This past weekend I got to experience the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus NJ. For a few days now I have been under “information overload”. If you have any food allergies or sensitivities THIS was the place to be – over 150 vendors from food makers, book authors and informative allergen awareness companies.
If you suffer from celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or any other food allergies than you know the pain of walking through any food based expo or public place and having food shoved in your face. Your first of many questions is usually: “What’s in it?” For many people with food allergies, the place of preparation is also important – Was it prepared in a safe way, free of your specific allergen? At this Expo, I was able to eat pretty much everything. I avoid gluten and soy protein. Mostly everything was gluten free, and only a very small handful of items contained soy protein.
The Expo is family friendly. My daughter, who is dairy free, was in Eat-All-You-Want-Heaven. For a 9 year old with food allergies, she is used to hearing “You can’t have that”. Not this past weekend. Between her personal goody bag and feeling special because the vendors were talking to her, she had a great time. In fact, she has already asked when we will going again.
In addition to countless samples, the vendors also had some great discounted items with them as well as coupons to take home. They all took the time to tell us about their products, as well as listened to our stories. Here’s the thing: The companies making your food WANT to know you. Do you have a favorite gluten or allergen food that you use daily? Email the company and let them know. These companies created their products to fill a gap and they want to hear from you.
Here’s me with Jay and Andrea from Red Apple Lipstick – a paraben AND gluten free cosmetics line:
There were also classes scheduled on both days of the event. On Saturday we sat for Amy Fothergill’s “The Best Gluten-Free Tips for Cooking and Baking”. I had met her earlier at the author booth and purchased her book. Here is a recipe from her website for a Gluten Free Dairy Free Blueberry Muffin.
At the end of her class, a beautiful couple actually got engaged! She said YES! It was pretty cool to be there and witness it.
The following day, we attended the class give by Kathy Smart – “Gluten-Free Belly Be G”. I can do an entire blog post just on her class, so that will be posted next week. Her amazing energy and spirit grabbed me right away and I couldn’t stop tweeting all the amazing things she had to say. Want a teaser for next week’s post? Here’s a Tweet from her class:
— Gina Wieboldt (@GinaWieboldt) September 7, 2014
There was so many vendors, but I just wanted to take the time to spotlight a few of my favorites :
- Amrita – Plant Based Nutrition
- DF Mavens
- Enjoy Life Foods
- FAACT – Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team
- Find Me Gluten Free / Send Me Gluten Free
- Hail Merry
- Mopweeze Bakery
- Namaste Foods, LLC
- Norwex – Melissa Tomas
- Red Apple Lipstick
- Sevierly Good- Gluten Free
It was an amazing experience to have been chosen as an Official Blogger for the event. The bloggers were hosted by Schar, who held an after party event on Saturday night. The entire weekend was a beautiful shared experience with my daughter and I connected with many of the companies I recommend. I am excited for next year in October of 2015!
Don’t have food allergies or sensitivities, but still not feeling 100%? It still could be something you are eating. Here’s what I tell people: Take the time to do an elimination diet. Perhaps you don’t have an allergy on a blood test, but your body does tell you what’s working and what’s not. You just have to learn to listen. Many people go gluten free, or even dairy free, to free themselves of specific ailments like chronic post nasal drip, the aches and pains of some auto-immune disease, and many other symptoms. This is a fantastic event for anyone who has already been diagnosed with food allergies/sensitivities, or for those who are thinking about making some changes to their personal diet for health reasons. Going gluten free has made a big change for my health. My hope is for everyone to find their highest level of health and happiness – it sometimes just takes some work to get there.
In health & happiness,
DISCLOSURE: I was not compensated for this post. Complementary tickets were provided for me to attend both days of the exhibit as an Official Event Blogger. All opinions are my own.
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