Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kahn's Kitchen Paleo Granola

We love granola in this household. My husband has it in his lunch, literally, every day. And as a Celiac who is also oat intolerant, finding totally safe, delicious granola can sometimes be a tall order.

Recently, my friend Jordan a.k.a. King Gluten Free mentioned his love for a New Jersey granola named Kahn's Kitchen. When I realized that it was paleo, and therefore grain and oat free, I was SO excited! I was even more ecstatic when Jason Kahn, the owner of the company reached out and offered to send me some.

They didn't send me the tray- that was mine. :)
Enclosed in the box was one 10 oz. bag of their Cinnamon Raisin granola, as well as three 1.5 oz packges of their, Original, Crunchy and their Cinnamon Raisin granolas. Their 1.5 oz packages are perfect as a mid-day snack, as they are just over 200 calories. I ate the Cinnamon Raisin mini-bag first, and it was delicious!

 It's loaded with all sorts of tasty bits- "Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Cinnamon, Raisins, Honey, Olive oil and sea salt." And at $9.99 for a 10 oz. bag, it's cheaper than the Larabar Renola that I've been buying lately.

I find my favorite way to eat it so far is sprinkled on top of a bowl of cottage cheese and natural applesauce.


As the ingredients for the Original and the Crunchy are the same, I asked Jason to explain the main difference. He said that while the Original is great for a snack and will generally hold its shape, the Crunchy is cooked longer, crumbles easily and is really delicious as a cereal. 

So thanks again to Jason for sharing his delicious granola with me, and props to Jordan for introducing it to me.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Taste Guru April 2015 Review and giveaway


The gang at Taste Guru were gracious enough to send me another box. I was so excited to see two large items in this box, instead of just one. I had recently purchased the Italian Penne Modern Table meal at Whole Foods, and it was far from cheap. The value of the meal and the Namaste pizza crust mix together is $14 alone, plus other additional items. This box is truly a great value.

The Modern Table Mediterranean meal is tasty, and the Italian Penne meal is even better. These meals are made with lentil pasta- full of fiber and protein. They are also full of oat fiber. Unfortunately, I'm still oat sensitive. I ate it anyway, but I ended up not feeling well later in the week. They are a great quick meal, but as always, make sure you read labels first.

I really enjoyed the Curry Crunch from Zouq foods. It had a tart yet sweet taste that really hit the spot. I'm eager to try to find these in my own store!

The Tree Hugger gum is good, and it's great that it's made without artificial colors. I don't like mango, so I put the Matt's Munchies in my husband's lunch. He said it was okay.

I'm not a coffee drinker, but my husband is a coffee connoisseur. I'm sure he'll be trying the Bio Coffee soon. It contains wheatgrass, but their website states that it is gluten free. I don't quite understand how wheat grass is gluten free, but Delight Gluten Free has an article that helps to explain it.

I've had the Gluten Free Bar before. Proud to say that they are made in my home state of Michigan. I think the Cranberry Toasted Almond is my favorite of their products. They have a new "bites" line that are really tasty too! Elliott, one of the Gluten Free Brothers, gave me a package of the new PB+J bites. They are SO good!

SO if you haven't heard about Tate Guru before, here's a quick run down.
They are one of the multiple monthly subscription box companies that offer gluten free items. They have been around for a few years and have upgraded their packaging and their boxes, which I think is an improvement. (Follow this link from when I wrote about them in 2013.)

Like other companies, they offer different lengths of subscriptions, from one month all the way to a year. These are great for a gifts, as care packages for those away from home, or for those looking to try new things every month. It's especially great if you live in a city with few gluten free options.


They send out their boxes at the end of the month, so if you've recently subscribed, they should be sending out the May box to you shortly. If you're interested in subscribing, you can easily do so by clicking on this link here!

Even better, I'm going to give a box away to one of my readers for free! They gave me an extra March box, and instead of making the delicious Better Batter brownies and eating them all by myself, I'm going to pass them on to you.

