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Gluten-free, allergen-friendly Nourished Festival comes to Del Mar Feb. 9-10

The Nourished Festival, the gluten-free, allergy-friendly and special diet festival, returns to the Del Mar Fairgrounds Feb. 9-10 with expanded offerings to accommodate the most popular food lifestyles. In addition to the existing gluten-free and nut-free zones, Nourished will now include new Paleo, Keto and plant-based zones.

The event, presented by Enjoy Life Foods, provides the opportunity to sample and purchase products from over 100 brands, meet founders, receive coupons and attend free educational presentations hosted by industry-respected speakers. While all products at the festival are gluten-free, exhibitors will also showcase products free from the top eight allergens.

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Nourished Festival vendors serve up speciality diet samples. Courtesy

“Our festivals nourish the needs of the entire food community - whether it’s those with celiac disease, autism, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions or those committed to living a healthy lifestyle,” said Nourished Festival founder Jen Cafferty. “With comfort foods like pizza and baked goods to healthy lifestyle options like protein bars and probiotic drinks, this festival truly offers something for everyone. An event of this scale being accessible to the general public is a rare and exciting way to explore new options and sample products before buying them in store.”

Among this year’s participants are several local vendors including Cook's Gluten-Free Sourdough, sampling and selling all varieties of their naturally fermented gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO and allergy-friendly sourdough breads. Milton’s Craft Bakers, a Carlsbad company, will be sampling their gluten-free baked crackers; and Rickaroons, a local father and son company, will be giving away samples of their vegan, organic, and gluten-free coconut energy bars that double as fuel or dessert.

2Good2B, a bakery and café with two locations in San Diego will again be a part of the festival. The gourmet gluten, corn and soy-free bakery and café aims to give everyone with food sensitivities a chance to safely eat out, celebrate with a cake, enjoy a baguette or indulge in a pizza.

Owner Diana Benedek opened her first 2Good2B bakery and café in Encinitas in 2011. After years of suffering from illness and pain, Benedek discovered her problems were the result of allergies to gluten and soy with the help of a chiropractor and alternative doctors.

In 2007, she began eliminating gluten and soy-protein from her diet but it took her another two years to find out that she was also sensitive to corn, which unfortunately is often used as a replacement for wheat in a gluten-free diet.

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2Good2B cinnamon rolls Courtesy

Corn has a very high level of a glutinous protein similar to that found in wheat, rye and barley so Benedeck stopped purchasing gluten-free foods and started to bake her own. She wanted others to experience the same relief she experienced and opened 2Good2B in 2011 as a “100 percent dedicated gluten, corn, and soy-free safe haven.” She worked with her team of bakers to create loafs of bread that don’t weigh 20 pounds and look like a brick and foods that, most importantly, taste good and normal, according to manager Stephanie Moceri.

At 2Good2B they now have a variety of bread loafs available including rosemary and challah as well as scones, cakes, cupcakes, pot pies and quiches.

“Everyone loves the muffins and scones,” Moceri said. “The cupcakes are so much fun and we have a great variety to choose from.”

They are perfecting croissants, sticky buns and cinnamon rolls, “great things to have for people who can’t have them,” Moceri said.

Moceri, whose husband has celiac disease, knows how difficult it can be for those with allergies and sensitivities to find alternatives. She has been attending the Nourished Festival for years, back when it started in Mission Valley (it was formerly The Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo).

“It’s gotten so much better, every year it is bigger and has more attendees,” Moceri said, adding that it is helpful to be able to talk to the vendors and try different products—when her husband was first diagnosed 15 years ago, she would buy anything new she saw at the store and ended up throwing a lot of stuff out.

She said the industry has evolved so much since then and there are a lot more healthy choices available. She said the festival is helpful for anyone dealing with a digestive issue, anyone who wants learn more about how to cook and bake to meet dietary needs and anyone looking to find specialty products that taste good.

“Elimination diets are really tough,” Moceri said. “It’s something that you have to do for your health but it’s better when stuff tastes good.”

Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. A one-day ticket is $15 for adults and $5 for children at the door. For more information visit nourishedfestival.com.

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