Okay. The expo was crowded, the lines were long, and people always seem to lose their sense of dignity when there are free samples of anything. But there was a lot to be happy about at the 2013 Phoenix Gluten-Free Expo held over the weekend at the DoubleTree Resort in Scottsdale.
On the serious side, Dr. Peter Green, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, shared the latest in research and treatment with standing-room-only crowds and graciously answered endless questions about diagnosis, long-term health issues, new medications, and whether people can have a gluten sensitivity even though they don't have antibodies to wheat or other indicators of celiac disease. Green said that he didn't believe it initially, but new studies at Columbia's center have convinced him it is true. He also said the center is finding many with gluten issues also are sensitive to fructose, which may be in way too many of the yummy things I ate. Oh, well, here's the tasty stuff:
Trail Cookies from the Sunshine Gluten Free Bakery
These chewy and peanut-y trail treats were made with peanut butter, gluten-free quick oats, vegan dark chocolate chips, sunflower and sesame seeds, flaxseed meal, brown sugar, and agave syrup. You want some now, don't you? You can buy them at the Tempe Farmers Market, or at the Bakery's new location at 1946 East University Drive in Tempe.
Jewel's Bakery & Café
I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. Jewel's Bakery & Café, with owner/baker Julie Moreno, is opening a location sooooooooo close to my house that I might have to eat breakfast there every day. The new location, scheduled to be open sometime this summer, will be at 40th Street and Thomas. it will offer waffles, pancakes, bagels, sandwiches, salads, flatbreads, and more. According to its brochure, its cupcakes were preferred over gluten-filled ones, and its Apple Pie Cupcake won Best in Show over 35 other gluten bakers at the 2011 Cupcake Love-In. So bring your loved one in and do a taste test. You'll see me there.
Nourish 123 classes
I was already signed up, but seeing owner/chef Kirstin Carey reminded me. Nourish 123 in Scottsdale, offers gluten-free, vegan, paleo and raw cooking classes. The Intro to Gluten Free class coming up next Saturday will cover pitfalls, recipes, and professional tips and tricks. In the class, which costs $40, you will learn to make an appetizer, main course and dessert. You can sign up and see other classes at their website at www.nourish123.com.
Cream Filled Chocolate Cookies from Gluten Free Made Delicious
These cakey chocolate cookies were stuck together in pairs with creamy vanilla icing, a sort of upscale Oreo-like design. They are made with sweet white rice flour and tapioca flour. The company is located in Black Canyon City. Call 866-442-8750.
Rustic Teff Bread from Sunshine Gluten Free Bakery
This bread actually has texture, with actual holes, and if you're like me, you've missed them. I toasted a piece as soon as I got home, and it was great. It's made with teff, an ancient North African cereal grass that produces the smallest grain in the world and has been a staple in Ethiopian cooking for centuries.
Chocolate Coconut Cake from Tonto Bar & Grill at Rancho Manana
Tonto had the most appealing plate at the Expo, featuring tiny tastes of this beautiful chocolate cake covered with ganache and rolled in coconut and toasted almonds then set on a drizzle of raspberry coulis. This bar and grill in Cave Creek has a gluten-free menu with tortilla-crusted crab cakes, Reubens on gluten-free bread and root beer-braised beef short ribs, and more.
Sweet Chili Tortilla Chips from Way Better Snacks
Hot. Sweet. Crunchy. What else do you need? These chips are made with sprouted seeds from flax, quinoa, daikon radish, chia and broccoli. That's a lot of sprouting, and it's vegan, gluten-free and kosher. Best of all, it's got a nice kick. You can learn more at www.gowaybetter.com.
Mama Rose's soups, stews and mixes
Mama Rose was serving up some delicious soups that they package with freeze dried pastas, rice and vegetables. They include corn chowder, minestrone and navy bean soups, coconut and pumpkin pies and sweet potato brownies, among many others. You can find them at www.mamarosefoods.com. Their factory showroom is open at 3434 West Earll Drive in Phoenix.
Pamela's Simplebites Extreme Chocolate Mini Cookies
Extreme chocolate. Do I need to go on?
More venues with gluten-free menus
The White Chocolate Grill in Phoenix offers steaks, salmon, chicken and burgers, salads, sides and desserts.
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Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen, in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, has gluten-free pasta, including ravioli, lasagna, cannelloni, pizzas, appetizers and salads.
Sauce, with multiple locations across the Valley, now has gluten-free pizza to go with its salads.