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Tag: Expo East

Top 10 Highlights of Natural Products Expo East 2018

Imagine if Whole Foods and just about every natural food store you know of had a trade show and you got to sample something from every vendor.

That’s pretty much what happens at the Natural Products Expo each year, and it’s like trick-or-treating for food nerds like me. Thousands of health practitioners, retailers, wholesalers, press, and bloggers come from all over North America and even beyond to get the scoop on the latest trends in the natural products industry. The show just so happens to be held in Baltimore, my hometown, so I have a 25 minute drive to get from my driveway to the expo.

It’s awesome.

As a blogger who writes about these products, I have the opportunity to attend each year, and it’s always one of the highlights of my fall. I share what I find with all of you and often sample and feature these products in the workshops and cooking demonstrations I teach at companies. As many of you know, I have a gluten-free, dairy-free focus in my food choices because of what I’ve found makes my body feel its best. Expo is a great place to go to find out what’s coming soon, so I can fill you in ASAP. I had fun hanging out with Elyza Dolby and Colleen Howell. Expo is even better when you go with friends!

Each year, I notice a few trends that tend to characterize the expo, and I bring them back to you to make your life easier, better and more delicious. I focus on dairy-free and gluten-free options as well as upgrades to on the go meal and snack foods and some supplements and herbal remedies worth considering!

*Friends, I want to offer this one caveat before I share my updates and trends with you. Regardless of what the trends are, I still focus my eating around my whole foods – mostly plant-based, full of colors, packed with nourishing fats, protein and fiber. To learn more about what matters most to me and what my personal food philosophy is, I’ve got you covered here.*

**If you want to know where these products are sold near you, go to the product’s website and look for the “Store Locator” or “Find Me Near You” page on their site and search by zip code.

RNK’s Top Expo East Trends & Finds

On-the-go nourishment is getting easier and more delicious.

I’ve written before about my top tips for eating healthy on the go, and I’m excited to see so many companies finding ways to prioritize both food quality and convenience. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner on the go, it’s easier than ever to eat well, even when you’re busy.

Some of my favorite newbies to the scene are Purely Elizabeth oatmeal cups (less than 5 grams of sugar per container, which is wayyyy less than most on the go oats), Sprout Living drinkable oats (try the spice or mocha flavors!)Wildscape frozen meals (which are made with totally real food ingredients – they have one gluten-free and one vegan option), Grainful meals, and Path of Life frozen sides.

I was also excited to see the team from Swapples, one of our on-the-go breakfast staples, at Expo for the first time! We love their grain-free frozen waffles. They also won Best of Show at Expo East by Veg World Magazine! Congrats, Rebecca and team! 🙂

New snack bars are aiming for lower sugar.

I aim for a single digit sugar content in the bars that I buy, and the new ones coming to market fit the bill (or are like 1 gram off!). I’ve written previously about my top real food snack bars in this post, including what I look for in a bar (protein + fiber + low sugar), but I’ll need to update it with some new options from this year. Because I travel so much, I don’t always have the opportunity for a full sit-down meal, so sometimes snacking on a bar is my best option. (Hummus and veggies and trail mixes definitely work, too!) 

This year’s bar standouts included Purely Elizabeth‘s granola bars (if you like her granola, you’ll love the bars!), Primal Kitchen‘s collagen bars, This Bar Saves Lives (eat for a cause!), evohemp cookie and brownie bars, and Enjoy Life’s allergen-free breakfast bars. For meat eaters, my hubby’s favorites for protein-rich bars that are also low in sugar are Country Archer Jerky Co. (Herb Citrus Turkey bar and Sweet BBQ Pork are his top two) and EPIC bars.

Mushrooms are cool and are being reinvented.

Whether it was in a zesty thai mushroom jerky or immune-boosting tinctures, teas, and hot chocolate mixes, mushrooms are in, and for good reason. I’ve written about the anti-cancer, immune-supportive properties of mushrooms in this GBOMBS post.

