Posted in Boston Recommendations, Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Life, Uncategorized

Nourished Festival!

I have to be honest: when I first heard about the changes coming to one of my favorite events of the year, I was less than thrilled. (Full disclosure: I rolled my eyes as I read the email.) After all, I’m only human.

I’m a human who cannot eat the tiniest crumb of gluten or casein without sending my immune system into absolute chaos. So as I’ve mentioned in the past, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with people who adopt “fad diets” or even “fad lifetsyles”.

As someone who cannot enjoy the occasional cupcake or slice of bread, it can be frustrating to understand why a person who is fully capable of doing so makes the choice to give up such treats willingly. So when I first saw that the festival had somewhat rebranded to include paleo and keto lifestyle choices, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to go back. (I’m telling you- jealousy can turn you into an irrational person.)

However, once I came back to the computer and actually read through the details and description, I realized I was hasty in my judgment. (I guess maybe we’re just a little possessive of the things we love sometimes so we’re initially resistant to change.)

First of all everything at the Expo is still gluten-free (I was worried about that one!) but there are additional categories for nut-free, paleo, keto, and plant-based diets.

Though paleo, keto, and plant-based diets are sometimes a choice, the reality is that many people do require these diets for their health. And even for people who don’t officially require these diets, if someone feels better following a certain diet, then I should be there cheering them on toward health and happiness- not harboring a grudge.

So now that I am back to my original level of excitement for this upcoming event: here are the details you need to know.

What: Nourished Festival

Where? DCU Center– Worcester, MA

When? Saturday July 20th and Sunday July 21st 10 AM – 3 PM

Why?

More than 70 vendors (and counting!) showcasing their gluten-free products, providing samples, and coupons, of course!

Designated booths for products that are also nut-free, paleo, keto, or plant-based

5 classes related to gluten-free cooking, adapting to a keto/paleo lifestyle, and entertaining with a variety of food allergies in mind

Sign me up!

If this sounds like a weekend you don’t want to miss, come join me! Tickets are available here. ($15 for a one-day pass, or $20 for the weekend) BUT I have some tickets to give away so send me a message through the “Contact Me” link and tell me which vendor you are most excited to see at the Expo for your chance to win free tickets!

I hope to see you there!!

Some of my haul from the last Expo!

Posted in Boston Recommendations

It’s That Time of Year Again! (7 Reasons To Be Excited about the Gluten-Free/Allergen-Friendly Expo)

That’s right: it’s Expo time!!

Expo 2016: my first Worcester Expo!
By Expo time, I mean the 2018 Gluten-Free/Allergen-Friendly Expo in Worcester,  MA. Now those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile know that Expo weekend in July is like Christmas for me. For those of you who are new to the blog, I encourage you to read some of these summaries of past expos but I will also entice you with some photos from last year’s Expo in Worcester, Massachusetts. It is an amazing weekend surrounded by you-safe foods and people who totally understand what it means to scrutinize every label and stress about eating out. If that is not enough of a reason to make you want to head toward Worcester, read on for 7 reasons to be excited about the Expo.

1) Donuts. 

That’s right. All of these donuts were available for sample, and for purchase of course.You can also find them in the freezer section of some local grocery stores. However, at the Expo you often get to try flavors you don’t see on store shelves: like pumpkin spice! It may be July, but there are no rules when it comes to trying out flavors at the Expo.
(Thank you, Kinnikinnick Foods!) 

2) Pizza.

Yes, that is a slice of gluten-free, dairy-free pizza, courtesy of Still Riding Foods.Though the Expo is entirely gluten-free, the vendors are also very allergen-aware when it comes to other common trigger foods. Many booths will offer other allergen-free options beyond gluten-free, and each booth is clearly marked so you don’t have to worry about whether you’re accidentally ingesting something you shouldn’t. Plus, this is the one place where everyone seems to understand the term “cross-contamination”…and takes it seriously.
Thanks, Still Riding Foods!

3) Muffins and cookies.

This is one of those finds that make the Expo my favorite event of the year. I had never heard of Goodman Gluten-Free before last year when a kind employee offered me a sample of a cupcake at their booth. I am not exaggerating when I say that it was the best cupcake I have had in a long time. The muffins are just as delicious. Even better: I found out they carry these products at my local Star Market! Fortunately Goodman’s is no longer a once-a-year treat for this girl.
I can’t say enough good things about these treats from Goodman Gluten-Free.

