Monday, May 6, 2013

Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event Atlanta recap

As many of you know, Atlanta holds a special place in my heart. It is where I went to graduate and undergraduate school and where my immediate family lives. Over the years, I have called multiple places home but Atlanta and the state of Georgia just give me a sense of peace like no other place. So, when I was invited to speak at the Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event, I was elated. Not only would I get to hang out with my family but I would get to visit a much warmer climate! (Currently residing in Alaska, I am sure you can appreciate where I am coming from.)

I was excited to be able to present my favorite topic, Living a Heart Health Diet with Celiac Disease as well as hang out with some old friends and meet some new ones! If you want to get a little snapshot of my lecture, you can check out this article I published in the Tender Foodie blog.

My first stop upon entering the Expo was GlutenFree Cutie! The are a 100% gluten, soy, dye, peanut, egg, and tree nut free bakery! They also have a large selection of dairy-free items. James and his wife Natalie opened the bakery after they found their daughter, Savanna, had a lot of food allergies. The first time I heard of them, I drove straight to the bakery and bought everything that had left. (I'm not kidding). It was later in the afternoon and I resorted to my old ways when I was first diagnosed of buying everything gluten, dairy, and soy free in sight fearing someone else might get it and I may starve. It was a party at my house when I got home. My family and I have been hooked ever since. 
For this event, James and Natalie brought their Campfire Cupcakes (one of my favs) and some of their Cinnamon Streusel bread. They sold out of the loaves of Cinnamon Streusel about an hour after the doors opened (if that tells you anything about how good it is). Their daughter Savanna and I have become good buddies. In fact, we are sister queens. I gave her a crown on one of my visits and I have it on good authority she wears it everywhere (like a proper queen should).

I also met the awesome cookbook author and blogger, Pam Jordan. You would never believe it but Pam has three kids. She lives in North Carolina and stopped by to sell her super cool t-shirts and promote her book. She was kind enough to let me have a shirt and I went home and washed it so I could wear it right away. These shirts are not available online yet so I feel pretty exclusive. Her book, Gluten-free Family Approved Recipes, is available online though and I highly recommend it. Check out her recap of the event here

I also met someone who has lived down the street from my parents FOREVER and I had never met in person. What are the odds that there was a gluten-free blogger living near me and I had no clue until I moved to Alaska and we found each other on twitter. Christy of TrulyMadlyFreely blog was there helping out at the Udi's table. It was so great to finally meet her in person. 

Of course, there are always the stable gluten-free companies there like Udi's and Glutino's. As much as I see them at the expos, I still love to visit them and it always seems like there is a new product available. 

This time, it was the gluten-free toaster pastries. My sisters went gaga over them. In fact, they still are and I had to go on a quest to Whole Foods, Target, and Publix today looking for more. Have you seen them? They are excellent at room temp or toasted. My little sister even likes to put a little icing on them and says that makes them perfect. 

Want to know the other items that made my sisters go a little delirious? Earth Balances new popcorn - especially the vegan aged white cheddar flavor. My sisters avoid dairy just like I do so the fact that they can get a cheesy flavor in one of their favorite snacks, thrilled them. I have to say I liked the taste too. However, I am not the one who ran to Whole Foods and purchased three bags and ate one for dinner (cough**Candice** cough) but, I can testify that they are indeed delicious. 

There has never been a gluten-free function where I didn't attempt to steal all the Plentils from Enjoy Life and this one was no exception. I normally stand at the booth and tell people they taste horrible so there are more samples left over for me but I was a little short on time at this event so I had to resort to sending my sisters over occasionally to swipe some when no one was looking. ;) The light sea salt ones are my favorite but the dill & sour cream are a close second. With 40% less fat than the average potato chip and free of the top 8 allergens, Plentils are definitely a staple in our house for the occasional snack. 

I am sad to say that I did not get too many more pictures. I was either busy talking or eating. (Its the truth). I did find a new product that I liked from a company called Virtuous Living. To read more on my review of them, click here. I did find a lot of new twitter friends though and people I think are worth following. Here is a list of them below:

Anne Steib - @Gfreemusings

Christy - @TrulyMadlyFreely

Leah McGrath - @InglesDietitian

Jules Shepard - @JulesGlutenfree 

Pam Jordan - @ImACeliac

GlutenFree Cutie - @GlutenFreeCutie

Jennifer Harris - @jenniferGFinGA

Nikki Everett - @GFirresistibly

Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event - @GFAFWellness

Taylor Miller - @GlutenAway

For more info on the Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event, visit their website! I'll be at their next event in Raleigh! Hope to see you there!