Dallas Gluten-Free & Allergen-Friendly Expo 2016
I got to go to the Dallas GFAF Expo for free, ’cause #OfficialExpoBlogger. This year was pretty amazing. There were so many vendors who hadn’t been there before, which extends to even the newer companies—one vendor only launched approximately two months ago!
I’m a little disappointed some of my favorites from last year weren’t there, but I’m also thankful for the new ones. I think it’s great for the shows to have different things, because newbies keep it fresh…plus, it’s good to shake things up a bit, ’cause I think people become blind to the things they see often.
As always, I only talk about the nut-free vendors. If vendors at least had nut-free options, they’re mentioned here. I don’t always differentiate between the companies with dedicated nut-free facilities, because those don’t always bother me. Always check the ingredients and labels!
All companies featured in this post are gluten-free, as the GFAF Expo is a gluten-free expo. The nut-free section is sponsored by Enjoy Life Foods, though some nut-free vendors are in the non-nut-free-designated section as well.
I don’t go to the autism booths, because it’s a touchy subject for me as an actually autistic person. I also refrain from the weight loss- and dieting-related booths, because the only diet I follow is a nut-free/allergy one.
Pictures note: Once I have my own laptop to work with, I’ll go through and fix any/all pictures appearing super pixelated, and/or embedded via Instagram. All I have to work with right now is my phone, Google Drive, filters provided by Instagram, and an online photo editor!
Aleia’s vanilla bean cookies are uh-maze-ing. I love them. I think the only other nut-free cookies of theirs are the chocolate chip cookies and ginger snaps, but I’m biased and mostly spend my time on the vanilla bean ones. I should have bought a box Saturday when Josh (rep) still had some, but I didn’t. ?
I really wanna try making cookie butter with them. ? Biscoff’s has a lot of soy, so I’ve had to do without cookie butter for a while. ?
Coupon alert! Save $1 per online purchase with the code
LOVE2UDALLAS. Expires 31 December, 2016.
Ardenne Farm was at the GFAF Expo last year, and I also got a box of the oatmeal cookies from them (for free) last year. I made the cookies for mine and Charlise’s trip to Austin this past April. As usual, I love their oatmeal cookies.
Brazi Bites got new packaging! Brazi Bites is Brazillion cheese bread. I could have sworn they had some pizza flavor at the expo, but I don’t see it on their site. I don’t remember it being the bacon one.
Each package allegedly contains about seven servings at three pieces, but…um…I don’t listen to pizza roll package serving suggestions, so don’t think I will listen to Brazi Bites’ serving suggestions.~
Canyon Bakehouse had breads and brownies. I posted a photo of the brownies with their designated hashtag for a free package of the bagels (because #bagels). Also, their brownies were displayed in a pretty, photogenic way.
I was really looking forward to ELEMENT Snacks! I look at the vendor list before the expo every year so I can get an idea of what booths I might actually be able to enjoy, and after looking over the site for all of five minutes, every Google ad I’ve seen since has been ELEMENT Snacks. So I was getting impatient for the expo, and I was greatly looking forward to trying the mint one.
ELEMENT Snacks are basically rice/corn cakes with an icing-like sweet topping. I tried the strawberry flavor, too, but the mint one was the absolute best.
Enjoy Life Foods
Enjoy Life Foods did a cool thing this year by having a drawing! Both days, we had tickets, but then we kept forgetting the drawings after the very first one. ? Only the first drawing was announced over all the speakers, too, it seems.
They gave away some cool stuff, though! They have mini cookie snack packs, which I love! Somehow, I wound up with a ton of granola bars. ?
Feel Good Foods
I fell in love with Feel Good Foods at last year’s Dallas GFAF Expo! I love Asian food, but I’m often having to tiptoe around it all to avoid the nuts. My favorite product of theirs is the chicken dumplings. There’s a lot of soy, but I typically reserve soy-related consumption for the things I really want (pizza rolls don’t count; I pretend they lack soy).
The sauce is also provided in their dumpling products. It’s not required, of course, because it tastes divine without it.
The only products containing nuts is the sauce which comes stir-fry chicken and vegetables meal; the sauce is made and packaged in a different facility. Everything else—meals, dumplings, egg rolls—are nut-free.
The Aussies! Charlise and I love these guys. We could literally just stand at their booth and listen to them talk about cereal all day. I tried to get one last shot of their booth before we left Sunday, but my camera kept showing a blank black screen, so I had to restart it. Maybe I used it too much and was stressing it out.
Anyway, I so stocked up on my Freedom Foods cereal! I spent $15 total: $10 the first day (2 products/$5) and $5 the second day (3 products/$5). It’s still a steal, though, and I got lots of coupons as well. I love how the guys always remember us (especially me), and I loved how they remembered me from Saturday and how I bought from them then, too.
