Review: Gluten Free Expo Vancouver 2013
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so detailed orientated. If I wasn’t so worried about providing you with links and such for the hundred vendors who were at the Vancouver Gluten Free Expo on January 13th, this post would be published already but then you would have had to do your own research, thus duplicating work that I was already doing.
So finally, here it is, my review of the Gluten Free Expo Vancouver 2013.
If you attended, or attempted to attend the Sold Out Gluten Free Expo in Vancouver, you will know that due to the overwhelming popularity of the event, there were some logistical issues.
This was only the second year for this event. Last year, it was a charitable event organized and held in a Community Centre by a volunteer who had a vision. This year, the organiser decided to step it up and move the event to a larger facility. A facility that could accommodate a hundred vendors and up to 5000 attendees over the course of the 7 hour day (Sunday, 10am to 5pm).
Growing from a small Community Centre that hosted 2800 attendees in 2012 to the Vancouver Convention Centre in 2013 and expecting to sell up to 5000 tickets? Is the gluten free movement really growing that quickly? The answer is NO. The gluten free movement is actually growing many times faster and greater than anyone could have predicted.
The event organiser and her team of volunteers who were set to host up to 5000 attendees over the course of the day had about 20,000 – 25,000 people show up!! It was an absolutely incredible response from people who live Gluten Free in the Vancouver area!
I expect the numbers could have even been much greater. On-site ticket sales sold out and closed soon after the 10am opening. On-line ticket sales took longer to shut down, with thousands of tickets being sold after the event was actually sold out (note: some ticket holders got refunds and caps on ticket sales will prevent future events from being over-sold). As word about the 2 hour-long lineups for ticket holders, went out over social media, people who were thinking about heading down that day, changed their minds. I know of several disappointed people with and without tickets who were not able to get in.
While we were waiting in line, there was an offer to refund tickets but only a very small handful of people went for the refund (about a dozen out of a thousand). Most of the people, like me and my hubby, who says we’re even now for my having spent about 4 hours at the Hockey Hall of Fame with him, chose to hang in there. The crowd in line with us were pretty relaxed. We struck up conversations and chatted with other attendees. It became obvious that we were all there for the same reason. Our health!
Favourite tweets I read that day were the ones that said “#GlutenFreeExpo more popular than @LadyGaga” (who was performing in Vancouver the same weekend) and “what the gluten ain’t free? I’m so out of here!”
Favourite media report of the event was this one by Metro. I like it because of the Gaga reference and because I can see the back of my husband’s head in the picture.
Time seemed to pass quickly while we were lined up and then suddenly, we were inside. Eager to meet and greet new suppliers of gluten free products, I quickly went to work gobbling up as many samples as I could.
As expected, it was pretty crowded in the exhibition room. All thoughts I had of getting pictures for my blog went out the window. I got to see almost every exhibitor that I wanted to see. There were a couple I missed but I think it was only because I didn’t do my homework before attending. If I had known certain vendors were there, I would have tracked them down. That’s what I did with my blogger friends from Gluten Free Vancouver. Hi Andrea, it was nice to see you I should have thought to get a picture, it would have been nice to post here on my blog.
I missed the Speaker Session with Dr Jean M Layton (the Gluten-Free Doctor, chef and co-author of Gluten-Free For Dummies) but made up for it by meeting her in person at one of the exhibitor booths. Again, should have gotten a picture but I didn’t.
The exhibitors were all very friendly and obviously proud of their products. Almost every one of them had food samples and I did go a little crazy…to the point that I don’t think I could have sampled another bit of granola, chip, bread, nutrition bar, doughnut, brownie, or cookie…well, maybe just one more
Here is a list of Exhibitors as shown on the Gluten Free Expo website. Unfortunately, their site did not include clickable links for the vendors. I’ve added the links here along with and my notes for the exhibits I remember visiting.
Important*** Always refer to packaging labels for the most up to date allergy information.
- A Celiac is Coming (cookbook)
- Allerbling (food allergy awareness bracelet / wristband for kids)
- Allergic Solution (baking mixes)
- Arbonne International (Swiss formulated personal care and nutritional care products)
- Bakery On Main have some yummy gluten free oatmeal, granola and bars. I picked up a sample Chocolate Almond Soft and Chewy Bar and Strawberry Shortcake Flavor Instant Oatmeal to try at home.