A few of my favorite mushroom-centric products are featured below. A few brands I love are Host Defense teas and immune-boosting sprays and drops (expect to see these in upcoming immunity workshops!), Four Sigmatic chocolate milk and latte mixes, Purely Elizabeth’s new grain-free granola bars, and Pan’s mushroom jerky, to name a few.

Beans, beans, good for your heart!

Whether it was a chickpea patty, hummus, chocolate-covered roasted chickpea or crunchy sriracha fava beans, beans showed up in droves this year. Beans have always been popular in the natural food community because of their high fiber and protein content, but it’s been fun to watch how the food industry has made them cool.

Here are some of my favorite bean-based products from Cedar’s Za’atar hummus, Enlightened roasted fava beans (soon to be rebranded as “Bada Bean”), Hempe chickpea tempeh patties, and Hodo ready-to-eat Moroccan-spiced tofu bites (good enough to convert any tofu hater).

Dairy-free cheeses have come a loooong way.

When I found out that dairy was a trigger for a range of health issues for me – from bloating and reflux to bronchitis and ear infections – I removed it from my diet and felt better within weeks. Since then, I’ve tried a variety of options for dairy-free yogurts, cheeses, chocolate, milks, ice cream, and other dairy-based products and have found some options that I really enjoy. For now, I’m just going to focus on the cheeses because, let’s be honest, they’re the hardest thing to change when going dairy-free.

A few cheese brands and products I love are Parmela Creamery (their nacho nutcheese is amaaaazing), Miyokos‘ Cheers to Cheddah (Wispride spreadable cheese fans, anyone?), and Treeline Cheese’s new Maple Walnut flavor coming out this fall.

Dairy-free milks and creamers are leveling up.

Next to cheese, I find that milk and coffee creamers are one of the things people really struggle to go without when eliminating dairy. Fortunately, there are so many options that will not make you feel the least bit deprived!

A few of my favorites are Oatly oat-based milk, Milkadamia macadamia nut-based milks and creamers, nutpods dairy-free coffee and tea creamers and Know Brainer‘s ketogenic (to learn more about keto, read this) creamers. Forager Project is rebranding their products with a green label, so be on the lookout for their yogurts and nut milks. Their full fat yogurts are also delicious!

Gut-friendly foods are everywhere.

From sauerkrauts and kombucha to apple cider vinegar drinks, gut-friendly foods continue to surge, which has been a trend for the past few years. More and more people are focusing on improving digestive health, and with good reason. I’ve written previously about my top ten tips for optimizing gut health in this blog post.

From Buchi’s Kombucha‘s new Kefir Soda (less sugar than kombucha and a pleasant fizz!) and Cleveland Kraut‘s  single-serve kraut packets, to Good Belly probiotic shots, and Bonafide Provision and Brodo‘s restorative broths.

My favorite local purveyor of fermented foods is still Hex Ferments in Baltimore, but if you’re outside of this area, try one of the brands above.

Purity of ingredients is paramount.

When it comes to packaged foods, it’s often easier to sacrifice purity of ingredients in order to optimize flavor or preservation. That’s why I’m excited to see so many companies committed to ingredient quality and simplicity. The shorter the ingredient list and the more easily I’m able to pronounce the ingredients, the more likely I am to buy it.

A few of my favorite finds in this category were Primal Kitchen’s ketchup, Jilz gluten-free crackers (holy cow, these were amazing and would be delicious with the hummus or cheeses mentioned above), Cappello’s gluten-free sweet potato gnocchi (omg), and Wildscape and Grainful frozen meals.

Chocolate is getting even better.

You know that shellac that you usually see on chocolate-coated candies? You won’t find it on Hu Kitchen’s new chocolate-dipped cashews and goji berry bites. These were two of my favorite new products at the expo this year. The tartness of the goldenberries combined with the richness and bite of dark chocolate were a killer combo. They should be in stores by Q1 2019.

Some of my favorite chocolate treats were Eating Evolved chocolates, Theo turmeric spice chocolate bar, Hu chocolate-covered hunks, and Better Bites chocolate covered cookie dough bites (these are definitely a special treat!). For a full round-up of my favorite dairy-free chocolate bars, check out this post.

