Gluten Free Expo Toronto 2013

Gluten Free Expo TorontoWhen people ask me “what is the hardest part about having to live gluten free?” I usually say “the inconvenience”.

The “diet” itself isn’t that hard. Simply eating a clean diet of fruits, veggies, meats, fish, and dairy you prepare yourself is pretty easy actually. But, once you step outside the safety of your own kitchen and cooking skills, the task becomes much harder.

No longer can you simply “grab something quick”. No longer can you simply go to an event and be “spontaneous”.
That’s the word: Spontaneity.
It’s gone from your life for good.

But you adapt. You learn to pre-plan. You learn to go through life like a sherpa, carrying a bag filled with “safe” food so you can appear spontaneous.

I still do all the things I used to do before discovering my wheat allergy. I travel, I dine out, I go to events. But I am now “that girl”…
I ask a thousand questions. I know more about the restaurant and the menu than the staff before I even enter the establishment, since I’ve been researching in advance for weeks. I am now “Sally” … my opener is “can you…?” I eat a lot of things “on the side” “without” “substitute”

So, when an event such as the Gluten Free Expo rolls into town, it’s a rare treat.

To walk through aisle after aisle, gleefully nibbling from tray after tray of new and tasty products, and never once feel that nervous knot in the pit of my stomach of “omg, what if this girl was lying? What if it actually contains gluten? What if I get sick?”

The 2012 show out by the airport was great, but since it was the first time in the Toronto area, it was PACKED. I remember it being hot, crowded, and frustrating. 2013 saw the event moved to a bigger, more central location, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, making for ease of movement, the opportunity to stop and really talk to vendors, and a corner dedicated to fantastic speakers on both days.

And can we talk about the products? Wow. Companies have really upped their game. Six years ago, when I first was diagnosed, the pickings were slim, and for the most part awful.

Gluten free offerings tasted and smelled like feet, and had the texture of sand.

Now, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference in some cases.
For example, there has been a particular improvement in gluten free pasta world. Gone are the pasty, granular, chewy rice pastas. In their place, the new gorgeous, silky, 4 grain blends, that have the look and texture of honest to goodness “real” pasta.

I not only left the building with a full belly, but I managed to take in all of the speakers, and I came home with a bag full of samples, and an additional bag full of purchases. I would have gone again on the Sunday, had there  been a “weekend pass” offered. (something I’ve suggested to the organizers for next year)

Here are a few snaps of my haul from this year: (apologies for the blurry shots… gah!)

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