Just enter using the handy-dandy Rafflecopter giveaway and winner will be chosen at random on May 30th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 22, 2015

Reuniting with friends at the Chicago GFAF Expo 2015

One of the biggest bonuses of having Celiac Disease is all the new friends that you get to meet.
You become part of a larger community, creating friendships that reach across the globe.
Some of my best #GF #BFFs are not only bloggers, but people that work for some amazing companies.
Just one more added benefit of attending the GFAF Expo!


Although GF Delights doesn't have new products available, 
they do have some exciting news. Aldi will now be carrying their new
Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Sandwiches! 
Those are by far my favorite! I look forward to seeing
them at the Lansing Gluten Free Fair as well!



The story behind this company is just phenomenal. The long family 
history of bee keepers is amazing, and knowing that the same family 
has been running this business for decades says a lot. 
Last year I introduced you to their dairy free chocolate mints.
They have two additional flavors- 
Dark Chocolate Orange and Dark Chocolate Cocoa.
Anyway you put them together, it makes for delicious chocolate!

Gluten Free Bar -
The men at The Gluten Free Bar are just so fun to be around! Elliott, on the right, 
is one of the founders of this Michigan Made company. The majority of their products are bars, but they have a new Bites line that is delicious. Their new pb+j bites are so fun.

 



So, you know how I had that "fangirl moment" in Columbus when I met Beth Hillson?
That weekend I got to meet Joel Warady, THE chief managing officer at Enjoy Life.
I was totally honored that he was interested in taking a picture with me. 
They truly are just about THE nicest company I've ever met, and crazy generous!


And I was really excited to beet the fabulous Carolyn. I've "talked" to her so often
over email, that it was nice to finally meet her in person. 
She's a beautiful person, inside and out!

AND, if you haven't heard, Enjoy Life will soon be selling new allergen free mixes
That's right! You'll be able to make pancakes, brownies and so much more at home!


Sonoma Flatbreads -


Sonoma Flatbreads, in my opinion, are the best frozen gluten free pizzas 
that you can find anywhere. These are my non-gf husband's favorite pizza. 
They have new 6.5 inch versions of their cheese, 
fire roasted vegetable, pepperoni and chicken & fire roasted pepper pizzas.
They were super generous, and sent some to my house. 
I think the fire roasted veg is my favorite!

 If you've been following me for a while, you know that I LOVE Bob's Red Mill. 
They've been my go-to flour company since diagnosis. I was lucky enough to snag a 
package of their new "one to one" baking flour. Though I haven't had a chance to use it yet, 
I look forward to experimenting with it! What should I make?

Massel

Massel was the "blogger booth" sponor for the Chicago GFAF Expo. They gave us all a box
of their assorted stocks and bouillons. The neatest thing about these products-  they're all 
VEGAN. That's right, there isn't any chicken in their chicken broth. 
I absolutely love their stock pouches. It makes great beef stew!


I just LOVE Andrea from Red Apple Lipstick. Even though I honestly don't wear much makeup, I love the care they put into their products and how they care for those who use their products. If you've never visited their booth at a show before, you need to. 
I swear, it's the most fun you'll have ever have buying make up! 

Hangin' with the "girls"


Saturday night was a great time hanging out with some of my favorite GF people. 
Even though we often see each other at events, we're usually busy doing GF related tasks.
It was so nice to sit down in the lobby with them, chat about real life and get to know them so much better. 


Here are a few of us a couple weekends later, reunited in Grand Rapids Michigan. 

So let's grow our gluten free community! What companies or bloggers are your #GF #BFFs?
What's new to you that we should all know about?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

New Finds at the Chicago GFAF Expo 2015



I was blessed to again be invited to be a media blogger for the Chicago GFAF Expo. My time was split though between that and working at the Chebe booth, which was also a great joy. Thankfully for me my husband came to be my second set of eyes and ears....and taste buds.

