Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Recap of the Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event (Raleigh, NC)

Exactly one month ago today, I attended the Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event in Raleigh, NC. For those of you who have never been to one of these events, it's a room chock full of gluten free items as well as great local businesses in the area. The event spans across nine different cities and each event includes oodles and oodles of samples, take-home items and products, lectures, giveaways and simply put, is a great way to spend the day with your family. They even give you your own reusable tote bag when you arrive to carry all of these wonderful goodies.

Not only did I attend but I was honored to be one of their official Blogger Team Members. Talk about a win-win! And I was beyond excited to meet Pam Jordan of ImaCeliac as well as so many others - it was the eqiuvalant of a collection of food allergy rock stars to me.

The night before the event I got to dine at the yummiest restaurant ever- Primal Food & Spirits. Not only was everything on their menu simply delicious but the selections were gluten free and the waitstaff was nothing less than the best. I got to sit among dozens of bloggers, magazine editors, business owners and we all had a gluten free feast together.I have proof- take a peek at these and tell me your mouth isn't watering now!
I had locally-made gluten free bread and butter (yes, that was my appetizer because I truly miss bread!), I had a perfectly cooked Grass-Fed Tri Tip Steak with tomato & cucumber salad and a gluten free chocolate dessert that I was too full to eat but I just had too. What I found hilarious was how Heather Angell (EatPlayWin) and so many others were making sure we all took pictures before we dug into our foods. But in-between, there was plenty of conversation and happy people.

The day of the event I was accompanied by my friend Andrew Spafford of A Special Needs Plan. I need to take an extra moment and just say thank you (times 1,000) to Andrew! He drove hours to and from the event to help us out- he videotaped interviews for me, he carried craploads of everything and he never once complained. He was just downright wonderful, helpful and I am truly, truly thankful! Please take a moment to visit their website to see what they are all about.

At the event there were so many vendors, samples, people- can we say packed house?! Andrew and I did our best to interview many of the people there but alas, due to the overwhelming excitement in the air, many of the videos are difficult to hear. I do recommend that you click through the playlist (click HERE) as there are always new products and information that we could all find to use.

Tables, samples and great people as far as the eye could see! There were a total of 53 Sponsors and vendors at this event and it was all I could do from wanting to run to every single booth to see what they all had. But rather than doing that (because that would not be professional) I started at the beginning. I was delighted to see my friends Michael and Fabian from Freedom Foods as soon as I walked in as well as the Enjoy Life Foods table. I saw Pam all decked out in her I'm A Celiac-wear (loved it!) and I even got to meet Allergen Menu Mom, one of my page followers (I love when that happens!). It was as if I had stepped into a room full of supportive, energizing, delicious inspiration and I soaked up all of it. If you have never been to one of these events, you have to go so that you will understand what I mean. You leave exhausted but your brain is on wharp speed because you have learned so much in just a few short hours.

In between, I got to sample so many delicious gluten free items that by the time I was half way through, I truly could not eat another bite. I wanted too, I really did but it was just impossible. I guess there is such thing as too much of a good thing, but in a good allergy-friendly way.

I was happy to see my friends from Lowes Foods there as well. I have become an fan of Lowes Foods in the past few months - I am loving the fact that I can shop and pick up a ton of allergy-friendly items right at the same store! (Keep up the good work, guys!) Me tending to take a more proactive approach to food allergies means that when I see the same being done elsewhere, I can't help but feel the need to do even more to spread the word.

Folks from Delight Gluten Free Magazine
I left with full hands for sure! I had product reviews to write, people to email, research to do and did I mention the wonderful swag bag that I got in addition to my other full bags? And coupons, lots and lots and lots of coupons (you all know I love coupons!).

If you were not able to attend this event, please check their website at http://gfafwellnessevent.com to see where the other locations and dates are. This is an event that you will want to make a yearly outing to visit.

I also wanted to thank the coordinators of the Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event for having me be a part of it all. I could not think of a better way to have better food, have met better people and to know that gluten and allergen free wellness is happily spreading across the United States as we speak.


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