Wednesday, February 5, 2014

San Francisco area Gluten & Allergen Free Expo Recap

Apologies for the delay in this post - I attended the expo both days - Saturday alone and then Sunday with the family. All in all it was a great experience. I met many interesting bloggers and vendors and wound up with a years supply of samples - quite overwhelming really, but well worth my time. If one of these expos is coming your way, definitely plan on attending!

Best New Products

Here are my 10 favorite products I'd never tasted before which I found at the expo:
  1. Luce's Gluten Free Artisan Bread Mix - I tweeted about this (@glutenfreetop10) - they had samples of Italian and Sourdough - both had wonderful texture- light and tasty on the inside, and an actual crust with chew on the outside - I can't even imagine what these will taste like when warm. I preferred Italian but bought 1 of each. Yes- frugal me actually made  2 purchases at the expo (the 2nd is coming up in #2...). I can't wait to try these mixes - they only require water and no rising. Stay tuned for a review once I try these out. 
  2. Hail Merry Miracle Tarts & Macaroons: These are something special. Clearly a true chocoholic is behind the chocolate and chocolate mint miracle tarts. Just a tiny bit gives you so much satisfaction!. The coconut vanilla cream was also yummy if chocolate is not your thing. My favorite macaroons are the salted caramel - very dense tasty little treats. You can order them online but the dream tarts are super expensive - 12 for $100 but that's because they include overnight shipping as the dream tarts require refrigeration.The vendor said these are in some Whole Foods but I checked my local one (Cupertino, CA) and no sign yet but I'll keep checking and when I get a chance ask the bakery manager why they aren't there.
  3. Smart Flour Frozen Pizza- A few weeks ago I blogged about how Freschetta gluten free pizza was the best I'd tasted - and it was, until I tried this stuff. OMG - FINALLY - frozen gluten free pizza which actually has enough sauce and cheese plus great taste. The crust was crisp and held the toppings well - I still prefer making my own with the Venice Bakery seasoned crusts but given this is all pre-made and I just have to pop it in the oven you will always find these in my freezer from now on. I tasted 3 flavors- all excellent: margarita, cheese and pepperoni. The pizzas themselves are on the smaller side so we'll need to make 2 for the 3 of us to enjoy versus only needing one of the Freschetta but that's OK. Price-wise they were on sale at Whole Foods for $7.99 versus $9.99 (also on sale) at Safeway. I'd expect regular price to be $1-2 more. Now these pizzas must be brand new because they re not mentioned on the Smart Flour web site so here's a picture to prove they really do exist. Definitely hunt these down at your local Whole Foods.
  4. Grains of Wellness Rice Chips - these remind me of Triscuits without the wheat. Sprouts Markets was a vendor at the expo and I sure hope they've signed a deal to offer these soon. Yum!
  5. Bacano Bakery Bread - This bread had something most gluten free breads lack - moisture. They are looking for a store front and I sure hope they decide on South Bay!
  6. Bread SRSLY - damn good sourdough- and authentic - baked in San Francisco! And available via local SF Bay area delivery via GoodEggs on Fridays - I have a feeling I will be ordering this for special occasions or more often if the Luce's mix doesn't work out for me. 
  7. P*DE*Q tapioca-based cheese bread - I tried making Pão de queijo before and I ended up with very tasty little blobs of mess. Not the case with P*DE*Q - they come frozen so they're available for a quick delicious hot bread with your meal. This stuff is very addicting! I tried the Original flavor which was great -I'm definitely curious about the Chocolate flavor. I hope to see these in a local retailer someday as I just don't like to order frozen foods - seems like a waste of energy and expense.
  8. Betty Lou's "Nuts About..." Energy Bars - especially the coconut macadamia flavor. (courtesy of Sprouts Market's booth) - yowza these are tasty. More a candy than an energy bar - I will be looking for these the next time I go to Sprouts. I also tried the Almond butter and Spirulina Ginseng flavors which were OK but I definitely preferred the coconut macadamia and look forward to trying both the peanut butter chocolate chip and cashew pecan varieties.
  9. The Real McCoy chips. Think lighter, tastier and more wholesome Dorito. My favorite flavor is the Sweet & Spicy rice chips. Just a hint of sweetness plus a little kick although the hubby thought there was too much seasoning on it. We devoured our samples as well as the larger bag we scored at the expo in minutes. I'll be keeping a look out for these at my local Whole Foods!
  10. Hornsby's Crisp Cider - now gluten free! Back when I first went gluten free, I had a bottle of Hornsby's Cider in the fridge and assumed it was safe - it wasn't. I had an upset stomach and other unmentionables 30 minutes after drinking it and then upon further research found it contained (barley) malt. So imagine my surprise when I learned that Hornsby's is now gluten free! Hornsby's is on the sweeter side of ciders but I like it. I will say though, I still dream about drinking Grower's Cider up in British Columbia which isn't available in the US so I always have a stash of my favorites (Wyder's Pear) in the fridge and will soon be adding Hornsby's to the mix. I did taste a number of the Woodchuck ciders at the expo which I must say was FUN! But in the end I'm still all about the Wyders, and now Horsnby's. I found the Woodchuck varieties good with interesting flavors, but they are not as fruity as I prefer. Note to self: plan vacation to Canada to get Growers Cider fix.

Classes

I only attended one class - Amy Burkhart's "The Latest on Gluten, Celiac and IBS: Separating Fact From Fiction". It was a great recap of the state of research and treatment for celiac and gluten sensitivity. Here are my key takeaways:
  • FODMAPS (fermentable, oligo-di and monosachcharides and polyols) sensitivity could be the root cause for folks who are sensitive to gluten. In some cases, eating a generally low FODMAP diet allowed folks to eat gluten w/o their usual symptoms. Foods which contain FODMAPS include lactose (cow/sheep/goat milk), fructose (some fruits have higher levels than others), fructans (wheat, vegetables, onions, garlic), Galactans (beans and lentils), polyols (sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol)
  • SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) - I could write a long paragraph about this but just found Dr Burkhart's web site summarizes what she covered in the class. Click here. When I had my endoscopy years ago, hoping to find an answer to my issues in the form of flattened villi, instead I was diagnosed with SIBO which could have been caused by celiac.  I had gone gluten free a month prior to the endoscopy but then did a 2 week gluten challenge so the villi were super inflamed but not flattened.
  • Omission Beer - I haven't tried this but I never will - even though it is tested for gluten, it's brewed using barley so it sounds like it's hit or miss - some folks will have no reaction while others will. For me it's not worth the risk, especially since I'm a cider gal.