This was my second time attending Expo West and this time I attended as a member of the press for Examiner.com. I have been writing for Examiner.com as their Atlanta Gluten-free Examiner since 2009, so it was very exciting to receive press credentials and attend.
Attending as a member of the press means I had access to the press room to review materials, I was able to talk with the public relations specialist for companies and I got to chat with other journalist to see what they thought of the show. Overwhelmingly they all commented on the increased number of gluten-free products at this year's event.
Last year I was completely overwhelmed by the experience, so this year I was more prepared. I spent the majority of my time in Room E, which housed those vendors with new products. The room was full of gluten-free products and after four hours of combing the room I still had not seen all of them. The best part was a large percentage of the new gluten-free products had the GFCO symbol.
I saw a lot of cookies, bars, veggie burgers, pasta, chips and other snack foods. I also saw a lot of companies demoing gluten-free and gluten products using the same heating method and utensils, which made it impossible for me to try due to cross contamination. You have to use dedicated utensils, heating methods, and surfaces when demoing gluten-free products, so if you don't have space in your booth to set up safe handling procedures, then you can't demo the products together.
This is one long list of my favorite product finds, so I am going to break the information into four different articles: 1- Breads and Pasta, 2 - Candy, Cookies and Mixes, 3 - Snacks, Granola and Cheese, and 4 - Frozen.
- Arnel's Originals - is a line of buckwheat bread mix, pancake/breading mix and flour/pie crust mix. This Examiner is truly smitten with the Buckwheat Bread Mix. It is soft and moist and it is brown bread that reminds me of the table bread at The Outback. All of their products are free of dairy, corn, soy and yeast. There is a video on her site that shows you step-by-step how to prepare a loaf of buckwheat bread.
- Kinnikinnick Foods - debuted their new line of soft bread and buns. I already got to try the breads prior to the event and I am really impressed. I like the fact that you can freeze a loaf, thaw it on the counter and it is still just as soft as it was prior to being frozen. I can't wait to try the hotdog and hamburger buns. All of the new products will be sold frozen, but they can be kept on the counter for up to five days.
- Rudi's Gluten-Free Bakery - was serving up gluten-free tacos in their new line of soft tortillas that are available in three flavors: fiesta, plain and spinach. I loved the flexibility of these tortillas. I picked up a package and they are incredibly flexible without any heating; however, I found the texture to be a little gummy and tough for my liking.
- Udi's Gluten-Free Foods - had a couple of new products: vanilla cupcakes, and multigrain seeded and french dinner rolls. The dinner rolls are not the same formulation as the sandwich breads and they have the texture of a traditional dinner roll that is hard on the outside and soft in the middle. The cupcakes were truly impressive. I am not a fan of the spongy texture of their muffins and I was afraid the cupcakes would fall victim to this issue, but thankful they are very soft and moist with a great bounce back texture without being spongy.
- RP's Pasta Company - was on hand with the line of fresh, gluten-free pasta. This GFCO fresh, not dried pasta, can be purchased locally at Whole Foods where they sell their fresh cheeses. The exciting news from them is they are launching gluten-free lasagna sheets in May. I can't wait to get to try them! I am wondering if you cut them and use them to make manicotti.
------------------------ Author Information: Jennifer D. Harris, Atlanta, GA Jennifer D. Harris, http://www.jenniferglutenfreeingeorgia.blogspot.com Atlanta Gluten-Free Examiner Program Chair, Atlanta Metro CeliacsTwitter@jenniferGFinGA