Some of you who have been following my blog for a while will remember my adventures from last year’s Chicago GF&AF (Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly) Expo. If you weren’t around then, you can read about it here. Well, it’s time for this year’s Chicago GF&AF Expo on May 2 and 3, 2015. And, I’m even more excited for this year’s event!
A Lone Paleo Forages For Food at The Gluten & Allergen Free Expo
This past weekend, I, a lone paleo, attended the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo Chicago. I was there as an official member of the GFAF Expo blogging team. My job was to tweet and post my little heart out.
So, while most of my colleagues in the paleo community were covering PaleoFX in Austin, TX, I was in Chicago. I decided to make the best of it by enjoying the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo. After all, I was gluten free long before I made the jump to paleo. And, when a certain gluten free king cake made it’s way to my door, I did not turn it away. How hard could it be to find something paleo to eat while at the expo?
The first day of the expo, I wore my purple t-shirt with my logo across the front. I am not a logo t-shirt kind of gal. Needless to say, I did not feel comfortable. I forged ahead anyway. I wandered around, snapping photos and talking to vendors. Most booths I went to that day, did not have food I could eat. I was able to find a tiny spoon of fresh, raw honey, a piece of dark chocolate, a slice of uncured pepperoni from a piece of gluten free pizza, and a slice of grass fed beef frank. Not exactly what I would call a meal.
Unable to find some paleo eats, I set off to find Red Apple Lipstick, my favorite gluten free makeup brand. On my way to their booth, I met the fabulous Carol Kicinski, Editor in Chief of Simply Gluten Free Magazine. I have to say, I was a bit starstruck. When I first went gluten free, her website and magazine helped me immensely. I admire her and everything she’s done for the gluten free community. She was so welcoming and kind. She even took a selfie with me!
Elated, I moved ahead to find Red Apple Lipstick’s booth. Find it, I did. There were people packed together, dabbing on lipstick and pouty lipping in the mirror. I wrangled my way to the front of the heap. Half hour later, I left the booth with my two bags of loot. Since I really didn’t get a chance to chat with Jay and Andrea, I made a mental note to return the next day.
During my time foraging, I also met two amazingly cool bloggers, Wendy of Allergy Free Kitchens and Cindy of Vegetarian Mamma. You should check out their sites. Both have informative, healthy eating blogs.
At around 2pm, I decided to make it a day. I had about a half hour drive ahead of me; and, I was hungry and tired. I cruised.
Day 2 was awesome! Because it was rainy and much cooler outside, not as many people made it out to the expo that morning. I was able to easily maneuver my way around to the different booths. As it turned out, there were a few great vendors offering paleo friendly foods. Oh, and I was wearing my cheetah print top and black jeans; so, I felt more like myself. Okay, back to the food.
I went back to the Natural Honey by Allen booth and bought some raw honey to eat and Wisconsin clover honey to wash my face with. I’ll be posting more information about their honey in a natural skincare post coming up. This is a family run company. They also sell handmade, non-toxic candles I plan to order from their site.
Then, I revisited Ali at Tallgrass beef. Tallgrass beef has the best grass fed hot dogs I have ever tasted. They were tender and juicy perfection! I could have sat there and eaten her entire tray of samples. I will be giving a full review of Tallgrass beef next week. I think they deserve an entire post dedicated to the company. It’s that good!
I found door to door organics next. This Chicago company delivers locally grown organic produce, farm-fresh dairy, pastured eggs, humanely raised meats, and hundreds of other locally made items right to your door, in the Chicagoland area. They offer local farm boxes from June through October with prices starting at just $27.99/ week. That is an amazing deal for farm fresh produce! I will write a full review after I receive my first box in June.
Simple Mills was the next paleo friendly company I came across. Simple Mills offers 3 flavors of muffin mix including banana, chocolate, and pumpkin. There was no pumpkin samples left by the time I found them; so, I can only review the chocolate and banana. They were decent. Pretty much what you expect in a paleo muffin. These are the purest mixes I have found. They can be purchased through Amazon.
