Down Allergy - Free Back Roads details the adventures of Nikki & friends while setting up Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Events across US and experiencing different cultures, allergen-free foods, and finding commonality in community with motivation and humor along the way.
Over a decade of Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Events have taken place and brought us back to the event in Charlotte NC on March 24. We decided to change up the venue this year and take it out of a hotel type setting and make it more of a festival by partnering with local kombucha and brewing company, Lenny Boy. Due to the generosity of our sponsors, the legacy of this event carries on: Lake Norman Health & Wellness, Charlotte Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Carolina Digestive Associates, Burton's Grill & Bar of Charlotte, Lenny Boy Brewing Co, and Simply Gluten Free Magazine.
Charlotte is home base for us, as I have written before, and holds a super special place in our hearts. The amount of support that the celiac and food allergy community has held for the event here has always made it a wonderful affair that helps so many.This is also why the webcast for the Charlotte Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event features speakers who are tackling current topics within our communities. Therefore, we hope you will join us for another wonderfully informative webcast on March 12.
Having food allergies and traveling is a bit like being in a National Lampoon movie We find little gems of places to eat and we also find rare moments of kindness that make our challenges a little less hard. And then, out of nowhere, you get dealt a side swipe of a doozy that makes your head spin and you think, "Hmmm, maybe I am not quite as invincible as I thought I was"
I am not talking about just cross contamination, which is a very real and constant thing.that can result in end game, but there are a slew of other challenges to face. If there weren't, we wouldn't spend so much time on blogs and forums/groups discussing them. If they weren't there, we wouldn't own our food allergies like a badge that irritates those who don't have them. It is just a fact of a food challenged life.
Here are some of our top unavoidable traveling challenges:
1. Rented a cabin with full kitchen and arrived after a snow storm, only to find the pots and pans were all non-stick surfaced, except for the baking sheet. Needless to say our menu options were a challenge, but aluminum foil is our friend.
2. Rented an Air BnB house, arrived and found that the stove was broken. It was in a remote location with no cellphone service to call owner, so I drove down to a spot I could get signal. When I finally reached the owner, he suggested we take our food to a local pizza restaurant because no service could be rendered on weekend?!? Uhhh, not acceptable. So we left and drove to a city and got a hotel.
3. Caught in a freak snow storm while driving and it took 4 hours to get to a restaurant to safely stop to eat. Now we never get in the car without something packed
4. Airports with not one safe thing to eat except for a KIND bar. Thank goodness for KIND, but our nut allergy friends? Nada. Refer to #3 and pack your carry-on bag with a few things.
5. Emergency pit stops may necessitate you have toilet paper or tissues on hand, in the car, anywhere you can grab it. This will be extremely helpful before hanging off the side of a hill, hiding from cars, while having a coming to Jesus moment because there are no bathrooms in sight...Trust me.
6. Got food poisoning and thought it was cross contamination. Drove 80 MPH to get to health store before they closed to get supplies to help the reaction. Realized it was actually food poisoning because the drive took 6 hours instead of 4. Both my face and bottom know every bathroom between Louisville and St Louis now.
And that's just the top moments revisited. What are some of yours? We don't know about you, but we can't wait for what 2018 will bring. :) Happy Travels!
National Lampoon's Vacation (title sequence) - YouTube
Even with the boom of gluten and allergen free, there are still less places to get safe pizza than you would think. A good pizza is like the Holy Grail of food allergy land. There are just so many things that can go contamination wrong in the process of cooking because of the glutinous flour, dough, and manner in which they cook with speed.
We have a hard time finding pizzas that are ever as good as the ones we make at home. But who has 3-4 hours to set aside and really get that dough right? If you do have time, here are some of our favorites:
Next we cover where we have stopped that are as safe as they can be in their floury atmosphere and have mad pizza skills. But here is a little break for That's Amore. One cannot simply write about pizza without a little Dean Martin, or at least I can't.