Here's a short (okay, long) list of some of my new favorites- 

Hudsonville Ice Cream - I have a confession. I am a an ice-cream-a-holic. When I saw that Hudsonville was at this event I was super excited. 1) It's ice cream, and 2) they're a Michigan company. AND they were sampling Mackinac Island Fidge Ice Cream. So I get ice cream AND chocolate at 10 am in the morning. Perfection.
They are also coming out with a new Naturals line this summer. No hormones, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or flavors. Just pure, unadulterated ice cream. They extended a possible visit to their farms and factories this summer as well, so keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed that I'll be seeing the process up and close this summer. I promise to keep you posted!

Nana Creme- So since you now know my love affair with ice cream, you better believe that I only want to the "good stuff." No phoney baloney ice cream for me. What if I told you I found a vegan, peanut free "ice cream" made from organic bananas that will Blow Your MIND! Flavors that include gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough, blueberry pie, brownie and MORE. Right now you can only find them in stores in Illinois, but since they are in Whole Foods there, hopefully this will change soon. You can order from them online

Element Snacks - So when the majority of us were diagnosed with Celiac Disease over a decade, oor first go to was rice cakes. Because that's what was available. To be honest, I crave them still every once in a while. (The new square Lundberg ones are fantastic!)
But what if I told you that someone created dessert rice cakes? AND they were non-gmo? NO HFCS?
And their dark chocolate snacks were also VEGAN?
Yep, I was pretty surprised at all of this. Even more surprised that I found a product that made me head over heels for rice cakes. Their strawberry n' cream rice cakes are super good.


YumButter - I love peanut butter. I eat it with bananas, celery, toast, apples, crackers, chocolate, ice cream. On a spoon. If I'm desperate I'll run my finger around the edge of the jar.
And then I meet YumButter. Not only do they make awesome nut butters, but then they add in nutritious extras like hemp sewed and chia seed. And then they use their product and sales to feed malnourished children around the world. Stay tuned for a full blog entry about this amazing company soon.

DeLallo Gnocchi - I've made sweet potato gnocchi from scratch before. It's time consuming and messay, albeit delicious. Delallo has pillowy soft, delicious gnocchi that cooks in 2 MINUTES. I think that pretty much says it all, am I right?

Path Of Life- After multiple samples of baked goods, ice cream, pasta and other GF goodies, I was so thankful for Path of Life and their vegetables. Their organic quinoa blends hit the spot, and I really enjoyed their roasted garlic cauliflower. (And their dark chocolate covered strawberries!)
Looking at their website I see that have lots of products I would love to try, like their garbanzo and lentil side dish or their kale and butternut squash sides. They were willing to give me extra bags to take home, but sadly I don't think they would have stayed frozen during the 5 hour drive home. They stated that their products are available at Walmart stores, so I guess I'll be heading there soon!


Sam's Gourment Lasagna and Pasta- Sam's makes what may be the best gluten free vegetable lasagna I've ever had. I actually preferred it to the turkey lasagna. Sam has an amazing story behind her business and she has a huge heart for those who are less fortunate. You can find her products at Jewel-Osco.

Sunny's Gourmet Products - One of the most frustrating things about eating gluten free is finding safe Asian food. While meat and vegetables are naturally gluten free, the addition of soy sauce that is usually made with wheat often puts Teriyaki Chicken on the "no" list.
Well thanks to the beautiful ladies of Sunny's Korean Gourmet Products, you can safely eat your favorite Asian inspired foods again. They have teriyaki sauce and Kimchee seasoning. The great thing about traditional Kimchee is that it is a great probiotic and therefore beneficial for your intestinal health.

Stay tuned for more to come. I was able to spend some time with some great friends, and some have some exciting updates!

