Sunday, January 19, 2014

6 days and counting to the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo... some last minute tips

The Gluten and Allergen Free expo will be in the San Francisco Bay Area in less than a week! I just took a look at the vendor list which reminded me of some tips I learned last year which I'd like to share:

  1. Don't eat before going. Last year we opted for a light breakfast and then came for the 9am opening Sunday morning. By 11am we were so stuffed we were taking a small bite out of a sample and throwing the rest away - as well as turning down countless other samples.
  2. Take a look at the vendor layout when  you arrive and decide on a plan of how you will systematically cover all booths. Trying to dash between different vendors who interest you will be exhausting and you'll never see it all.
  3. Bring your family members! Last year  I brought my husband and daughter. 3 entries = 3 expo bags = 3x the samples. We were eating those samples for months.
  4. If you tasted an item and did not care for it, don't take the take-home sample. You will have plenty of take home samples you like and the ones you don't like will be the last ones you end up eating (reluctantly) or you'll throw them away. Everyone has different tastes and it's very likely that product you didn't care for someone else loved and they'll appreciate the sample.
  5. Don't be surprised if a product sample is gone if you are at the expo late Saturday or into Sunday. I was really annoyed last year when we showed up at opening on Sunday morning and found out all the Glutino pop tarts had been sampled on Saturday. The product had been announced a few weeks prior and had not made it into stores yet- so after 5 years of no pop tarts I had to wait a few months more for them to show up at Whole Foods. Hopefully there will be enough samples for everyone but I'll be mentally prepared if there's not.
  6. Load up on coupons for the products you liked/buy on a regular basis. I'll bet we saved $100 on products we buy all the time by loading up on the coupons. Another benefit of tip #3.
  7. Give honest feedback. The vendors really want to know what you think - now is not the time to be a wallflower. If there is something you wish was different, tell them. If you have a new product suggestion for them, let them know. I am looking forward to talking to the folks at the Canyon Bakehouse booth (my #1 GF bread choice by far) to let them know about how 50% of the loaves of Mountain White I buy frozen are almost impossible to chip apart the frozen slices and I end up with a bag of shredded slices to make into breadcrumbs so now I only buy raisin and 7 grain. The vendors need and appreciate this feedback, trust me!
  8. Enjoy the experience. If you cannot eat gluten, this is the place where you can eat EVERYTHING there. Quite a bit different from your life outside the expo where it's all about finding ANYTHING to eat and when you do, much of the time you're afraid you may get glutened anyway.
Have a great time at the expo!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

deSIAM Peanut & Coconut Thai Sauce

I love peanuts - especially peanut curry's like Massaman and peanut dipping sauces for things like Chicken Satay. I often make a quick dinner which consists of shrimp, broccoli and red bell pepper over rice noodles with, you guessed it, peanut sauce. I've tried making peanut sauce myself many times but only rarely find a recipe that reminds me of the delicious sauce I find at my local Thai restaurants. I've also tried just about every bottled peanut sauce on the market and could not stand a single one, that is, until I happened upon deSIAM. Of course, now I can't recall exactly where I found it - but I can narrow it down to either Whole Foods or Cost Plus -more likely Cost Plus. It's a product of Thailand and is labeled "GMO Free" but note it is *not* specifically labeled gluten free, although I could not find any gluten ingredients listed, not even the ambiguous ones. I can say I have had no reaction and usually I start to feel queasy 30 minutes after ingesting a crumb of gluten. So use your best judgement to decide whether to try this. Here is the ingredient list:

The sauce is really quite delicious -just a hint of heat and lotsa fresh tasting roasted peanut. I'm looking forward to trying the other deSIAM products I found here. The bottle calls this a "dipping sauce" but I've been using a tablespoon or two over my shrimp/broccoli/rice dish and it's worked fantastically. I definitely still prefer the restaurant peanut sauce but this comes closer to any of the other brands I've tried.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Giveaway Winners Announced

I learned about a neat site called which chose who won the giveaway. Thank you to everyone who entered via following or liking the Facebook page.

I have notified the winners (for privacy reasons, I do not like listing winners publicly) and if any decline the ticket I will continue to draw winners until all 5 tickets are claimed.

I hope to see you all at the expo and stay tuned for future posts describing the best, the worst and the most memorable of the expo.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Free Expo Ticket Giveaway

I will be giving away 5 regular admission tickets ($20 value) to the upcoming Gluten & Allergen Free Expo coming to the San Mateo County Event Center on January 25 and 26. The ticket is good for either day. In addition to the many vendors, there will be classes and demonstrations. Click here for the schedule.

I'll be there on Saturday and am looking forward to the first class "The Latest on Gluten, Celiac and IBS: Separating Fact From Fiction".

To stay in the know about the expo, be sure to:

To enter the drawing,  follow this blog and for an extra entry, like its Facebook page:

The drawing will be held Friday January 17 and winners will be able to pick up their ticket at the expo.

Spread the word, and I hope to see you at the expo!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Freschetta Frozen Gluten Free Pizza

I finally found the elusive Freschetta Gluten Free Pizza at the Sunnyvale Safeway at 150 East  El Camino Real across from Sprouts, next to Toys R Us . My local store did not carry it - I guess it's too small - I also just checked the Los Altos store on Miramonte Ave and it too did not carry this item.

If you have been following my blog, you will recall my husband and I are absolute pizza snobs. I grew up in NY and he grew up in Chicago. We have extremely high expectations when it comes to pizza. Well, I am happy to report that we both really enjoyed this pizza! It was not quite as good as the pizza I make with the Venice seasoned crust and Edan Organic's Pizza sauce, but it was pretty close. I decided to cook the pizza on the baking stone so I would have a true apples to apples comparison to what I make. So I heated the stone to 450 degrees F, then when up to heat reduced the oven to 425 degrees F. The instructions said to cook the pizza 12 to 18 minutes but I found I really only needed to heat it for 10 minutes. The crust was crispy and sauce was tangy - I think the pizza could have used a little bit more sauce but it was still enough sauce that I could taste the tanginess and felt the texture of sauce between the crust and cheese. There was plenty of cheese and it stayed with the pizza as we ate it. (I hate when all the pizza comes off in your teeth after the first bite.) Even the Giggler enjoyed it and gobbled up the crust which she usually offers to me. (Yes, I was disappointed that she did not offer me any crust - one large pizza was not quite enough for the 3 of us even though we also had salad and brussels sprouts). 

At a whopping $10.99 per pie it's probably the most I've ever paid for a frozen pizza (and gluten free food is expensive!) but I figured I already pay $6-7 per frozen crust at Venice Bakery so in the grand scheme of things, it's not too expensive although $8.99 felt like a better price point for me. I could not find mention of this pizza at the Freschetta web site but did see a mention on their Facebook page that this is rolling out to limited markets. I sure hope this is not a trial but that this is a product which will be available for years to come.

Freschetta was definitely better than many of the gluten free pizzas we've had at restaurants including Amici's, Willow Street Pizza and Blue Line. I hope Safeway expands stock to my local store and if not, I guess I will start frequenting this location more often.

If you happen upon it, try it out and let me know what you think!