The Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo

by Maggie on May 4, 2011

Bookmark and Share

We just got back from a fantastic weekend in Chicago, Illinois.  We went to the Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo and it was so fantastic.  I am so glad we took the kids, it was such a great gluten free adventure for all of us.

Friday night we went to a pasta dinner at a restaurant called Maggiano’s.  Gluten free pasta at an Italian restaurant!  It was such a treat.  We were lucky to share a table with Amy (from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free) and her husband Joe, as well as Brittany (from Real Sustenance) and her husband Rich.

The highlight of the night was when we passed Callum (our gluten intolerant four-year old) the basket of bread and told him he could have some.  I wish I had a picture of his face to share with you!  He was thrilled, “I can eat this bread?“.

Saturday began with breakfast at the hotel (the conference was held at the Wyndham in Lisle, Illinois ).  There was an entire buffet table dedicated to gluten free food!  And they were even serving gluten free waffles.  My kids were in heaven.

Callum appreciated the breakfast options more because he’s a little older and has been diagnosed for a year and a half.  He’s used to having limited options in hotels or restaurants.  It was such a treat for him to be able to order anything he wanted.  Udi’s Gluten Free sponsored the Expo so we were treated to their bagels, muffins, and breads all weekend long.

We spent the rest of Saturday in Chicago sightseeing with the kids.  We took them to The Field Museum which was so cool!  They have an underground bugs exhibit right now where you actually go into an artificial underground and the bugs are as big as the kids.  It was a pretty fascinating experience for all four of us!

Saturday night was the blogger party; a chance to socialize with our fellow bloggers and presenters.  It was so great to have the chance to socialize and mingle with this group.  I had the chance to meet and chat with so many great women who are doing so much for the growing gluten and allergen free community.

Sunday was my day to really explore the conference and hit up a couple of the cooking classes and demos.  I started by checking out the vendor fair which was so overwhelming, in a really good way.  I was impressed by the amount of vendors and the amount of participants.  It was incredible.  I took Callum and Liv with me and they were having a blast trying out all of the goodies.  I can’t tell you how amazing it was to be able to say to them, “Yes, you can have that!” again and again.

Hallie from Daily Bites & Silvana from Silvana's Kitchen

Amy from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and yours truly

I went to cooking demos by Amy from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free (where she also sold out of her new cookbook) and Shirley from Gluten Free Easily.  I took Callum and Liv to a cooking demo by Kelly from The Spunky Coconut.  We made her Foothills bagels (from her new cookbook).  Oh my goodess, they were amazing.

Me and Shirley from GFE

Kelly from The Spunky Coconut and yours truly

A huge thank you to the sponsors (especially Udi’s) and more importantly to Jen Cafferty from Gluten Free Life With Jen.  She is the woman behind the Expo who put in a tremendous amount of work so that other people could learn more about gluten free living (and be able to eat safe gluten free and dairy free meals).

We’ve pretty much decided that we’ll be back to Chicago next year, but if you want to get in on the Expo action before then, check out the Dallas, Texas Expo in October, 2011.

Planning on travelling with your gluten free and allergen free kids soon?  Check out my post from last summer about holidays with kids. You’ll also get my recipe for kale chips. Mmmm.

P.S.  I also need to thank my Mom and Dad for taking good care of our pup Ringo while we were gone!  And of course Pete for tagging along and supporting my Expo adventure.