Biena Chickpeas

I LOVE chickpeas. Seriously, I don't think there has ever been a way of consuming chickpeas that I haven't liked. I love them on a salad, I love them in hummus, I love them in soup, I love them in Indian masala, I love them in falafel. I've never meet a chickpea dish that I haven't liked.

And I absolutely love them dry roasted and seasoned.  Which makes me SO grateful that Biena Foods sent me a couple of their flavored dried roasted chickpeas to try. I came home from a weekend in Chicago to a box of Cinnamon Maple, Honey Roasted and Barbeque chickpea snacks. Perfect welcome home present.


 I may or may not have eaten the whole bag of the Cinnamon Maple snacks in one sitting. 

But with 5 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per serving, who can blame me, right? 
It's like eating a super healthy snicker noodle. And who doesn't love cookies?
 

The honey roasted are equally tasty. I even had a few more just now, just to make sure. :) 

The barbeque are a bit stronger. I once made oven fried barbecue chicken using crushed chickpeas as the breading. I'm eager to try it again with the Biena Foods Barbeque Chickpea Snacks. 

A big thank you to Biena Foods for providing me with these products. While they showered some chickpea affection on me for free, my opinions are solely my own. :) 


Liberation 12


More times than not, our society seems to content to throw things away. Some many things have become disposable- diapers, cell phones, plates, all sorts of things.

And if we're honest, we treat people like they're disposable. Marriages are disposable, children are disowned, women are treated as sexual objects to be used for pleasure and cast to the side once their purposefulness has passed. 

A report was released recently that Michigan has the second highest rate of human trafficking in the country. Did you know that the most common age of women who start becoming prostitutes is 13? Usually these people are already from broken homes, already feeling thrown away and used. 

A business, called Liberation 12, is partnering up with a ministry called AWOL (All Worthy of Love) to raise money to fight human trafficking here in Michigan. 

Liberation 12 was started by a young woman in college, burdened by the plight of prostitution in the greater Detroit area. Wondering what she could do to help, she started doing the one thing that comes naturally to her- sewing. Her boyfriend, soon to be husband, also felt the burden and started in the ministry.

As she is currently working on her college degree, she has worked for a business reclaiming leather and upholstery fabric that would otherwise have been thrown away. She has used her creative sewing abilities to create handheld clutches made from high quality leather and fabrics from Bradington Young and Sam Moore. Just like the pieces she creates, she is trying to use her abilities to help women reclaim their lives, to see that they're not just disposable. She wants them to know that someone truly cares about them and believes in them.



For the entire year of 2015, they are pledging 12% of their gross sales to the AWOL ministry. She is also setting up a $300 scholarship for high school seniors, that will be applied to their college tuition. This scholarship will be given to students who research trafficking and write a response essay.

This is just the beginning. They hope some day to build safe houses for those who have been sexually exploited, to provide them with education and job skills.

And you can help in this ministry. By purchasing one of her handmade clutches, you are helping her and those she works with love on those who feel unlovable.
Visit mkt.com/liberation12 to see her assortment of clutches as well as handmade scarves. You can also follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/liberation12.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Columbus GFFA Fest 2015

I had an amazing time this past weekend at the Columbus GFFA Fest! This event is organized by the Gluten Free and More Magazine (previously Living Without). I had the pleasure of meeting the organizers, presenters and some new companies. But for sure, the highlight of my weekend was the connections I made with others.

Saturday morning I enjoyed breakfast with Cindy Gordon (a.k.a. Vegetarian Mamma) and Pam Jordon (a.k.a I'm A Celiac) at Cherbourg Bakery. This may be my most favorite dedicated GF bakery in the whole world. Their egg strata with roasted red pepper and chevre was off the hook! I ordered a cinnamon donut as well, and Cindy and Pam even shared some bites of the things they ordered. It was like a GF baked good love fest.


