Dallas GFAF Expo 2017 🍽

My fourth time going to the Dallas Gluten-Free & Allergy-Friendly Exposition was full of mixed emotions. I’m part of their official bloggers team, so I get in free and enjoy some extra perks in exchange for covering the event (both live and on my blog). It is work and pleasure, and I think the hardest part is the coverage post following the event (what you’re reading right now). 😪

📷 This post is photo-heavy.

This year, I went as Jane Lawson instead of Liz Lawson for two specific reasons:

  1. Going by Liz when my blog is named Janepedia makes me have to do extra explaining.
  2. There is a bit of personal brand awareness that happens at the expo, which I didn’t notice until I realized how many vendors recognized me the previous year (2016). Consistency is important.

I enjoyed it, and I’m glad I made that call. 🙂

I did learn the importance of, like, having relevant business cards. 🤦 You get asked for them, and if yours has produce on it, you imply that you’re a food blogger—and let’s just say I’ve learned my lesson. I need to figure them out before October next year (2018). I have some ideas, and will discuss this later. 😉

Remy in a long-sleeved red top, messing with a water bottle; Charlise, babywearing Solara and perusing her phone, her hair is in a bun

Virtual tour

We—Charlise (cousin), Brian (cousin-in-law/Charlise’s husband1), Solara (Charlise and Brian’s daughter), myself—went and stayed both days. Brian worked at Aleia’s with Josh (Aleia’s representative), so we stayed both days until, like, close. It was weird, but also interesting. It reminded me a lot of the Six Flags photoshoot—I got to learn some behind-the-scenes GFAF Expo secrets! As a result, we also got free extra goodies via Brian. I wish I’d’ve asked him to grab a box of the stuffing, because stuffing, but my love for vanilla bean cookies won out. 🍪

(Then I was gonna buy a box the next day, but the stuffing. was. GONE.)

Day 1

As usual, I slept shit. For someone who sleeps only 0-3 hours the first day of these shows, I think I do pretty grand. This year, we were supposed to arrive about an hour and a half before the expo (8:30am, I think), because of Brian, and an hour early (9am) because we’re GFAF Expo Bloggers. We arrived late (9ish) because of me, because I stock up on water and also am always running behind on the first day. I can prepare and prepare, but the morning of the first day, it’s like, LOL WHAT IS PREPARATION?

Each year, I’m tempted to stay at a nearby hotel for the weekend of the expo so I can relax a bit more. 😅 Some show sponsors have blogger meetups the night of the first day, but it’s a lot of travel and lugging around even though Char and I live nearby (Richardson and Garland, respectively), so we always wind up declining.

Schär

Schär bag and some bread samples

Schär (pronounced shawr, like “Char” for Charlise) was the feature sponsor of the GFAF Expo this year. They treated the official blogger team to breakfast, which was super nice(!), then let us go “shopping” for Schär swag to take home and stuff our faces with. I’m a huge fan of their bread, which is slightly spongey but always tastes fresh, unlike other store-bought bread. The only other sliced bread brands I’m especially fond of is Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free and Unrefined Bakery.

Aleia’s

Photo of Brian perusing his phone and Josh attending guests
Brian is the nerd in glasses.

We left the blogger breakfast early to go to the Aleia’s booth because Brian needed the keys to the SUV, and it was nice because it allowed us to take photos of the booth before all the people came in! During the show, it’s hard to get great photos. I try to take a lot of each booth, but it’s not always helpful; out of all the photos I take, less than half are actually usable.

Oatmeal raisin cookies, ginger snap cookies, snickerdoodle cookies
Aleia’s snickerdoodle cookies are good, too.

If you’ve been following my GFAF Expo posts since the start, you know how much I love Aleia’s vanilla bean sugar cookies! If marrying cookies was as legal as gay marriage, I would be all over marrying their vanilla bean cookies (except that might not work as well as I wish).

Peanut butter cookies, Chocolate chunk cookies, vanilla bean sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies

I really need to have a go at their stuffing!

Enjoy Life Foods

Photo of Solara outside Enjoy Life Foods booth
She was looking at me. We never got that “Look into the DSLR lens, I-know-it’s-different-because-it’s-not-a-phone” thing down.

Photo of Enjoy Life Foods products display

Enjoy Life had an odd, but cute, setup this year! I did feel claustrophobic in some parts and wasn’t a huge fan of how much more social it was, and I got as good photos as I could considering everything. It felt like it was more for kids, and I’m usually cooler with that thing, but as an autistic person, I found it overwhelming.

