Best of Fest – GFAF Expo, NJ 2017

Disclaimer: I was one of the official bloggers for the NJ GFAF Expo. My entry ticket was comped, and I (like many other attendees) received product samples. I was not paid to write this. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I use and love.

The New Jersey GFAF Expo is over, and I am still wiped out! But I’ve got my Best of Fest list ready for you, so here we go!

Everybody Eats

A dedicated gluten free and nut free bakery in Brooklyn, NY (dairy free and vegan options available). It is one of my favorite bakeries, and their baguettes are all the rage in GF restaurants across NYC. Always a huge hit at the expo, I often hear other attendees similarly raving about the bread. I adore the team that runs Everybody Eats (Pablo, Pedro, and Bruce) – they truly care about the Celiac/gluten free community and are some of the loveliest people you’ll ever have the good fortune to meet. No traditional storefront, but they ship and have pick-up options. 

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Izzi B’s Allergen Free Bakery

Another big expo hit year after year, Izzi B’s is a dedicated gluten free bakery in CT that is also free of the top 8 allergens. The owner, Pam, is the absolute sweetest, and this year I met her daughter – the real Izzi B for whom the bakery was inspired by/named for. It turns out that Isabella and I share a favorite cupcake flavor (the golden yellow cupcakes pictured below). They are to die for! Izzi B has no traditional storefront, but there are shipping and pick-up options. 

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Canyon Bakehouse

The best certified gluten free bagels in town! Pictured here are their plain and everything bagels. However, my favorite flavors are their new blueberry and cinnamon raisin. The texture is slightly different – chewier and much closer to traditional New York bagels. Stop and Shop recently started carrying this product, so check it out!

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Eclair Naturals

My favorite gluten free body care products! Also soy free, non-GMO, vegan, and cruelty free. Beautiful scents. The lotions and body butters are my favorite products and have been lifesavers during cold winter months. I frequently stock up when there are sales on Target.com and in Rite Aid stores.

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Gluten Free Gloriously

Amazing dedicated/certified gluten free bakery in NJ. I adore their desserts (they do wedding cakes FYI!), and I kept running into other GF folk at the expo who were similarly raving. Gluten Free Gloriously recently began shipping nationwide. Their dedicated bakery is in Stirling, NJ, and they also have a dedicated display in Bay Ridge, NJ.

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Against the Grain Pizza

Kris and I have been fans of Against The Grain’s baguette for many years, and I was thrilled to try their pizza. The pesto pizza is possibly my favorite pizza on the market. Made in a dedicated gluten free facility.

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Tali Restaurant

NYC’s newest 100% gluten free restaurant! Tali is located on 26th St/Lexington Avenue. Nicely priced Italian food with a gluten free bar and bakery. The NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group recently had a dinner event there, and everyone gave glowing reviews. 

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The Really Great Food Company

I was recently introduced to these baking mixes in one of my American Gluten Free Boxes. I was thrilled to be able to sample more of their products including their heavenly banana bread and coffee crumb cake mixes (now I can’t stop thinking about that coffee cake – so good!!!). Certified gluten free, egg free, soy free, casein free, dairy free, nut free, kosher, GMO free.

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Friends who attended the expo – did you have any other favorites? Please share in the comments section!

Can’t wait for next year!

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The Squirrel & The Bee Grain Free Bakery + Bonus Giveaway

Disclaimer: I received samples of these products, but I was not paid to write this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love.

One of my friends recently told me about a bakery that was featured at a farmers market in New Jersey that had the best paleo/gluten free snacks. I instantly asked, “Is it The Squirrel & The Bee????” – “YES!” And we had a love fest chatting about their delicious granola and muffins.

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The Squirrel and the Bee is a 100% gluten free bakery in New Jersey. They offer a wide variety of muffins, breads, sandwich rolls, cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, tarts, pies and even ice cream cake. All of their items are gluten free and grain free. Much of their menu is also dairy free, vegan and suitable for the paleo diet. 

My favorite product (so far) from their bakery are the pumpkin and blueberry muffins – when I’m out all day teaching fitness classes, it’s a snack that I can feel good about. The base of nut flour and coconut flour helps keep me fueled and satisfied for several hours. I appreciate the focus on nutrition, high protein, and healthy fat.

They also make THE BEST granola that I have ever tasted – Goodness Grainless Granola. I’ve tried both the Pumpkin Spice (perfect for fall!) and Vanilla & Cinnamon. While I could happily munch on fistfuls straight out of the bag, I highly recommend both flavors as the perfect crunchy ice cream topping – they’re excellent on top of coffee ice cream!

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Goodness Grainless is:

  • 100% gluten free and made in a dedicated facility
  • Grain free (no oats!)
  • Dairy free
  • Refined sugar free
  • Peanut free
  • Soy free

The Squirrel & The Bee is located in Short Hills, NJ. Shipping is available across the continental US. I also hear that they are at a few farmers markets in NJ!

