A trip to Ann Arbor and Plum Market

     Some of you may or may not know that I am the co-chair for the Lansing Gluten Free Fair that is taking place this October 26th from 10-2 at the Ramada Inn on Saginaw Highway on the westside of Lansing, MI. (Shameless plug) I also am one of the administrators of the Lansing Gluten Free Fair Facebook page. Because of this, I get to see all sorts of interesting posts about companies. events and recipes that I pass on to followers. Earlier this past week there was a post from Ethel's Edibles (owned by Jill Bommarito, who happens to be the niece of one of the board members of the Mid-Michigan Celiac Group) about a tasting event in Ann Arbor at Plum Market. So, I pulled on my "Gluten Freedom" t-shirt that I won in an Udi's prize pack last year, loaded up the car with lunch on the go and my husband, and off we went. (P.S. It was cold pizza from Cottage Inn, and I think I got glutened. Anyone else have that problem?)
     Putting on my Gluten Freedom shirt was maybe one of the smartest things I've ever done. Right when I walked in the door of Plum Market, I was greeted by a demo person for Fruit Bliss, and she asked if she could take my picture holding their product! Per their website "Fruit Bliss is a family of preservative-free, soft and moist dried fruit, perfect for on-the-go and stay-at-home snacking. Every piece is infused with a touch of moisture so that it is soft, juicy and truly irresistible! Fruit Bliss wants to share its commitment to healthy eating with our community. We pledge to donate 5% of our profits to organizations that share this same purpose. Giving back just seemed like the natural thing to do. Find your bliss!"
     I wanted to try the figs, because I'm not an apricot or plum fan. She was out of the figs, but because I took a picture with her, she gave me a bag of dates that were a completely new item. I love dates! They were nice and soft like the packaging said, and my husband really liked them because they weren't all dried out. Totally LOVE this product, and I'm going to try to get in touch with them about coming to the fair.

     There were quite a few other companies that I talked to as well. There's Jessica's All Natural Granola made with gluten free oats based out of Michigan, and a company called Veggie-Go's that I find really intriguing. Imagine fruit roll-ups but made with vegetables in them. My favorite flavor is the cinnamon spiced beets and apples strip, but they also have carrot-ginger, sweet potato pie, and mountain berry spinach. I also talked to Bell and Evans chicken and Smart Chicken, both of which are companies that air chill their chicken.
      Out of all the things that we sampled we only purchased 2 items. The first was Bilinski's sausage. Right away I was happy about their products because it says, in large letters, on the front of the label "NO PORK CASING," which is a huge bonus for us because my husband is allergic to pork. To top it off, their products are antibiotic-free, nitrate-free, gluten-free and low in calories. One sausage only has 90 calories! We purchased their roasted red pepper and asiago cheese sausages and decided to cook some up to put on a salad after church. Yum!  They were a little pricey at $6.99 a package, but it was a fun (and tasty) purchase.

      Our other purchase was some natural smoked cheddar from Farm Country Cheese House. This is a Michigan based company, just northeast of Grand Rapids. All of their cheeses are made from milk from hand-milked cows, which is super cool. They make over 2 dozen types of cheeses, including colby, bacon, and truffle. My husband is allergic to bacon, but he found the natural smoked cheddar very reminiscent of the  bacon flavor he misses. She assured me that the production lines are sanitized before and after each batch that is made. I honestly thought it was WAY better then the Zingerman's cheese that was at the table next to them.
      I also was photographed with my cool t-shirt at the Eat Pastry booth, which makes refrigerated tubs of vegan cookie dough. They make both regular and gluten-free cookie doughs. This would be a very handy product to have, especially for friends or family that aren't gluten free but are trying to make something special for someone who is celiac.
      They also had samples of Against the Grain Pizza, broth from Zoup, G & I Keses Halloumi Cheese, beef from Niman Ranch, and samples for Ethel's Edibles. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few in there, as I didn't try everything. But it was a fun day and a worthwhile trip...even if I had to go through traffic circles to get there. :)

    Are there any brands you love, especially ones that may not be as well known, that you would like to see at the Lansing Gluten Free Fair? Please leave a comment below and I'll try my best to get in touch with them. Or, you can pass the info on yourself! Here's a link to the registration form, or have them get in touch with us as gfreevf@gmail.com. See you in October!