Gluten-Free & Allergy-Friendly Expo (Now, the Nourished Festival): Speaker Highlights

This weekend, I was absolutely spoiled and attended my first Gluten Free & Allergy Friendly Expo, now called the Nourished Festival. As an official blogger for the Gluten-Free & Allergy-Friendly Expo, I received free entrance to the Expo, a wonderful swag box from Massel, and free Expo tickets to give away to Go Gluten Freely’s readers. Check out the recap of my favorite Expo vendors. In between all the eating, I snuck away for three gluten-free classes. Here are the highlights.

Amy from holding her cookbook "The Warm Kitchen"Amy the Family Chef was a treat for this reluctant family chef. For nearly six years, I have survived as a mom in the kitchen with shortcuts (and since I promised you an honest review, an awful lot of dining out). Celiac disease has pushed me past those shortcuts into the world of cooking, as the gluten-free diet requires special attention to keep it healthful and balanced. I consider this one of the mixed blessings (and mostly a blessing) of celiac disease.
Here are a few of Amy’s gluten-free cooking tips:

  • A hand blender (or stand mixer) is important for gluten-free baking because it aerates the batter.
  • Gluten-free dough is very sticky. Invest in parchment paper or silicone mats and a silicone/rubber spatula.
  • Gluten-free pasta – stir frequently while cooking (to prevent sticking together), but not after cooking (or it will fall apart).
  • “Flour” chicken with potato starch and white rice flour. All-purpose gluten-free flour will be too gummy.
  • Thicken sauces with corn starch. Create a slurry of starch and water, add it to your warmed-up liquid (cream, broth, etc.), then add fat (butter is ideal, according to Italian Chef Amy).
  • Add 1/8 tsp ginger to baked goods to get them to last a day or two longer.
  • Loved this tip – When spreading gluten-free pizza dough (or pie crust), use plastic wrap instead of oil to keep it from sticking to your hands.

Dr. Stephen Wangan spoke on Gluten Sensitivity. Don’t tell anyone, but about five minutes into this class, I slipped quietly out the back. Miss E has celiac disease, so this session simply did not apply to us. If this is you, though…you struggle with typical celiac symptoms and feel better on a gluten-free diet but test negative for celiac disease, you are in good company. The Gluten Intolerance Group had a booth at the Expo with great resources. I’d recommend beginning with “Getting Started” on their website. An important word of caution, don’t go gluten-free until you complete all testing for celiac disease.

Michelle Lee from Living Luxe Gluten Free shared her tips for Losing Gluten without Losing Your Mind. Some of my favorite tips from Michelle:

  • Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free burger bun – your friends will not know they are g-free
  • Stow smart – pack a special travel treat for trips. For Michelle, it is her granola-to-go.
  • Stay smart – rental homes are cheaper and you can prep your own safe food (I second this!), many B&Bs are gluten-free and all are in the business of catering to guests, search out hotels with gluten-free options in their restaurants. Michelle mentioned Holiday Inn Express as having good gluten-free choices for breakfast.
  • Ask locals for restaurant recommendations
  • Consider contingencies – organic grocery stores usually have prepared foods for dinner out in a pinch

I’ll leave you with one final word of inspiration from Michelle, “as much as gluten is EVERYWHERE when you have achieved stress-free, gluten-free, you’ll see that gluten-free is EVERYWHERE, too!” Gluten-free was definitely everywhere at the Gluten-Free & Allergy-Friendly Expo. If you haven’t been, check out the re-named Nourished Festival website for details on upcoming events.

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