For more information and to order visit

http://www.goodnessgrainless.com/

http://www.squirrelandthebee.com

GIVEAWAY! One winner will receive a prize pack of treats from The Squirrel and the Bee/Goodness Grainless! Enter via the rafflecopter link below. Continental US only. Giveaway ends Wednesday September  27th 11:59pm EST.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you! – Top 20 Gluten Free Bloggers

Sending you a GIGANTIC thank you! Because of your support I’ve been voted as one the Top 20 Gluten Free Bloggers in the 8th Annual Gluten Free Buyers Guide! I’m super thrilled and honored to be among this group of amazing bloggers. Being an advocate for the Celiac community is a very important part of my life, so this recognition means the world to me. Thank you so much for your support!

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There are more awards to be given! This is your chance to vote for your favorite products and resources. Help other GF folk learn about your favorites – you may even find some new gems yourself! Click here to vote anytime between September 5th-October 10th. One voter will win a $50 Amazon gift card courtesy of the Gluten Free Buyers Guide.

Please consider voting for Tasty Meditation in the Best Gluten Free Blog category!

Thank you again! 

GFAF Expo in Secaucus, NJ Oct 14/15 + Giveaway!

It’s been on my calendar for almost a year now – the GFAF Expo is coming back to NJ October 14th and 15th! I’m thrilled to be returning as one of their official bloggers. It is truly one of my favorite events of the year – a place for Celiac/gluten free folk to come together, learn, and support each other – there is so much joy in that expo hall every year!

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Do you love free samples? I do. The expo will feature dozens upon dozens of gluten free vendors, many of which are also very allergen friendly. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn about new products as well as sample treats from east coast GF bakeries.

Great expo features:

  • Free samples and raffle drawings
  • Free seminars hosted by notable members of the gluten free community.
  • Opportunities to buy products directly from vendors.
  • The hall is divided into two color-coded sections. Both are gluten free, but one section is specifically nut free, as well.
  • Secaucus is about 7 minutes away from the Port Authority Bus Station in Manhattan. It’s about a $7 round trip ticket, and the bus lets you off right at the expo. www.njtransit.com/pdf/bus/T0320.pdf

I will also be there representing the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group – please leave a comment and let me know if you’re attending! I’d love to meet up. One of the best part of attending the expo is chatting with other Celiac/GF folk. 

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Need a ticket?

  1. Members of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group receive 30% off their ticket price with the code NYC30 or by clicking here. If you are not a member, check out our group at www.meetup.com/Celiac
  2. Interested in volunteering at the expo and getting a free ticket? Click here. 
  3. Ticket giveaway! I’m giving away three Adult Single Day passes. Enter via the Rafflecopter link below – giveaway ends Friday September 15th at 11:59 pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more info please visit www.gfafexpo.com/locations/2017-secaucus-nj

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this. As an official blogger for the expo I am receiving a comped ticket. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love.

Gluten Free Watchdog’s FDA Citizen Petition

Many of you are aware of Gluten Free Watchdog’s ongoing efforts to encourage the FDA to enforce their gluten free rules. She has now submitted a citizen petition to the FDA docket. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to come together as a community to help create change. Gluten free must mean gluten free. 

With her permission I have copied/pasted GFW’s recent email. Please see below and consider taking two minutes out of your day to comment/share.

Best,

Jessica

 

 

Gluten Free Watchdog’s Citizen Petition has posted to the FDA docket. Please read the petition and comment. Please ask others to comment too. The petition is available at: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FDA-2017-P-5118

Sample comment to cut and paste into the docket:

Too many products are labeled gluten-free yet contain ingredients (e.g., barley malt) not allowed in labeled gluten-free foods. I support Gluten Free Watchdog’s citizen petition asking FDA to establish new reporting and investigation processes to address facial misbranding violations under the gluten-free labeling rule.

What is facial misbranding? We are defining facial misbranding to be when a product label displays a “gluten-free” claim but the ingredients list includes an ingredient that is prohibited under FDA rules from being contained in any product labeled “gluten-free” (e.g., barley malt, barley malt extract, barley malt syrup, wheat [except in limited circumstances with clear additional markings and language]).

What is an example of facial misbranding? Chips labeled gluten-free yet containing barley malt extract are facially misbranded. And soy sauce labeled gluten-free yet containing wheat is facially misbranded.

Is facial misbranding that big of a problem? Yes. See Foods Labeled Gluten-Free Yet Containing Barley Malt Ingredients available at: https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/foods-labeled-gluten-free-yet-containing-barley-malt-ingredients/ and Products Labeled Gluten-Free Yet Containing Wheat-Based Soy Sauce available at: https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/products-labeled-gluten-free-yet-containing-wheat-based-soy-sauce/

What we are asking of FDA:

  1. Electronic Consumer Reporting

FDA should establish a reporting system on its website for consumers/consumer groups to electronically report Facial Misbranding to FDA. Because Facial Misbranding is plainly evident from the face of the label itself, the reporting would need only require the uploading of product photos that illustrate the gluten-free claim and the ingredients list (e.g., the photos attached as Attachments 1 through 6), along with a simple form for consumer input of relevant information such as product name, “Best by” or “Use by” dates and lot numbers.