- BC SPCA
- Canadian Celiac Association Vancouver Chapter
- Cascadia Gluten Free Foods (granola and granola bars)
- Cathy’s Gluten Free Creations (3 all baking cookbooks and 4 different baking mixes)
- Choices Market Mmmm…I have to tell you, I love the cakes from Choices Market Rice Bakery!
- Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery in New Westminster. I have a bag of their special gluten free flour blend. Now to decide what to do with it. I’m thinking Waffles With A Warm Praline Pecan Sauce or something bread like. Maybe some Cheese Twist Bread Sticks or some handmade crackers.
- Coconut Bliss, non-dairy, vegan, gluten and soy free ice cream. I tried their Lunaberry Swirl. Very nice.
- Cuisine Sante International (cookware)
- Daiya (dairy free, vegan cheese product)
- Delight Gluten Free Magazine
- Earth Balance (plant-based spreads)
- Earth Island (Follow Your Heart vegenaise and sauce)
- Edible Canada, my favourite place to dine gluten free in Vancouver! Located on Granville Island, they can prepare almost all of their dishes gluten free and they have a neat little foodie gift shop attached to the restaurant.
- Edward And Sons natural, organic, vegetarian products. I’m most familiar with their Native Forest and Let’s Do…Organic products. Their products are available in most mainstream supermarkets and health food stores, or online at Amazon.com
- El Peto Products, gluten free bakery and Gluten Free Distributor in Canada. Brand names, include, GOGO Quinoa Pastas and Cereals, Tinkyada Pastas, etc…
- Elco Fine Foods (Crunchmaster Gluten Free Crackers, saw these crackers at Costco, hadn’t realised they were gluten free)
- Epicure Selections (food and cookware distributor)
- Everyday Superfoods (Superfood Mix)
- Five Hole For Food (an annual coast to coast tour playing hockey to support food banks across Canada)
- Food For Life (baking company, I’ve tried their brown rice tortillas)
- Foods Alive Canada vegan and Gluten Free Raw cookies and crackers. Enjoyed the Carrot Crisps. Wish I had tried the KRUMBLEEZ, a mix of sprouted nuts, fruit and seeds. You can order online or check their website for availability in retail stores near you.
- Giddy Yoyo hand crafted 75% Raw Organic Dark Chocolate bars in a variety of flavours. Original, Ginger (that’s the one I simply had to have), Mint, Orange, Mocha and Spicy.
- GiG (The Gluten-Free Certification Organisation is a program of the Gluten Intolerance Group, also known as GIG, a non-profit organisation)
- Glutenpro (Books, dietary, nutritional supplements, Celiac Disease testing and screening kits)
- Gluten Free CheeCha Puffs (an Allergen Free snack)
- Gluten Free Epicurean (local Vancouver bakery at 15th and Fraser. Gluten free savoury and sweet delights. Local, organic and many vegan options)
- GlutenFree-Vancouver.com A local gluten free blog owned by Andrea and Robyn. Two sisters who have Celiac.
- Glutenull Bakery (local, Coquitlam, wholesale, dedicated gluten free bakery)
- Glutino (manufacturer and distributor specializing in gluten-free products)
- High Crow Gluten Free Foods local, Vancouver-based company, gluten-free and dairy-free baked goods. Love their bread!
- HolyCrap.ca breakfast cereal with chia, hemp hearts, buckwheat, cranberries, raisins and apple bits
- Indigo food cafe (Raw and Vegan Cafe in Kitsilano)
- Judy G Gluten-Free Foods frozen gluten free pizzas
- Jump Up and GoGo (Raw Superfoods Smoothie blend)
- Kinnikinnick Foods makers of Soft Gluten Free Breads and Buns. They also make Gluten Free Donuts! I was all over those at the expo
- Left Coast Naturals (locally-owned Vancouver manufacturer and distributor of organic and natural foods)
- Lemonade Gluten Free Bakery local gluten free bakery in the South Cambie area of Vancouver
- Libre Naturals (NoNuttin, allergy friendly bars and granola)
- Lucy’s (Cookies and Brownies)
- Maison Orphee (oils, mustards and vinegars)
- Maplegrove Gluten Free Foods (gluten free gourmet foods)
- Martin’s Marvelous Naturals love their Crisps! I wish I had tried the Rosemary Lavender. I guess I will have to go out and pick up a box. Martin’s also carry cookies and granola. One of the things I like most about this company, is their commitment to using Natural, non-GMO, locally sourced ingredients. For my readers in Canada, check Martin’s website to see if you can get their products at a retailer near you. In USA, you can order Martin’s from Amazon.com
- Mayacamas Fine Foods Gluten Free, Gourmet pasta sauces, gravies, soups and seasoning mixes. I have several of these mixes to try. Gluten Free and ready in a few minutes…sounds good to me.