Dean Martin - That's Amore (1956) - YouTube
Our pizza choices on the road:
1. The Wild Tomato Pizzeria Harrisburg Pa - Owners are very knowledgeable about handling procedures for celiacs. They offer most things on menu gluten-free. Subs on a real Schar hoagie! But the pizza is yummy and the ingredients, so fresh. They also offer gluten-free cheesy bread and pasta dishes too, but you can't dine in shop as it is take out only. Grab it on your way out of Philadelphia or on your way passing through.
2. Senza Gluten NYC - There are just endless tasty options at this 100% gluten-free restaurant that is Italian based deliciousness in everything they do. But if you are wanting pizza in NYC, stop here for lunch and dine on gluten-free heaven. Everything from appetizers to desserts are the stuff that celiacs have sugar plum fairy dreams about
3. Pizzeria Verita Burlington VT This Vermont pizzeria makes their own gluten-free crust in a dedicated space and have a separate wood fire oven for gluten-free! Imagine the tastiness happening in that last sentence
4. Pure Pizza Charlotte NC Farm to Fork, organic pizzeria with breadsticks, salads, pizzas, sandwiches, and desserts. If you don't mind the parking and hassle of going uptown to their location, it is a must stop.
5. Harry's Bishops Corner Hartford CT This pizzeria was owned originally by the owners of Still Riding Pizza and makes an excellent pie. They have dedicated kitchen space and have excellent feedback about their safety.
6. Baker's Crust Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake Not only do they offer a very decent gluten-free pizza that is Farm to Plate. They also have some amazing other options like Bacon Mac and Cheese. We are putting a pic here because it is just so rare to find it anywhere gluten-free
7 Moonlight Pizza Raleigh NC Another Farm to Table pizzeria finishes out our list and they are divine. In house made gluten free dough that has been raved about online. They offer other options also and are worth a swing by if in the Capital city .
And here's hoping the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie - Amore!
We spend so much of our time on the road planning and executing events that having some Holiday time at home with friends and family is welcomed. During the course of this year though, we have had to add a dairy allergy to our usual gluten-free requirements. Yes, our beloved cheese and milk products are now a no-no. So we must revamp recipes, try new products and try to maintain our normalcy, as we all do when multiple allergies coexist. So we thought we would share some of the best tasting options we ran across this past year at our events to help you out at home.
Some of the following products are nationally available if only by ordering online. In each description their web site is linked.
Stuffing Mix & Pies Whole Foods Gluten-Free Bakehouse has made your life easier and tastier with their addition of seasoned bread cubes packaged up without you having to toast off your expensive bread to make stuffing mix. We used them to make our cornbread dressing with stellar results. You can also follow Whole Foods recipe since they are kind enough to post so many online to help their customers Equally impressive are their choices of Holiday Pies including Pumpkin and Pecan. Tartlets & Mixes Mina's Purely Divine makes amazing allergen friendly mixes which are free from gluten, wheat, soy, corn, dairy, eggs, and nuts. But they also manufacture some cute little tasty tartlets in chocolate or plain sweet to make your entertaining large parties easier. Just think of all the delicious fillings you could pair with them to have bite sized sweets.
Soup Stock, Egg Noodles, Dumplings & More Looking for a variety of Southern based mixes, soup bases, egg noodles, dumplings, cheese crackers, coatings, and other deliciousness? Check out Anne's Old Fashioned Foods gluten-free products. Also contact them for their Dairy-free options that are not listed on web site. We had some of the best Chicken & Dumplings the other night thanks to their line. When they do an event with us, they need a huge booth because they offer so much.
Breads & Pastries JP's Pastry has stolen our heart for the most amazing array of goodies that are all made in the only 100% certified gluten-free bakery in North Carolina. They also do Vegan and dairy-free with the same care and love that JP's puts into all of their products. Not only will you be able to find them in coffee shops and many Whole Foods in the Carolinas, but you can purchase mouth-watering Gift Boxes online. Local to Raleigh NC? You can order cakes that are out of this world good and decorated beautifully.