4) Bagels

I still remember the moment I tasted my first Greater Knead bagel (though it was a Sweet Note bagel back then!). It was like a little piece of my pre-celiac life returned at the breakfast table. Last year they sampled a new product: bagel chips! The bagels never disappoint, and though I can buy them year-round at Wegman’s (thank goodness!), they always have some special flavors on hand at the Expo that can only be ordered online during the year. Plus, the women who started the company are the sweetest, most enthusiastic people you could ever hope to meet. And they wear bagel skirts. Need I say more?
Thanks, Greater Knead!

5) Beer

Now I’ll be honest: unlike many celiac patients, beer was not a great loss for me after my diagnosis. It was never something I really loved and I’d actually take a cider or glass of wine over beer any day…even before  it made me sick. But there is something about finding a display of gluten-free beer (and not the gluten-removed kind that I wouldn’t trust) that just draws you in. Again, I don’t love beer to begin with but if you do, the taste is the closest to regular beer that I have found. Plus the fact that it’s from a 100% gluten-free brewery and gastropub makes me really want to visit Portland, Oregon.

Cheers to Ground Breaker Brewing!

6) New friends (Or new memories with old friends!)

As I have said in past posts, there is nothing quite like being surrounded by people who just get it; people who know how hard it is to navigate dining out safely, eating on the road, attending holiday parties where you can’t eat anything, etc. You also see familiar faces as the years go by and it can be fun to catch up on where life has taken you since the last Expo.

7) Last but not least: free tickets!

What’s best is I have some free tickets to give away! All you have to do is click here to fill out the entry form here by next Tuesday (July 10th) and I will pick the winners on Wednesday, July 11th. 
Lastly, for those of you who have been following this blog for awhile, you know the posts have been few and far between since our little guy arrived. Because time is pretty short these days, I’m going to start posting short “Featured Favorites” on a more regular basis, and then still have the occasional longer post with recipes, etc. So keep an eye out for some new featured favorites as Expo Weekend approaches.

Did I mention free food???

I hope to see some of you soon in Worcester..AKA the happiest place in Massachusetts…for one weekend anyway πŸ™‚

Posted in Boston Recommendations, Dairy-Free Ice Cream

When Late September Feels Like Summer…

I’m not sure about wherever you’re reading this, but here in Boston it feels like summer today even though the calendar says September 26th. Though the unseasonable weather certainly poses some challenges (do we turn on the A/C in September??), there are also some undeniable perks. Boston winters come early and last long…so the days of long walks with the little guy are numbered…and I’m savoring every single one. Also, this gives me a few more days to procrastinate in finally switching over to my Fall wardrobe and digging the Fall decorations out of the scary abyss that is our “seasonal items” closet. And last but not least, this little heat wave gives me a chance to enjoy a treat I probably would otherwise pass up: pumpkin ice cream.

Yes, this is my actual cup of ice cream. The pumpkin and gourd were just in the window and I couldn’t resist!

Now I’m sure that paragraph already has your mind running through some questions but we’ll deal with the most obvious: 1)Katie, pumpkin ice cream- are you in denial? You still can’t eat dairy; and 2) if there is such a thing as Katie-safe pumpkin ice cream, why can’t you eat it everyday this Fall? Well, the great news is yes, there is such a thing! And as for the second part, well I can’t explain it but I’ve never been someone who enjoys cold things like ice cream in cold weather. Even back in my dairy-filled days, I was never one of those people who could down a bowl of ice cream on a January night. I made an exception some years for an ice-cream birthday cake, but other than that I said farewell to ice cream in August and hello again sometime in April or May.

So with the thermometer reading somewhere around 80 degrees, I laced up my walking shoes, packed the little guy in the stroller, and we set off on the one-mile trek to one of my favorite places in Boston, FoMu, for a delicious cup of Katie-safe Pumpkin Caramel ice cream. Now I mentioned this place briefly in my overview of new Katie-safe places in Boston, but it really has come to deserve its own post. This place is 100% vegan. That’s right- an ice cream shop that is 100% vegan. What’s even better for me is they also clearly identify the other major allergens in their products and they have MANY options for friends like me who have to avoid both gluten and dairy. On top of that (I know you’d think it couldn’t get better) they have coffee! And not just plain coffee (though you can certainly get that too), but lattes, cappuccino, etc. AND you don’t have to ask “Does this come in a dairy-free form?” BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL DAIRY-FREE (which also means no dairy cross-contamination to worry about). There are also seasonal beverages like a caramel apple cider that I’ve only read about but you better believe I’m counting down the days to October.

