Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Gluten & Allergen Free Goodies: Part One #GFAFExpo

Disclaimer: I received product samples in exchange for this post on The Eclectic Element. All thoughts and opinions expressed below are 100% mine and mine alone unless otherwise stated. Please do your own research before committing to purchase a service or product because your opinions may vary.

Around mid-April of this year I was lucky enough to be chosen as an expo blogger for the Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo that took place near Chicago. My friend, whom is as dedicated to eating clean and healthy as I am, and I headed to the expo and were blown away by all that this event had to offer, including rows and rows of gluten and allergen free and friendly companies introducing and sharing their products.

Needless to say we both left with a bag full of healthy goodies, her to share with her boyfriend whom had just found out he suffers from a slight gluten intolerance and me to test and share with my readers of course!

This is part one of my company and product wrap up in which I quickly share a little about the company and products I got to try.

Grab The Gold energy bars have a very inspirational background which you can read about in my upcoming in-depth review! In the mean time, I can tell you this little protein packed energy bar is quite healthy being made with organic and non-GMO ingredients. As if that wasn't enough to entice a person, these bars are also gluten free, high fructose corn syrup free, vegan, and dairy free. The bar only comes in one flavor which is Chocolate Peanut Butter but I was quite impressed on it's nutritional stats! If you want to know a little bit more keep your eyes peeled for that review.

Bakery on Main is a company I'm somewhat familiar with having done a review of their gluten free Truebar and Oatmeal a little while back, so it was wonderful being able to catch up on some new products I happened to miss when they came out like their completely unique Cranberry Orange Cashew Granola which is gluten and wheat free, casein free, dairy free, along with toting a few other healthy benefits. If you're scratching your head trying to figure out what that could possibly taste like, I honestly couldn't explain it to you-once you initially pop a handful in your mouth there's an explosion of different flavors and textures that mix on your palate leaving you thinking for a little while, "DO I like this, or not?" The general consensus was it was too unique not to enjoy. In fact, I can't wait to try it with some plain yogurt!

Home Free was another new company that I was excited to discover and learn more about. They were giving out samples of their Gluten Free Double Chocolate Chip and Vanilla Mini Cookies which are, of course, gluten free, as well as nut free and whole grain, and baked in a dedicated bakery free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, wheat, and gluten. Both sets of cookies were good; had great flavor and texture but didn't quite WOW me like some other products I came across. Although I do like how they offer a few more varieties of flavors in their minis and they're GMO Project Verified!

Pamela's Products has been a household name for my family and I since a little after we started our healthy living lifestyle so it goes without saying their products already hold a special place in my heart. When I came across their booth at the Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo, I was beyond thrilled, especially when I saw they had some new products to debut like their new line of Whenever Bars which are wheat-free, gluten-free, and non-dairy. This particular bar I got to sample was Oat Chocolate Chip Coconut and when taste tested, I found it to be pretty good. I'm not a huge coconut person but I thought coconut flavor wasn't too overpowering and the flavor, texture, and moistness of the bar overall was very appealing.

Make sure to keep an eye out 
for part two!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fate, VIP, & Wayland Kisses: WingDing 2014

Disclaimer: I was provided a pair of complimentary tickets to this event.

We'll start off this post with a little story about an eighteen year old Kayla excited about going to her first Rockford Wing Ding back in 2008. For those of you who aren't aware, Wing Ding was a rock music event that the local rock station, WXRX 104.9 'The X' put on every year since 1993. They'd gather several big-name rock and metal bands for the rock and roll enjoyment of the inhabitants of Rockford and the surrounding areas for a day full of good music, lots of beer and food, the company of like-minded friends and fans, and a whole lot of fun!

2008 was a good year for me so I was able to go and enjoy the line-up that consisted of bands like Black Stone Cherry, P.O.D., Drowning Pool, and Saving Abel with several close friends, ultimately having a blast and hoping beyond hope I would be able to go the next year.

Fast forward to the next year and unfortunately my hopes at going to Wing Ding were quickly dashed-2009 was when I was bedbound from Fall of 2008 until about Fall of 2009 and Wing Ding happened to fall (no pun intended) in between that time frame.

So I wrote This Post and sulked in my wheelchair.