Allergy Forest sign
All in all, it felt like a life-sized Candyland or something.

Sweet & Salty Sea

Baby Mum-Mums

Photo of Baby Mum-Mums products: Sweet Potato & Carrot; Apple & Pumpkin; Blueberry & Goji; Banana; Vegetable; Sweet Potato & Carrot

I don’t know what happened to the photos, but Solara loves Mum-Mums, and she ate them while Charlise carried her on her back, and it was super cute! I personally enjoy Mum-Mums, because the sensory input is satisfying, but even the adult snacks are not too sweet.

The Baby Mum-Mums rep gave us extra snacks because Solara.

Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free

Photo of Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free bread display, ft. Cinnamon Raisin, and Mountain White

I really enjoy Canyon Bakehouse’s brownies, but I always like their bread display. It’s cute and looks a bit like a bakery!

SunButter

I loved SunButter’s photobooth last year! I was low-key envious the show before Dallas in 2016 had had a SunButter photobooth. Even though I feel like I always look like a duck, I still enjoy partaking in the photobooths. 🦆

Photo of Charlise and I @ SunButter photobooth, her holding a giant cardboard Natural SunButter and I a giant cardboard spoon containing SunButter
We wear sweaters because it’s cold inside.

And then Solara passed out. 😴

Photo of Solara sleeping
PASSED OUT. We didn’t even get that far. 😂

She awoke around Xóchitl some thirty minutes or an hour later.

Photo of Solara with thumb in her mouth
So cute! I tried my hardest to crop out the trash can as best I could…

Smart Flour Foods

Photo of Smart Flour Foods booth, focusing on products

Smart Flour Foods makes some of the best pizza! In 2017, they added PIZZA ROLLS!

Photo of Smart Flour Foods; two slices of pizza and some pizza rolls
I have no idea how this got so dark, but I surmise it’s because of the overhead light. Either way, the effect is, like, ten times more dramatic than necessary and the reason I kept (and used) it.

Zing Bars

Zing Bar, ft. coconut cashew crisp, oatmeal chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip, and dark chocolate coconut flavors; smaller resolution excludes coconut cashew crisp

Zing Bars is an energy bar. They have only two nut-free bars, and they’re so good. I especially love dark chocolate mint bar, but I feel like that would be a given considering my chemistry with mint chocolate chip ice cream. 😏

Day 1 overall

Photo of Solara (on Charlise's back, asleep), Charlise, Chevy, Bradyn, and Charan at the GFAF Expo entrance/check-in counter
Charlise added a bow to Solara because people kept calling her a boy so much.

We basically finished the whole Expo in one day. Aunt Charan (Charlise’s mom) brought the boys midday to enjoy it and grab some samples. The boys go through and are #OverIt within 30 minutes. They don’t know how to savor their food. 🤦

Charan holding Solara

Liteful Foods had a variety of things, but I most enjoyed their cornbread because it was like a moist cake.

Day 2

Char dressed Solara in girlier clothes this time, because people kept calling her a boy. It took her five boys to get a girl—all of whom were constantly mistaken as girls—and now that she has a girl, the girl is mistook for a boy.

Photo of Solara on Charlise's back; she's dressed up in a pink bow

We had to get here about an hour early today again (ugh, Brian, you’re killing me). I did accomplish actual sleep this time, however, so…#progress.

Brazi Bites

3-Cheese Pizza, Zesty Pepper Jack, Garlic Asiago, Cheddar & Parmesan (Brazi Bites flavors)
My favorite is Garlic Asiago, although I am a huge fan of their newest one, 3-Cheese Pizza.

We went to Brazi Bites the first day, but I gotta split these up somehow. I love Brazi Bites. I’m determined to get the Albertson’s down the street to start carrying them. Case in point:

Ronzoni

Ronzoni had a photobooth set up, which I was def interested in. This is one of the pasta brands I love. 😀 I’m actually super picky about my pasta—from how it cooks to how it tastes.

Pearl Honey Spreads 🍯

Pearl Honey Spreads products

!! This booth was amazing! I can’t remember my favorite flavor anymore, which rather depresses me, but Pearl Honey Spreads is basically, like, gourmet honey. They add spices and fruit, and the end result is uh-māz-ing.

(My favorite might’ve been Pear Ginger.)

Mozaics Chips

Mozaics Chips; flavors pictured: Sour Cream & Onion, and Cheddar

Mozaics Chips are popped and made with veggies! I most loved the BBQ and cheese flavors. I liked them way more than regular ole potato chips, because they packed way more flavor and were much more filling. Like with pasta, I’m picky with my chips, but…I was #impressed.

