Last Saturday, I attended the Living Free Expo here in Charlotte. Formerly known as the Gluten and Allergen Free Wellness Event, it underwent a brand change. Nikki Everett, founder of the expo, said this was because the gluten-free movement has splintered off into so many different things that a new name would fit it better.
This expo is great because it gives attendees a chance to meet one-on-one with national brands and local companies. There are food samples, giveaways, demonstrations, and talks.Living Free Expo is a great way to meet brands and companies Click To Tweet
Last year, I attended as a blogger. This year, I attended as both a blogger and a speaker. I gave my first talk related to my coaching program, Food Sensitivity Success Map. My talk was on “3 Keys to Take Charge of Your Food Sensitivities”. Public speaking isn’t really my forte, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I had just a few days to flesh out my talk. I have some things to work on and to add to my talk, but it went well. I spoke to a small group of people, but they were very nice.
As I mentioned, the expo features both national brands and local companies. King Arthur Flour and Enjoy Life both had a presence. Both companies are also sponsors of the Living Free Expo. King Arthur Flour has a gluten-free line. They’re also kosher, non-GMO Project Verified, and have no preservatives. Enjoy Life is top 8 allergen-free and free from 14 total allergens. They are also non-GMO Project Verified. I got samples from both companies that I can’t wait to try.
I spent most of my day at my booth telling people about Gluten-Free Spirited and Food Sensitivity Success Map. I didn’t have as much time to speak with companies as I would’ve liked, but still talked to some local companies.
One of the companies we met with is Reason to Bake, an artisanal bakery in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains. We spoke with Elise and Carolyn about their company. Their cookies are all natural, made from scratch, and gluten-free. They make sure that their cookies are monitored, tested, and safe for those with Celiac. Reason to Bake cookies are non-GMO and have no preservatives. Another thing that sets them apart is their mission: “Our mission is to grow a successful company that hires and trains intellectually disabled adults, while providing delicious baked goods for a gluten-free lifestyle.”
We spent a few minutes at the Dolci di Maria table. Dolci is Italian for “sweets”. The company was founded by a mom who created gluten- and dairy-free desserts for her kids with allergies. We visited them last year and Nikki loved their Blondie. Some of their products contain soy. Sadly, the Very Vanilla dessert contains soy so Nikki couldn’t eat it. This dessert is also vegan. Our mom & I split it & we liked it a lot. The cake was moist and the icing was yummy. Our mom conceded that it was a bit too sweet for her, but I thought it was a good balance.
Another company we talked to was The Southern Olive. They have a variety of products including Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic vinegar, desserts, and coffees. We definitely want to visit The Southern Olive to visit their wine bar and gluten-free bakery, located in Indian Land, SC. There were so many samples to try at the table. I tried their Twix square, lemon cookie, lemon bar, and a cupcake. Some of their desserts were gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free. Some of their desserts are paleo and keto. I chose the double chocolate brownie, Nikki had a vanilla on vanilla cupcake, and we got our mom a Lemon Blondie with white chocolate chips and dried cranberries. We were all very happy with our selections.
It wasn’t all about food. My table neighbor was The Allergic Traveler, Tarah Jakubiak. She has a wonderful product: International Dietary Alert Cards. No matter where you’re traveling, you can let others know your food allergies in another language. These handy cards are customizable and are conveniently laminated and wallet sized. You also have the option to make it a luggage tag. This is a great option for kid’s backpacks, especially on field trips.
I also received a Blogger Bag filled with all kinds of goodies from the vendors. We have been through it, but there’s still some things to try. I’ll be posting to social media about them as we try them. I may even have some products to giveaway, so make sure you’re following me on all GFS social media accounts so you can enter!
The Living Free Expo will be making its way to Jacksonville, FL on May 18th. They’ll return to NC on August 10 in Raleigh. The last expo will be on September 28 in Knoxville, TN.
Thank you to the Living Free Expo for letting me be apart of this wonderful event. I’m already looking forward to the next one!