I loved working at the Chebe table with Dick Reed, founder and creator of the company. He has the greatest laid back personality and is so genuine. We were able to introduce so many people to the product, as well as meet some long time fans. One man even shook Dick Reed's hand and told him that Chebe was a "lifesaver" for him when he was first diagnosed. I totally LOVE stories like that!I'm looking forward to working with him again this weekend at the Chicago GFAF Expo.

Plus I had the great pleasure of meeting Beth Hillson. I may have had a fan girl moment when Beth said she was so glad to shake hands and had been looking forward to meeting ME! Unfortunately I missed her demonstration on using your bread machine, but I'm sure it was fabulous! Wonderful lady for sure.

To top if off, I had an AMAZING dinner with Erica Dermer, a.k.a. Celiac and the Beast at BareBurger. I was so totally honored that she chose to have dinner with me! (And was totally non-judgemental when I locked my keys in the car and I had to call AAA.) I can't thank her enough for her friendship, encouragement and helpful suggestions.


Here are a few of the new products I was excited to try-


Power Pasta - So, I'm totally kicking myself for not getting a picture of the lovely red headed lady who is the face and creator of Power Pasta. Power Pasta is made from red lentils, is super good for you, and keeps you feeling full. I made sure to get a package to take home and I'll share more about it later!


Luna Kombucha - I'm new to the world of kombucha. If you don't' know what it is, is a fermented beverage that's a great probiotic and therefore great for your intestinal health. Think of it as a carbonated, good-for-you, fruity tea. Unfortunately they didn't have any for sale or I would have brought hom a case for sure!


Eban's Bakehouse - This bakery makes bread and cookies that doesn't just taste good, but is full of whole grain goodness. They use certified gluten free oat flour, so I can't eat it. But I took home a bag of their rolls for my non-gf hubby, and he really enjoyed them.



Bake Me Happy - Wendy from Bake Me Happy is just the sweetest thing ever. I bought one of the awesome t-shirts she is wearing and look forward to stopping at her bakery next time I'm in town and tasting her scones.


Fresh Thyme Market- I was so excited that Fresh Thyme market was there! They are opening a store in E. Lansing, Michigan this week, and was looking forward to talking to their staff about being involved in the Lansing Gluten Free Fair. Kim and her team were super nice and I look forward to talking to Kim again in the very near future!
NIMA - This is a new gluten detection technology.This portable sensor will allow you to discretely test your food in under 2 minutes and will have an app so you can easily share the info with others. Be sure to go to their website to (nimasensor.com) for more info!

Adventures in Blueberry Muffin Tops

Truth be told, I"m a bit of a nerd. When I was a kid, I sometimes took things apart just to see how they worked. I have a degree in Mathematics (for Elementary School Teachers) and I always like geometric proofs because it "proved" why something was true. 

Recently Jules Shepherd was generous enough to send out samples of her gluten free flour. I've always heard great things about her products, but had never tried them. The small sample packet of her flour also came with a blueberry muffin recipe, and it just so happened that I had a huge bag of frozen blueberries to use. 

I also happened to have on hand a sample of Pamela's Products Baking Mix, left over from my Send Me Gluten Free box, and I had been playing with the new Krusteaz Gluten Free All Purpose Flour blend. 

So I honestly made four mini-batches of blueberry muffin tops, using four different flours. It's all in the name of science, right?  


GF Jules - The batter was a bit thick, and I was surprised that it did not spread much in the pan as they baked. While I would be intrigued to make other things with her flours, this was not my favorite muffin. 



Pamela's Products Baking Mix- I tried to follow the recipe on their website, which was incredibly similar to the GF Jules recipe. I'm not sure I got all of the rations right when I tried to downscale for the amount of flour that I had. They were a bit dry, and not my favorite, but my non-gf husband liked these best of all four. 


Krusteaz- I wanted to try muffins with this flour because it stated that it can be used as a one-to-one replacement for wheat flour. I've been trying all sorts of things to see if they're true to their word. These muffin tops were okay. 