- 2 jars of Smudge (gave one to Char)
- 1 box of Tropico’s
- 1 box of Fruity Rainbow Rocks
A pouch of Cocoa Crunch Snackers was thrown in free, along with some samples.
- 1 box of Tropico’s (they’re my fave, so might as well)
- 1 box of All Around Goodness (plain, though—not maple)
- 1 box of Cocoa Crunch Snackers
I decided to purchase the box of Snackers Saturday night, when I discovered my plan to make milk and cereal breakfast bars with Freedom Foods’ cereal might even be possible with the Snackers. I figured out a way to make single-serving granola bars, which stemmed from my granola bar craving, but being too lazy (and burnt out) to make a full batch. So…why not try making single-serving cereal bars? There’s a bigger story to them, which I’ll share later, but yeah.
I was gonna get Tropico’s in the Snackers, but Char took all they had left. ? Cousins, amirite?
I also decided to stock up at the expo, because I’d been purposely not buying cereal since May so I could take advantage of expo prices. Sprouts has 2/$6 sales here and there on Freedom Foods’ cereals, so…7 products for $15 was a steal.
Garden Lites makes eating healthy super easy. I love their chocolate muffins. I want to try the banana chocolate chip muffins, but they’ve yet to be at the expos with them. Whilst they contain eggs and soy, they don’t contain dairy, yeast or nuts. I try to steer clear of eggs, but I do OK when in baked goods sans dairy.
I think the two evils (eggs and soy) are also balanced out, in that they’re made with zucchini and carrots (first two ingredients!).
I’m a really picky eater, too. I can’t try the blueberry muffins (because blueberries), but the other product I tried had too much of a veggie flavor to it that didn’t sit well with me. I think it was the cornbread one.
Garden Lites are in the freezer section.
Gluten-Free Delights® Stuffed Sandwhiches
The nearest store selling these things are, like, over 25 miles. ? I am unbelievably disappointed, and I’m going to be filling out the product request forms and giving them to nearby stores, because these things are better than Hot Pockets and Lean Pockets. They’re so fluffy, and I don’t feel like crap after eating them! They’re also healthier than Hot/Lean Pockets.
I overheard one of the reps telling someone they’re approximately $3.99 or so in stores (2/package), but just as I prioritize certain brands over clothes, I would totally prioritize these over pizza rolls and Pocky—and that’s saying a lot. ?
If you’re a store in the Garland/Richardson, Texas area: Y U NO CARRY DELIGHTS STUFFED SANDWICHES? ?? SLACKERS. (I will be giving you a request form every other week until you start carrying it. Expect me.)
Glutino/Udi’s Gluten-Free/Earth Balance
I’m disappointed I didn’t hear/see much of Earth Balance, but I guess they were just one that didn’t make it in. Udi’s frozen meals are amazing. I want all the Chicken Alfredo, please. Actually, I’m looking at their frozen meals product page for the first time, and I want so many others, too. ? I didn’t know they had more than the Chicken Alfredo and Chicken Florentine. ?
I received a container of Udi’s brownie/muffins in my special blogger swag bag.
Great Gluten Escape at Gilmont Summer Camp
We skipped over this booth last year. I don’t have kids, and I sometimes become absent-minded to things. The camp seems cool, though, and is only 2.5 hours away from Dallas.
It’s a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization and accepts campers aged 7-15. More information: gilmont.org/camp.html.
I bonded with Kiddylicious’ PR person over finding adequate snacks in the toddler/baby section. ? My evil stepmunster (inside joke; she’s actually really great!) teases me about my love for squeeze pouches (even Mamma Chia!) and dried fruits, saying I’m eating baby food.
But a lot of foods targeted towards babies and toddlers are applicable for/to adults, too. Plus, if you read the small print, their labels will say “and grownups”, or something similar. SO, is it really baby food if the package says it’s also for adults? I think not.~
I liked the Kiddylicious snacks a little more than the other freeze-dried fruit snacks I used to get…”used to” because I stopped getting the others. I admire how Kiddylicious’ snacks have a bit of a crunch to them and retain a) their color and b) their flavor.
I guess vacuum-frying will do that. ?
They also have an app that helps customers find gluten-free products—it’ll tell them precisely which aisle it’s on.
Mike’s Hard Lemonade
Mike’s had this new peach flavor, which was really interesting and unexpectedly awesome. I associate peach-flavored drinks with Mimi’s pee-smelling peach tea, so I was nervous. But the peach flavor just tastes like a carbonated peach-flavored soda.
