Tag Archives: GFAF Expo

Drumroll, please…

Well, the GFAF Expo is behind us, and so too—finally—is my giveaway. I did the drawing last night, old school, by printing out all of your comments and tweets and combining them together into what seemed like an appropriate receptacle:

Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free Expo giveaway drawing tote bag

Check out my book collection in the background. Yep, that’s Living Gluten-Free for Dummies on the left. No shame.

I tried to take a picture of my sister as she drew the winner, but she was not having it. We’ll have to content ourselves with an image of the lucky winning ticket, instead:

Congrats, Barbara!

Congrats, Barbara! And how perfect that someone new to the game would get a bag full of goodies to try. I think we can ALL feel like winners here.

Thanks to everyone who took my personality quiz and participated in the giveaway. I had fun dreaming up the personality types and hope you enjoyed the quiz. You can still take it, if you haven’t yet (just for fun). If you do, I hope you’ll let me know what you score!

Since a few people asked, I thought I’d share all the possible personality types and their descriptions. If you want to take the quiz, maybe don’t read these first. Though I’ve heard that spoilers actually increase enjoyment, so maybe you should. I’ll leave it up to you.

We wound up with a preponderance of Celiactivists…not so surprising, considering the milieu, but there were a smattering of the other types. Here they are:

Celiactivist


Celiactivist - celiac activist spreading awareness

Photo © CALI | Flickr

You are a Celiactivist. You know everything there is to know about gluten, and you’re happy to inform anyone who doesn’t. You’re active in the celiac community on- and offline, and I’m flattered and flabbergasted that you found the time to take my humble little quiz. Thank you. Now get out of here and get back to making the world a gluten-freer place. (After commenting, of course.)

Spr00b


Spr00b - new to celiac disease, newly diagnosed - welcome to Newbie, please drive carefully street sign

Photo © Anne | Flickr

You are a Spr00b. You were recently diagnosed and, to put it “bluntly,” you still don’t know nuthin’ about nuthin’. But you sure are eager to learn, and you’ll get there! Try the quiz again in a month. It’s amazing how much time you have to Google your condition once you stop going out to eat.

Silent Celiac


You are a Silent Celiac. You don’t get what the big deal is about awareness and you just want to live your life. You didn’t ask to have celiac and you aren’t going to let it define you. You follow a gluten-free diet, and you may indulge in a blog or two (like mine—good choice!), but for the most part you do your best to forget that you’re sick, and you hope others don’t focus on it, either.

Villian


You are a villian. You have biopsy-confirmed celiac disease, but your callous attitude toward gluten consumption makes you an enemy at best to yourself and at worst to the community at large. You regularly spout mistruths about the disease or give in to the temptation to “cheat” on the diet. It’s not so much that I hate your guts, it’s more that your guts hate you.

My Mom


You are probably my mom. You don’t have celiac disease, so I don’t know why you’d be reading my blog or taking my quiz unless you loved me very very much.[Edit: Actually, even my mom didn’t take the quiz. Go figure.]

It’s also possible, of course, that I got some of you completely wrong because you actually have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. But honestly, if the top researchers in the world can’t agree on a standard for diagnosing this, I’m not going to claim to, either.


In the comments, tell me about the VILLIANS you love to hate, your favorite CELIACTIVIST bloggers, or fond memories of your own SPR00B days. Are there any types you’ve come across that I didn’t include?

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A superlative GFAF Expo Roundup: Part 2

So, you read Part 1, but you’re still wondering who had the best donut? Never fear, Part 2 is here.

Remember, I’m giving out a package of some of my goodies to one lucky winner. I decided to extend the giveaway through the end of the day today, in case anyone gets excited about one of the products below and decides to enter. Have at it!

By the way, there are many great vendors I haven’t explicitly recognized. Product reviews aren’t a major focus of my blog, so I don’t want to overload you with them. Suffice it to say that all of the vendors were great people, selling great food, doing great work (besides that one brand that’s in the doghouse).

Most represented superfood

quinoa

Quinoa as far as the eye can see
Photo © Flickred! | Flickr

Neck and neck winners:
– CHIA, in Holy Crap cereal (which I will likely not be eating as cereal but am looking forward to baking into something) and in Chia Moxie peanut butter, plus several energy bars
– QUINOA, in many baked goods and bars, and the star of I Heart Keenwah, one of the most addictive supersnacks I’ve ever come across. I’m fond of the ginger peanut, but be careful: according to cofounder Ravi, this flavor is polarizing.

By the way, I just learned that the I Heart Keenwah founders all met at my alma mater, the University of Chicago! I had no idea there were so many quinoa lovers running around the quad. But it makes perfect sense that U of C alumni would be annoyed enough about the mispronunciation of their product’s name to spell it out phonetically. Because, English majors and business students alike, that’s just the way we are.

