#GFFAFest in Minneapolis!!!

Today was a fabulous day at the Minneapolis Convention Center for the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Festival. With so many vendors and so much to learn, two days just didn't seem long enough! The festival was held Saturday May 16th through Sunday May 17th from 10am-4pm both days. 

There were various vendors including Cheerios, who is proudly going to be providing gluten free choices beginning in July. The five cereals that will be gluten free are the Original Cheerios, Honey Nut, Multi-Grain, Apple Cinnamon and Frosted. The line to the booth was SO long! Who wouldn't be interested in such a popular brand becoming eatable for those suffering from food allergies and celiac disease, among other things. They had a wheel you could spin to win a magnet or a T-shirt! It was so popular that they ran out of T-shirts before long. Very fun to interact with them!

A few more popular brands included Glutino and Udi's. (Head's up: click that Udi's link to get a $1 off coupon for any Udi's product.) They had a variety of products to taste and coupons to take home for future purchases. The people were so friendly and you could tell they are passionate about what they do!

One of my favorite booths was for Olive on Tap. They are based out of Minnetonka, MN and with over 140 flavors of Olive Oils and Aged Balsamic Vinegars, there is something for everyone. My favorite was the dill and the lovely lady behind the booth told me it was delicious drizzled on fresh boiled potatoes while they are still hot. The potatoes will soak up the oil making them rich; having a delicious, though light, dill flavor. Add some salt and be transferred to heaven! Well, that would be my food heaven anyways. They also have a line of spice blends, sea salts, gourmet specialty foods, hand made Italian pasta, stuffed olives and a variety of products from Minnesota, Wisconsin and the larger Midwest. Talk about good stuff!

Another great local Gluten Free company is the Bitter Sweet Bakery located in Eagan, MN. I really wish I could have gotten a better picture, but with a 4 year old dragging me through the place as fast as he could grab snacks it was pretty difficult to do, so please forgive me. But the CUPCAKES they were letting people taste!!!! My word! DELISH! Who doesn't like cupcakes and knowing these are deliciously guilt-free (well for the most part) you almost have to indulge. Definitely a new go-to place whenever we head towards Eagan.

These are only a few of the many vendors! Others included So Delicious Dairy Free, SunButter, Enjoy LifeRise North AmericaRain International, and My Nutrition Advisor. With almost 70 vendors and companies overall, #GFFAFest was definitely something I am happy to have participated in. 

I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer on Sunday and listen to two of the lectures. The first was presented by Kim Koeller who is the creator of Gluten Free Blog as well as an award-winning author. She was very pleasant to listen to on the topic of Travel Gluten Free and Allergy Free Around the World. It is quite obvious by her presentation that she is well educated (and I feel that is an understatement) on the topic as she has traveled over 2.5 million miles and lived in 7 different countries. 

Amanda Paa was the second speaker I was able to listen too. She is the author of the Heartbeet Kitchen blog as well as the book Smitten with Squash. Her DIY tips on how to make your own gluten free flour out of oats, how to eat gluten free on a budget and great tips on where to buy bulk were priceless. Anyone gluten free or planning on going gluten free would have learned a lot from her half hour segment. 

After my long day at the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Festival, I now have new information on how to eat better and some new places I can purchase delicious and healthy foods in my local area. I am very excited to come away with so much from such a terrific event.


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