Natural Grocers always has some pretty cool stuff they’re giving away. I also like to pick up their catalog of sales and the sheet with their classes. I have yet to go to the store, but I’d like to make a point to go sometime before next year’s expo. They give away a variety of stuff, which I dig.
Nima is a cool new device that works as a confirmation of sorts. Instead of having to remember a color, a smiley face means a food is gluten-free.
One & Done Seasoning
One & Done Seasoning is pretty cool, in that you can even put it on chips?! Even the regular had a bit of a kick to it, though, and I am more into bland/comfort foods 90 percent of the time.
- I may be sent a sample, though, so my thoughts on this may change.
Pascha Chocolate Co.
Pascha is pretty awesome. They have this new fruit-and-chocolate dip, which comes with a tang. I can see it doing well on fruits, possibly for ice cream sundaes, and maybe on crackers. I’m not sure I’d want it all the time.
Pascha’s chocolate is more of a raw version of chocolate and not for everyone…like, for example, if you’re like me and not totally huge on chocolate…
RYZE is rice flour! They have plain rice flour, then they have 100 percent whole grain rice flour. Their samples were the full-size products, so Charlise and I took one of each. We typically split products up between the two of us when vendors have full-size product samples by each taking a different one. This way, we’re not totally robbing them, but they don’t completely lose out on anything.
Vet’s Best interested me because I’d had various conversations with friends of mine who have dogs, who were looking around for gluten-free products for their dogs. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this vendor, and it was irrelevant to me personally, but I didn’t consider it a complete waste of time.
Vet’s Best is essentially vitamins/supplements for dogs. The product that interested me most is the Comfort Calm one, which calms dogs during, say, fireworks. My dad’s dog, Foxy, ran away last year at the sound of some fireworks. She was found, but that’s why this one intrigued me.
The soft chews are more like treats, which makes the dog thing they’re getting a treat.
Judging from their site, they also carry products for pets.
The Vitamix guy was #ActuallyEntertaining. He made green smoothies parsley, carrots and at least two other ingredients. Then, he made sorbet/ice cream with concord grapes, carrots (which he called Cheetohs for the kids) and at least one or two other ingredients. Each was extremely delicious, which was really surprising.
I liked his spiel more than the kitchen tupperware vendors that were there the previous years. The one last year kept singling me out for unintentional/natural autistic traits (e.g. a stim I do when my eyes feel stuck together sometimes comes off as me rolling my eyes), and that really turned me off. The Vitamix guy was really friendly, though, and he spoke loud enough I could hear him. He wasn’t too pushy, either.
I hope he’s at the Dallas GFAF Expo next year. ?
Others to check out
These are companies I either a) don’t have much to say about right now and/or b) hope to talk to later. (This is already a really long post…)
Delight Gluten-Free magazine
Indulge Right Foods*
Kinnickinnick Foods, Inc.
Love Grown Foods1
MyBread Gluten-Free Bakery
Ronzoni Gluten Free Pasta
RP’s Pasta Company
Sprout’s Farmers Market
The Maple Syrup Lady
Thrive Life Foods
vitafive (affiliate link; more info: disclaimer)
White Claw Hard Seltzer6
*Awaiting a sample
This year, we finished much of the show in a day. I think there were fewer, but mostly newer vendors than there were last year and the year before.
I was also more responsible in terms of picking up samples and papers, only grabbing what I was truly interested in reading over and thought I would look at later. I split my goodies into three sections: mine, what I’m sending to Christine, and a giveaway pile (more info later). I wish I would have done something like this last year, because I already feel way less overwhelmed. Moreover, sharing samples and coupons with others kinda helps the newer companies get the word out…and maybe this way I won’t have a stuffed bag of samples by the time next year’s expo is here. ?
I am also really thankful to have discovered so many new brands, especially those with products suitable for my allergies. It’s a real struggle finding foods which don’t cause me many issues or make me feel horrendous after eating them, so I really value discovering and being introduced to products I can enjoy.
Note: If I missed anyone, I’m really sorry, and you can email me from my site. I try to cover two days’ worth of the expo without taking notes as I’m there, so sometimes my mind does slip. My memory sucks.
- I didn’t try any @ the expo because I thought I’d read they had coconut in a cereal, but I don’t see it listed. Aw, man. ? I am also awaiting confirmation on any nut-containing ingredients via Twitter. ↩
- Last year’s major sponsor; whilst they’ve meat flavors, all products are vegan ↩
- Soy sauce; didn’t sample due to soy-based products ↩
- Cute book on gluten-free living for kids. ↩
- Imitation crab ↩
- Alcoholic; lime tastes like Sprite ↩