Green Valley Organics is not really paleo; but, I thought they deserved a mention. I decided to give their products a taste after reading they were lactose free organic. They offer yogurt, kefir and sour cream. This was the most amazing tasting sour cream I ever ate. The yogurt and kefir were not bad either. Best part, no tummy troubles! These products are now available at Whole Foods with a launch to other healthy food stores soon.
Ginny Bakes had these yummy, paleo friendly ginny bars! There are two flavors, karma, love & apricot and love & nuts. Both are equally delicious. And, they are certified organic. These can be found at most healthy food stores; and, even some not so healthy ones, in the gluten free section.
The cute rep at the Ginny Bakes booth pointed out the next product to me. Mikey’s Muffins are ready-made paleo English Muffins. These muffins are grain, gluten, soy, and dairy free. They are also quite tasty with a nice texture and bite. Right now, they are available in one flavor, Original. Soon, Cinnamon Raisin and Toasted Onion will be available for purchase through the website. I will be doing a full review of Mikey’s Muffins in a future post. I also plan on hosting a giveaway for my peeps ( that’s You!). I’ll let ya’ll know when that’s happening. Click here to order.
Lastly, I scarfed down a couple of nogii Paleo Bars (not bad at all) and an Orange Cinnamon with Mango muffin from U-Be-Livin-Smart ( I bought 6 boxes). The muffins also come in 3 other flavors, Smoothie Berry Medley, Belgian Chocolate with banana, and Apple Cinnamon with Chia Seed. They are nut, flour, gluten, dairy, and sugar free. For each box you purchase, they donate a box to a needy person in your community. It’s a wonderful program. They are available at your local grocery store, in most states. I will be working with them to bring you some giveaways soon.
With my tummy full of paleo friendly goodies, I made my way back to the Red Apple Lipstick booth. This time, I was able to chat with Andrea ( who is paleo, by the way). It was so nice to talk to another southern gal! She and Jay are awesome peeps. Of course, I didn’t walk away empty handed. Three bags of loot filled my Red Apple Lipstick lovin’ paws. I’ll be giving them their own post soon!
It was funny how many people I met who were eating paleo themselves, or who knew someone who “did” paleo. They were usually pretty sheepish about it, mainly because they didn’t strictly follow paleo, 100% of the time. I let them know that most people don’t. Most of the paleo eaters I know, stick with a 80/20 percent. Even I stray with the once in awhile spoonful of lactose free organic sour cream or The PeaceBaker gluten free king cake.
Unless a paleo convention is happening at the same time, I do plan to attend the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo next year. Once I found something I could eat, things improved greatly. I highly recommend the Expo to anyone with food allergies or sensitivities. There are classes ( I went to Carol Kicinski’s!) to learn about different strategies and experiences. Foods are available to sample. Some of the best organic and gluten free products are available to purchase. It’s a really good time!
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving specific reviews of some of the products I discovered. I’ll also be doing several fun product giveaways and special deals. Be sure to stay informed by signing up for my emails.
Y’all take care now, ya hear!
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Want to join me for the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo Chicago….for FREE?
I’m giving away 5 Free Tickets to the GFAF Expo! Join me for the greatest Gluten and Allergen Free Expo in the US. The Expo will take place on Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13, 2014 at the Renaissance Convention Center in Schaumburg, IL, from 9 AM to 3 PM.
Winners will be able to choose which day they would like to attend. For a full list of vendors, classes, and presenters, visit GFAFExpo.
Leave comment on this post, telling me why you would like to win a free ticket to the GFAF Expo.
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Winners will be chosen from comments, on Sunday, April 6, 2014. I will announce them through social media and this blog at 10PM CST, Sunday night. You will then have 24 hours to email me your email address for directions on obtaining your free ticket.
Good Luck! Don’t forget to Comment.
#glutenfree #allergenfree #gfafexpo #giveaway #freetickets