Now I could go on and on about this place, but I’ll just give you the highlights for now:

  • 100% vegan
  • all ice cream is made from scratch
  • ice cream is preservative-free
  • all baked goods and inclusions are made in the FOMU bake shop
  • all allergens are clearly marked (and since everything is handmade, they know whats in it!)
  • gluten-free cones are available!
  • GLUTEN-FREE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES!! (sorry, that one blew me away)
  • it is 1 mile from our apartment (the Allston location that is)
  • There is so much more but you can read about it for yourself on their website
Gluten-free ice cream sammies!!
( Side note: Is “sammies” a Boston thing?? I never heard it before moving here.)
Look at all those delicious treats you can take home!
So many cone choices…including gluten-free cones!
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, the ice cream is made with a coconut milk base…so clearly there is a hint of coconut in every ice cream. That means if you’re not a coconut lover, it might not be for you. HOWEVER, I would strongly suggest you try it because I’m not a huge fan of coconut myself, but mixed with the right flavors I have to say I have found several winning flavors at FOMU. And the best part is they will happily give you a small taste of any flavor so you can make that determination before you gamble on a whole cup of something! (If you have a coconut allergy, you have my sincere condolences and I apologize for not warning you at the top of the page:-(
This came out a little blurry but the menu changes constantly (hand-made remember!)
Here were the treats when we were there AND allergens are clearly marked πŸ™‚
Now the important question: how do you experience this wonder for yourself?? Well, Boston friends, it’s pretty simple. There are locations in Allston, Jamaica Plain, and South End. I personally have only frequented the Allston location but I imagine they’re all as quaint! You can also find their ice cream sold in various specialty shops throughout Boston. I know for certain they sell it at the Whole Foods in Brighton but I know they stock in many places so if you contact them, I’m sure they’ll be able to give you the latest list.
Non-Boston friends, you just have to come visit me! Actually, that’s not true at all (but still, please come visit!) because FOMU ships to the 48 contiguous states and DC. But really, come visit. The little guy and I are more fun than the FedEx delivery person. That’s a fact πŸ™‚
Now the little guy and I are off to sit in the yard before this last dose of summer fades. But if anyone wants to make the mile-trek, we’re up always up for a FOMU adventure (even twice in one day)!
Posted in Boston Recommendations, Christmas, Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Life

It’s Christmas in July!

When we think back on childhood Christmases, I bet there are a few common memories many of  us share: a stack of beautifully wrapped presents just waiting to be torn open, the delicious scent of dinner mixed with the last few batches of Christmas cookies wafting from the oven in the kitchen, and of course the hugs, smiles, and laughter shared between family members who may not have seen each other since last Christmas. Now that I have you feeling nostalgic for the holiday season, you’re probably asking yourself why I’m talking about Christmas on a 90-degree day in July. Well, that’s because my Christmas in July is quickly approaching and I want to invite you to join me…or at least to find your own Christmas in another month (before December!). Before you think I’ve completely lost my mind, I’ll answer the question, What the heck is she talking about?, for you: The Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo, of course! Now you may remember my posts about this event in the past. I’ve relocated from the New Jersey Expo to the Worcester Expo now that we’re residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (I know, it’s still a little crazy to me too) but thankfully the two Expos are equally amazing.

Worcester Expo- 2016
My first GFAF Expo: Secaucus, NJ 2014
 If you refer back to the Christmas description above, you’ll see why I love the GFAF Expo so much. I leave each year with a giant bag (or two) of beautifully wrapped treats: all Katie-safe and delicious and just waiting for me to tear them open for a perfect meal/snack/treat; many vendors have ovens on-site to prepare freshly-heated samples of everything from gluten-free pizza crust and bagels to Veggie Fries and Pop-Tarts– so the smells that greet you when you enter the Exhibition Hall make you even more excited for the hours ahead.
This was my loot in 2014…I feel like it gets bigger every year!
 Finally, as someone who is now attending my 4th Expo, I can tell you there is a regular cast of characters with whom you become familiar. There are returning faces at many booths, but this is especially true when it comes to the Expo speakers…and even the other bloggers! A year has passed since many of these familiar faces have crossed paths, and there are always plenty of hugs, smiles, and stories to share. Last, but not least, I get to walk around all day eating (and drinking) amazing Katie-safe treats until I’m on the verge of a holiday-type food coma. As I said, it’s not all that different from Christmas at all- and since the Worcester Expo takes place in July, it is perfectly placed to be my Christmas in July.
Visiting with the author of really cute children’s book about celiac!

 I’m even more excited about the Expo this year since it also marks my return to the world of blogging after a hiatus to settle into Boston and welcome our newest little family member. (He’s almost 6 weeks old now and absolutely perfect.)  Additionally, I have to say that since I’ve entered the world of parenthood, I have a much greater appreciation for the need to find more ready-made/on-the-go Katie-safe options…since my more labor-intensive recipes from the past prove challenging with a 5-week-old in tow..so I am anxious to explore the vendor tables this year with a bit of a priority shift.

