Living Free Expo

What can I say? Another great Living Free Expo in Jacksonville, Fl!

It is always a wonderful time, being able to meet up with friends and colleagues to help spread awareness and knowledge about food allergens. I truly enjoy getting to meet local vendors and see what is happening in and around our community when it comes to food allergens. Being in the restaurant industry, I always try to stay on top of taste and regional trends to help influence how I create my recipes.

At the Living Free Expo, it was great to see the local meal service company Kathy’s Table. They are a meal service company that is dedicated to gluten-free and dairy-free meal plan options that are tailored to your nutritional dietary needs. Drawing upon seasonal influences and fresh produce options, their meal plans offer delicious varieties that cater to your dietary needs.

I always enjoy seeing Your Pie here in Jacksonville, Fl when I come to the expo. They are a pizza shop that truly goes out of their way for patrons with allergies. They even have a separate room where they will prepare your pizza for you to ensure no cross contamination with gluten on your pizza. If you are ever in the Jacksonville, Fl area, you must give them a try!

A wonderful edition to the expo this year was Glutenberg Beer. In 2012, Glutenberg won all three medals in the “Gluten-Free Beer” category in the World Beer Cup. It offers quite a variety of options for beer lovers that just don’t love the gluten. I must say, after sampling these, I have been inspired to create some dishes I thought I would never eat again. Glutenberg you have given me back some flavor in my food.

M.Y.O. Cookies is a wonderful home-based bakery that truly showcases a passion for baking. Whether you choose to purchase pre-made or containers or dough to make your own at home, you are sure to find some amazing flavors to keep you wanting more. They offer Gluten-Free and Vegan options, as well as can work with your specific needs. M.Y.O. Cookies is definitely a company after my own heart.

With the belief that you should not have decide whether you want to eat something that is healthy or something that tastes good, Smart Baking Company created a line of products to accomplish just that. While these products are Gluten-Free, they are not Dairy-Free, so I could not try them. However, my son Alex loved them. He has sensory issues and it was great to hear that they tasted and felt just like a regular muffin to him. So to me, that means that it was not gritty, or chewy, or sandy, like some Gluten-Free products can tend to be. All in all, I would say if you can, give them a try.

Meal-kit and meal delivery services are becoming very popular these days. Hello Fresh is one of the leading services and they also have Green Chef that has a meal plan line for Gluten-Free.

Always a wonderful and welcome sight is the Gluten & Grain Free Gourmet. Creating a line of products that are free from Gluten, Grain, Soy, and Dairy, these are definitely treats you indulge on. The passion she has to inspire and teach others what she learned on her journey is wonderful and I love every time I get to meet back up with her.

A mom who worked to hone her skills in making sweets for her sons with food allergies, began to get rave reviews. At the encouragement of friends and family, she decided to start a business and Dolci de maria was born. Offering delicious treats and mixes, there is sure to be something for everyone. My personal favorite…. you take the blondie… heat it up for a moment.. add a scoop of dairy-free ice cream…..mmmmmmmm.. try it!!

Traveling with allergies can be a very scary thing. Especially if you are going to a country that speaks a language that you do not. Language barriers and communication barriers can cause very dangerous situations when it comes to food. In the Latin speaking countries, there are several words that are just an accent away from being a very different word. A simple pronunciation can change a word and can cause you to be put in harms way. Enter in Allergic Traveler International Dietary Alert Cards. You take the guessing out, the pronunciation errors out, the communication barriers out, and you put back in piece of mind. These cards are essential also for parents of kids that are non-verbal with conditions such as autism. These tools can be the difference that can potentially save a life. I urge and encourage everyone to reach out to this wonderful company and get a set of cards today.

I love learning and growing each time I meet with these wonderful vendors. Having such a passion for educating the community and growing with each other to develop new products, better procedures, and so much more. I cannot wait for the next one!

Hope to see you too!!

Easy Sensible Carrot Cake

If you were to ask me what my favorite cake memories involved growing up, I would have to say without a doubt carrot cake. My mom absolutely loved carrot cake and everything that came with it. I remember her treating herself every once in awhile to a carrot cake bar or getting a small carrot cake for dessert. Thinking about it, what is not to love about carrot cake? It has fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, dairy, and amazing flavor. But, is there a way to make a version of carrot cake easily accessible for people with allergens? You better believe it!

First, we got to gather up some supplies.

Easy Sensible Carrot Cake

  • 1 box King Arthur Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 2/3 cup Almond Milk
  • 1/2 cup Vegan Butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 cups Shredded Carrot
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • Pinch Ground Nutmeg
  • Pinch Ground Cloves
  • Frosting: Pamela’s Gluten-Free Vanilla Frosting
  • 4 oz Kite Hill Almond Milk Cream Cheese
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar


  • You can also add these optional ingredients to enhance the flavor of your cake: 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, 1/4 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or chopped walnuts
  • Feel free to finish off this cake with a Cream Cheese Icing. I have included the Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Gluten-Free Version that I used.
  • This mix can be made into a sheet cake, round cake, or even muffins. The options are limited only to your imagination.
  • Although I used King Arthur Gluten-Free Cake Mix, you can use whatever brand you prefer. Just understand the results may be different.

Alright, now that we have everything together. Let’s get started!

1)Prepare the Yellow Cake Mix per the manufacturers directions on the box.

2) Finely grate the carrots. (I like to use a microplane to zest and grate vegetables, it is my favorite kitchen tool)

3) Gather together the Grated Carrots, Ground Cinnamon, Ground Nutmeg, and Ground Cloves. Add these ingredients to the prepared cake mix.

4) Mix together until well combined.

5) Pour the cake mix into prepared cake pans.

6) Bake at 350F until lightly browned and completely baked in the middle. The cake will bounce back or a toothpick will come out clean when done. Bake times will vary due to the difference in sizing of pans.

7) Once the cake is completely baked, allow to cool completely. Once cooled completely, you can overturn one layer onto a large plate to make a layered cake.

8) Now it is time to make the frosting. I used Pamela’s Gluten-Free Vanilla Frosting and adapted the recipe.

9) Prepare the frosting per the manufacturers directions.

10) Add the Cream Cheese and Powdered Sugar and Blend Well.

11) Spread some of the icing on the one layer evenly. Turn out the second layer on top of the first layer. Now spread more icing over the cake and completely cover the cake as desired. (You can decorate the cake however you would like at this point)

12) Now just sit back and Enjoy!