The Gluten-Free & Allergy-Friendly Expo – Product Recap was a gluten-free Costco trip on steroids! My only regret is not taking my children. In the old (gluten-filled) days, the littles would chant “SAMPLE, SAMPLE” every time they spotted one at Costco. Maybe our manners could use some tweaking, but the samples were how I survived Costco grocery shopping with the kiddos. Not anymore. Now, every sample booth brings the question from Miss E, “is it gluten-free?” Not so at the Gluten-Free & Allergy-Friendly Expo. EVERY sample was gluten-free.
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As an official blogger for the Gluten-Free & Allergy-Friendly Expo, now called the Nourished Festival, 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. In exchange, I was asked to provide pre, live and post-Expo coverage. The following review is my honest opinion regarding some of the highlights of the Gluten-Free & Allergy-Friendly Expo.
Like other Expo guests, who purchased their tickets, I was given countless samples to taste on site and to bring home. So let’s go on a tour of the expo, as I point out some of my favorite things, all gluten-free…
Massel was my first stop, where each official blogger was presented with an amazing gift of bouillon and seasoning products from Massel (so named because this stuff “must sell”). If you’ve read my other posts, you know I am not a cook, so the world of bouillon cubes was a bit of a mystery to me. Thankfully, the nice folks at Massel also gave out recipes for an easy start.
The day after the expo I subbed 2 1/2 Massel ultracube bouillon cubes (dissolved in five cups of hot water) for the vegetable broth in my lemon chicken sausage risotto. My picky kids ate a decent amount, all of the adults had seconds (or thirds or fourths) and CK (my oldest) said to add it to the favorites list.
Freedom Foods was also taste-tested by the family the day after the Expo. Freedom Foods cereals are gluten-free and allergen-free and they test EVERY batch EVERY time, thank you very much. Add this to the safe list. I bought my littles a box of Freedom Foods TropicOs.
Gluten-free or not, I’m not in the habit of giving “candy” cereal to kids for breakfast, but I think the occasional treat is fine. Plus, this comes in at 1/2 the sugar of Fruit Loops (6g vs 12g per serving). Hubby apparently missed the sugar, as his first comment was that these were no fruit loops. However, I really enjoyed them. You can tell the kids did, too. CK’s review was “mmm…mmm…mmm” and Miss E’s opinion was similar “mmm…yum!” I think these two may have careers as restaurant critics ahead of them;)
Arctic Zero… just yum! At this point, we don’t need lactose-free ice cream in our house, but at 150 calories a pint, I may just buy it anyway. If you pick this one up, I highly recommend the salted caramel.
Enjoy Life products have already become well-loved treats in our home. CK and Miss E are already big fans of the chocolate sunbutter and s’mores bars and I love the soft baked cookies (they have soft and crunchy). Enjoy Life was giving away samples of a variety of Plentils chips (the first ingredient is lentils). They have a baked/puffed texture and lots of flavor. I grabbed a couple of the giveaway bags for the family to try.
Beanfields Bean & Rice Chips are a delicious alternative to
the corn-based tortilla chip. They offer the familiar crunch and flavor, but with extra protein and fiber. Miss E and I especially love the ranch chips.
My husband buys the Perfect Bar variety pack at Costco (he likes that they have no refined sugar), and my son is always trying to convince him to share the peanut bars. If you have a PB&J addict in your house, they’ll probably love this. Already being a popular item in my home, I was excited to sample and bring home some new flavors, like almond coconut.
We are big oatmeal fans in our house, and I have been trying to add a variety of whole grains to our diet, so I couldn’t resist picking up a bag of Purely Elizabeth’s organic 6-grain hot cereal. It cooks about as long as steel-cut oats, 20 minutes, and includes grains like millet, buckwheat, and amaranth.
Go Raw had a booth at the Expo. Miss E tried the Go Raw Pizza Flax Snacks and immediately said, “they taste like pizza” as she went back for more. As a cracker, they have the flavor, not consistency, of pizza. I am always thrilled when I find gluten-free snacks that are healthful and yummy!
Simple Mills – As yummy as rice and potato flours are, they can’t be the mainstay of my family’s diet, so anytime I find a baking mix that actually tastes good and contains mommy-guilt-free ingredients I am in. We will be buying these (and probably often).