Also ran:
Spirulina
(a B12-rich algae) popped up in one Raw Revolution bar. The bar is an alarming shade of green but tasty nonetheless. (All their bars were good, similar to Lärabars but more interesting, in my opinion. Though I like Lära, sometimes the bars are a bit dry, which I didn’t notice here.)

Most simultaneously adorable and practical

A close runner-up in this category was me, wearing my Red Apple Audrey lipstick sample, but I figured I’m not really that practical, so I gave it to Gluten-Free Labels instead. Throw a couple of these babies on your colanders and spoons, and throw your masking tape and Sharpie in the trash. (Well, no, don’t do that; they’re still useful for other things, and that’s wasteful.)

Mark your territory in style, and support a really nice person, too—I’ve met the maker, Kelly, twice now, and she’s great.

Gluten-free beer most likely to please someone who never liked beer that much in the first place

New Planet. Some of their beers tasted more like cider, which is great because I prefer cider anyway. The ones that did taste like beer were more mild and accessible than some of the heavy hitters (Glutenberg, for example, which I could tell would be great if I liked hops). New Planet’s Belgian and amber ales got the thumbs up from this would-rather-drink-a-margarita girl.

Jeff of Basic Batters, with the prize-winning donut holes to his left

Jeff of Basic Batters, with his prize-winning donut holes

Best donut

I liked both Kinnikinnick’s and Basic Batters’ cinnamon-sugar donuts, for different reasons. Kinnikinnick’s was lighter and more traditionally donuty, but Basic Batters’ had pumpkin purée and pie spice mixed in, and it was so dense and autumnal, and man, am I ever ready for fall. They sold out before we could buy any, sadly. This family company is brand-brand-new and off to a killer start. Watch out, Dunkins.

Most generous vendor

This one is too tough. So many of the vendors I met were so outgoing and nice, and so (rightfully) proud of their wares, and so eager to share them with us. Most of them were gluten-free themselves, and I could see they recognized themselves in our shining faces as we swallowed that bite of brownie, baguette, or “rye” bread that tasted just the way it should.

Althea wins gluten-free coffee cake from The Cake Over bakery

She always was the lucky one in the family.

At the end of the day on Sunday—which, by the way, is the best time to be at this kind of event if you’re in it for the freebies—many of them gave away food they had brought with them, in portions much larger than a bite. For example, we lugged home two bulging bags of rolls from Local Oven (local not to NJ/NY but to Texas, though I believe they ship nationally. Try the onion rolls).

However, if I had to choose a winner, I’d give it to the Cake Over, a brand-new, not-even-quite-opened bakery in NJ, whose owners ran several giveaways over the course of the weekend. The prizes included a whole frosted champagne cake (very tasty—I had a sample), a two-foot-long tray of chocolate cake bites, and a chocolate-swirled coffee cake…which went to us! Yesssss.

Most hoping to see at the next Expo

No, you hipster, not a cronut. (Or a townie, either.) The other day, I had the sad revelation that peanut butter-stuffed pretzel bites exist…but GF ones don’t. Sure, you can dip your GF pretzels into peanut butter, but that’s not the same. I would love if this would come down the pipeline (ideally in a sunbutter-filled form, too, as the Gluten-Free Idiot suggested on Twitter, for the peanut-allergic), because no way am I attempting to make my own. I will for sure blog about them, though. Here’s looking at you, Snyder’s.

Best part of the experience (or, most likely to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside)

Colette Martin with her book, Learning to Bake Allergen-Free

Colette Martin with her book Learning to Bake Allergen-Free

Nabbing all the leftovers at the very end of the day on Sunday. Just kidding.

The best part by far was the people. I met several writers and bloggers who had previously existed for me only as a voice on a phone, emails, pixels, Tweets, and blog posts. (For example, I finally got to say hi in person to Colette Martin, whose book I helped edit at work and who is a real dynamo and super nice. Great book, too, if I may say so.)

Some of the vendors I’d met earlier this summer, but many of them (and many of their products) were totally new to me. All of them were smart, forthcoming, and passionate about their products.

Some attendees were parents of gluten-free kids, some were newly diagnosed themselves, some were old hands with years of experience to share. I loved getting to know them.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again, maybe at the next Expo, and I can only hope that one day I’ll also be lucky enough to meet and talk to all of you, face to face, over a gluten-free treat or two.

Note that there was absolutely no “committee” or “voting” involved; all opinions are strictly my own. For these “reviews,” I was not compensated with anything other than free Expo tickets, huge amounts of free samples and a sugar high. Thank you, once again, to everyone who made this event possible, particularly the vendors and other bloggers who made it a fantastic weekend.

