26th Annual Celiac Conference, The beginning

Earlier this summer I learned about the 26th Annual Celiac Conference on November 2, 2013 at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus Ohio. I was very eager to attend, as I am the President of our local celiac support group in Flint, MI. I figured this was a great opportunity to learn more information and hear the latest research in regards to celiac disease. So, my husband and I registered (at a great rate of $35!) and booked our hotel room. We were looking forward to a weekend getaway in a city that I love that has so much to do and see.

After having a busy weekend the week before with the Lansing Gluten Free Fair, plus a damp Halloween of Trunk-or-Treating at church, November 1st finally arrived and we were on our way to Columbus. We were very eager for a getaway together.

With our handy smartphones with us, we were able to find a Thai restaurant that claimed to have gluten free options. We both enjoyed our meals.After a few more hours of driving, we checked into our hotel room at the Quality Inn and Suites in Obetz, OH, eager to relax and unwind after a long drive.

There were a few snafus in that plan.....I think of a line from Robert Burns: "The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry." Between some disturbances from neighbors above and a husband who came down with the flu in the middle of the night, it was not the way we were hoping to start our weekend .

But Saturday morning was a new day, full of some better health, a bit of sleep and a chance to learn many new things. And after a good bit of hot breakfast for my husband, and some boiled eggs and fruit for me, we were on our way to downtown Columbus!

My mom has worked in a hospital most of my life, so I've been used to visiting them. I will say that Nationwide Children's Hospital is a BEAUTIFUL building. Being a children's hospital, there were wagons parked in the parking structure, ready and waiting to carry small children into a place of hope and healing...and of vibrant colors!

There was ample signage to help those enter the building know which way to head to get to the conference. Registration was well laid out and organized as well, and Bradlee and I were both given bags with pads of paper, goodies and coupons, as well as a thick folder with all the powerpoint slide notes of the talks that would be given throughout the day. Included were Crunchmaster crackers, Lucy's Cookies and quinoa cookies from Andean Dream. There was even a cookbook included! 

Across from the registration area was a buffet of gluten free breads supplied by Kinnikinnick, as well as hot coffee and juices. I was so eager to have bread and peanut butter, and immediately noticed how SOFT the new Kinnikinnick breads are to the touch. They were really tasty too. Due to having a bite to eat in the lobby, we missed the first presentation "The ABC's of Celiac Disease." After having celiac for over a decade now, I didn't feel too guilty about missing this one. 

Part of this conference put on by the Celiac Center is organized and funded in part by the Gluten Free Gang, a GIG celiac support group. They had a table near by, and I stopped to chat with one of the members, and I was asking them how a GIG support group might differ from a CSA support group. The lady was very nice, but brought alongside Sylvia A. Llewelyn Bower, RD. Not only is Sylvia a member of the support group, she is also a published author. She has written 2 books, one of which she is updating. She was very thorough in answering all of my questions, and even offered to come speak at our support group if needed. 

There were also 2 side conference rooms of vendors- 1-2-3 Gluten Free, Against the Grain Gourmet, Aimee's Blue Ribbon Spices, Around the World Gourmet, Bake Me Happy, Bakery On Main, Dr. Schar USA, Eban's Bakehouse, Ener-G Foods, Gluten Free You and Me, Lily' Minis Delights, Raisin Rack, Rossi Pasta, Soodles Bake Shop, Sweet Mama's GF Goodies,, The Toasted Oat, and Udi's & Glutino.  

While I did not sample everything, I did talk to quite a few vendors. I had a nice long chat with Marc from Against the Grain, and it was nice to put a face to the person I had been corresponding with while arranging the Lansing Gluten Free Fair. I look forward to doing business with them again soon! I also had a great conversation with Anne, the dietitian with Schar. She was really informative about what their company offers and incredibly helpful. 

I sampled pizza from Around the World Gourmet and Donato's (which was there with Raisin Rack). Gluten Free You and Me had INCREDIBLY soft bread, and even supplied bread to go along with our pasta lunch that day. Lily's Mini Delights had really great mini donuts. I sampled some of the products from the local bakeries, but I was still full from breakfast, so didn't eat too much. My husband really liked The Toasted Oat company, which sold flavored GF oats in nice metal tins. 

All of this and I haven't even begun to start to recap the presentation, which were held before and after lunch! 

During the morning break we had the mini- donuts made mt Lily's Mini Delights. Very tasty, and we even managed to behave our selves and save a few for the next morning!

Click here to read about the Pre-Lunch Presentations
Click here to read about the Post-Lunch Presentations
Click here to read about the remainder of our weekend: The Finale