When more than 15 years ago I was told to eliminate gluten from my diet, I did. I experienced many benefits from this approach, fewer allergic symptoms, a happier tummy, more energy. In those early days I was regarded as very strange, even by those closest to me, (my family and friends). However, I was not dissuaded. Meals became challenging especially restaurant meals. I have become accustomed to not having bread, crackers, cake, cookies, croutons, pretzels or going to specialized stores that carry some gluten-free items. No longer.
Participating in The Gluten and Allergen-Free Expo, San Francisco was just plain fun. Suddenly, I really could eat those pretzels, rolls, cookies, croutons, chocolate brownie and yes, chocolate cake with icing. Though I live in Chicago, I happened to be in San Francisco during the time that this Expo took place, and decided to attend. To be honest, I have been aware of an increasing volume and variety of gluten-free foods available at more and more stores but look out world; a vast number of new products are coming your way.
At the expo there were items that included crackers developed in one woman’s tiny kitchen (Kettel Krakkers), gluten-free beer and cider, muesli, cakes, gluten-free mixes, specialized sweets and most products can be shipped. It was fun finding names and products I know and love, and very exciting to see so many names and products I did not know and products that were just delicious that are becoming available.
The Gluten and Allergen-Free Expo is the largest and fastest growing gluten-free consumer event in the United States. The GFAF Expo is offering five events in 2013 with locations in San Francisco, California; Des Moines, Iowa; Chicago, Illinois; Secaucus, NJ and Dallas, Texas that will serve over 20,000 consumers. In addition to meeting the needs of the celiac community, the GFAF Expo also focuses on aiding those with gluten sensitivities, auto-immune/anti-inflammatory diseases and autism. Interestingly, Athletes and the health conscious community will greatly benefit from the Expo’s offerings as well. Over 100 large companies and small business vendors join together at each Expo. Attendees are able to sample products, purchase hard to find goods and attend over 20 informational sessions including Gluten-Free 101, Lifestyle and Cooking/Baking classes. Everyone attending this event left with large red bags filled with samples and coupons. I know I did.
When did thes expos begin, I wondered and learned that:
Jen Cafferty founded the Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo in 2008 to introduce attendees to some of the leading culinary and health experts in the field. The Expo has grown to reach over 20,000 attendees per year throughout the United States and Canada. Cafferty and her team of notable chefs, cookbook authors and nutritionists present cooking demonstrations and educational sessions. In addition, the event includes a Vendor Fair featuring over 200 companies sampling and selling their products.
As Founder and CEO of the Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo (www.gfafexpo.com) and Host of Living Free (www.livingfreetv.com), Jen Cafferty is a nationally recognized expert on cooking and living gluten & allergen free. She considers it her personal mission to help others who follow a restricted diet learn delicious, nutritious and convenient ways to live a happy and healthy life. Cafferty, her husband and two children follow a restricted diet due to a variety of health concerns. Cafferty is a Certified Health Coach and Chef.
Through her award-winning website (www.gfreelife.com) and culinary classes, Cafferty teaches others how to prepare healthy and delicious GF meals at home and educates them about the wide variety of ingredients that are readily available today in grocery and natural food stores. Cafferty is a knowledgeable resource on both shopping for GF foods and dining out with dietary restrictions. Through the consulting division of her company, Cafferty consults with numerous food retailers and restaurants to ensure that they are offering the most delicious and safe products as well as that they are following proper allergen procedures for their customers.
For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Jen Cafferty at [email protected] or 847-217-1317.
Photos: Leon Keer