I recently returned home from a fantastic weekend in Seattle, where I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference. The conference was co-hosted by Foodista and Zephyr Adventures, and while there were many great moments over the weekend, I will just share a few of my personal highlights today (sorry this is going up so late, I have been feeling a bit under the weather since returning home).
First, a funny story. As Kim, (of Cook It Allergy Free) and I were checking in at the Hotel Monaco, in walked Diane (of The W.H.O.L.E. Gang) and Shirley (of Gluten Free Easily) from an afternoon of shopping. Diane immediately queried, “Heidi?” to which I obviously responded and after a big round of group hugs, I asked Diane how she knew it was me. Can you guess what gave me away? Yep, my hair, LOL!
Anyhoo, on Friday afternoon, the gluten-free bloggers met up at the Flying Apron Bakery for a little “meet and greet” over some delicious gluten-free and vegan food.
I ordered the gluten-free and vegan vegetable pizza (below photo, far left) and it actually surprised me by how wonderful it was. It is not the type of pizza that most Americans think of when it comes to pizza: those of the greasy, cheesy, pepperoni, artery-clogging variety. Instead, this pizza was more like a tart; with a flaky crust filled with scrumptious organic, seasonal vegetables on top of organic tomato sauce and seasoned with just the right amount of sea salt to heighten the natural flavors of the vegetables. No cheese necessary. In fact, I think cheese would have taken away from the festival of flavors that my mouth was rejoicing over!
The middle photo (above) was Kim’s gluten-free and vegan macaroni and cheese (you can see a better photo on her blog). I tried it and could not tell is was vegan (we were all sampling each others food…just because we could!). I am not sure of the ingredients, but I would LOVE to find out so I can make something similar for Luke now that he is dairy/casein-free (sadly, the recipe is not in the Flying Apron cookbook).
The gluten-free and vegan cookies (above photo, far right) were Shirley’s (can I tell you a secret? Each time Shirley turned her head, I stole a bite of her pumpkin chocolate chip cookie! Shhh…).
If you are gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free and plan on visiting the Seattle area, I definitely recommend the Flying Apron Bakery!
Before heading back to the hotel for the conference registration and opening reception, Shauna and Danny Ahern, (a.k.a. Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, not that they need an introduction), surprised us with a glimpse of their soon-to-be-released cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story Filled with 100 Tempting Recipes. If you haven’t done so already, you simply have to watch the video promo for their cookbook, it still gives me goosebumps when I watch it! You can also pre-order the cookbook on Amazon and trust me, you will want to add this to your collection, if only for their gluten-free bread recipe (which I will tell you about in a minute).
Friday evening at the opening reception, we were treated to a fantastic spread of food and drink (it was a “mom’s weekend off” afterall!) featuring products by conference sponsors such as Pom Wonderful (have you ever had a Pomtini?), Theo Chocolate, Tonnino Tuna, Chateau Ste Michelle and many more; you can read more about all the sponsors here. All of the conference attendees received a generous gift bag filled with all sorts of cooking loot, courtesy of Sur La Table. I will be sharing some of my trinkets in an upcoming giveaway, and will also be including a signed copy of Shauna Ahern’s book, Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found The Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too. Be sure to subscribe to my blog, so you don’t miss the details!
I also want to extend a BIG THANK YOU to Udi’s for providing us with their lip smacking gluten-free muffins for breakfast each day. If it weren’t for Udi’s, there would have been a bunch of hungry GF Bloggers walking around! I tweeted a thank you to Udi’s, using the conference hashtag, #IFBC, and as you can see below, all of our #IFBC Tweets were streaming onto the big screen (I hope Udi’s isn’t shy about a little PDA, I went a bit overboard with my affection)!
The featured speaker Friday evening was none other than Morgan Spurlock, the Academy Award Nominee for his documentary Supersize Me. In case you are new to my blog, I went through a “she’s come undone” phase last winter, after watching Supersize Me and several other “do you really know what’s in your food” documentaries.
I will always be grateful for what Morgan Spurlock and Michael Pollan dared to show in their films. Not only did those films make me take a good hard look at the way I personally viewed food, they released me from my once terribly obsessive “mommy guilt” for having passed on my gluten sensitivity genes to my children.
*Just in case you are wondering, no, I no longer feel that way. I believe that celiac is a condition, not a disease. I believe it is the condition of an amazing immune system that is screaming out for us to quit eating foods that our bodies were never designed to eat in the first place.
My greatest hope is that my children will now be able to live a much healthier and happier life than I have, all because we became aware so early in their young lives. We caught it before the gluten-related chronic health problems set in, as well as the plethora of other health consequences that stem from eating the typical daily western diet, filled with highly processed, high fat, high sugar, high salt, artificially colored, artificially flavored, chemical preservative laden “faux” foods.
I still need to further refine our diets to exclude the gluten-free processed foods that we eat on occasion (and can be just as unhealthy as gluten-containing processed foods), but at least we are on the right path. Anyhoo, I digress.
Morgan Spurlock really has a great way of catching one’s attention. He shares his message with the appropriate amount of frustration, softened with a healthy dose of laughter. He doesn’t make you feel like an idiot (although it’s hard not to feel like one once you become painfully and personally aware of the consequences of eating a lifetime of crap), and his message does make you think!
Another gluten-free highlight from Friday evening was when it came time to announce the winners for the upcoming Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook. Cinde, from Gluten-Free Taste of Home was one of the winners and will have her recipe published in the cookbook which is due out in October. WOO-HOO!!! Congratulations Cinde, I’m absolutely THRILLED for you!! Be sure to visit Cinde’s blog and read all about it.