Sadly as fate would have it, 2009 was the last year Wing Ding would be put on due to a lot of overcrowding and drunken rowdiness. Nobody really knows exactly why it was discontinued but it was quite sad to see it go none the less!

Wing Ding a fond musical memory of the past, 4 years go by without it. Until this year. This year, someone, somewhere decided to petition for it to come back. And the petition, with a few guidelines, was approved.

Fate was working overtime for this particular girl because I received an email a month prior to Wing Ding 2014 from none other then Jim Stone of the popular Rockford area radio duo Stone & Double T.

That blog post I wrote so many years ago just so happened to show up in a random Google search Jim did while getting ready for this year's event. He then read all about how I couldn't go back in 2009 and contacted me offering for myself and a friend to be guests of his this year.

Of course I quickly replied and let him know I'd absolutely love to attend (with a side of happy dancing that could not be portrayed in said reply email) this year but seeing as it was nearly a month in advance I couldn't give him a definite answer because my health was so up and down.

So I waited and hoped.

It was a little iffy up until the day of the event but that wonderful Fate was working with me and my friend and I made it! Expecting to pick up general admission tickets at the gate, imagine our complete surprise and confusion when we were ushered to the band entrance and handed a white envelope with these bad boys inside...

Those, ladies and gentleman, are VIP passes! Needless to say the surprise and confusion turned into shock and excitement quite fast. These passes allowed us to go backstage, mingle with the bands, enjoy the cool air conditioned comfort of the catering area, chow down on catered food like cold cuts, fresh fruit, lasagna, pasta salad, and pizza, and bypass the nasty port-o-Johns in favor of using the nice bathrooms!

This year's line up consisted of Wayland, Cilver, Adelitas Way, Queensryche, Fuel, Black Stone Cherry, and the headliners of the event, Alice in Chains. Going back and forth from backstage to audience we missed a few bands but pretty much caught all the bands we really wanted to see!

First up was Wayland, a band that was new to me but not to my friend whom had seen them several times in the past, most recent being that Friday before Wing Ding at a local Rockford Bar.

We even got to eat dinner and chat with Waylan's singer, Mitch, a little after their set. Towards the end of the night he even caught up with us before the band left and we all took a selfie together.

I hate to brag but my friend and I also got kisses on the cheek as he left, as well ;)

Next up was Fuel. I'm familiar with the name but I can't say I've listen to much of their music before.

I remember seeing Black Stone Cherry live back in 2008 and let me tell you, they put on a great show! Honestly, I think they pulled in the biggest crowd out of all the bands. They were the last band to play before Alice in Chains and by this time I was pretty tired and run down from the long day, the hot temperatures, and all that physical activity so needless to say my friend and I headed behind the scenes to escape the crowd and catch the show from backstage.

We stayed a little after Black Stone Cherry ended their set but for the most part we took off after that. I was pretty tired so I couldn't wait to get home and relax!

Truth be told, I think those VIP tickets were quite the blessing. The event started at 11 am and by 1 my pain level had shot up because of the physical activity, the sun and the heat. If not for being able to escape the crowds and sit down for long periods of time in that air conditioned catering room, I would have had to call it quits only a few hours into the whole thing! 

My heartfelt gratitude goes out to Jim Stone and the rest of the WXRX team for providing not only physical tickets, VIP at that, to this fantastic event, but for taking the time to read my story, reach out to me, and accommodate me to the best of their ability so I could thoroughly enjoy what I missed those 4 years ago.

If you'd like to see more pictures of the event friend me on Facebook!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Win It Wednesday(6/4)

Win It Wednesday is a day for showcasing, browsing, entering, and linking up contests-Have a contest that needs a little extra exposure? Feel free to link it up!

NOTE:: Linking up your contests on my Win It Wednesday linky below automatically puts them on my Ongoing Contest Linky.

DOUBLE NOTE:: You only have to submit your contest link ONCE because I manage the ongoing list myself, deleting contests as they expire.


Win a Cocktails T-shirt from Black Sheep Designs!!

Ends June 12, 2014

Enter Here

 Win a Trip to Lollapalooza 2014!!

Ends June 15, 2014

Enter Here

 Win 1 of 2 5 ft. Giant Bean Bag Chairs in your Color Choice from Comfy Sack!!

Ends June 24, 2014

Enter Here