Presentations will be given by medical professionals, researchers and advocates for those who either live a gluten free lifestyle due to an autoimmune disorder(s) or medical necessity.  Vendors will also be available during the conference from 10am to 430pm.

Expo Information

May 5, 2013 from 1000 am to 300 pm at the Pasadena Convention Center.  This will be first time that CDF also hosts a Gluten Free Expo on the Sunday following the annual conference. During past years, the Expo was available to attend only for those who also attended the conference on Saturday in addition to the educational program.  The “stand alone” portion of the Expo offers nearly 100 vendors.  The need for gluten free products isn’t limited to those with celiac disease.  According to CDF’s Development Director, Deborah Ceizler, “for celiacs, a gluten-free diet is not an option.  But there are millions of people who choose a gluten-free diet for a multitude of reasons.  This EXPO is a great way for anyone interested in, or even just curious about, gluten-free foods to try them, get credible information and network.”

For more information or to purchase tickets for the Expo and/or the conference, please click here.

Hurry you don’t want to miss this incredible opportunity to meet some of you favorite vendors, medical professionals and sample tasty treats!

To learn more about the Celiac Disease Foundation by visiting their website here.  CDF has many opportunities to volunteer, learn and have fun while doing so.

For more information about living gluten free, please click here.

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