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.

luna&larry

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.

gfafcollagebeanfield

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.

waybettercollage

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…

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