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A Superlative GFAF Expo Roundup: Part 1

As many of you know, I spent Saturday and Sunday at the Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free Expo in Secaucus, New Jersey. I found the experience so rewarding that I wanted to give out a few awards of my own.

Speaking of which…don’t forget: Today’s the last day to enter my giveaway! I’m sending out a package full of sample-size treats from various vendors. Take my celiac personality quiz (you don’t have to have celiac disease!) and report your results for a chance to win.

The event was enormous, with both large, well-known companies and smaller companies local to the NJ/NY area or working to expand to it. Despite the size of the crowd, the venue itself was large enough that I rarely felt claustrophobic and had to wait in line to speak with a vendor. I tasted about a million great things, and there were about a billion things I wanted to say about the event, so I’m going to split up my report across a couple posts. Without further ado, here’s Part 1.

Cleverest name

Sevierly Good Gluten-Free logoWhat’s in a name? Plenty, when it comes to branding (notwithstanding the incredible ability of Rudi’s and Udi’s to coexist comfortably in the same market with such ripoffy-sounding names). My favorite was “Sevierly Good Gluten Free.” I love it because it’s a play on the owners’ last name (Sevier/severe) that connotes both really good food and strictness/seriousness—an important quality to most gluten-free consumers.

I’d be severely remiss if I didn’t also mention this Washington State–based company’s standout product: their cinnamon roll mix, which they’d made without eggs or dairy for samples and which blew a certain GF behemoth’s version out of the water.

Most accidentally convincing sales pitch

This goes to El, of El’s Kitchen. She was selling bagel chips, both plain and mixed in to what she called “Chex mix without the crap.” She elaborated, “No gluten, no MSG…,” but all I could think was, “I can take this home and put Chex in it.” I was sold.

P.S. The mixes are super good, even without Chex.

Best photo opp

Althea and me with "seedlings" pins

One photo was blurry, one had a fingertip…whatever, just pretend it’s a pumpkin.

After sampling every flavor of “Super Seedz” sold by Kathie’s Kitchen, my sister and I got stickers and were told that we were now Seedlings (which, like Sevierly, is a great name, because it suggests that we are being scattered to the wind with the germ of their success hidden within us, ideally to land somewhere fertile and sprout, spreading the word about their brand…am I taking this metaphor too far?).

Every flavor was good (e.g., Coco Joe, mmm), but on the second day, when we returned with cash, we decided we’d had enough sugar and went for the Tomato Italiano (two for one on Expo day—a deal!).

Most disappointed not to see there

Krumville Bake Shop, of Williamsburg. I met the owner, Antonella, at this summer’s NYC Celebrate Celiac event, and I really can’t sing her praises enough. She sent me home with several of her apple-ginger muffins, which include whole grain flours and shredded apple throughout—so although still an indulgence (with the taste and texture to match), they’re at least a little virtuous. We froze the muffins and enjoyed them, reheated, over the following weeks (sometimes with peanut butter…swoon).

If you live in the New York area, you can find Krumville at Smorgasburg on Saturdays through November 23rd, selling sweet and savory goodies. I know I’ll be making my way there myself!

Best brownie

Without a doubt, this goes to Whipped Pastry Boutique. Not only was it the best brownie at the Expo, but it may be the best brownie I’ve ever had. Like the Krumville muffins, I tried these first at the Celebrate Celiac event, and I also carried home several for the freezer. Fresh or reheated, these are chocolatey, moist, sitting at the most perfect possible intersection of gooey/dense and light/cakelike. No frills, no mix-ins, no nuts: just brownies.

Better than Betty? Dunno, haven’t tried hers yet. But my money’s on Whipped. We got to take home a bunch of samples again, but I’ll definitely be scouting them out around the city once our supply runs dry.

Most likely to be recreated in my home kitchen

Okay, maybe this is a bit mean, but the Kitchen Table cheese crisps struck me as an ingenious idea not quite worth the price tag for someone, like me, who prefers to make my own when possible. They’re just Parmesan cheese and seasonings, baked into chips, like the crispy bits you’d scrape off your baking sheet after making a pizza. Now, don’t get me wrong: they’re awesome. If you’re looking for a ready-made salad or mac & cheese topper, or an especially decadent cracker, and you aren’t prone to sticker shock, definitely buy a pack or two. Every flavor was good.

