Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A One-Stop Gluten-Free Tour of the Garden State


The Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo in Secaucus is done for 2015, and we're already looking forward to next year.

(BTW, it'll be held Oct. 15-16, 2016. Mark your calendars NOW.)

We've attended enough gluten-free expositions to know what to expect, in general. There are many vendors offering on-the-spot tastings of their wares and some provide take-home samples to try later. There are beauty products, travel companies and medical professionals, all looking to serve the gluten-free community. And it works.

But, every year, there are new products to discover, new people to meet and something that will surprise even these seasoned veterans. So, what appealed to us this year? There was plenty. And it'll take more than one blog post to tell you all about it.

I'll start with our fellow Jersey peeps.

Kahn's Kitchen, in Hazlet

Kahn's produces the best gluten-free granola we've had the pleasure of tasting. To be honest, I've had several of Kahn's products before, but time affected by celiac-related medical issues delayed posting a proper review. Still, it's deserving of the attention.

The original blend combines almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, organic honey, organic olive oil and sea salt. In our household, it's eaten by itself, on top of plain Greek yogurt and mixed in gluten-free oatmeal. The texture, consistency and taste mimics traditional granola. Other flavors are Cinnamon Raisin and Crunchy.

WHOS Gluten Free in Jersey City

A cafe, WHOS Gluten Free was offering kale chips for sampling. They were good, but it's the baked goods that really do it for us. The first-time exhibitor was selling their desserts, much to the delight of attendees.

Schar Gluten Free in Lyndhurst

Schar is a familiar brand at the GFAFExpo. This year, the company offered its new artisan breads for tasting, and they're really good. The breads, white and multi-grain varieties, area huge improvement for Schar with lighter textures, more moisture and better flavor than the former recipes.

Gluten-Free Travel Group, based in Scotch Plains

We spoke with the founders of this new service, which assists people with planning vacations with their dietary needs in mind and offers guided gluten-free travel experiences. It's operated by Certified Accessible Travel Advocate Jean Ann Honig, who will meet with clients for consultations to determine their needs. She is knowledgeable about the best destinations for celiacs, as well as availability of gluten-free foods.

Returning favorites

Other Jersey-based businesses provided tastings of foods we enjoyed at past expos. They included desserts by Maddalenas Cheesecake in Ringoes and the Mo' Pweeze Bakery  in Hawthorne; and Hoboken Farms' line of tomato sauces. Hoboken Farms also operates the HF Sandwich Shop in Summit, where customers can indulge in a large variety of gluten-free sandwiches and salads.

It was nice to see the Garden State well-represented at this event, but there were plenty of other vendors who braved a potential hurricane to share their goods with expo attendees. To be continued ...

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