Monk fruit is the new stevia.

Artificial sweeteners often get a lot of flack because of their negative side effects. One of the benefits of the evolving natural products industry is that we are finding better options to things like equal and sweet and low. Monk fruit as a natural, zero-calorie sweetener with a glycemic index of 0, so it’s suitable for diabetics. It’s about 300 times sweeter than sugar. To learn more about monk fruit and other natural sweeteners that I recommend, read this post.

You can find monk fruit in evohemp and Primal Kitchen’s bars, Lakanto’s chocolate and a variety of other products. There were too many to name, but you will start noticing this sweetener shift in 2019!

Okay….and ONE MORE bonus one because I can’t help myself…

Supplements can be fun and not feel like a chore.

With gummies, sprays, and lozenge-style options, taking supplements doesn’t have to mean pill boxes full of tough-to-swallow horse pills. When I discovered I was clinically malnourished, I had to start supplementing to replenish what was lost. My body wasn’t able to properly break down nutrients because I’d been taking stomach acid blockers for a decade, so I turned to easy to digest supplements from the brand Nutrametrix.

While that may not be everyone’s situation, there are still some great options if you are looking for ways to make taking supplements more palatable. For those of you who are vegan, there is a high likelihood you will need to supplement with B-vitamins, especially B-12, so talk to your doctor about that. Many people are supplementing with turmeric these days because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Both B-12 and turmeric are now available in a fun and tasty gummy from Mega Food. Make sure your turmeric is combined with black pepper on the supplement label to optimize absorption.

If you are looking to boost your immune system, Beekeeper’s Naturals propolis throat spray is one of the top sellers on Amazon and a product I have used myself. They just introduced a NEW version for kids, so check them out on Amazon

Here are a few other trends I spotted that I haven’t found to be relevant to me but were really popular at expo, so I wanted to share them with you:

  • CBD oil is in everything. From water and honey to gummies and supplements, cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the chemical compounds found in the marijuana plant that is known to calm the nervous system, among other things. It showed up at every turn at this year’s expo and is legal to consume in Maryland and in other states. To learn more about CBD oil’s benefits and uses, click here.
  • Natural sleep aids are on the rise. It’s no secret that many of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep, which is why natural sleep aids are popping up everywhere from Som Sleep drinks to supplements.

If you’re not already hanging out with me over on Instagram, check out my page here. I share all of the latest and greatest food finds, recipes, blog posts and inspiration on that platform, and I’d love to connect with you!

10 Tasty New Food Finds from Natural Products Expo East 2016

What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been!

From the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore to the Culinary Nutrition Expert Retreat in Toronto, a Holistic Health Conference in Madison, Wisconsin and the New Jersey Veg Fest yesterday, and teaching a few workshops in between, I’ve been on what felt like a natural health tour of North America.

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I’ve also gotten some clarity around how I want to focus and what I want to share. I feel drawn to go deeper on this blog than I have been in the past few months. I’m grateful for your patience with me as I’ve been a bit less regular with posts over the past month, but the clarity I’ve gained during that time was worth it.

One of the reasons you’ve told me you come to me with questions or follow me on Instagram and Facebook is to be up to date on the latest and greatest natural food products that I use in my own home and recommend to you. I know one of the most frustrating aspects of starting to eat well and remove foods like dairy and gluten is the overwhelm you feel when you step into the store and blankly stare at a wall with 20 options for one product.

How do you know which to choose?

I’m here to make it easier AND to introduce you to some fun, new products before they hit stores. For the past three years, I’ve attended the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore as Press because of how much this community supports my efforts on social media (THANK YOU!).

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I want to pay it forward by sharing with you my top finds from the expo. As with all of my recommendations and recipes, they are all gluten-free and dairy-free.

I think you’ll be excited to see what is going to be coming to grocery stores in the coming weeks and months!