The ingredients on the banana muffin I sampled were: almonds, organic coconut nectar, arrowroot powder, bananas, organic vanilla beans, baking soda, Celtic sea salt. Somehow with those ingredients (along with eggs, oil & water), they tasted exactly like “regular” muffins. Next on my list to try, is Simple Mills’ pumpkin muffin mix.
|San-J Tamari To Go!
If you’re new to gluten-free, you may be surprised to learn that soy sauce contains gluten. San-J Tamari, Gluten-free Soy Sauce was a pleasant find during our first couple of weeks going gluten-free. At the Expo, San-J had a box of tamari packets to go.
The IMHO genius behind this idea was there to let me know that these packets are one of their slowest movers. Sure, that makes sense… the box has 20 packets, so you aren’t re-stocking these frequently, but they would be perfect to take along to a Chinese Restaurant, like say… the Lucky Fortune Cookery at Disney’s California Adventure. Thanks for the brilliantly useful idea!
|Nonna (middle) had so much fun at the Super Eats booth!|
We LOVE their healthy & delicious Kale & Chia Chips!
Super Eats Kale & Chia Chips were hands down one of my favorite finds. Besides being such fun people, their chips have the shape and (almost) texture of a corn chip, but check out the ingredients: kale, black beans and/or navy beans, corn masa, safflower and/or sunflower oil, whole chia seeds, sea salt. Protein, fiber, vitamins, superfoods, omega 3… I am all over these.
With kale as the first ingredient, there is an unmistakable kale taste… which I happen to love. I’m hoping to get the kids addicted to these! I opened a bag while I was typing this and Miss E just ran off with it. My plan is working…
Brazibites are fabulous tasting, Brazilian, cheese rolls… I can’t overstate the word fabulous here. They are so good that I may have circled back for a sample an extra time or two… or three.
Milton’s crackers saved the day a few weeks ago. We were having a small group of friends over, and my appetizer plans included gluten-free crackers. I was so relieved when I found Milton’s mega-size bag of crackers after realizing that Costco decided to discontinue the gluten-free cracker I bought previously. Since Costco rotates items in and out, I was pleased to discover other places to buy Milton’s on their online store locator (which happens to be a feature on almost all food company websites).
Jennifer, the Sauce Goddess, appears to be as spicy as her BBQ sauce. Like many of the other owner-vendors I spoke with, her journey into providing gluten-free products was personal. She was already producing her “family recipe” when her sister learned she was gluten intolerant. The Sauce Goddess reworked the recipe to make it safely gluten-free.
Udi’s was there making grilled cheese sandwiches on their gf bread, a typical staple in our home, right next to its sister brand Glutino, serving chocolate-covered pretzels. I took home a bag of regular pretzels with plans to dip them in chocolate with the kiddos for Valentine’s Day. We frequently eat rolled or steel-cut oats for breakfast.
Bakery on Main’s instant oatmeal is a quick substitute when we’re short on time. It’s also a safe (& individually packaged) breakfast that I can send with Miss E when she stays overnight with the Grands. CK loves strawberry, Miss E usually picks blueberry, and I’m partial to maple.
1 bag of Home Free Cookies is half your whole grains for the day and they were a hit with the kids.
Bob’s Red Mill is another familiar favorite that I was looking forward to seeing at the Expo. Bob’s has an impressive variety of gluten-free grains, mixes, and baking flours. So far, I’ve tried and liked Bob’s brownie mix, chocolate chip cookie mix, pizza dough, all-purpose flour, oatmeal, millet, granola, and xanthan gum (an important ingredient that works magic in gluten-free baking). I took home a bag of almond flour and am eager to try the simple almond flour pancakes on the back.
Last but not least, Sprouts is my go-to grocery store since taking our home gluten-free. The prices are good, the produce is fresh (with lots of organic options), the store is small (read: I can navigate it quickly with one or two reluctant mini-shoppers), and they have lots of gluten-free specialty items.
Whew! And those were just the highlights on the floor. If you don’t need a nap after our Gluten-Free & Allergy-Friendly Expo tour, here’s my review of the Gluten-Free & Allergy-Friendly Expo speakers. If you have a Gluten-Free & Allergy-Friendly Expo (now, Nourished Festival) near you, go. Really. Just go. Check out the Nourished Festival website to see if there’s one close to you.