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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Best Gluten and Allergen Free Products from The GFAF Expo

A couple of weekends ago, I covered the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo in Chicago.  The expo drew crowds, all searching for the latest and greatest in gluten free and allergen free eats, drinks, and products.  This expo did not disappoint them.

As the numbers of those of us diagnosed with food allergies, celiac, and gluten sensitivities grows, demand for healthy, convenient, allergen free foods and products increases.  I remember when I first went gluten free.  My choices were contained to a small, 3 foot shelf at my closest health food store.  Now, even Walmart and Jewel have larger dedicated sections.  True, they’re only about 5 feet; but, there are 6 shelves, today.

In this post, I’d like to review some of my favorite items from the expo.  I was able to talk to many of the vendors about their products.  I’ve also partnered with a few of them to bring giveaways and coupons over the next few months.  I’ll be announcing those soon. 

Now, there really wasn’t much food-wise, I could sample.  So, in times of need, I reached out to other expo-goers to give me their opinions.  One of these wonderful taste-testers was Wendy from Allergy Free Kitchens.  You should definitely check out her blog if you or your child suffers from food allergies.

Wendy actually helped me out with the first product I’m mentioning, Sonoma Flatbreads by Donatos.  On Saturday, when I was searching for anything paleo to eat, I discovered Sonoma Flatbreads  .  Obviously, I couldn’t eat the flatbread part; but, I could pluck off a lovely slice of uncured pepperoni to sample.  On Sunday morning, I brought Wendy directly to the Sonoma Flatbreads booth for a sample.  Her eyes actually lit up when she tasted the small portion of flatbread pizza.  She gave them a rave review.  The children, shoveling their small portions into their little mouths, gave it rave reviews as well.  The Sonoma Flatbreads come in 4 flavors, Uncured Pepperoni, Three Cheese, Margherita, and Chicken and Fire Roasted Peppers.  The company uses no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, nitrates, nitrites, growth hormones or antibiotics.  The best part, they can be found at many of your local grocery stores.  Make sure you “Like” their Facebook page for access to coupons and specials.

Green Valley Organics was one of my personal favorites.  I don’t really eat or drink dairy very often.  When I do, it’s usually goat, sheep, or raw dairy.  I would like to add some kefir to my diet, however.  So, I decided to give their organic, lactose free kefir and sour cream a try.  Not only did the flavor knock my socks off, but I experienced no tummy troubles after tasting it.  The Sour Cream was so tasty, I could have eaten an entire bowl of it.   Green Valley Organics’ Lactose Free Kefir, Yogurt, and Sour Cream can be found at Whole Foods Market and fine natural and specialty food stores.  Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for promos, contests, and more.

There were two grass fed meat vendors I think are worth mentioning, Tallgrass beef Company and Thankful HarvestTallgrass beef is currently available to order online and will soon be available through local grocers.  From May 1, 2014 to July 1, 2014, they are giving a free pack of gourmet beef hot dogs with an online purchase of $100.00 or more.  Be sure to tell them Mo Perillo sent you.  Thankful Harvest offers free home delivery in the Chicagoland area of Organic and Grass fed beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, and eggs.  For more information, visit their website; or, call 712-830-3281.  By the way, if you’re in the delivery area, there is no minimum order.

Then, there was chocolate…and, beer.  Although I couldn’t sample most of the chocolate offered, I was able to taste some Amore di Mona chocolates. Yum, yum and yum!  They offer some amazing flavors, Caramela, Dark Chocolate with currants, Dark Chocolate with crunchy coffee beans, and more.  These can be purchased online here or in some fine food stores. 

It was no surprise to me that gluten free beer vendors were very popular.  I, for some very distinct members of my readership, used myself as a test subject to find the best tasting gluten free beer.  Bard’s was the first beer I tasted.  It was pretty tasty.  I did think it tasted less like real beer than some of the others I tried.  Green’s Gluten Free Belgian Ale and Lager was the next in line.  I tasted their Pale Ale, because that’s what I prefer.  It was nice! Their ales and lagers can be purchased through Binny’s and other fine liquor shops.  I then tried Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider.  That was my favorite!  It can also be purchased through Binny’s .  Lastly, I sampled Omission Lager & Pale Ale.  Once again, I went with the Pale Ale.  Now, that tasted like real beer!  I’d have to say that Omission had the truest beer flavor.  Too bad the rudeness of the women running the booth left a bitter taste in my mouth.  I was unable to find out where it can be purchased.  I’m sure there is something on the website.

There were four other food companies who really stood out.  Door to Door Organics is a service that delivers locally grown, organic produce to your door.  I’ll be doing a review of their service in the next couple of weeks, after I get my first box.

Allen’s Honey Candles is another company I adored.  I purchase the most delicious raw honey from their booth.  I also picked up a bottle of honey to wash my face with and a gorgeous sculpted beeswax candle.  I’ll be writing another post about using local honey in your beauty products to reduce allergies.  Allen’s Honey uses the most natural non-toxic honey for all his products.  You can purchase them here.  Tell them Mo sent you.  I told them I would be talking about them!

Go picnic offers ready-to-eat meals and snacks.  While these are not as unprocessed as I like to eat, I think they’re much healthier a choice than fast food.  They are great for when you need something for you or your child, in a hurry.  Visit their website for where to purchase.

U-Be-Livin-Smart muffins are amazingly tasty!  Each muffin includes 1 serving of fruit & veggies.  They contain no flour, oil, added sugar, additives, or preservatives.  They are also gluten and nut free.  I bought 6 boxes at the expo.  The flavors include Smoothie Berry Medley with Chia Seed, Orange Cinnamon with Mango, Belgian Chocolate with Banana, and Apple Cinnamon with Chia Seed.  Visit website for retailers.  I’ll be doing a full review of their muffins and a giveaway soon.

I’ll finish my report of the best products from the expo in my next post.  There was simply too much goodness to contain in one post!  My next review will focus on the best allergen and gluten free skincare, cosmetics, cleaning products and helpful books and magazines.  I’ll include the story on meeting Carol Kicinski, Editor in Chief  of Simply Gluten Free Magazine, whom I admire greatly.  She was so sweet; she took a selfie with me.

So, I leave you with all these wonderful products to try.  If you get a chance to go to the GFAF Expo in your area, go.  Trust me, it is so much fun to try different products.  I always think it’s good to sample items before I buy them.  That way, you can be sure you like them before spending your hard earned money on them.

Until next time, God Bless.
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