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updated: 4/27/2011 7:55 AM

Learning to live gluten-free

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  • Bill Zars/bzars@dailyherald.com Deb Pankey new column mug for food front.

      Bill Zars/bzars@dailyherald.com Deb Pankey new column mug for food front.

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    Courtesy of Celestial Arts

  • Microplane Adjustable Fine Grater

      Microplane Adjustable Fine Grater
    Courtesy of The Pampered Chef

 
 

You can't walk down a grocery store aisle without spotting labels screaming "gluten free." Sure, there may be more food options available today than there were 10 years ago for those who cannot tolerate gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and commercially), but that doesn't mean living with celiac disease is any easier.

Those who suffer from the condition -- an estimated 1 in every 133 people -- and those who live with them can learn more about it at the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo Friday, April 29, to Sunday, May 1, at The Wyndham Hotel, 3000 Warrenville Road, Lisle.

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The Gluten & Allergen Free Expo offers an opportunity for people to taste test and learn how to prepare healthy, tasty meals and baked goods without gluten from some of the nation's leading chefs, cookbook authors and nutrition and health experts.

Entrance to the vendor fair (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day) costs $11.50 if purchased online ($15 at the door); kids 12 and younger get in free. Inside you'll find more than 70 booths full of gluten-free items as well as foods free of the top eight allergens. There's also an area for nut-free items and an allergen-free arts and craft spot for kids

Admission to Saturday and Sunday cooking demonstrations and seminars costs extra. For details and to purchase tickets, head to gfafexpo.com.

Cupcakes for all: Those with celiac disease won't be left out of the cupcakes craze thanks to a new book aptly titled "Gluten-free Cupcakes." Written by popular blogger and celiac disease sufferer Elana Amsterdam, the book gives these adorable pastries a healthy twist while preserving every bit of deliciousness. The recipes, including marble, white chocolate cherry and piņa colada versions, rely on coconut and almond flours as gluten alternatives. Some recipes are even free of dairy and refined sugars.

In the beverage aisle …: For a long time beer -- with malted barley as its key ingredient -- was off the menu for those with celiac disease, but not anymore. A number of brewers have formulated beers with other grains so celiacs can again enjoy a refreshing pint at the end of the day.

Some labels to look for include Brunehaut, Hambleton and Green's. To find these beers, head to glunzbeers.com and plug your ZIP code into the beer finder.

Here comes the stuff: Not all new brides have the luxury of asking wedding guests to donate to their favorite charities in lieu of presents. Some newlyweds need items from forks and spoons to blenders and bed sheets to set up their first home together.

I realized the other day that I still use some of my wedding gifts on a daily basis, like the banana tree (yes, we really registered for a banana tree), the Wusthof knives and our wine cart. Other items are just as dear to us but not practical for daily living, like the cake plate and champagne flutes.

For couples hunting for items that will become part of everyday life (as much so as arguments over laundry folding and toilet seats), look no farther than The Pampered Chef.

With items like its Manual Food Processor and Veggie Wedger, the Addison company has come up with a list of 11 must-have items for every couple.

I love the Microplane Adjustable Fine Grater. Perfect for grating cheese onto pasta or chocolate onto cakes, it even has an adjustable slider to secure smaller foods like peanuts.

You can get the whole list, and check out the entire product line at pamperedchef.com.

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at food Deb Pankey Daily Herald.

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