This past weekend I had the opportunity of attending the Salt Lake City Gluten Free Expo. It's one of the nations largest gluten free expos and it has rightly deserved it's title.
When you attend the gluten free expo, you definetely want to get there early to line up. This year only the first 1,000 attendees were eligible for the amazing grand prize drawings. You also get first dibs on any food samples and coupons vendors are handing out. In year's past, coupons have gone quickly and even an hour into the expo I've found vendors who were already out of coupons. Many of these are great coupons that you can't get online or elsewhere.
The minimal $8 you pay in admission fees into the expo will pay you back quickly the first row of the expo. There are samples EVERYWHERE!! It is THE place to go to try brands. Think, you spend $8 for a frozen gluten free dinner. And a lot of times you find you'll never buy it again. Ick, right? This is a great way to 'try before you buy.' In addition to the samples you can eat at the expo, you also get bag fulls of samples to take home from vendors like Enjoy Life, Pirates Booty, Food Should Taste Good and Boar's Head just to name a very select few.
This year I kind of went through the expo with different eyes. Having to eat gluten free for several months now and associated with the gluten free community now for several years, I know things have gotten better. There are more options, better tasting products, and healthier gluten free options on the market. But it still doesn't help when I go out to eat and pumpkin desserts are plentiful this time of year for my friends to eat but I get the same two gluten free options that have been there for the past two years on the menu. Being gluten free can be monotanous when you go out to the store or to restaurants. So I went through looking for better, healthier, unique ideas.
I found some really neat options.
But first, I had to sift through aisles of essential oils, Scentsy candles, products claiming to cure me, and I'm still not sure what football team hats had to do with gluten allergies. Or spas. But I'm sure there was a correlation.
There were endless baking mixes for sale. It got kind of blurry. All the packages looked the same. They all had similar tastes. The ingredients were very closely matched. So when I saw these from Bella Gluten Free, I pounced on them. The packaging was innovative, fresh and eye catching. My first reaction was "what a great gift at $4.49 each they would make for someone with a gluten allergy." Tie a dollar store wooden spoon and a bow around them and you've got an inexpensive gift for someone with food allergies. The owner was so sweet to let me try one of her mixes. Check back on Friday for our full take on her products.
One of the worst things about gluten free is the lack of individual serving items that are well priced. I just paid $6 for an individual frozen pizza for work the other day. And $4 for a frozen burrito for work. Ugh. Ugh!!
I interrupt to tell you that Bob's Red Mill has answered my call. They are now going to offer breakfast for lunch. Or breakfast for dinner. Or breakfast for breakfast.
Who cares... Bob's Red Mill will now be offering individual gluten free oatmeal cups. Life is awesome! The only thing awesomer would've been to allow me to buy the entire display of oatmeal. It would've been in vain, the display cups were empty. But oatmeal!! Each cup is only $2.49 but I am happy to report that Bob's Red Mill products have more healthy stuff and less sugary stuff. Which makes me happy.
This product caught my eyes and had me thinking about it the rest of the expo. We're all familiar with subscription boxes. They are EVERYWHERE!! Pay $25 and get an assortment of snacks each month. Buy clothes, get perfume, makeup, razors---whatever you need there is a monthly subscription service for that.
CRAFTED IS DIFFERENT!! And I am really hoping that in a market trend saturated with subscription boxes this company makes it. Because it is that cool.
You heard me whining not too long ago ...er okay like a minute ago...about the lack of available seasonal and fun gluten free products. It's getting better, but the shelf space is largely devoted to the same 'tried and true' gluten free products.
I love this idea. Set up closely to more larger, popular snack subscription services, Crafted Gluten Free offers themed subscription boxes like the Halloween one above, the Ice Cream Party Box, Game Day Box, College Dorm Box, and the Kid's Overnight Party Box. Boxes start at $25 and you can buy individual boxes or set up a monthly subscription. You can also refine your boxes by allergies. If your child has an allergy to dairy and gluten, you can mark that and only get selections that cater to your child's (or your) dietary needs. The price per box goes up to $49.99 which is a little steep for my budget, but they would be perfect gifts. Think Grandma and Grandpa--ahem!! 🙂
What else did we see that we liked? Here's the list of what you missed folks (look for your favorite companies online coupon codes below!) --and unfortunately I know I missed some companies too!
