The Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo in Chicago this past weekend was a blast! I was lucky enough to apply and be selected as an official blogger. Getting to try so many new products and meeting fellow bloggers and friends was such a great experience. Of course I did not come alone, I dragged my boyfriend with who also has celiac disease and enjoyed the event almost as much as I did. I enjoyed going around and speaking to all the different companies about their products. The amount of new products was great and below are some of my favorite new finds from the expo.
1. Enjoy Life Baking Mixes
Enjoy Life is always a huge booth at these events and I always walk away with lots of their yummy bars and cookies, but what was exciting was they had a new product. They have come up with new baking mixes and these are the ultimate allergy-friendly mixes. They are still completely free of the top 8 allergens like all of their other products, and being free of allergens definitely did not affect the flavor one bit. I loved the brownies in particular. They were the perfect mixture of chewiness that you look for when you have a brownie. I actually couldn’t believe they were completely allergen free. I can’t wait until these mixes hit the shelves later in the year. I definitely want to give the pizza crust mix and the muffin mix a try. I was also glad that at the expo I got to meet Joel Warady the CMO of Enjoy Life and the man who responds to all my Twitter posts! He was really nice and a pleasure to get to speak with.
Massel was the official blogger sponsor at the expo and they were generous enough to give all of us bloggers a nice gift box to take home full of their lovely products. They make a full range of gluten free and vegan bouillon and seasoning. Recently they even came out with a new concentrated liquid stock that is supposed to be very tasty. I got to try all three of their flavors at the expo which were chicken, beef, and vegetable. Keep in mind the chicken and beef flavors are vegan too, but that didn’t matter as they were still amazing! I couldn’t believe how much the chicken and beef flavors tasted like chicken and beef. I would have never believed these were actually vegan unless someone had told me. I will be definitely be using up all this delicious broth to make lots of soups. In fact my sister has already recommended split pea this weekend for mother’s day. If you have any other recommendations let me know with a comment below!
3. Nana Creme
I must have stopped by the Nana Creme booth at least 10 times for samples. The ice cream was that good! This ice cream is vegan and their base consists of only 5 ingredients: water, organic bananas, cane sugar, safflower oil, and lemon juice. Nana Creme contains no common allergens, no gums, and no GMOS. What a great model to go by and what a great tasting ice cream. They make many different flavors, but out of the ones I tried my favorites were the blueberry pie and the sugar cookie. I couldn’t believe that these were gluten free and dairy free and could still taste so good! The most disappointing part for me is that they are not in retail stores in California yet. They are just a Chicagoland company for now, but as good as it was I am sure they will be expanding soon. If you are in the Chicago area though, you can go to their website and use the store locater to find it near you.
4. Rudi's Gluten Free Tortillas and Daiya Cheddar Cheese
Rudi’s Bakery and Daiya were partnered together in a booth at the expo showcasing their products together making dairy free quesadillas. My boyfriend and I absolutely loved the gluten free spinach tortilla from Rudi’s Bakery with the Daiya Cheddar style slices melted in between. Since he is not dairy free I figured he wouldn’t be a fan of these, but he loved them and kept asking to go back for more. They were really that good. We were really impressed with the flavor of the Daiya cheese melted between the spinach tortillas. Rudi’s gluten free spinach tortillas are dairy free, soy free, nut free, non-GMO, and contain no high fructose corn syrup. The Daiya cheddar style slices they were using are gluten free, vegan, and even soy free! This cheese would even be great I’m sure with some crackers and salami. I will be definitely giving that a try. I will definitely purchase both of these products in the future.
5. Honey Acres
Honey Acres was a completely new company to me. I walked up at first and assumed I probably couldn’t have the chocolate candies since usually chocolate is not dairy free, but to my surprise they were completely dairy free! These were chocolate discs filled with different fillings. I tried the honey kissed dark chocolate orange flavor which had a delicious orange filling, while my boyfriend tried the honey kissed dark chocolate mint. We both enjoyed them and we were surprised to learn that they were originally a honey company that started making gluten free and dairy free chocolate filled candies. I will have to order some of these online for special occasions.
In addition to my favorite products my boyfriend is going to list some of his favorites.
This was my first experience at a gluten free expo so the whole event was new to me and it was a really enjoyable time. I hope I will be able to attend another one in the future. I don’t have a dairy allergy, so some of the products below do contain dairy. My favorite vendors are listed below.
1. Sunny’s Gourmet Products
I really enjoyed the samples provided by this company. They used their teriyaki sauce and kimchee seasoning on the samples and I really enjoyed the cucumber kimchee. We purchased teriyaki sauce and kimchee seasoning to make our own at home. They also provided recipe cards for a number of dishes to prepare which was nice.
2. Gluten-Free Delights Stuffed Sandwiches
I really enjoyed the stuffed sandwiches this company makes which are similar to the gluten containing Hot Pockets. They had four types available to try, but I kept going back for the pepperoni sample. They have partnered with Aldi grocery stores to sell these under their Live G Free label. I enjoyed them so much I purchased some at Aldi already to bring to work for my lunches. You get two in a package and they are priced very reasonably.
3. Rudi’s Gluten Free Tortillas & Daiya Cheddar Cheese
I really enjoyed the Rudi’s quesadillas that were being sampled. I really liked the spinach tortillas and even though I am able to eat cheese, the Daiya cheese was really good and I wouldn’t have a problem eating it in the future. I haven’t had quesadillas in years, so it was a really good treat and is something I hope to make this summer.
These are similar to Goldfish crackers and are a nice addition to the gluten free marketplace, as I am unaware of other similar crackers. The sample packets were small, but I was able to determine that I liked them even with the small sample. I looked on the company’s website and found them for sale at a local grocery store, so I will be purchasing some in the future.
5. Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery
I really enjoyed the salted caramel cupcake samples they prepared, and had a few. I bought a pack of cupcakes to take home with me from the expo, which made for a nice snack the next couple of days. I had been to their storefront in Hinsdale and will have to stop in next time I am in town. These do contain dairy, but they do have some dairy free options.
Of course keep in mind that his 5 products may not be dairy free since he doesn’t have an allergy to dairy. They are all still gluten free though! We are definitely hoping to attend another gluten free expo this year. It was worth the trip from California!
We found Weber Grill using the Find Me Gluten Free App. They had great gluten free reviews from celiacs so we decided this would be a good spot to get dinner. Considering both me and my date have celiac disease and I have other food allergies they handled the situation beautifully. The manager came over and explained how they handled the situation. First the waiter took our order on a big red card, this signifies allergy. Then the chef would sit down with the cook and confirm that all the ingredients being used are okay. Then the manager comes back out and confirms it all and says were good to go. Then our meal started being prepped. Now while this did add time to our night it was completely worth it. We felt safe and pretty much knew our meals would come out correctly.
They had a gluten free menu printed out which was nice. I decided to order the salmon grilled on a wood plank with steamed broccoli and grilled asparagus. This meal usually comes with green beans but I could not have those since they were tossed in butter. My date got the New York strip with garlic mashed potatoes. We were both very pleased with our meals and the service we received. The only downfall was when the busboy brought us out rolls and I asked “are these gluten free?” and he said “yes.” I saw confusion a little in his face though so we waited and decided not to risk it. Good thing the waitress pulled them away immediately and said the busboys are not informed. I would say that could be a way they could improve on their allergy procedures. Other than that though what a great experience.
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