So Az Gluten Free Food Faire April 30 Features Book Signing of My New Book

by Melissa Diane Smith

Would you like to explore the world of gluten-free living? Would you like to get a copy of my new book personally autographed by me? Or, if you know you’re sensitive to gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley), would you like to go to an event where you can sample good food, have fun, and relax knowing all the foods there are gluten free?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you’re in luck. The Annual Gluten Free Food Faire, a special day of health information and food sampling including a book signing by me, will take place on Saturday, April 30th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Palo Verde, 4550 S. Palo Verde Rd., in Tucson, Ariz.

“This year’s faire is bigger and better than ever, and we have a number of ‘firsts’ that we’ve never had before,” says Kim Pebley, Gluten Free Food Faire Event Coordinator. Those “firsts” include moving to a brand new location to accommodate many more people, the first-ever Featured Book Signing, the first-ever Restaurant Row, and free celiac disease testing that for the first time uses two tests instead of one for more accurate results for qualified applicants.

Since 2006, attendance at the faire has grown 10-fold, from 97 to over 1,000 last year and more people are expected this year.  “Due to the huge crowd of over 1,000 attendees in 2010, Southern Arizona Celiac Support has moved the faire to a larger venue. This means more room and more than 50 vendors!” Pebley says. Because of the rapidly growing number of people who follow a gluten-free diet or want to know more about it in recent years, this year marks the third time that organizers have moved the event to a bigger facility.

At this year’s faire, I will be doing a special book signing of my new book, Gluten Free Throughout the Year, from 10 a.m. to Noon at the Southern Arizona Celiac Support (SACS) Book Signing table. My new book has more than 100 tips and 30 easy recipes and has been called “just what the gluten-free community has been waiting for… and urgently needs.” Copies of my original book Going Against the Grain also will be available, and all profit from sales of both books will go to Southern Arizona Celiac Support to continue educating the public. Copies of both books are limited, though, so be sure to arrive early.

Another new feature of this year’s Gluten Free Food Faire is a Restaurant Row section, featuring food samples or special offers from Lotus Garden, El Charro, Eclectic Pizza, Picazzo’s, La Cocina at Old Town Artisans, and several more eateries. Restaurants are increasingly offering gluten-free options, and SACS organizers thought it would be both fun and practically helpful to give attendees a culinary adventure where they can stroll down the row, sample safe foods, and learn more about restaurants that offer gluten-free options and the types of foods they offer.

Vendors at the faire include several local vendors, some long-time favorites such as Kettle Cuisine (soups) and Organic Bistro (frozen entrees), and natural food stores. Also at the faire will be a fabulous door prize, raffles for gluten-free food products, a silent auction, and a variety of activities for children who must eat gluten free at the CEL-KIDS center. SACS’ Medical Advisory Board members also will be at the event answering questions.

Like in previous years, free antibody blood tests to test for celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction in the small intestine to gluten, will be available at the faire. However, this year, for the first time ever, each recipient of the free blood test will receive two tests instead of one: the standard celiac screening, TTG (tissue transglutaminase), which reports gut damage, along with the DGP (deaminated gliadin peptide), which according to Dr. Rodney Ford is extremely accurate for detecting the gut damage of celiac disease. Studies completed in 2009 show that together, these two blood tests can effectively screen more people than either test alone. For more information about the tests and how you can apply to receive them, visit the SACS Gluten Free Food Faire page.

People who have celiac disease used to be the only ones who ate gluten free. As I have reported on this blog and in my books, that is no longer the case. Research shows that non-celiac gluten sensitivity (which doesn’t involve an autoimmune reaction in the gut) affects far more people than celiac disease does and it can be characterized by a wide range of different symptoms, including acid reflux, anemia, depression, fatigue and tiredness, skin conditions, and unexplained infertility. In addition, no definitive blood markers to determine gluten sensitivity have been identified so far, which means the most helpful test for detecting gluten sensitivity right now is to eliminate gluten in the diet for two to three months and see if uncomfortable symptoms go away or lessen.

Word has spread about this, and an increasing number of people, especially those who have tested negative on standard celiac blood tests, have tried or are trying a gluten-free diet trial to see if uncomfortable or bothersome symptoms that they have improve. When their symptoms do improve, they don’t want to go back to eating gluten and not feeling well, so they embrace a gluten-free lifestyle for good.

If you’re one of those people who feels better or experiences better health on a gluten-free diet, or if you have celiac disease or are investigating whether you may be gluten sensitive, mark the Gluten Free Food Faire on April 30 as a must-do event on your calendar now.  Then come explore, get informed, introduce yourself to me, and have fun discovering many foods that may help your health.

Copyright © 2011 Melissa Diane Smith

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