Bob's Red Mill- I made a batch with Bob's Gluten Free All Purpose mix for two reasons. 1) When I went gluten free, that was the first flour that I started to use, and 2) I had some in the cupboard that needed to be used up. Out of all of the flours, this is what I liked the best. But at the same time I can't say that I was enamored with any of the four. (My favorite to this day is the King Arthur Gluten Free Muffin Mix. Oh my, those are amazing!) 

If there is anything I've learned in over a decade of being a baker diagnosed with Celiac Disease, no two "tasters" are alike. We all like certain products more than others for a reason. And one company may make one product that's great but another product that I prefer not to eat again.

And you know what, that's okay!  It's great that there is so much safe, gluten free diversity out there. As Celiac Disease and culinary techniques improve, we have a lot of options. As far as I'm concerned, if there is a product you use that helps you feel like a successful gluten free baker, that's great! Let's celebrate our successes as we all struggle to live a healthy and truly gluten free diet. :) 

Sumo Sushi

One of the biggest things about eating gluten free, at least for me, is knowing that a certain category of food is "off limits." Even if it's a food you can't normally eat, just knowing you can no longer have it makes you want it all the more.

For example, before I was diagnosed, I didn't eat a lot of fried foods. They're not really my thing. But once I was diagnosed, the thought that a whole category of foods was off limits due to food preparation made me eager to have deep fried onion rings, fish, and fried chicken when it's done safely.

While visiting a young friend in Rochester Hills, MI, I used my handy "Find Me Gluten Free" app to figure out a safe location to eat lunch. I noticed that a sushi restaurant was listed, with the comment that they had a dedicated fryer. What?!  Needless to say, we chose to dine at Sumo Sushi.

We tested out their gluten free deep fryer by ordering calamari. If you've never heard of it, it's a fancy word for squid. I have never eaten before, so it as a culinary adventure. It was okay. Slightly chewy, but the majority of the flavor was the breading. Not bad, but I think I've satisfied my calamari curiousity for the rest of my life.

When it came to ordering, it was tough. There were so many choices! Basically everything there but the noodles is gluten free, although only one of their sauces is gluten free. It was between their "lunch box" and the vegetable tempura sushi.

I ordered the vegetable tempura sushi rolls, filled with sweet potato and asparagus. I also ordered a side of edamame, which was quickly shared by everyone else. I liked my sushi, but was always looking at the "lunch box" that our young friend Angela ordered. When we go again (and I so hope that we do!) I will be ordering that!

So, if you're in Rochester Hills and eat gluten free, I suggest stopping at Sumo Sushi. Across the street is a bakery called "Holy Cannoli" that makes gluten free pizzelle cookies as well as made-to-order gluten free cannoli.I highly suggest visiting there. In reality, there are tons of great GF options in Rochester Hills, not to mention there is a Whole Foods AND a Trader Joe's nearby!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chicago GFAF Expo 2015 AND GIVEAWAY!

The countdown has begun! The 2015 Chicago GFAF Expo is less than three weeks away! 


I was blessed to be asked back as a media blogger again this year AND

I get to offer my readers a discount AND a chance to win a FREE TICKET!


This event is beyond amazing. More gluten free vendors than you can imagine. 
SAFE gluten free food everywhere and services that are tailored to meet our needs! 
 And for full disclosure, I will actually be working the Chebe booth part-time this year. So I'm eager to meet you in person, share about this wonderful product, AND try some of the newest products on the market.

So what can you expect from a GFAF Expo? 

Read my preliminary review from last year to get an idea of what to expect.



Here's more info direct from the GFAF Expo website:

"The GFAF Expos are the largest and fastest growing special diet consumer events in the US. Started in 2007, the events are professionally managed and have expanded from one to seven cities throughout the United States. In addition to meeting the needs of the Celiac community, the Expo welcomes those with gluten sensitivities, auto-immune/inflammatory diseases and autism."

