Thursday, May 5, 2011

My First Gluten & Allergen Free Expo Experience in Chicago, IL *Part I*

Oh Jack, get ready to try some new GF cooking kiddo! :)

This past weekend I went to my first Gluten-Free & Allergen Expo in Chicago, IL.  I was excited to take cooking classes and visit different vendors to try samples of their products, meet new friends, and last but not least, have a weekend to myself (every mommy needs a break, right?).

I got in late Friday evening, so I just checked in and enjoyed my quiet hotel room. When Saturday morning came, I was up bright and early, ready to see what was in store for my first cooking class!

The cooking class was set-up like a college seminar brought back memories for sure...I felt 20 again...just for about a minute and then our first presenter appeared - Kim Koeller - she is the President and Founder of GlutenFree Passport - she's been ALL over the world and is co author of Let's Eat Out with Celiac/Coeliac & Food Allergies! book Series.  She talked about utilizing different Apps on IPhone and other technology devices and celiac disease across the globe.  It was interesting to see numbers in other countries.  For example 1 in 133 people have celiac disease in the U.S., but in Ireland, it's 1 in 120, Sweden, it's 1 in 100, in Argentina, it's 1 in 167, in Algeria, it's 1 in 70....there's no doubt celiac disease is prevalent and having someone that has been around the world and can share these stats with us, was pretty interesting.
After Kim presented, Stephanie O'Dea took the stage.  She was so sweet and petite, I just wanted to pack her and her crockpot and bring her home with me!  In 2008, Stephanie made a New Year's Resolution to use her slow-cooker everyday for a year - yes 365 days! She started a blog called A Year of Slow Cooking and wrote a New York Times Bestseller, Make it Fast, Cook It Slow. Her 2nd book, which I purchased, called More Make it Fast, Cook It Slow: 200 Brand New Recipes for Slow Cooker Meals on a Budget.  She sampled two of her crockpot creations, Carnitas and Country Captain - which were both delish!  The best thing about all her recipes, they are all gluten-free!  I was able to chat with Stephanie during lunch, she offered advice and tips for offering Jack new foods and cooking gluten-free.  I look forward to trying her crockpot recipes.  And I love that she calls the crockpot - "An Easy Bake Oven for Grown-Ups." :)  I look forward to keeping in touch with Stephanie - she's a bright light and she also has a new website called Totally Together Journal - which I will visit often! :)

Another presenter that I really enjoyed was Cybele Pascal. Cybele is a food writer and author of the bestselling Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook and the Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook.  What I found fascinating is that she baked a delicious red velvet cake with white frosting without using milk, egg, soy and gluten.  It was DELICIOUS! It was moist, just the right texture and the frosting was lovely.  Well done Cybele!  It's not fun to be allergic to any foods, but when you have a family allergic to eggs, milk, soy, nuts, etc. - you have no choice but to do what's best for your family.  And that's what Cybele did.  She's created amazing recipes without wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and more!  It was pretty impressive!

The other presenters were Joel Schaefer with Allergy Free Foods, Sueson Vess, Founder of Special Eats and Anna Sorbaski, Founder of Breads from Anna.  Again, all the presenters were amazing!  Joel made a wonderful Turkey Cutlet with Buckwheat Pilaf and 3 Bean Salad.  Anna baked Flatbread and we sampled her Maple Cake - yum!  And lastly, Sueson made Spiced Garbanzo Beans and Lasagna with Homemade Pasta.

So, my first day at the Expo was filled with tips, tricks, recipes, samplings and GF jive! I'm not sure what GF jive is, but I like it!  I enjoyed the cooking class tremendously.  It was knowledgeable and enjoyable.  They all had wonderful insight.  I appreciate them taking the time to come and present and to share their yummy dishes.  And thank you to Jen Cafferty for making the Expo happen!

Stay Tuned for Part II - the Vendor Fair, Pamela with Pamela's Products, free samples, my favorite new GF pizza and lastly my favorite GF alcohol beverage. :)


  1. Kelly, it was a joy to meet you. Thank you for your sweet words----it was a phenomenal weekend. I look forward to our paths crossing again. xoxo

  2. Kelly- and well done to you for this blog. I love that you found your passion and add your special humor and wit to it. Love you Bestie!