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1) Hilary’s Eat Well Breakfast Sausage Patties

I first found out about Hilary’s Eat Well veggie burgers two years ago at my first Expo. To be honest, I wasn’t someone who ate veggie burgers; I thought they were pretty nasty and full of a bunch of ingredients I wouldn’t have in my own pantry.

These burgers are different. They are one of the ONLY foods we have in our freezer at all times. Bill loves to have them for breakfast, topped with an egg or on top of a sweet potato hash, and we also love them toasted and then crumbled up on a salad. I featured these burgers in my mason jar salad recipe at the end of the summer. They are SO good!

To make things even better, they now have a breakfast sausage version. It contains all real food for ingredients (i.e., no weird soy protein isolates) AND is dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and egg-free. The two versions I tried were Apple Maple and Spicy and my favorite was definitely the Apple Maple.

Where to Find Them: Click this link to find a store near you where you can buy all of Hilary’s Eat Well products.

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2) Farmhouse Culture Ginger Beets & Kraut Krisps

Since over 70% of our immune system sits in and around our digestive system, eating fermented foods is one of the best things we can do to boost our immune system, not get sick, clear up our skin, reduce bloat, and have regular bowel movements (at least 1/day!).

I’ve been a fan of Farmhouse Culture’s Kimchi and Sauerkraut for about a year now and a few months ago I started taking their Gut Shots to support my digestive and immune systems. When I stopped by their table and saw their new branding (love it) and their new products, I was stoked!

The ginger beets were amazing and would be delicious chopped up and put on a salad or just eaten as a snack. But one of the coolest snacks I tried all day was the Kraut Krisp. With almost 50% sauerkraut, organic corn masa and a shelf stable probiotic blend in the seasoning mix, this is a chip you can feel good about eating. The dill pickle is amazing! I’m hoping to see both of these yummy foods in my local store soon!

Where to Find It: Here is the link to their Store Locator. On the link is a Product Request form that you can print out and take to your local store!

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3) Beetnik Organic Frozen Meals 

We discovered beetnik Organic frozen meals about a year ago.What I love about them is that they are made with real, whole food ingredients and taste more like a homemade meal than a frozen one.

They are Bill’s #1 go to choice for lunch at school when he hasn’t packed leftovers or planned ahead. As an elementary school teacher, he’s lucky if he gets 20 minutes to enjoy his lunch, so convenience is key, but so is staying fueled and energized throughout the day.

Bill has liked every single one he has tried, and I know he’ll be excited to check out some of their new flavors like Ragu Alla Bolognese, Pollo Alla Cacciatora, Organic Lemon Chicken with Cauliflower Rice, Organic Shepherd’s Pie with Grass Fed Beef, and Organic Beef Chili with Sweet Potato. The first two are pasta sauces, and the last three are paleo-friendly and grain-free.

Where to Find Them: I buy them at MOM’s Organic Market or Roots Market, but you can use this store locator to find them near you.

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4) Miyoko’s Creamery {Dairy-Free Cheeses}

When you stop eating dairy, one of the things you miss the most is the creaminess of cheese. Fortunately, food has come a LONG way, and brands like Miyoko’s give us the opportunity to get that beloved texture back 🙂

At the Expo, they were sampling their Smoked Farmhouse, Fresh Loire Valley and Double Cream Chive cheeses as well as a few others. They also have Garlic Herb, Sundried Tomato Garlic, Winter Truffle and Herbs de Provence varieties. Organic cashews are the base of their cheeses and give them a rich and creamy texture

Where to Find It: I buy mine at MOMs Organic Market or Whole Foods but you can use this store locator to find where they are sold near you!

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5) Soul Sprout Snacks

After undergoing a rebranding from Two Moms in the Raw (who I’ve written about here) to Soul Sprout, these snacks are better than ever. They have granola bars, almond butter truffles, nut bars, grain-free cereal, and almond protein crackers.

Their plant-based snacks are made with sprouted ingredients and have recently undergone a makeover in the ingredient list. They used to use agave as a sweetener but upgraded to coconut sugar, which is less controversial and even more delicious.

