On the Road with Heather Collins

June 24, 2011

On the Road by Heather Collins, Udi’s Gluten Free Foods

The past month has been another fun whirlwind traveling across the country for Udi’s Gluten Free Foods. I had the opportunity to attend several community health and wellness events, national food shows and then back home to my very own backyard gluten-free BBQ.

Life’s a Beach

Blame it on the salt air or the Southern California ocean breeze, but I found myself with an ear to ear grin at a recent health and wellness event in Manhattan Beach. That’s where Udi’s partnered with Crofter’s Organic and together we introduced our very first peanut butter and jelly sandwich bar. Let me tell you, the Udi’s/Crofter’s sandwich bar was one happening spot. At one point, I remember looking up to see a dozen people standing in line patiently waiting to order up a personalized handmade and unique Udi’s Gluten-Free peanut butter sandwich, made by yours truly.

And we are not talking about your plain, old, ordinary PB&J.

That’s right, we brought out all the fixins’ one could handle or that we could pile high on the sandwich. Check this out: five different varieties of nut butters from Justin’s (including allergen friendly options), organic fruit spreads from Crofter’s Organic, fresh fruit, gluten-free pretzels, gluten-free gummy worms, Udi’s Gluten Free granola and even gluten-free potato chips. Before we knew it, gummy worm and raspberry jam sandwiches were flying out of the booth. One gentleman, who was definitely in touch with his inner child, had the most original request o’ the day: almond nut butter with raspberry jam topped with gluten-free potato chips, fresh blueberries and chocolate chips. Of course, I had to try this combination too. It was sinfully delicious.

No Bun for You  

On a recent trip to Chicago for the National Restaurant Show, our team went to dinner at a fun local hamburger dive. I love dives, especially salt of the earth kind of local establishments that you can taste the minute you walk in the room. After a day of traveling from the West Coast I was ready to sink my teeth into a juicy, bad for you greasy Midwest burger. As usual, I requested the gluten-free menu and the server proudly provided me with a list of gluten-free options. And there it was, “Hamburger or Cheeseburger – served gluten-free without a bun.”

The irony. All I wanted was an Udi’s Gluten Free Hamburger Bun on this thickly cut, perfectly grilled burger. I felt like I was living a scene from Seinfeld’s notorious ‘Soup Nazi’ episode. But instead of “No soup for you,” it was “No Bun for you!”

The next day at the Food Show I made it my mission to assist our sales team and talk to every single chef, food distributor and food buyer – basically anyone who would listen to me rave about our tasty and delicious gluten-free hamburger buns and why they need to serve our buns to gluten-free customers.

And guess what? As of today, you can FINALLY order a proper hamburger served on our hamburger buns at select national Red Robin Restaurants and the California-based Ruby’s Diner. It’s just the beginning. And I like it.

 Gluten Free – you, me…the whole family!

When my crazy travel schedule affords me time at home in Denver, I love spending lazy weekends in the kitchen or at local farmers markets. Over Memorial Day weekend I had the good fortune of spending some quality time with my sisters, brother in law, parents and my 2 year old niece in the mountains. My father and I are the only ones who must eat gluten-free in the Collins clan, but that weekend everyone willingly participated in eating gluten-free.

To our surprise, having the entire family go gluten-free was quite easy and fun for us, which ultimately gave both me and my Dad peace of mind knowing our food would not face the risk of cross-contamination from other family members. I didn’t have to annoyingly ask my sister if the butter knife she had just used touched her favorite brand of gluten-filled bread or if a flour tortilla chip had been drudged through the guacamole or hummus. This sense of safety truly made me and my Dad feel more normal, which was also a sigh of relief at the dinner and breakfast table.

When I returned to the office after the three day weekend, I began to wonder what happens when an entire household must divide its food between the gluten eaters and non-gluten eaters.

Since I am single, it’s easy for me to control what’s in my cupboards and what I serve for dinner. I guess that’s one minor perk in the land of singlehood! Ha!

So, if my entire family can go gluten-free for a weekend, I bet yours can too! Try it, you might be surprised at how easy and stress-free gluten-free can be.

Until next time, Be Udiful! – HC

2 responses to “On the Road with Heather Collins”

  1. Emma says:

    Great blog- found you whilst researching GF pesto. You make gluten free sound foods fun- a lovely vibe.Thankyou! Em x

  2. Kat says:

    That was a great day in Manhattan Beach. There were always people coming up ready to try their own version of a PB&J. IT WAS a great day!

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