Friday, May 20, 2011

CDF Annual Conference Highlights!

I was so excited a few weeks ago to get an email asking me if I would be interested in volunteering at the Celiac Disease Foundation's annual conference - um, yes, yes and yes!!! I had gone the year before and had such an incredible day - I knew I was in for some serious gluten free magic!

I enlisted one of my favorite gluten free peeps,
to join me. We thought it only sensible to meet up first for a gluten free happy hour to discuss our plan of attack. It was my first time at El Carmen and I have 3 words to sum it up: mucho, mucho gusto!!! I'm convinced the best laid plans are done over tequila.

Oh how we had great big plans to do a series of behind the scenes video blogs... so what happened you ask? First, we had to be there at 6am. I don't know about you, but I'm not super pumped to have a camera in my face at that hour. Second, I discovered the Bard's Beer booth... 'nuff said!

It was great to see my friend Heather from my beloved Udi's. The new cookies are just ridiculous they are so good. And I can't wait to try their new bread, I forget what it's called (I blame the Bard's), but it's an ancient grain bread high in Omega 3's... I remember that much! I was also generously given a package of the hot dog buns which are amazing of course. I just procured a fresh batch of venison brats when I was home in Wisconsin a few weeks ago, and to finally have one on a bun was a big moment for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you Udi's!!!

One of my other favorites, Almond Glory was there as well. I was so happy to finally meet the creator, the lovely Gayle Myers and gush all over her about how much I love her products. If you haven't checked out Almond Glory yet... do it! They are carried at Whole Foods in the freezer section... and if yours doesn't have them, demand it!

Another one of the most exciting new discoveries for me this year was Montana Gluten Free - I spotted those pizzelles a mile away! If you do not know what a pizzelle is... you are missing out! This is a HUGE family tradition that goes back many generations for me. It's ironic because I was just talking with my Dad about trying to construct a gluten free recipe for one, and then this appears! They sell the Pizzelle Iron, and you get a free pizzelle mix with it! Be sure to check them out!

I also spent a lot of time at the Rudi's booth. They were making grilled cheese sandwiches that were quite simply, off the hook. @camerachickie had to drag me away. Plus, they have the coolest van I've ever seen.

Other top picks:
Xo Health Co... unbelievable ginger cookies... we cleaned them out.
Breakaway Bakery... HOW have I not been there yet???
Simply Shari's... cookies and pizza oh my!
Conte's Pasta Co.... the spinach & ricotta ravioli are to die for.
Ciao Bella Gelato... blood orange sorbet will blow your mind.

Some we already know rule:
Bob's Red Mill... can't wait to try the shortbread cookie mix! (thanks Bob!)
Breads From Anna... mmmmm banana bread....
French Meadow Bakery... those little brownies are trouble!
Namaste Foods... the Spice Cake is super delish!
Pamela's Product... best pancakes, hands down.

The other big thrill for me was not only getting to hear Frank Baldassare speak again this year, but getting to chat with him after. I am so on the same page as this guy... I felt like everything he said has come out of my own mouth at some point. He promotes a healthy gluten free LIFESTYLE. I love that. I truly believe it's not just about eating gluten free, that alone will not bring you health - and fyi, as Frank says "just because it's gluten-free, does not mean it's good for me!". Listen, I'm just as excited as anyone about how much easier it is to grab a gluten free cookie here and there... but our main focus needs to be on consuming whole foods, as nature intended. A few other things that Frank mentioned for health that I'm with him 100% on:

exercise - just move your body! stretch, walk... breathe!
nature - get out in it... get some sun and fresh air... and walk barefoot!
laugh - I mean, isn't it obvious?
be positive - seriously, thoughts become things people.
connect - I love facebook & twitter as much as anyone, but it just can't equal face time with the people you love.
slow the f down - meditate, do yoga, take time to be still with just yourself.
throw your teflon out - I love this one and I'm in the process of doing it!

You get the picture... visit Frank's website and bug him to blog & tweet more cuz I love what he has to say!

And finally... I just have to touch on what an amazing organization the Celiac Disease Foundation is, we are so lucky to have them. Do what you can to help support them and for heaven's sake, reach out to them if you need help, they've got your gluten free back.

Until next time, may the gluten-free force be with you!

Love your,
GFF oh come now... it's not so bad...


  1. I'm thinking you should be the next face of Bard's Beer...i'm going to get on that campaign right now!

  2. I have NO problem with that... that means lots of yummy gluten free beer for you and me!!!

  3. Great blog Heather - you captured the day so well! It was such as charge and pleasure to meet you. Will be following.... All the best, Marianne

  4. It was wonderful to have you help. You have so much energy that you should find a way to package it for others. :-) Thanks for helping my mother find her car in the parking garage.

  5. Thank you Marianne and Sheri... was so great to meet you both!

    Sheri, please give Viola my best - we had such an adventure it deserves it's own post! She was one of the many highlights of my day. :)

  6. Heather, take it from someone who has a love affair with the written and spoken word...your blog narrative is a piece of art! My deepest gratitude to you on many levels -- your volunteer service to the CDF mission and the Conference, your positive energy, your sense of whimsy, your gracious comments about our vendors...I could go on and on. In short, we are delighted to have you on our team! Rita Hopkins

  7. ok... now I'm blushing... thank you all for the kind words... really means a lot to me.