Best of all, if you’d like to join me at the Worcester Expo this year (July 22-23), I have 5 free tickets to give away! Just fill out the “Contact Katie” form to the right, or you can comment below or on the post on Facebook or Instagram and you’re entered to win! Sadly, I know many of you are a bit far from Massachusetts, so make sure to check out the other locations and visit an Expo near you! And if all of that isn’t enough to get you excited, you just never know what will happen at the Expo: these 2 got engaged at the Expo in 2014!
Even proposals happen at the Expo…complete with a gluten-free cupcake πŸ™‚
Posted in Boston Recommendations

I Think I’ll Go to Boston…

That’s right…after several months of radio silence, I’M BACK!! There is plenty to discuss (considering we have nearly 7 months, including gluten-free wedding planning/interstate moving tips, to cover)…but all those things will come in due time.

For those of you who don’t know, the title of this blogpost is more than just the refrain of an Augustana song circa 2009, it has been the mantra of my life for the past few months. We knew that most likely the Physicist would wrap up his Ph.D. this academic year and so the summer of 2016 would involve a big move for us (hence why we decided to plan our wedding in March, even though that meant mid-school-year AND mid-Lent). However, I’ll admit there was a little piece of me that was hoping the “big” move would entail a short trip up I-95 to Philly, or even a position in Baltimore which would allow us to stick around for a few years. There’s something about familiarity, especially when it takes years to figure out safe places to eat, doctors you can trust, and friends who learn how to cook for you…or understand when you show up with your own meal, that makes it even harder to say good-bye to a place you know and love. But when the phone rang just about 3 weeks before our wedding and it was Harvard on the other end…well, you just can’t turn that down. So after the wedding, we went into job hunt (for me)/apartment search/packing mode and just shy of 3 months into our married life, we packed everything we own into a rental truck and headed north.

We have technically been living here for a month now, but our year of weddings/summer of travels have taken us elsewhere for about half of that time. I can say that Boston is quite charming, and I am confident that I will soon grow to love it here too…but as you can probably imagine, starting over again poses some challenges- and I’m only focusing on food-wise here! I have to find new go-to places to eat, research new grocery stores that have my “special foods”, and of course, I have to share a kitchen again for the first time in years. Despite all these challenges, I have to say the last month, and really the last 4, have also been among the happiest of my life. There’s something about having a co-pilot by my side as I face these challenges that makes them just a little less daunting. And of course, I get to share the adventure with all of you…and anyone you might know who is in Boston πŸ™‚

Don’t worry: much of our life is still in boxes, but the coffee cart is ready to go!

 So, just like I did in Baltimore for the past 5 years (seriously, is anyone else baffled by the fact that it has been 5 years since my diagnosis…because I am), I am looking forward to exploring the Boston area and discovering all the hidden gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and sort of corn-free (another post for another time) gems that I’m certain are waiting for me. And what better way to begin that search? A Gluten-Free, Allergen-Free Expo, of course!! You may remember my excited foray into the official blogger world 2 years ago for the same event in New Jersey. Well, there just so happens to be another Expo NEXT WEEKEND!! It’s located in Worcester, so just a short 40 minute ride from our apartment in Boston. Words cannot express my excitement for all the delicious samples waiting for us next weekend…but more importantly, I cannot wait to jumpstart my hunt for Katie-safe foods by connecting with other Boston bloggers and vendors there. Now, the even better news is that because I’m an official blogger, I have free tickets to give away! Granted, I have almost no followers in the Boston area yet, so if you happen to know someone who might be interested in attending, send them my way (cupofcoffeewithkatie@gmail.com).

Here are the important details:
What: Gluten-Free/Allergen-Free Expo
Where: DCU Center-North Exhibit Hall- 50 Foster St., Worcester, MA 01608
When: July 23rd and 24th 10 AM – 4 PM
Who: Tons of amazing vendors (including Glutino, Udi’s, Enjoy Life, Earth Balance, Wegman’s, etc.)…and yours truly, of course
Why: Because for one day you will remember what it feels like to walk around a room filled with delicious treats and be able to taste almost every single one without fear…and because for that one day, you’ll feel like you belong to a family of people who understand what your daily life is like in a way no one else can.



I look forward to sharing the fun and excitement of the weekend with you via countless posts and photos next weekend…and even more reviews and recommendations in the weeks following.

I promise I’m back for real this time. I’ve missed you…and we have a lot of catching up to do πŸ™‚

I can’t wait to recreate this photo 2 years later πŸ™‚