What do you get with your Expo Ticket?
   * Entry into the vendor fair with over 100 brands
   * Valuable coupons at the vendor booths
   * Samples from the vendors
   * Discounted products available for purchase
   * Informative classes related to the gluten free and allergen-friendly lifestyle
   * Free reusable bag to carry your goodies
   * Meet your favorite vendors, authors and bloggers


Why buy your ticket online?


With promo code "ADVANCE," you get 20% off your order if you purchase by May 1st.
   Plus, guarantee that you don’t miss out on the Expo, as limited tickets are available each day.
    Aded bonus- no need to wait in line at the Expo to buy your ticket!

(We’re sorry, there are no refunds for pre-purchased tickets.)
So, would you like to enter for a chance to go for FREE?
Go to the vendor list for this event, and COMMENT BELOW about which company
 you would most like feedback about when I'm there. 
Winners will be contacted by April 28th.

Me personally, I'm looking forward to learning more about the new ENER-G breads that were debuted at ExpoWest, seeing my pals at Smart Flour, and finally being able to buy one of Sweet Ali's FAMOUS gluten free cinnamon rolls. Oh, and hitting the Coconut Bliss dairy free dessert booth again MULTIPLE times!
Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter for tons of pics and instant reviews!
Follow @GFAFEXPO on Twitter and Instagram as well! 

So, tell me, who should I check out?

Chebe and Me

If you've followed me for a while, you know that I like to try new gluten free foods

And you also know that I love Chebe products.

A lot. 

They're products are not only gluten free, but they're allergy free as well. No dairy, soy, corn, peanuts Just full of flavor and culinary flexibility! 

So I'm excited to let everyone know that I'll be working at their table at some upcoming events! 

If you live in the Midwest, love to try new gluten free foods, and love Chebe (or have yet to try it and therefore have yet to fall in love with Chebe), you HAVE to come meet Chebe and me in person! 

April 25th and 26th we will be at Living Without's Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Columbus, Ohio. Chebe will be one of more than 40 exhibitors, eager to share their product and services with you! There will also be presentations by speakers, not to mention that you'll get to meet other bloggers like Erica Dermer from Celiac and the Beast and Cindy Gordon from VegetarianMamma. (There's going to be an epic selfie scavenger hunt. I'm SO excited!) 

The following weekend we will be in CHICAGO! The Gluten Free Allergy Free Expo is May 2nd and 3rd in Schaumburg, Illinois. I went to this last year as a GFAF blogger and it was SO wonderful. Seriously, it was like going to a big party where you can safely eat everything from over 50 companies and meet the actual people behind the them. That's where I got to meet Jon Miller and founder, Dick Reed, from Chebe. Love these guys!


So what are you waiting for? Get your tickets for the GFFA Fest now. Enter the promo code FESTFB15 and save 10% on your ticket order! Plus you'll save time waiting in line.

And, if you pre-buy a ticket for the GFAF Expo in Schaumburg by May 1st and use this link, you'll get 20% off your ticket AND a free one year subscription to Delight Gluten Free Magazine!

And if you've never tried Chebe, you're in for a treat!
Here is just a sample of some of the things that you can do:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

We're Not The Gatekeepers



I'm about to get all theological up in here, so humor me.

So here's my question- What is communion and who gets to decide who can receive it?

I was trying to look up the definition of the the word communion, or more precisely, the definitions of the root words found within.  Com- and -union. (We add another "m" in between to make it look pretty.)

com- a prefix meaning “with,” “together,” “in association,” and (with intensive force) “completely,” 
union - the action or fact of being joined 

So in laymen definition terms, one might say it is something that completely joins persons or a group of people. In Christian theology, it is the ordinance of taking the bread and wine in remembrance of that same night when Jesus shared it with his disciples.