On Sunday, the gluten-free bloggers were treated to a scrumptious luncheon by Shauna and her husband, Danny! They made several recipes from their new cookbook for us to try:
Arugula Fig Salad with Blue Cheese and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette (above).
Do you see this gluten-free bread? Did I get my camera close enough for you to visualize the perfectly chewy crust and the melt-in-your-mouth moist crumb? Now close your eyes and imagine being in your grandmother’s kitchen, taking in the unmistakable aroma of fresh baked bread, can you imagine it? Well my friends, go ahead and pull out the dairy-free buttery spread, because this is not a dream! The recipe will be in Shauna and Danny’s cookbook!
Corn/Quinoa Pasta with Anchovies, Olives, and Lemons, topped with Seared Prosciutto-Wrapped Salmon (above).
Blackberry and Peach Crumble (above).
The food was delectable and we all ate to our hearts delight. Shauna and Danny’s bread was without a doubt the best gluten-free bread I have ever had. I found myself shoving slices into my pockets (in addition to those that were already in my hands and mouth!), just so I could extend the joy for a few hours longer! A little bonus for those of you who cannot eat rice…Shauna tweaked her bread recipe to be rice-free so another blogger could enjoy it too!
I managed to snag a few photo ops with several of my favorite gluten-free bloggers, but darn it if I didn’t manage to get one with everybody!
Carol, from Simply…Gluten Free is just as sweet as can be, and she has a cookbook coming out too (did you know Carol’s sister is a steamy romance author?).
Melissa, from Gluten Free For Good, had me entranced with her knowledge of nutrition and exercise. In fact, she’s convinced me to seek out a yoga class in hopes of helping me relax and reduce my stress levels (which will go a long way in helping my body fight all its ailments, and help me cope with my upcoming recurring phlebotomies, ick!).
Diane, from The W.H.O.L.E. Gang, knocked my socks off. I’m really not convinced she’s human, but rather an iPhone in disguise (I really wanted to take her home with me so she can organize my crazy life)!
Dr. Jean Layton, of Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes, is a naturopathic physician and chef. Jean shared packets of her gluten-free sourdough bread starter packets with all of us and I am looking forward to trying it soon.
Then of course there’s Kim, from Cook It Allergy Free. Can you believe this was my second time meeting her and my second time forgetting to get a picture with her?
I also met a few other amazing women and I am excited to get to know them better.
I met Emily while we were standing in line for the “Royal Restroom,” (a.k.a., a really nice port-a-potty, LOL! I realize that was probably TMI, but you have to admit it’s kinda funny!). Emily is a holistic health and nutrition counselor and her website is called CoreWisdomWellness.com. Emily is also gluten-free and you can read more about her here.
Bernice is the author of Wheatless and Meatless, and I am looking forward to exploring her blog for more gluten-free and vegetarian meal ideas, especially now that I am on a low-iron diet and have drastically reduced my meat consumption!
I also met another food blogger, Susan, from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy. Susan was really nice and she has a clever wit about her that will leave you in stitches! Although Susan’s blog is not gluten-free, she has a lot of wonderful looking recipes that can be easily tweaked to be gluten-free! The first recipe I plan to do a gluten-free makeover on? Susan’s Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes…WOW!
Shirley (Gluten Free Easily) and me (left). If you’ve been reading my blog for long, then I think you know how much I love me some Shirley! Shirley really surprised me though, she is much more quiet in person than I had imagined she would be. We always tease each other about who writes the longest blog posts, so I naturally assumed she was a jabberwocky like I am! Nope, not at all…unless she was just too distracted by my hair to collect her thoughts!
Jeanne (Four Chickens) and me (right). While I was really excited to meet Jeanne, my 6 year old was beside himself that I was going to meet “THE Four Chickens gluten-free doughnut fairy!” Yes, that is how Jeanne is referred to in our household after we discovered her recipe for gluten-free doughnuts! If you feel so inclined, you can read my post about Jeanne’s doughnuts here.
Alexa (Lexie’s Kitchen) and me (left). Lexie is super sweet (and really tall)!
Wendy (Celiacs in the House) and me (right). Wendy is hysterical, and she turned me on to a new hobby: photographing feet! Do you ever think to look down when you are out and about? There is a whole world of fascinating shoes that I never noticed before, LOL! Can you guess which feet belong to which blogger in Wendy’s IFBC post??
Carrie (Ginger Lemon Girl), Shirley and me (above). Carrie is an absolute doll and I can’t wait to get to know her better in the blogiverse!
So glad I remained cool, calm and collected around Shauna…geesh, you really can’t take me anywhere, LOL!
I’ve decided to take a time management shortcut and share the links to my blogger bud’s posts about the conference, which offer great detail on everything from the conference sessions (Melissa has a great breakdown in her post about the (life-altering) photography session featuring none other than Penny De Los Santos. Penny is an award-winning documentary photographer and her work has been featured in National Geographic, Time, Saveur, and more).
Carrie from Ginger Lemon Girl shared her experience about the conference sessions, sightseeing around Seattle with her husband, Michael and gluten-free food and friends.
Melissa from Gluten Free For Good also wrote a great (and funny!) post about the conference (you have to check out Melissa’s picture of THE SHOES, they launched my new-found fascination with foot photography)!
Lexie from Lexie’s Kitchen shared here experience here.
Dr. Jean Layton from Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes shared hers here.
Stephanie from Wasabimon shared a brief bit here. I did not get the chance to talk with Stephanie but I love her blog, especially her breath taking photographs (my soon-to-be 7 year old LOVES the photo titled, “Storm Troopers and Cupcake”).
Bernice from Wheatless and Meatless did a post highlighting Wheatless in Seattle, the Seattle bakery that made the delectable gluten-free meals for us.
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