  1. Warning Letters and/or a “Facial Misbranding Initiative”

In order to curtail consumer exposure to misbranded and dangerous products, FDA should routinely issue a Warning Letter based on Facial Misbranding within thirty (30) days of receipt of an electronically submitted report demonstrating Facial Misbranding has occurred.

Alternatively, FDA could implement a “Facial Misbranding Initiative” under the Gluten-Free Labeling Rule, utilizing consumer submissions and information collected through other methods of surveillance.

What you can do to help:

  • Comment on the petition
  • Ask others to comment on the petition
  • Spread the word about the petition on Facebook, Twitter, and blog posts
  • Use #EnforceGFRule & #ReclaimGF

Digital Kitchen Scales & Gluten Free Baking + Escali review

When you bake gluten free do you find that your recipes don’t turn out quite as good as you’d hoped? Why did your cookies spread out more than the ones in the picture? Why does your bread taste so dense? You might be missing a simple tool that could help take your baking to the next level – a digital food scale.

In my gluten free baking adventures, I’ve realized that it can be notoriously difficult to measure gluten free flour with a regular measuring cup. You’d be surprised at how often you might be packing in much more flour than your recipe calls for, creating overly starchy baked goods. And don’t get me started on teaspoons – when I got my first super precise scale I was shocked at how off I was when measuring small amounts of ingredients like baking soda.

I’ve also found that we generally overestimate portion sizes. Using a digital scale is a great way to become more aware of exactly how much we’re eating. You’d be surprised – that dollop of peanut butter that you thought was one serving might actually be three. For those who are trying to lose weight, simply become more mindful of their eating habits, or are following plans like the low FODMAP diet where portion size is critical, a food scale again is a very important tool.

My digital food scale is the most-used device in my kitchen. Unfortunately, I have gone through four food scales in the past five years, and darn it I’m ready for one that works and works well!

That is when I found the Escali L600 High Precision Digital Scale.

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Pros:

  • I measure mostly using grams. Most scales have a 1g or even 2g increment, which can seriously mess up a recipe, especially when measuring small amounts of things like baking soda or baking powder. This scale measures in 0.1g increments. Perfect!
  • It also measures in ounces (great, because I measure protein portions this way) and several other units including grains, pennyweights, troy ounces, and carats. Anyone have a diamond they need measuring?
  • A tare feature that allows you to reset back to zero. This allows you to subtract the weight of a container or measure multiple items in one go.
  • It also has a few features that I haven’t fully explored yet including item counting and cumulative memory.
  • It uses 4 AA batteries, which is great because they are easy to find. You can also purchase an optional power adapter for this model.
  • Automatic shut off after four minutes of non-use to help preserve the battery. One of my old scales used to turn off randomly in the middle of using it, which seriously messed up several batches of pancakes.
  • The platform rotates which makes it very easy to clean!
  • A backlight option for the digital display.
  • So far they seem to have good customer service. The last scale I had – I had no way of contacting the company when it broke.

Cons:

  • Honestly I don’t have any complaints so far. I think the scale is top notch. The only thing I felt I missed was that I couldn’t find instructions for setting the platform on the scale, but it wasn’t a problem in the end.

Not a con, but something to be aware of – the scale has a capacity of 600g (roughly 21oz), which (depending on your flour blend) is about 3.5-4.5 cups of gluten free flour, not including a measuring bowl. A sure way to kill your food scale is to put too much weight on it. I’m choosing to use a very small, lightweight measuring bowl (seen in the photo) and only measuring a few items at a time before transferring them to a bigger mixing bowl. Keeping my scale happy and healthy!

Note: This scale has a one year warranty and a two year professional guarantee in case a defect is discovered. I got the scale in July 2017 and will update this post in the future to let you know how it’s holding up compared to my other scales.

Overall, I am thrilled with this scale. It is precise, extremely sensitive, and just what I was looking for to make my gluten free baking creations the best they can be.

The Escali L600 High Precision Digital Scale retails for $84.95. Their other scales range from $35-$100. And they have free shipping!

For more information visit www.escali.com/scales/kitchen-scales

 

Disclaimer I received samples of these products, but I was not paid to write this review. All opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I, myself, use and love. 

Team Celiac at the NYC Marathon!

Exciting news from The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University – there will now be a Team Celiac at the New York City Marathon!

From their website

“Team Celiac is the principal community fundraising program for the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. All funds raised from Team Celiac Teammates and Friends go directly toward the Center’s research program.”

“Train with Us and Gain access to professional support via

  • The Center’s Clinical team
  • The Center’s Nutritional Counselors
  • A Physical Training Program customized for Marathon Training
  • Pre-race gluten-free dinner
  • Custom two-piece uniform and race day gear.”

If you are interested in running with Team Celiac, donating, or have questions please visit www.celiacdiseasecenter.columbia.edu/teamceliac

Cheers!

Jessica