This week, for Gluten Free Friday, we have a little something different for you. See, this past weekend, mom and I were invited as bloggers to the Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. Gluten Free Expos are a great way for celiacs to find new brands to try and learn about cool new products from older, trusted brands. Although I have been gluten free for around five years now, this is only the second expo that I have been to!
Although the Expo was slated to start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, mom and I were asked to stop in a little early to attend the Blogger’s Breakfast, hosted by BFree Foods. At the breakfast, we were able to meet other influencers with Celiac Disease, as well as sampling some BFree Foods bagels. We’ve actually worked with BFree Foods in the past, so I was excited to see the blogger’s swag bag was full of foods I loved, as well as a few new surprises.
These Chips mean everyone in the family can have chocolate again! We use them in baking.
After the breakfast, we had the chance to scout out the brands before the rest of the crowd arrived. There were a lot of familiar brands there, like Ronzoni, Enjoy Life Foods, Daiya, Smart Flour, and Udi’s. We also stumbled across some brands we weren’t familiar with, like Abundtant Love baking mixes and Sonoma Flatbreads. My daughter, a toddler with FPIES, was excited to get a sample from the Perfectly Free booth. Perfectly Free bites are one of the only sweet treats she’ll eat!
Although it was a lot of fun sampling foods and talking to other celiacs, a few booths stood out to me. One of them was Enjoy Life Foods, which was set up like a giant allergy-free version of a board game. You walked through the board, which was divided into themed areas, like the “sweet and salty sea,” and picked up samples of Enjoy Life Foods. The Enjoy Life ladies also helped us figure out where to buy their chocolate morsels near us. Now the baby can finally have chocolate chip pancakes!
Another booth that stood out to me was the Ronzoni booth. Not for the design this time! At the Ronzoni booth, you had the opportunity to have your photo taken with pasta-themed props and get a free box of pasta. Before having our picture taken, I had mentioned that we eat a lot of the rotini because it’s easy for my toddler to self-feed. Well, when we got our photo taken and walked over to claim our pasta, they had a box of rotini waiting for me— I didn’t have to waste time deliberating over which pasta to take home. I thought this was a simple little touch that really showed that they connect with their customers!
Other notable brands include Sunbutter, who had the chance to win a case of Sunbutter for posting on social media, and Sprouts Grocery, who were giving out free apples. If you were feeling like all the samples were getting to you, you could take a break and get a free health screening! Justin and my friend Alex got their free health screenings done while I sampled pizza. Hey, it’s not every day that you can literally eat anything in the room!
Although all products at the expo were gluten free, it was easy to find products geared towards other allergens too. Booths that were tree nut and peanut free were red, so they were easy to find among the blue gluten free only tents. Each table had a blue card allowing the reps to mark the allergens present in their samples. This way, you could tell at a glance if it was safe for you! No awkward “does this have nuts? No, really…does this have nuts?”
In a funny turn of events, we also saw my mom’s next door neighbor, who also has Celiac, at the Expo. We traded talk about our favorite booths and our favorite gluten free restaurants in Atlanta! I was happy to send her over to the Abundtant Love baking mixes booth for a taste of real buttermilk biscuits, and she sent me to several booths I hadn’t been to yet. We left GFAF Expo with full stomachs and full sample bags. All in all, I would definitely say it was a major success for this gluten free girl and FPIES mama!
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Have you ever been to a Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly Expo?