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Experiencing U of C's Annual Free Blood Screening and Ask the Experts Panel

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Each day is a new adventure -- some up, some down, but each day is always interesting. On Saturday, my loyal staff and I set out from the restaurant shortly after 6 a.m. for University of Chicago's Annual Free Blood Screening and Ask the Experts Panel.

Fall is surely upon us; it was a little brisk outside, and it was raining. We were all a bit groggy from prepping for the event on Friday. It was well worth it, as the event was attended by over 900 people.

Upon arriving at U of C, we were greeted by warm, friendly faces who were eagerly awaiting our arrival. Staff members helped us to the fourth floor with carts in order to setup for the event. The hall was beautifully laid out. Everything was in place so we could quickly begin our setup.



Having attended events like this before, we quickly setup so I could have time to meet and chat with the other vendors. I was delighted to meet the husband and son of the Sweet Ali's owner. They had brought pound cake, which was great, though I've heard their cupcakes rock. We chatted for a while about the gluten free community and exchanged numbers. I'm hoping to taste more of their products and even sell some at Bountiful Eatery.

I also met with Lise from Basketworks. For someone who is gluten free, this is such a great gift idea. It's completely customized for the gift recipient.

The women from Delight Magazine were also at the event, and I had the opportunity to speak with them about their gluten free magazine. I sampled the Simple Squares bars that were on sale. There was a wonderful assortment of crunchy and tasty crackers this year, including rice and lentil flavors.

The esteemed panel took the stage at 10:30 a.m. and answered questions from the audience for an hour. The questions mainly related to gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. They discussed the recent reporting of arsenic in rice. The Tribune recently reported that Consumer Reports recommends "capping weekly servings to less than a cup of cooked rice for kids and about 1 cups of cooked rice for adults." The panel also talked about the over usage of brown rice in products as a sweetener as manufacturers move away from corn syrup.

The panel's main recommendation was to be aware of your body and how it reacts to food. Ask yourself these questions: Are you very tired after you've finished eating? Is your body in "shut down mode" in order to process the food you've eaten? It's important to maintain awareness of the food you eat and how it physically affects your tiredness, exhaustion and even mental state.

Lara Fields, the renowned nutritionist, recommends balance in all diets. As long as you balance your sweet tooth with lots of proteins, vegetables and fruits, your body will thank you. Vary you carbs, too. Don't only eat rice; instead, include quinoa and amaranth, for example. You can keep a food journal if that helps you, but don't torture yourself with it. You can find out easily if you are balancing your diet this way.

I thoroughly enjoyed spending this rainy day meeting and talking with new people, all of whom are knowledgeable about celiac disease and gluten intolerance. It is amazing to hear about others' struggles. Each person is impacted by gluten sensitivity in a different way. I've been told that more than 100 symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance exist. I had an incredible time at this event making new connections and learning information. I'm excited to be able to share all of my newfound knowledge with you. Until Friday, be well.
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