Wednesday, June 17, 2015

2015 GFAF Expo Chicago Wrap-Up + Giveaway

To say it is exhausting is quite an understatement...

When you live with a gluten sensitivity, you can never let your guard down. You never know when or where it might sneak up on you...

And there is certainly no "day off."

Unless you have attended one of the Gluten-Free & Allergen-Friendly Expos!

Excited for my "day off" from worrying about gluten!

I attended the Chicago expo last year. However, then I was not aware of my own gluten sensitivity and was simply going because, as a dietetic student, I was intrigued by food allergies. 

But attending this year as a gluten-free dieter put the expo in an entirely different perspective!

For a whole day, I didn't have to meticulously decipher food labels. I didn't have to say to someone, "Oh! No, thank you. I can't eat that." I didn't have to be excluded.

I could actually feel normal. And I could stuff my face with all the delicious samples til my heart's content!

And you better believe I did!

I was able to venture into the Chicago suburbs with my boyfriend, Anthony, and my bestie and fellow expo blogger, Kayla.

Fellow blogger and bestie, Kayla, and I at the GFAF Expo Chicago '15!
I went to the expo with Kayla last year, but this was Anthony's first. He also has a gluten sensitivity (and I am very, very lucky that we take on this feat together!)

Here are some of the highlights from this year's GFAF Expo in Chicago:

Nana Creme
There were numerous ice cream booths at this year's expo (including one of my all-time faves, Coconut Bliss!!) But this year, the creme of the expo for Anthony and I was Nana Creme!! This company took the concept of making ice cream out of frozen bananas and made it into this amazing business!! The base of all their ice cream includes 5 ingredients; organic bananas, safflower oil, sugar, lemon juice, and water. Then they add in other ingredients to create flavors like blueberry pie, cookie dough, mint chip, and banana cinnamon crumb cake.

What sold me, though? Not only the fact that they have a gluten-free brownie ice cream (shown above), but they make it taste out-of-this-world amazing AND it gives you a serving of fruit. Nicely done Nana Creme! This RD2Be approves!! Nana Creme is currently only available in grocers around the Chicago-land area.

Zema's Madhouse Foods
Gone are the days when gluten-free food had the texture of a sponge and lacked any sort of flavor. Honestly, if you want to find good tasting gluten-free baked goods, it is not too hard to do. Now, finding HEALTHY gluten-free baked goods? Well, that is another animal...

So, when I saw the multi-grain pancake and waffle mix at the Zema's Madhouse Foods booth, I about went mad!! I thought, "Finally!! A multi-grain, gluten-free mix!!" Their mixes also feature some pretty fun flavors, like Coco Teff Pancake and Waffle Mix and Sweet Potato Pancake and Waffle Mix (both taste amazing, btw!) They also offer ready-to-eat cookies, that are packed with their ancient grain wholesome goodness!

SuperEats Kale + Chia Chips

What were two of the biggest trending superfoods last year? I would say definitely kale and chia seeds. Well, the brilliant minds over at SuperEats decided combine these two into a nutrition-powered tortilla chip! A serving of these give you a huge boost of Vitamin A, C, fiber, and protein compared to the standard tortilla chip. And with Kale + Chia Chips, you don't have to just stop at one!

Anthony and I get a hankerin' to have nachos for dinner every now and then, and you better believe we are going to use these guys in them every chance we get. These chips come in flavors such as sea salt, ranch, cheddar, chili lime, and tomato basil. Chili lime was by far my fav!

i heart keenwah
That statement could not apply to me more! I LOVE quinoa! And I love the fact that this company is not only out on a mission to provide us a nutrition snack, but also help us pronounce this food correctly! (Kudos!) The nutrition profile of quinoa is amazing! It is such a great source of protein, fiber, healthy fat, iron, B6, and potassium!

So I love that i heart keenwah took such a nutrition powerhouse (that some may find a tad bit on the boring side) and gave it a makeover that would be approved by the cool kids! Their product lines include Quinoa Puffs, a light and airy puff snack, and Quinoa Clusters, a decadent bite-sized square that adds a great crunch to your day! After trying these, I will never look at quinoa the same way again!

Wheat's End Artisan Foods
One of the least common gluten-free foods, in my opinion, is an English muffin. I seldom find (or eat) gluten-free English muffins, which is odd because I ate these ALL the time for breakfast before going gluten-free! You can always find an array of gluten-free breads, but not so much for English muffins. But the samples at Wheat's End's booth were enough to remind me why I always ate these puffy, buttery delights!

Wheat's End is actual a cafe and bakery on the north side of Chicago. Their menu is exclusively gluten-free, featuring all their homemade baked goods! But, their products are also sold by the pack. Anthony and I have a little weekend vacation planned in Chicago at the end of the summer, and I really hope we can stop by their cafe to get the whole Wheat's End experience (get it?! Whole wheat?! *crickets...*) Because those English muffins had us going back for seconds (and thirds... and fourths...)

These were certainly not the only fabulous vendors at this year's GFAF Expo in Chicago, but they were ones I thought brought a little something different to my gluten-free table! If you or someone in your family has a gluten sensitivity, I HIGHLY recommend going to one of these expos! From the educational sessions to the countless delicious foods to try, you definitely walk away feeling like living the gluten-free life isn't as daunting as it may seem.

Didn't make it out to this year's GFAF Expo in Chicago?! No problem!! Kayla and I managed to sweet talk some of the vendors into providing us with some goodies so we could make up a GFAF Expo Prize Pack to give away to a few lucky readers!!

Win your gluten-free fantasy!

My GFAF Expo Prize Pack will include items from:

I will also throw in a few extra samples I picked up from other booths (like Pamela's, SoyJoy, Nogii, ect.) So even if you weren't able to attend this year's expo, you can still get a taste of what these great vendors had to offer!

Here are the rules for the giveaway:
1) Must enter using the giveaway widget below, using the correct name and email to reach you
2) Must enter between 6/17/15 12:00AM - 7/8/15 11:59PM CST.
3) Must be 18 years + to enter.
4) Giveaway open to US only.

(EXTENDED!! Due to the upcoming holiday and vacations, Kayla and I have extended this giveaway to end Wednesday, July 8th at 11:59PM!!! That means MORE chances to enter!!! Enjoy your July 4th!)

Don't forget to visit Kayla over at The Eclectic Element to see her take on this year's GFAF Expo and enter her giveaway!!!

Would you ever attend a GFAF Expo?!

Disclaimer: As a GFAF Expo official blogger, I was given complimentary access to the event. I was also required to write this follow-up post. Regardless, I would never recommend a product or company I do not personally support. The products for the giveaway were provided by the companies. 

**Prizes in giveaway may not be certified gluten-free or packaged in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Please be sure to read package before consuming in cases of severe gluten intolerance!

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