With Mozaics Chips was Veggicopia, which was hummus. I’m not usually a fan, but I actually liked this hummus!

Biena Snacks

Dark Chocolate roasted chickpeas by Biena Snacks

Have you ever had roasted chickpea snacks?! THEY’RE THE BEST. Okay, so, Biena Snacks is my go-to for this. They have a new line of roasted chickpea snacks, which are sweet. I didn’t think I’d like them, but…ugh. They were so good.

P.S. The salted caramel flavor tastes like pistachio pudding! I’m so happy, because I LOVED that flavor, and they’re nut-free. 😀

Briannas dressing

Photo of Briannas dressing line

Salad dressing is another thing I am super picky about, but Briannas Caesar dressing tasted like that of Chili’s in their retired Chicken Caesar Pita dish.

Day 2 overall

Remy making a silly face for the Schar photobooth; his photobooth prop reads "MAKE IT GRAIN"
Remy @ the Schar photobooth

Char’s second son, Remy, joined us on the second day. He roamed the expo by himself often, and may have helped Brian? I don’t know if he actually did or not. I do know that, according to him, he got cut off from an energy drinks booth called Bolero. The drinks actually weren’t too bad, in that they tasted great. (…I guess that’s why he got cut off. 🤣)

Remy holding a sunflower prop with a hole punched for the face, and a spoon, for the SunButter photobooth; his shirt says "LIKE A BOSS"
Remy @ the SunButter photobooth

Solara napped as she pleased, but she was still so adorbz!

Forno de Minas brought to us a new Brazillian cheese bread to try, which was good. I’m still a huge fan of Brazi Bites, however. 😅

GFAF Expo 2017 overall

Spinato’s Fine Foods is a forever favorite, but they were crowded and busy (as usual), and I was preoccupied with pizza, so I didn’t accomplish taking any photos of the booth. I personally love them ’cause they’re always partying! The booth is managed by two energetic guys who are easy to talk to.

Since there were so many newbies this year, most of our usual booth favorites weren’t. It was a bit disappointing, for me at least, because I enjoyed the consistency. No booth had any kind of alcohol—and I was really hoping for Mike’s, because I really enjoy being able to test out their flavors before buying them! The Aussies at the Freedom Foods cereal booth were present not, and…that’s honestly a big thing we look forward to every year. It was a bit sad, Idunno how else to explain it.

I felt rather disappointed in the expo this year, which is part of the reason it took me so long to get up this post2. I feel like a lot of the hype I helped build over it was, like, me lying? People in my life take me for my word regarding this show, and I feel as though I let some of them down.

There was an entire row less of booths, but more people—and the preparation for such an audience felt too slim. My knees don’t allow me to stand too long, because I’m still recovering from my 2016 fall, but we didn’t always get a chance to sit. Likewise, losing that column of booths added to the crowd. I was really claustrophobic and had a difficult time getting through a section at times. I’m glad I brought a cooler bag of ice water, because I don’t know how I would’ve survived without having cold water.3.

With that said, I do enjoy attending the GFAF Expo and look forward to the one happening in Dallas later this year!

  1. I like to tease him ’cause it’s too easy, and I mean…what else am I supposed to do with him?! I’m not a nice person, I’m a tease.
  2. the rest of the reason being that I’ve been sick, busy with holidays, and editing photos took forever
  3. I’m not about to spent $2 for a water

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Comments on this post

[…] is that I finally had the willpower (re: patience) and time to edit photos from last year’s GFAF Expo so I could get up the post. Otherwise, I’ve been trying to sleep everything off, because it […]

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Georgie’s gravatar

Aleia’s cookies look so good. 🤤

The more you write about these expos the more I feel like I should look for one in Sydney. Although I’m not allergic to anything, I do often like the taste of -free foods.

I have been snacking on roasted chickpeas recently 😆 I haven’t had any flavoured ones though, I’ve never seen them before! 😱 I generally like salted caramel anything… but not sure what to think of chickpeas or how they might taste, haha. If I get my hands on any, I hope they are good.

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Jane’s gravatar

Haha, they are definitely good!

Charlise isn’t allergic to anything more than latex, but she still goes to the shows and, like me, winds up buying some of what we see at shows. Granted, she gets more than me because she doesn’t have food allergies, but point is that she still benefits from it!

I did a quick bit of googling and found some shows in Sydney: Naturally Good Expo seems most like the expos we scope out; and there are some others through expodatabase, although it doesn’t seem like a wide variety. A bit disappointing Naturally Good Expo is the only one of its kind!

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