Expo Expectations

Ask my husband. Ask him if I was excited about the Gluten Free Expo coming to Des Moines. He’ll tell you that I was ready half an hour before we were supposed to leave. He’ll also tell you that I (at MY age!) was bouncing around the house grinning from ear to ear in anticipation of the “big event”.

Then he’ll tell you that once at the Expo I continued  my bouncing by bouncing from booth to booth in an uncharacteristically unorganized fashion. (Much to his chagrin.) “C’mon Kev, work with me!”

Well, this disorderly conduct lasted only a little while. Cause as I strolled along, talking to the booth participants and stuffing my “free tote” with free items, and my face with free samples, I started to feel…well…sick. Not sick, sick, but kinda grossed out. Like I’d just eaten a box of fudge all by myself. After visiting the first third of the vendors I realized I’d eaten way too much sugar!

And suddenly I wasn’t so excited anymore. I could feel my blood sugar fall or rise or whatever it does (I am a self-diagnosed hypoglycemic). Panic set in. What if my blood sugar fell or rose and all I have to eat is sugar because I am completely surrounded by…sugar!

Thankfully by the end of the first row of vendors there was a saint giving out samples of grilled cheese sandwiches (made with Udi’s GF bread and Organic Valley’s new unprocessed American cheese slices). I nibbled on my sandwich, savoring its un-sweetness. From that point forward I swore off any more sugar laden samples.

The Expo confirmed my fear that in so many cases we’ve traded gluten for sugar. One poison for another. One inflammatory producing food for another.

So yay we can have our cake and eat it too. And our cupcakes. And our cookies. And our white bread. And our chips. But too many times these food items are devoid of nutrients. Empty calories. Made with less nutritious gluten free flours. Which is sad because there are so many super gluten free flours that have healthy components to them!

I know what you’re thinking…and I agree…these foods have their place. If mac and cheese is your comfort food it is good to know that there is a gluten free version that you can enjoy on occasion. If you love cupcakes it is good to know you can have one.

I would rather we try to bring healing to ourselves. And that means cutting back (if not cutting out) sugar.

That brings me to my personal kitchen dilemma. I have white sugar in my cabinet. I still use it when I make cheesecake. And that is not very often. I also have organic cane juice, coconut sugar, agave nectar, molasses, honey, sorghum, rice syrup, and Stevia. I still love to bake. I just try to do it with as little sweetener as I can. And the sweeteners I do use offer more that just sweetness to the finished product, they give a unique flavor too!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the Expo is a great idea to give those with food allergies a chance to sample foods. Especially because those foods can be twice as expensive as the “regular” versions. Who wants to buy a $7 loaf of bread only to discover it tastes like sawdust? Not me! But I have. I think it still lurks in the back of our freezer waiting to get freezer burnt enough for me to justify throwing it away.

I took an informal survey of the handful of people I know who attended the Expo and they all felt that sugar was the # 1 ingredient in the Expo lineup.

Each of my friends who I polled had something they brought away from it. For some it was the lovely Way Better Snacks. Or Cory Family Farm’s beef stick. The Raw Revolution bars. For me it was the cheese. Yes, the new organic American cheese. Which wasn’t even a vendor but used to highlight the GF bread. What? It was good cheese! Grilled cheese is my comfort food. And I think it would be especially good with the New Planet gluten free beer I also sampled at the Expo.

But my ultimate take away(s) from the Expo is the realization of the need for gluten free baked goods that are nutritional powerhouses and low in sugar!

And the cheese.

And beer.


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