Best bread

Everybody Eats. Hands down. The co-owner, Pedro, was terribly nice, although he did seem to like me less once I told him, after he’d rhapsodized about the smoked salmon and prosciutto topping possibilities, that I was a vegetarian. He bakes in Red Hook (Brooklyn), and I’ve meant to try his bread for ages. Both the multigrain and baguette were out of this world. When we decided to buy a baguette, Pedro urged us to “choose our own—they’re all different.” I felt a couple up (through the plastic) and selected the one that felt right. Next time we have company, we will be pulling it out of our freezer to make some (meatless!) crostini.

Most embarrassing moment

At the New Planet stand, my sister and I did a full flight of beer tastings. The rep there, by the way, was also the only one to card us. He also read my birth year aloud, prompting a fellow taster to comment, “Since when does ’89 mean 21?” Guess we look young. But that’s not the embarrassing moment.

Breakfast Stout bottle

Not gluten-free…just seemed appropriate.
Photo © Andrew | Flickr

That was when a rep from the Freedom Foods stand came by to barter for bottles. He and the New Planet rep had twin Aussie accents and got to talking about it. Eventually, the cereal rep turned to Althea and me and told us that in Australia they eat cereal with beer, for breakfast.

“Like, in the beer?” we wondered.

He nodded earnestly, stringing us along until he couldn’t help but laugh. He also called us idiots, which you’d think would be bad salesmanship, though we still bought two boxes of Corn & Psyllium Flakes later (we think he was joking).

Anyway…apparently people don’t substitute beer for milk in Australia. And apparently I’m incredibly gullible.

On a more serious note, and speaking of being gullible: I left many of my usual food suspicions at the Expo doors, leaving it up to the event’s organizers to have sufficiently vetted everyone in attendance. I asked fewer questions and read fewer labels before sampling.

Then, on the way home from the event, I pulled out a full energy bar I’d been given. Though the label says “gluten free” on the front, on the back it says “manufactured on equipment that also processes peanuts, tree nuts, egg, and wheat.” I never would have eaten the samples had I known that.

In many cases, I did check the back of the box before sampling, mainly out of curiosity about the other nutrition info, since I was assuming everything was gluten-free. This time, I’d already chowed down on samples of two different flavors before finding out this critical info. Not cool. And not my wisest moment. We have to be the keepers of our own health. And, for me, that means NO POWERCRUNCH BARS.

Do you relax your guard at gluten-free events and gluten-free-friendly restaurants, or do you stay as strong as ever?

Note that there was absolutely no “committee” involved in the making of this post; all opinions are strictly my own and entirely dictatorial. For these “reviews,” I was not compensated with anything other than huge amounts of free samples and a sugar high. Thank you to the organizers who made this event possible, and particularly the vendors and other attendees who made it a fantastic weekend.

P.S. Find Part 2 here.

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What kind of celiac are you? (Personality quiz plus giveaway)

Do you like labels? You know who does? Celiac disease researchers. In 2011, the best of them from all over the world came together in Oslo to update definitions of kinds of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity (making me, for example, no longer “atypical”—see the new labels here).

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In the spirit of redefining categories, I thought I’d throw out some new ones of my own. (Maybe the Oslo crowd can discuss them at the next conference, to be held in Chicago this September, at my alma mater, though even the discounted rates are too expensive for this civilian!)

Now, whether or not you like labels, I think you’ll agree that often we’re defined by our illness. Some of us even call ourselves “celiacs.” But of course having celiac disease or being gluten-free isn’t all there is to know about us. Our personalities matter, too.

That’s why I’ve created a simple 10-question celiac disease personality quiz, just like the ones you used to see in Seventeen magazine. (Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a teenage girl to participate…or even have celiac disease. It’s inclusive.)

Take the quiz, then come back and let me know what you scored. To reward your participation, I’m offering a giveaway! In fact, just to make things confusing, I’m offering TWO giveaways.

The prizes are: remaining is:

1) A surprise swag bag from the upcoming Secaucus, NJ Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free Expo. Share your result in a comment, on Twitter, or on Facebook by the end of the day on Wednesday, September 11th, for a chance to win (or do all three, for three chances to win). Only US & Canada entries are eligible, though I hope you’ll check out the quiz even if you live elsewhere.

2) Two free tickets to the Expo for a day of your choice. You can attend on both Saturday the 7th and Sunday the 8th, or choose one day and bring a friend. To enter this one, comment by Friday, September 6th, letting me know your result AND letting me know that you’ve done one of the following:

Everyone who comments (and lives in the US or Canada) will be entered into the first drawing. You CAN be entered into both drawings—just be sure to do one of the Expo requirements to join the second.

There’s no better way to celebrate back-to-school (and expo) season than by taking a quiz…so what are you waiting for? Sharpen those No. 2 pencils and let’s get cracking.

The giveaway is no longer running. But you can still take the quiz here.

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