Where to Find Them: I buy mine at MOMs Organic Market, but Whole Foods and The Fresh Market carry their products as well. Look for them at your local grocery store or shop online on their website here.

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6) Jackson’s Honest Chips

I first tried these chips at Expo East two years ago and fell in love. They have become our go to chip and I’ve introduced them to dozens of people through my workshops and cooking classes, and my coworkers are kind of obsessed with them, too. They’re perfectly crunchy and incredibly satisfying.

The founders of the company created the chips as a result of helping their son recover from an illness doctors couldn’t diagnose or treat. They discovered how powerful coconut oil was in his healing and use it as an ingredient in all of their chips. My favorite variety is the sweet potato chips, but they introduced two *new* products at the Expo – Maple Cinnamon Sweet Potato and Rippled Red Heirloom Potato Chips. All I can say is YUM.

Where to Find Them: I buy mine at MOMs Organic Market, Wegmans or The Fresh Market, but you can find them near you using their store locator here.

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7) Cappello’s Cookie Dough

I first fell in love with their chocolate chip cookie dough two years ago at the first Expo East I attended. Their cookies are gluten-free, dairy-free, and grain-free and use almond flour as the base. They introduced three new kinds of dough at the expo: Double Chocolate, Lemon Zest and Ginger Snap. I have a pack of each sitting in my freezer right now along with some of their fettuccine and lasagna sheets that I can’t WAIT to use!

Where to Find Them: I’ve bought their products at MOMs Organic Market and Whole Foods Market, but you can find them near you using this locator.

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8) Simple Mills Crackers & Baking Mixes

I fell in love with Simple Mills baking mixes when I met them at Expo East two years ago. They have the best boxed bread mix, pancake and waffle mix, cake mix, muffin and cupcake mix, and pizza dough. I use their bread mix to make this delicious paleo-friendly, gluten-free stuffing, perfect for the upcoming holidays!

At the Expo, they were introducing their new almond flour crackers. My favorite is the Sun-dried Tomato Basil version, but they also have a Fine Ground Sea Salt and Rosemary & Sea Salt variety. You HAVE to try them!

Where to Find Them: I buy their products at MOMs Organic Market, Target, Home Goods (hit or miss!), or online at Amazon. Use their store locator to find them near you.

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9) Forager Dairy-Free Yogurt

I used to eat yogurt every day growing up. I didn’t like sandwiches as a kid, and yogurt was one of the few foods that was easily portable and filled me up. It took me 25 years to figure it out, but the yogurt I was eating wasn’t the healthiest. It was usually full of lots of sugar and the brands I used to buy (Yoplait and Dannon) rank as two of the BOTTOM FIVE of a list of 129 yogurts rated by the Cornucopia Institute here.

Most dairy-free yogurts have a funky texture and more gelatinous than smooth and creamy. Fortunately, companies like Forager are beginning to step up their game and bring us delicious dairy-free yogurts that taste closer to the real thing. I loved how velvety smooth their cashew milk-based yogurt was and think you will, too!

Where to Find It: I’ve found their other products at MOMs Organic Market, so I’m hoping they will carry the yogurt soon! You can find out more on Forager’s website.

img_827010) Coco-Roons Superfood Cookies

I have to admit it – I used to hate coconut. At Halloween, every Mounds bar or Almond Joy went straight into the trash. No thank you! Over the years, I’ve come to love coconut no matter what form it takes – coconut flakes, milk, oil, and butter. It’s so rich and full of flavor.

One of my favorite desserts are the Coco-Roons made by Wonderfully Raw. My usual go-tos are the brownie and vanilla maple versions, so I was super excited to find out that they rebranded AND introduced two new flavors at Expo – Salted Caramel (YESSSS) and Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Where to Find Them: The best deals are at Home Goods, but you can also buy them at MOMs Organic Market, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and Safeway. Check out their store locator for more store options!

Well, that’s a wrap, friends! Those are my first ten finds. I think you’ll love them and can’t wait to share another round of awesomeness in my next post!

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