- Mitch Miller’s Canadian Grill (couldn’t find a website but they have a Facebook Page) full service restaurant in downtown Abbotsford, BC. They specialise in gluten free items for breakfast, lunch & dinner. I would have loved to try their offerings at the Expo but the grill was shut down for cleaning when we made our way past the exhibit.
- Namaste Foods baking and coating mixes, as well as pastas.
- Natur-a soy, rice and almond dairy alternative beverages
- New World Foods (their website seems is down but they have a Facebook Page) Tried their Bliss Balls. Tasted amazing but were a bit pricy for me
- The Noodle Box this has long been my favourite Asian style restaurant in the Vancouver and Victoria area! After going gluten free, I was sooo happy to discover they could accommodate my special dietary needs. Let the staff know you are Celiac, or Gluten Intolerant. They will help you with your ordering and take special measures to avoid cross contamination. I have eaten at the Douglas Street location in Victoria and Kitsilano location in Vancouver dozens and dozens of times without a gluten reaction. Love Noodle Box!!
- North of 49 Naturals Canadian Company with a factory in North Vancouver. They produce 100% Pure Berry Powders (adds an extra boost to smoothies, cereal, yogurt or salad dressings), Veggie Paté (Vegan) and Gomashio (traditional Japanese Salt)
- Nud Fud Raw Organic Gluten Free Snacks
- Nutracleanse Products
- Okanagan Wineland Dressings developed by the Executive Chef in the Barrel Room Bistro at Hillside Estate Winery in Penticton, BC. The Salad Dressings are hand-made in small batches, with locally sourced ingredients, where possible.
- Otimo! Brazilian Cheese Puffs
- Pacific Allergy and Wellness (clinic in Vancouver)
- Pamela’s Products their gluten free all-purpose flour mix was a life saver for me when I first went gluten free! I have since graduated into mixing my own flours but highly recommend Pamela’s Products
- Panne Rizo Gluten Free Bakery in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver. Some of their products are available at locations around the Lower Mainland and Victoria, BC. This bakery was highly recommended by the fellow standing behind us in line to get in to the Gluten Free Expo
- PatsyPie Gluten-Free Bakery gluten-free cookies, biscotti, brownies and fill ‘n serve pie crust. I have not mastered Gluten Free Pie Crust yet. I picked up a PatsyPie Crust to give it a try
- Piccola Cucina gluten free Macaroons and Sweetened Almond Pie Crust hand manufactured just outside Winnipeg. Shipped and distributed across Western Canada. So disappointed I missed this exhibit. Macaroons and Almond Pie Crust, are you kidding me? Another argument for doing my homework before attending the Expo
- Pikanik gluten and nut free Lunch Counter and Bakery in South Surrey, near White Rock, BC. Darn it, missed this exhibit as well. At least this place is close enough to home for me to pay them a visit. With muffins, cakes, healthy snacks, fresh salads, sandwiches, soups, homemade fruit juice sodas and some whole loaves of bread—french bread with olive oil and celtic sea salt, cinnamon raisin bread, sandwich loaves…I will be paying them a visit!
- PowerPlant Whole Foods Raw food bars, coconut, fruit and veggie. Taste great! They also make Raw Frozen Veggie Cubes, Coconut Sprouted Seed Spread and Chocolate Sprouted Seed Spread that I bet would be good in smoothies
- Prairie Naturals nutritional supplements, natural hair and natural body care products
- Quejos Cheesebuns Brazilian-style Cheesebuns, pronounced Kay Joes. This company makes many different flavours of cheesebuns. Too many for me to list here, you’ll have to visit their website. They also make a variety of other gluten free items. At the Gluten Free Expo, I tasted a wrap made from one of their tortillas and some gluten free perogies. Yum! I noticed on their website they have a thin crust pizza shell. Bet that’s good.