Onion Rings Looking for an amazing onion ring to top your Green Bean Casserole? Look no further. Raw Food Central has an Onion Ring that will do the trick or you can pick some of their other various vegan, gluten-free, kosher and non-GMO snacks
Rice Need the best rice for your side dish? Try Lundberg Family Farms found in Publix, Whole Foods, and Ingles Markets or online through Vitacost.This family owned Canadian company has purity protocol in place and non-GMO goodness. Their rices are some of the highest quality we have used and prefer them over most any brand.
Baking Ingredients Enjoy Life Foods has some great allergy-free ingredients like their morsels for chocolate chips and their baking mixes. Top 8 free and non-GMO Swerve Sweetener is a healthier natural alternative to sugar and will make your baking sweeter without the calories.
Hopefully we will have helped you in your Holiday cooking with these suggestions. Come back next time for more suggestions as we continue to review vendors we met in the 2017 season. We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
Hey everyone! It's almost time for our last Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event of the season for 2017 and it is going to be held in the great city of Greensboro in the Piedmont of NC. We love being in our home state and love how much the people of North Carolina support the awareness we strive to bring with the events. A great portion of the vendors for this event are local to NC and surrounding Southern states which goes right along with our vision of supporting local allergy and gluten-free friendly businesses as much as possible.
GREENSBORO GFAFEVENT WEBCAST
7:30 pm EST
This month's webcast on Nov 2 is chock full of information from speakers who will be educating at the Greensboro event on Nov 11. This will be the last webcast of the year and we won't be doing this again until next year, so we hope you can join us.
FYI: When you get to the GFAFEvent on Nov 11, look for Kalo Foods booth to sign up for a chance to win a basket of Kalo goodies worth $100.00!
Giveaway basket goodies from Kalo Foods
This month's speakers will include Dr. Nicole DiNezza, DC, NTP - To FODMAP or not to FODMAP
Tarah Jakubiak - Allergic Traveling
Mary Herrington - Gluten/Allergen Free Baking Made Easy
Mike Cusato - Food Allergies and the Americans for Disabilities Act
Meg Huebner - Gluten Free Sourdough
Lindsey McClellan - Essential Oils for Optimal Health
We are still whirling from the Raleigh GFAFEvent because it was a phenomenal turn out of attendees, food, and fun. But, we are now only a few weeks away from one of our favorite events of the year in Hartford, Connecticut and the excitement is growing each day to get back to our New England home away from home. The people, food, and experiences in Hartford continue to be some of the most rewarding we have ever had. So, we hope you will bring the whole family and join us on Saturday, September 30 at Holiday Inn Downtown Hartford from 10am - 3pm to sample foods, learn from expert speakers, commune with others, and participate in family friendly activities. It will be a blast!
Mi Tierra Tortillas will be at Hartford GFAFEvent
Burton's Grill in South Windsor will also be there!
And so much more!
Before then, we invite you to join us once again here on our blog for a pre-show interview with your speakers that will be presenting at the event.
This esteemed list of speakers will be presenting on Gluten-Free Ghouls, Grain Free Living, Should you be Gluten-Free?, Food Allergy Traveling, Converting Recipes to Gluten Free, Essential Oils, & more. Tune in with us by PC, mobile, or phone for this free webinar
It's been a long hiatus from events as we have enjoyed our summer so far. Hopefully you have enjoyed yours too. That's what summers are all about, but, time has flown by and we are planning for the second leg of our events this year.
We made a trip to Raleigh NC in preparation of the next Gluten & Allergen Free Wellness Event on August 12 at NC State Fairgrounds - Kerr Scott Bldg from 10 am - 4 pm. The Raleigh event has become one of our favorites of the year because Raleigh is an amazing city if you have to be gluten-free or allergy-free. They have so many options that they continuously remain on the top lists of towns to be in and eat out while accomodating multiple allergens. Many of the best of options available in Raleigh will be at our event, so we hope you will join us.
This will be the 6th year we have held the event in Raleigh and all of your favorite speakers and a couple new ones will round out a day of incredible info. As always, we are going to offer a free webcast right here on our blog so ou can preview the speakers information, learn some new things in a more relaxed setting (the comfort of your home or office), and decide who you want to spend time listening to at the show.
