Before entering into the world of food and nutrition, I worked in PR and communications for years. Because of that, I have attended, or worked the booth, at many, many trade shows and conferences in my day. This past weekend was a big one for Amy Longard Nutrition. Sunday, May 31, 2015 will forevermore be known as the day I attended my very first trade show, as a vendor, representing my own business.
Gluten Free Utopia took place at the Ukrainian Centre, and brought together more than 40 regional vendors who cater to the gluten free community. Many of the attendees were celiac, gluten sensitive or allergic to gluten, and they were so happy to finally attend an event where they could eat everything! As a nutritionist and trained chef, I knew this would be a great opportunity to meet people from the community who can't eat foods that contain gluten. Given my skill set, I'm well-versed at how to avoid it, replace it and cook without it. I also know how to help people transition, in a healthy way, to a gluten free diet.
Since this was my very first show, I didn't have an expensive, fancy display, nor did I have much money to invest in a high-end getup. That said, I'm pretty crafty and creative when I need to be, and I knew that I could pull it together with a few nice things and offer up a really tasty snack. Before we get to the food, let me tell you about the décor. I was looking for natural, organic, and earth-friendly pieces to reflect my business and my values. I used borrowed burlap (which will eventually be used in gardening or landscaping) and a second-hand linen table cloth, which my friend lent to me, to cover my table. I had a big bunch of chives (from my boyfriend's parents' garden), that were initially intended to be consumed (and, of course, I still plan on eating them), but they began to flower the day before the GFU and they were so pretty that I decided to arrange them in an oversized vintage mason jar and put them on display. They were the perfect "floral arrangement". I also borrowed a few tins, baskets, dishes, a linen napkin, and other odds and ends from one of my friends, which really complimented the tabletop. However, the pièce de résistance was definitely the tree trunk emblazoned with my logo, handmade by my friend Heather. Lots of people stopped by my booth just to check it out. As you can see, it's a great conversation piece.
Although the décor was adorable and very reflective of my business, let's be real here, the big draw to my booth was the raw zucchini almond dip. I knew this dip would be popular, especially since my friends regularly request that I bring it along to parties or potlucks. This dip was very appealing to the folks at the GFU, firstly because it's gluten free, but also because it's dairy free (which is a very common allergen as well). Everybody that tried it, loved it. Not only is this dip really, really tasty but it's also healthy, wholesome, and nutrient rich. It's loaded with antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E), calcium, fibre, protein and healthy fats. Try it for yourself, and let me know what you think!
RAW ZUCCHINI ALMOND DIP
1 cup zucchini, rough chopped
1 cup raw almonds (with skin), soaked overnight, and rinsed
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon whole black pepper corns
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water (or more depending on the desired consistency)
1. Add zucchini, almonds, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, spices, and olive oil to a high powered blender or food processor. Blend for a bit until the ingredients start to form an even consistency. If using a high powered blender, you'll want to use a tamper to ensure that it blends evenly. For a food processor, you'll have to stop regularly and scrape the sides.
2. Stream in water, and continue blending, until you have reached a smooth consistency. Add more or less water to reach your ideal texture (some people like a smoother dip, whereas others like it a bit chunky).
3. Serve with a splash of olive oil and a dash of paprika. Enjoy with cut up vegetables, crackers, rice cakes or use it as spread for sandwiches. Enjoy!