If you saw the YouTube vlog that Kyra from Crave Bake Shop and I made a few days ago, you probably got a sense of how crazy Expo West was. It’s the biggest convention/expo I’ve ever seen. I’m going to use this analogy to describe how daunting this place was – it was like being asked to run a marathon my first week into knee rehab. I was overwhelmed at the amount of vendors even on the NEXT level on the third floor, much less the 5 exhibitor halls and events spread throughout the event. I was there for only 48 hours because I had to fly home for a GlutenFreeCalendar.com event, but I thought that I accomplished a lot for what little time I had there.
The Expo West press room people rule at life – they were so happy and positive and helpful. I was welcomed in as the first person to register for press! Yes, I was there THAT early. But, my Specialty Diets Forum started at 8am and I flew in from Phoenix at 7:30am! There was a LOT of running – in the airport, from hotel to convention center, etc. I was exhausted by the time I flew home!
The Specialty Diets Forum was awesome, especially since being gluten-free was such a huge part of it. And, I got to meet one of my celiac heros – NFCA’s Alice Bast! It was amazing how many retailers in the audience didn’t know much about gluten-free living – it was interesting being there as a consumer instead of a marketer! While I knew most of what all they presented, it was great information that these retailers needed! I hope that the people who attended that forum really understood what it’s like. Another great speaker was The Healthy Voyager – Carolyn Scott Hamilton and her talk on working with bloggers to promote your retail brand or food brand. She rocks – and I learned something too as a blogger!
I even hung out with the FIndmeGlutenFree.com guys! Love them!
I had a great time at the Udi’s/Earth Balance free gluten-free breakfast on Day 2 of the Expo – I just wanted to share some great pics from the event. THey had their very own gluten-free toaster! As someone overwhelmed by the idea of cross-contamination, I appreciated this!
As a member of the press I was allowed to vote on the “Best of the West” which is a compilation of products chosen by someone (still to this day I don’t know who). I chose my top three (which was significantly easier for me because I did not want to vote for gluten. Any vote for gluten is a vote against my immune system personally). My personal Best of the West is a little different – it’s the top products I found that are gluten-free that I love and can’t wait to see on the general market!
Here are my picks for gluten-free Best of the West:
Beanitos – yes, they were a favorite before, but since they went through the rebrand and came out with a host of new products, I am in love! They were sampling their new restaurant style of chip that looks like the traditional tortilla chip but is made with white beans intead! Mind blown – looks like corn but tastes like beans! Go legumes!
Glutino Toaster Pastries – You guys were raving about this on Instagram, and I’m pretty stoked about these myself. I haven’t tried these yet – but I definitely commend GLutino for making something that we’re missing out on – a GF poptart that everyone has access to!
Nature’s Path Organic summer berries granola – So I’m kind of over granolas right now. Unless they do something exciting for me I’d rather have my daily allowance of oats in something like oatmeal. But sampling this product made me smile! Hooray for little bits of berries and yogurt in the granola – so tasty!
The Gluten Free Bar bites – I tried the dark chocolate coconut. YUM! They are same as the GFB that we love, but with coconut and in new shapes that make for easy portion control or snacking – instead of eating the whole bar (or in my case, being able to eat more than a bar!).
Pillsbury Gluten Free Muffins – yes you heard that right, Pillsbury teamed up with Uncle Wally’s to create a line of gluten-free muffins that taste sinfully delicious (just check the calorie count) in chocolate chip and blueberry. These do not fall apart when eaten! It’s like magic!
Bakery on Main – Blueberry scones in the form of oatmeal – it happened. Bakery on Main lauched two new products – carrot cake and blueberry scone. The Blueberry Scone is AMAZING. Although it’s definitely not low in sugar, it’s high in awesomeness. I’m looking forward to these hitting the shelves. These packets are GREAT to take on business trips – and I am looking forward to buying a box of these to take with me to expos! Starting the day off right with this new flavor!
The Better Chip – these chips are made with spinach and kale and they are super yummy. They are non-GMO and 100% natural. Naturally gluten-free and including kale in a chip? Thumbs up!
Allermates – They just launched a new line of gluten-free lunchboxes and some of their product will now be carried in K-Mart! Here here for allergy-friendly products going mainstream!
Primal Pit Paste – okay so this isn’t really “gluten free” because you’re not eating it, but lately I’m trying to go really natural and this is about as natural as you get – “natural” deodorant. I ordered some as soon as I got home. I’m interested in how it really works – I’ll let you know!
Conte’s Bake In Bag GF pizza – Hooray for this pizza being 1) made in a dedicated facility and 2) able to bake it in a bag. Now, this pizza wasn’t the best pizza I’ve ever had. I definitely make better pizza myself using Rudi’s crusts. However, this bake in the bag pizza is PERFECT for people with shared kitchens. I sure hope restaurants use stuff like this to give us safe opportunities to eat out!
Ek Chok – I’m drooling right now over the many many samples I tasted of the chocolate with cardamom. This is like Justin’s nut butter (available in squeeze packs for on-the-go snacking) but with awesome flavors like cardamom, strawberry, and rose! Really unique.
MammaChia – Apparently I’ve been living under a rock because I’ve never heard of this company before. They make an awesome chia seed drink, as well as these new handy snack pouches (that have less sugar than the drinks). I’m very excited about adding this to my shopping list – as it’s a fun and funky snack (like jello shots with chia seeds instead of liquor) are way cool.
Hugo & Debra Naturals – although this isn’t a new company, it’s sure new to me. I’m really surprised I never tried their extensive line of products before. I was really happy with the samples I received and when I went to Whole Foods, I picked up plenty of samples so I could try their line of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion – all certified by the CSA.
Way Better Snacks – Some of my favorite chips are about to be joined by a new flavor – Punkin Cranberry! I’m very excited about what these seasonal chips will taste like!
And now my number #1 with big exclamation points– Glutenfreeda’s new gluten-free pocket sandwiches. THEY MADE GLUTEN FREE HOTPOCKETS THAT TASTE AWESOME! I tried the ham and cheese one and I wanted more more more! I know that you will all LOVE this product, and I can’t wait to find out when and where these will be available! I want them NOW!
Did you go to Expo West? What was your FAVORITE item featured there? If you didn’t go to Expo West, what items are you MOST excited about tasting after this review?