FREE Kid's Sizzler Meal, Sweet Cake Bake Shop: (Amazing samples!!) B1G1 Free cookie, cupcake or bar, Gluten Free Mama: 20% off with code GFEXPO15, Zest Kitchen and Bar: 15% off coupon, Vicki's Granola: Recipe Book + .75/1 coupon + sample, Fresh Melissa, Marsha's Products, Kidz Shake (20% coupon at Good Earth + $5/$25 purchase at Good Earth), Mountain Town Olive Oil, (10% off your first in store purchase coupon), Snack Co Utah Chips, Gluten Free Heaven, Fuel of the Gods, Lucky Spoon Bakery, Mom's Place Gluten Free, Grandpa's Kitchen, King Arthur Flour (Recipe Book + .55/1 GF product), Papa Murphy's (50% off any GF pizza coupon +$2/1 Pizza coupon), FreeBirds (Free fresh chips and housemade salsa coupon), My Choice Gluten Free, Costa Vida (B1G1 Entree free), Earth Balance, ($1 off coupon), Bona Dea ($1 off coupon), Boom Chicka Pop (.50/1 coupon), GNC ($5/$25 coupon), BraziBites (.50/1 coupon), Montana Gluten Free, Feel Good Foods (.50/1 coupon), Daiya Dairy Free ($1/1 coupon), Natures Bakery (full sized samples), Kinnikinnick (samples + 30% off Kinnikinick products at Good Earth during October + $5/$25 purchase at Good Earth), Bella Gluten Foods (use discount code GFSLC20 when ordering online), Enjoy Life (samples and use ENJOYLIFE10 for 10% off your first order online + $1/1 coupon+$5/$25 Good Earth purchase), Cedarlane (.55/1 coupon), Freedom Foods (samples), Glutino (Samples of their new buffalo style and salted caramel covered pretzels), Vivians Live Again (Get a FREE Thanksgiving cookbook by going to http://www.viviansliveagain.com/expospecial), Skinny Pop (samples), Tinkyada (samples), Pamela's (samples), Schar (bread sample), Crown Maple Syrup (sample), Bobs Red Mill (sample), Wellabys (sample), Personal Cheesecakes (sample), No Gii (samples + use promo code NOGII20 to save 20% online + FREE Tshirt), Saffron Road ($1/1 coupon), Marukan (.50/1 coupon), Almond Roca ($1/1 coupon),
One lucky reader will get a random assortment of samples and coupons mentioned above from the Expo! Just enter below to win!
If you had a favorite product, promotion code or sample that I missed, please leave a comment so others can find it. Thanks!!
What I liked:
- The gluten free expo has done a fantastic job of getting "bigger and better" every year. They are attracting major companies and have amazing products for those newly diagnosed or those who have been gluten free for a long time.
- The layout is getting better than in years past and companies are recognizing the need to entice us with coupons and product samples you can't find anywhere else. The amount of samples offered grows every year.
- The classes and resources are great for those just starting out in the gluten free world or seasoned gluten free veterans.
What I disliked:
- Some of the booths were irrelevant to the gluten free world. I would prefer more samples than a spa display. I was also a little saddened that companies like Eleanor's Bake Shop only had their food truck parked there, but no samples (I LOVE you guys!)
- Instead of selling impractical items like candles, let's sell Sharpie Markers and button organizer boxes. That way I could put all of my samples into small compartments and label which company they are from. There is seriously so much food that I want to try and can't because I was on overload by the second aisle. Give me a button organizer and a sharpie marker and I'll try your amazing pumpkin spice mix later when I get home. And remember which company it came from. I seriously ate 4 different pumpkin spice mixes and now have no idea which one I liked the best.
- Incentives for spreading out the crowds. Seasoned expo veterans know that the best time to get there is first thing in the morning or at the end of the expo. In the morning you'll get most of the coupons and samples and at the end of the day you can score extra samples that might be left over. However, it would be nice to find a way to spread the crowds out a little bit. Mornings are packed!