Gluten Free Expo

April 15, 2010 9:47:54 AM PDT
Up until I created this recipe, allergen-free, gluten-free brownies were a bit like the Holy Grail.

But often, allergen-free foods, especially desserts, don't measure up. Now Cybele Pascal aims to change things. A well-known chef and the mother of a boy with severe food allergies, Pascal has written The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook. Cybele says it is the first comprehensive multi-allergen-free baking book--chock full of 100 recipes that meet all common food restrictions without compromising taste.

The number of people in the United States with food allergies has climbed to more than twelve million, Cybele points out. Three million of them are children (about one in 25) and rates are double what they were a decade ago. However, only eight foods account for more than 90 percent of all food allergies, Cybele adds. Cybele's recipes range from family favorites (such as moist and chewy Fudge Brownies and Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats--packed with protein and vitamin E so you can feel indulged and virtuous at the same time!) to festive and fun (including Linzer Hearts and a rich Chocolate Pudding Tart in a heavenly shortbread crust). There's even a whole chapter on savories. These easy, free-to-eat treats are every bit as good as mom used to make--and they are tried and true.

Now those with food allergies (and those without) can have their cake and eat it, too, Cybele says. Her recipes are perfect for anyone with food allergies, food intolerances, or celiac disease, as well as those on GF/CF diets. These wholesome, delicious, decadent baked goods are cholesterol-free--and also free from hydrogenated fat, most refined sugars, additives, preservatives, and artificial flavors and colors. Getting batters to bind without gluten, rise without eggs, taste rich without butter, and taste sweet without sugar is a feat. But the challenge has inspired Cybele to explore a wealth of new ideas and flavors that are as enticing as they are safe.

Cybele is among the prominent chefs, nutritionists and authors participate in this weekend's Gluten Free Cooking Expo. Choosing delicious GF foods and learning to follow a GF lifestyle can be challenging for many, so the two-day Expo offers cooking demonstrations, recipes, vendor fair and special session for gluten-free children. The Gluten Free Cooking Expo will be held on Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18 at the Wyndham Hotel in Lisle. Cybele will be doing a cooking demo and book-signing at 3pm on Saturday.

From quick and easy meal preparation to gluten-free (GF) bread baking, the culinary experts, authors, nutritionists and vendors participating in the third-annual Gluten Free Cooking Expo will "show and tell" attendees that satisfying their taste buds without gluten can be both easy and delicious. This year the event will feature a special children's activity area and a Vendor Fair, consisting of 60 GF companies, that is open to the general public.

A GF diet is one that is completely free of gluten, the proteins that are found in wheat, barley and rye. People follow a GF diet for a variety of health concerns including Celiac Disease, gluten sensitivity/intolerance and even Autism, as many families of children on the autism spectrum report an improvement in behavioral symptoms on a gluten-free casein-free (GFCF) diet. It is estimated that 3 million Americans have Celiac Disease, an inherited auto-immune condition triggered by the consumption of gluten, and that as many as one in 91 U.S. children aged 3 to 17 have autism spectrum disorders. According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, Celiac Disease is twice as common as Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Cystic Fibrosis combined, and the average length of time it takes for a symptomatic person to be diagnosed with Celiac Disease in the U.S. is four years.

"Many people who are gluten free, especially those who are newly diagnosed, are looking for a place to learn how to create great-tasting food," explains Jen Cafferty, founder of the Gluten Free Cooking Expo and the mother of two gluten-intolerant children. "The Gluten Free Cooking Expo is the premier event in Chicago where you can spend a weekend learning how to cook and eat on a gluten-free diet. This year we are excited to provide many healthy, nutrient-dense food options that are frequently missing in the gluten-free diet. So many people attend regular cooking classes and then have to go home and modify the recipes. This Expo allows you to learn from gluten-free pros how to make delicious recipes using actual gluten-free ingredients."

Those needing a gluten-free diet are often disappointed in the texture of typical gluten-free food, Cafferty adds. "The food is generally more dry and crumbly than what we are used to eating. Many people are seeking gluten-free versions of recipes for the traditional wheat-based foods that we all really miss, such as breads, pastas and desserts. They may not know that grains such as quinoa and amaranth are nutritious, easy to make and gluten-free. We will teach people that you can have delicious gluten-free food that is nutritious too," she added.

Tickets for the Gluten Free Cooking Expo are available at the door for $15 for adults and children under 12 are free. Advance registration is required for the cooking sessions; the cooking sessions cost $315 for two days and $170 for one day. For additional event information and to register, visit or call 847-217-1317.


A food writer and the author of the bestselling Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook, Cybele has been a guest on The Martha Stewart Show, the Food Network, the TODAY show, ABC News, and NPR. She is a regular contributor to Living Without, the magazine for people with allergies and food sensitivities, and her recipes have appeared in many national publications, including Good Housekeeping, Allergic Living, and NY Parent. She lives in Los Angeles with her food-allergic family: husband Adam and sons Lennon and Monte. For more information, visit

Saturday at 3 pm
Gluten Free Cooking Expo
Wyndham Hotel, Lisle or

Saturday and Sunday
Wyndham hotel