April 26, 2012

Gluten and Allergy Free Expo 2012 Recap



For the past five years I've been attending the Gluten and Allergy Free Expo in Chicago's suburbs.  Every year I find new gluten free products, see what's new with my favorite gluten free companies, and pretty much eat my face off with all of the samples and goodies everyone is handing out.

Last year, I volunteered at the Udi's booth with the infamous gluten free marketing extraordinaire, Heather Collins.

Don't we look cute? Thanks to Sarah from Celiac in the City for snappin' this one last year!
This year, I volunteered with Heather again at the thinkThin booth. They just came out with a new line of fruit and nut bars, thinkThin Crunch Fruit & Nut. We passed out the Blueberry & Mixed Nut flavor, which seemed to be a big hit with the crowd. They also have Cherry & Mixed Nut and Cranberry Apple & Mixed Nut.  I dug the blueberry bar, and can't wait to hunt down the cherry and cranberry apple bars. Yum!

thinkThin necklaces!
Later I walked around and checked out the other booths. There were a bunch of new vendors this year.  Here are some highlights of the new products and companies I came across:

Red Apple Lipstick. This company was recommended by The Celiac Diva. Samples were also in the Nourished goodie bag. Since I love all things lip gloss, I stopped by to check them out and instantly loved them. They are filled with all things awesome - gluten free, paraben free, allergen free, vegan, cruelty free, and made in the USA. Plus their gloss was smooth, shiny, and minty. I left with a new tube of lip gloss and have been wearing it everyday since.

The awesome guys at The Gluten Free Bar were also at the Expo. I've written about them before, but I was excited to see that they are whipping up some new flavors. I can't divulge any secrets, but I will say that I was able to have a sneak peek taste test of two potential new flavors and I hope they decide to go with them. The peanut butter GFB, chocolate GFB, and their newest GFB, the cranberry toasted almond are all available and delicious!

New corn chips I discovered were Simply Sprouted Way Better Snacks. Their six flavors are Simply Sunny Multi-Grain, Simply Sweeet Potato, Simply Beyond Black Bean, Simply Unbeatable Blues, No Salt Naked Blues, and Simply So Sweet Chili. They were simply delicious. Unfortunately the people working the table weren't too open to chatting. After trying to ask questions about their products without luck, I moved along to the next booth. The chips were mighty tasty though!

Yumbutter is my new obsession. One taste of the Asian Jazz potion and I was hooked. I can only describe it as the smooth, nutty flavor of peanut butter with a surprisingly little kick that all of a sudden hits you. I cannot wait to spice up a stir-fry with that Asian Jazz! (Spoiler alert for an upcoming post?)



Last stop before heading out was to visit the Crave Bake Shop table to see Kyra and Jamie. I met them at dinner the night before and they were too much fun. Kyra is a Cupcake Wars Champion, so naturally I had to chat her up about baking. Her story sounded like mine, but hers turned out better.  She had a desk job she was unhappy with so she quit and enrolled in culinary school. While her school didn't make any exceptions to accommodate her either, she stuck with it. She amped up her other senses to figure out the right texture, consistency, and made her recipes work. And look where it got her! Cupcake Wars Champ! Don't forget to tune in May 20th to see her again on Cupcake Champions!


Tomorrow I'm off to the Celiac Disease Foundation's Annual Conference in California. In addition to the conference program, there is also a vendor fair. Perhaps I'll have more great finds to share with you? I hope so!


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