Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Gluten Free In Winston

I have been a long time event geek; I love going to them, I love meeting people and talking to them, I love finding out about new products and seeing products that I have known about as well. Although I don't mind traveling to events, I was so excited to hear that this year the Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event was hosting an event in my area of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Even better, I was asked to be an event speaker and a vendor in addition to being a blogger team member. A lot of hats to wear but I was more than willing to wear them all with pride and to do the best that I could do for the attendees. More importantly, one of my favorite things to do is to share while I am at the event because just as I am stoked about being able to sample items and bring home a bag o'swag, I feel that it is just as nice to reciprocate and have something to give back. Call it an extra smile on someones face or that look of yum while they are tasting a new item- whatever it is, I am all about sharing.

Sharing is another form of support and even comfort within the food allergy community.I know that we tend to say "Why is everything always about food?!" but this is just life. Food is involved in so many areas of our lives, why should having food allergies limit what we can eat? Yes, stay away from the foods that are allergen triggers but do not stay away from foods just for the sake of staying away from food. Embrace food. Just embrace the right foods and embrace the expanding circle of how you find those safe foods. The Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event offers just that (Really I'm just an added bonus, lol).

First, There Was Food The blogger team always meets the night before the event to eat, be merry and get a chance to meet the other bloggers. I enjoy this ritual because once you are at the event and it's go time, I find it's difficult to find the bloggers let alone have enough time to speak with them while also speaking with the event vendors. And I am always up for a nice dinner out. This year's was hosted at Midtown Cafe & Dessertery. I am happy to report that Midtown Cafe offers a gluten free menu and our waitress went above and beyond in making sure to check, double check and repeat everyones allergens and menu options. I got to catch up with Tarah aka Allergic Traveler and a newbie Chelsea Jones - Gluten Free Chelsea.  Chelsea had a bunch of questions and braved my sense of humor so you know she is a good egg. (....egg! Is she also allergic to eggs?!)

Then There Were Samples The Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event gives each attendee a bag upon registration for their samples and the entire event is a type of "I'm going to just wander through and eat this, and this, and maybe this...but oh, look at what they have!" My table was filled with giveaways from wonderful companies that also wanted to partake in the sharing so anyone who stopped to say hello had multiple samples to eat as well as take home items. More thank you's going out to SunButter, The Greater Knead, TummyDrops, Gluten Free & More Magazine, MadeGood FoodsSeabuckWonders and Free2b Foods. Attendees were truly so excited to be able to enjoy samples as well as having so many items to bring home with them. NutriDaughter manned the sample area and at one point told me that she "Feels so adult, like I work for The Greater Knead." I enjoyed watching the smiles appear on everyone's face when so many of them said "I can eat all of this!" Again- food, it's what life is all about. Enjoy it.

There Were Slides I was thrilled to share my presentation on "Food Allergies Going Beyond the Box". My discussion covered how I have found different ways to use allergy-friendly products other than as directed on the package. This included how to reuse the box itself, budgeting tips and how to turn food flops into delicious recipes that your family will eat while you are not wasting the food that you thought was damaged. With so many other presenters at the event, I was honored to share my knowledge of how to use your foods.

There Were Smiles I know that so many people tend to say Come find me, say hello. I love to meet all of you! but honestly- I truly mean it. I understand that I would not be who and where I am without those who have become a part of my journey. I know that each and every person that takes the time to read my blog or check out my social media pages is a part of why I am able to journey onward. So when someone who has been a page follower for many years shows up at the Winston Salem Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event, you know that I am going to be the person who is giving out hugs. I had the honor of finally getting to meet Darlene after knowing her virtually for years. She has been an amazing page member, has taken the time to share her personal stories and tips with others and I am truly blessed to have been able to speak with her in person. These people are my stepping stones, these people are my reasons to get up every day and continue to help in any way that I can and these are people that I am proud to call my extended family.

I want to thank Nikki Everett for adding Winston Salem, NC to her already jam-packed event schedule this year. She is an amazing woman with a bunch of energy that I wish I had half of! In case nobody else has said it, thank you for sharing with our local community! I took a bunch of event pictures- so many that I thought it would be easier to share them as a photo album (here) as opposed to a never-ending blog post that most of you may just get bored of. Be sure and check the Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness website for all of their event locations as well as the other event vendors and sponsors that included Simply Gluten Free Magazine, Arbonne, Beaches Resorts, Brasstown Chocolate, Dolci Di Maria, Elizabeth King Humphrey, Enjoy Life Foods, F4L Diva Bars, Garden Lites, Garnet Rose Soap Company, Gigi's Cupcakes, Good Health Greensboro, Greensboro Gluten Free Support Group, Health 1st of the Triad, Henna & Airbrush Body Work, Henry's Kettle Corn, Honky Tonk Smokehouse, JP's Pastry, Justin Case Bee Products, King Arthur Flour, Lundberg Family Farms, Made Good Foods, Maleleuca, Norm's Farms, Norwex, Passanante Foods, Pure Haven, Scented Balance Inc, Scout & Cellar Clean-Crafted Wine, Swerve Sweetener, The Breathing Room, Therapeutiks, Tito's Vodka, Vegan Value Card, WOWButter, Young Living Essential Oils and Zilis.

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