Recently I was relayed a story of someone who sincerely wanted to follow in this tradition, but they were told they could not take communion.  Without divulging too much, this person was told there were some prerequisites that they needed to take before they could participate. And just to say, there has definitely been evidence of faith in this person's life.

It broke my heart and brought my husband to tears.

My thoughts on communion have changed over the years. When I was a child and understood as a child, I thought it had to be grape juice and white bread. I thought taking communion was what saved you, not understanding that it is our right standing with Christ and obedience to him that is the definition of salvation. I used to think that passing on Communion was a sign that you were an awful person, but today understand better the scripture about examining yourself, because we about to take part in somethign Holy, profound and beautiful. There are times I have passed because I haven't felt right with God or another, and my faith has been strengthened by it.

And it's this last part that I want to highlight. So many times when partake in Communion, the minister will read from 1 Corinthians 11, "On the night that Jesus was betrayed...." This familiar passage starts in verse 23 and is often read through verse 29. " For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves." And it often stops there. 

But I think we need to keep reading on!

Verse 31 says -  
But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment!

I quote this to say that we should be discerning about our own faith and relationship to God than trying to discern the faith of others when they want to take communion. 

I know this is a touchy issue. I dealt with it recently, as we've been "shepherding" some young people in our neighborhood. They came to church on a Sunday when we were serving communion. These kids are a little rough around the edges, and aren't your traditional "church kids." Sometimes they are loud, swear, and talk out of turn- but week after week they want to be there. And as far as I knew, they have never made a profession of faith or been baptized.
Before we went to take communion, I sat down and talked to them about it, the significance of it, and what it was (and wasn't.) And all the while I was afraid of the other people in the congregation, wondering what they were thinking of these two kids going to take Holy Communion. Afterwards, I sat down with our minister and discussed it with her, and she had no problems with them taking it.

She thinks a lot like me. At our church we serve communion "open table" style. We stand up front and whomever wants to partake, we allow them to do so, supposedly not passing judgement. And even if someone hasn't made a profession of faith, we believe that our God can touch someone's heart at anytime, and that even during communion someone can come to salvation.

I love the Message translation of Romans 14:2-4, as I think it speaks to this perfectly.
 For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

Wow, that's some powerful stuff. Who are we to cross someone off the list? And if we are worried about someone not being reverent enough or jumped through the right hoops first or anything else that we think will bring offense to God, He's big enough to handle that himself. After all, if he can speak to Moses through a burning bush, allow a virgin to conceive a child through the Spirit, and bring back His son to life after three days in the tomb, I think He's powerful enough to get through to one person.

And we seemed to be all in a huff today if someone "disrespects" God. How dare they?! Don't they know who HE is?! And especially I think of this Holy Week, when Peter was willing to take up the sword for the God he loved, and Christ STOPPED him. On more than one occasion, Jesus was less concerned about HIS rights and more concerned about the souls of those whom they know would come to salvation later.

Maybe we're afraid of being "bad teachers," that God will be angry at us if we don't make sure that people take all the proper steps. But if this is the case, what is the point of GRACE? With God there is forgiveness, for both the teacher and the student. There is grace for any and all offenses. And we are called to be agents of grace to those around us, to be reconcilers, to be the ones who stand in the gap.

See right now, our church is trying to be a better neighbor. We're taking intentional steps to reach out to our community, love on them, and welcome them with open arms into our congregation.Many of them have never been in a church, never raised to know the "proper" way to do things.

And I would be UNDONE if someone in our congregation stopped them at the altar and told them they couldn't take communion, probably feeling shunned like an outsider, basically told that what we are doing is only for the "in" crowd. We live in a neighborhood that is broken and disenfranchised. They already feel like outsiders, they don't need any of our help to feel that way.

Truly our only job is to love one another as Christ has loved us. And that is a big enough job, we don't need to add the responsibility of keeping track of whom should and shouldn't take Comminion.
 Let's leave that up to God.

John 10:9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] 
 They will come in and go out, and find pasture.