Raleigh GFAFEvent Webcast
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
This Presentation schedule for the day of event can be found HERE. This webcast will include the following:
Beth Mincher Elemental Wellness “Aromatic Wellness - Using Essential Oils to Support Optimal Health”
Pam Jordan I’m a Celiac “Gluten Free Meal Planning and Packing Lunches”
We are back for another incredible webcast before the next event which will be held in Columbia, South Carolina on April 29 at Holiday Inn Express on Garner's Ferry Rd from 10 am - 3 pm. This first time event in the capitol city of the Palmetto state is highly anticipated as there has never been a large allergen friendly event held here. Columbia is not only a college town, but also a fast growing city with fantastic support groups helping the city's population.
The speaker roster for this event is well planned and encompasses many helpful areas of expertise including some areas that may not be as familiar. So, join us on April 17 at 7:30 pm EST for the webcast to learn a little more from these experts on things like Aromatic Wellness, Importance of Nutrition, Nickel Allergies, Gluten-Free Baking, Integrative Functional Medicine & more.
Dr. Tom Stetson received his Doctorate of Chiropractic degree, with high honors, from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, IA and he also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the owner and founder of Columbia Family Chiropractic. Dr. Stetson has received advanced training in spinal correction, toxicity, exercise and nutrition from some of the largest and most respected health clinics. He spends countless hours training and traveling all over the country to get the most cutting edge information on health to bring to his patient base in Columbia, SC. Due to his training and expertise he has been a chiropractor for Olympic Team USA Wrestling, Judo, Weightlifting and Martial Arts. Dr. Stetson hosted “Maximize Your Health” radio show on WIS 1320AM for more than a year in the Columbia, SC. Dr. Stetson is a sought after speaker in the community. He is regularly asked to speak at churches, corporations, community groups, and the military. His goal is to see our Columbia, SC community become as healthy as possible using effective approaches. Beth Mincher is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and received her training through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She focuses on helping people achieve optimal wellness through a whole body approach; emphasizing the importance of not only diet, but other factors such as: physical activity, personal relationships, career, emotional wellness, positive lifestyle and mindset and the use of natural therapies. Beth’s goal is to educate and empower people to make positive lifestyle choices that will lead to more energy, less stress and a stronger, happier body, mind and spirit.
Tiffany Brown-Bush MS, LPC, FDN is committed to the Integration of Mental Health, Natural health and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition & Interventions. Tiffany treats Eating Disorders, Food Addiction, Mood Disorders, Adult ADD and Resistant Weight Loss, using Food as Medicine in the Charlotte region. This integrated interest in food as medicine is how she became the Co-Creator of the F4L Diva Protein bar line. Tiffany is a NC Licensed Professional Counselor, NC Dietetic Board Approved Nutrition Counselor, Certified Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist,Certified Brain Health Coach, Fitness Trainer, and completing training as a Naturopathic Doctor (Traditional). Currently, she devotes her practice to treating Eating Disorders, Mood Disorders, Digestive health and Weight Loss.
Mary Herrington has been featured in Gluten Free Delights, has 2 internationally published gluten free cookbooks (with a third GF How To book being revealed at the GFAF Wellness event), won numerous awards for her gluten free baked goods, and is a keynote speaker on living well with several life threatening allergies. She works with area doctor's in Charlotte assisting their patients adjustment to their new diet through menu and recipe creation. Mary suffers from two rare disorders: Systemic Nickel Allergy Syndrome and Mastocytosis making eating anything gluten a life threatening activity.
Meg Huebner is an independent food scientist and researcher with a background in organic chemistry, nutrition, and food history, and has been living gluten-free since 2007. She started the blog Gluten-Free Boulangerie in 2010 to create and share GF breads delicious enough for everyone to enjoy. However, she soon began to wonder whether aiming to replicate wheat through the use of gums, highly-processed ingredients, eggs, and other common substitutes might actually be hindering, rather than helping, the quality of GF foods. On a more philosophical level, she also felt these ingredients were still standing in the way of truly “real bread.”
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