Gluten & Allergen Free Expo 2012

Yesterday, I was thrilled to attend the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in Lombard, Illinois. My mom graciously accompanied me, even though she doesn’t eat gluten-free. I was attending in hopes of finding some gluten-free options out there that I hadn’t discovered yet, and my mom was there to keep me company and get me a few extra free samples do some discovering herself. Look at all the treasures I came home with!

The thing I’m most excited about trying are those hazelnut wafers from Schar. I absolutely adore Kit Kats, and since I can’t eat them anymore, I’ve been wanting to try a gluten-free wafer treat for so long. Plus…hazelnut?! OMG. I can’t wait until the day I deem worthy enough to enjoy them.

Anyway, we had a great time! There were more than 100 vendors there with lots and lots of information and free samples. All the food there was gluten-free, and many others were free from other allergens as well, so I reached for practically anything I could get my hands on. Here are some of the highlights:

I got a chance to try tons of amazing gluten-free foods. The best thing I had BY FAR was a chocolate brownie from Rose’s Bakery. I mean this thing was TO DIE for. Lucky for me, they are located in Evanston, which isn’t that far from where we live. Tim and I will definitely have to take a little trip down there sometime soon. If that brownie was that good, imagine how amazing everything else is!

I got samples of three different gluten-free magazines I had been considering subscribing to. I hadn’t made a decision until I met the lovely people from Delight Gluten Free Magazine. They were so friendly, I decided to subscribe right there on the spot. They even gave me a back issue to keep me content until my first issue arrives in the mail. Hooray!

As you can see in the picture above, I purchased a cute little cookbook called Gluten-Free Mexican from the booth for Cecelia’s Marketplace. Mexican is definitely a top contender for my favorite cuisine, so I’m excited to try some recipes. Perhaps you’ll see some posted in the future!

As we were meandering through the aisles, I heard a gentleman from behind one of the booths telling someone, “It’s like Groupon, but for gluten-free products and restaurants.” My ears perked up. I love Groupon, but for gluten-free stuff? How exciting! The gentleman was representing Gluten Free Deals, which was free to sign up for. I signed up right then and there.

There were also quite a few “celebrity” sightings: We met Pamela from Pamela’s Products. She was so sweet! She and my mom got all buddy buddy since they share the same name and all…. Pamela was kind enough to give my mom a hat with the company logo on it. She was thrilled. I saw Laura B. Russell from The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen, who was promoting her cookbook. I met Mary Fran Wiley from FrannyCakes (she liked the name of my blog!!!), who was promoting a series of gluten-free e-books she’s releasing next month. I also got to speak with Kelli and Pete Bronski from No Gluten, No Problem, who were selling their cookbooks. At one point I walked by Jen Cafferty, the founder of the Expo, looking all official in a green chef’s jacket and wearing a headset. My favorite encounter, however, was when my mom and I were speaking with a lovely woman behind the Better Batter booth. I asked her if she had her own blog, and it turns out she was the founder of Better Batter herself, Naomi Poe! When she told us their products were being sold at a special price for attendees, my mom offered to buy me a whole bunch as a late birthday present. How sweet of her.

I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to attend this expo. I found a number of new products I can’t wait to get my hands on and I met some really nice people. What a great experience.