- R.W. Garcia tortilla chips, dippers and crackers. We are in love with their new tortilla Dippers Chips, especially the Curry Mango flavour.
- RawFoodz Original & Garlic Spreads, plus 7 Salad Dressings. This is another one that I’m sorry I missed. I would especially like to try the buttery spreads made with healthy oils. It appears they’re available in a few stores around Vancouver. I’ll have to watch for them.
- Rizopia Food Products rice pasta. I like their wild rice pastas
- Silver Hills Bakery thrilled to find out that Costco sells Silver Hills Gluten Free Omega Flax bread. I think it’s pretty exciting to see fresh good tasting gluten free bread anywhere. The fact that Costco sells them in a two pack…bonus!
- Spolumbo’s Fine Foods sausages, really good sausages. So good, we went back for seconds. Sausages generally have a ton of additives, Spolumbo’s don’t. Hubby enjoyed the Spicy Italian (pork), while I preferred the Chicken Apple Sausage. Spolumbo’s are found in some of the biggest supermarkets in Western Canada. I’m going to look for some at Save-On-Foods.
- Sunrise Soya Foods
- Sunset Gourmet Foods (easy to prepare gourmet food items).
- Taste of Nature Gluten Free Snacks Bars. Love these bars! I found a multi-pack (12) of them at Costco last week.
- Tasty Treat Foods Oskri Bars – I really like these gluten free bars too. Especially the Coconut and Coconut with Dark Chocolate. This company also distributes gluten free Inka Corn, Inka Chips and Inka Plantain Chips
- The Sweet Tooth Cakery in North Vancouver, BC. A gluten-free boutique bakeshop that specialises in hand-crafted, artisan cakes. If you live in the Vancouver area and are looking for a gluten free special occasion cake, this looks like the place to go.
- Tilly’s Galley Specialty Foods herbs and spices plus gluten free dehydrated ingredients blended to create main meals and side dishes. Order on their website. Shipping is free (minimum $25 order) in Canada. They sell a Gluten Free Emergency Pantry Pack with a two-week supply of lunch and dinner for a family of four (2 year shelf life). Perfect not only for emergency preparedness but also for serving unexpected guests, or hunting, backpacking and camping. Take it with you in your RV or on your boat.
- Udi’s Gluten Free to me, Udi’s is a pioneer in the world of gluten free. Widely available, the range of products on their list is diversified and growing.
- Vega (plant-based nutrition)
- Washburn & Butt (gluten free cookbooks)
- Wendel’s True Foods offers a range of baked goods. I’ve long admired their baked goods at the Nature’s Fare Market in Langley BC. It’s probably a good thing I wasn’t able to sample their wares at the Expo. If I had, I think I would have brought home a caseload of the Coconut Nanaimo Bars. Well, maybe not. It might have been a toss-up between the Nanaimo Bars and Wendel’s Carrot Cake
- Wise Bites cookies, muffins and bars baked in a Gluten Free facility in Richmond, BC. Made with Canadian Quinoa flour, their products are high in fibre, protein & iron. I discovered Heritage Meats in Langley, BC carries Wise Bites products (along with many other hard to find items, love that store!). I’m a big fan of ginger, and I decided to buy the Triple Ginger Cookie and loved the flavour! If I had a case, I would likely be in danger of consuming all the cookies in one sitting.
There are certain aspects about living gluten free that are difficult. As the health benefits become more obvious to the masses, I expect those difficulties, or challenges will abate. Imagine a world where gluten free menu or food choices out number those containing gluten? It’s an idea that doesn’t seem that far-fetched when standing in line for two hours with thousands of other people, just to attend a little, event called The Gluten Free Expo.
I’m really grateful to Margaret for organising this event and for all the things the vendors offer to our gluten free community. Please take a moment to pay them a visit, say hello, and tell them I sent you.
To see a text listing of Laureen’s gluten free recipes, click here
For dairy, egg, nut and gluten free flour substitutions, click here
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