I have a love-hate relationship with the Natural Foods Expo West that takes place in Anaheim each year. I love to go and find out what companies are up to with their products, how they interact with consumers, and how their products actually taste before I buy and/or recommend them.
On the other hand, navigating through the 3,000-plus exhibits along with 60,000 other professionals can be more than a bit daunting!
This year, I carefully planned which companies I wanted to visit in each of the six huge exhibit halls. Going without a plan would take you days to navigate, and I wanted to maximize my time in Anaheim.
What was I looking for?
There's usually a whole host of packaged carbohydrate-laden foods packaged as "healthy" snack options. These products only interest me if they are made of nuts or seeds without any sweeteners. These are few and far between, so I happily passed by most of the cracker, chip and packaged carb booths.
The tea and chocolate trends of the last two years are still prevalent, but although I had a few samples, nothing new stood out.
What did I like?
Here are my finds of the day, which are all made from whole foods with minimal ingredients:
• European Greek Yogurt: My favorite find of the day was that Straus Family Creamery is now making Greek yogurt. It is creamy, smooth and very close to the European yogurt I so miss from my travels abroad. Straus Greek yogurt is certified kosher, gluten-free and the only non-GMO project verified, organic Greek yogurt on the market. If you want an amazing treat that gives you probiotics, along with a creamy smooth flavor, I highly recommend this yogurt.
• No-Stir Natural Peanut Butter: Next was finding a new brand of peanut butter called Old Home. This is natural peanut butter in a tub that is just peanuts and sea salt. The difference in this brand? It comes already stirred and can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. The most common complaint my clients have with natural peanut butter is the time-consuming task of stirring in the oil, so this takes that out of the equation. We now have a nut butter that tastes good and requires no stirring, hopefully making hydrogenated peanut butter a thing of the past.
•Soup's On: Next was finding an amazing tasting soup. Nonalim has created fresh healthy soups that are gluten- and dairy-free as well as being vegan. They have eight flavors. Since it was the end of the day, I tried the carrot-ginger. Normally I don't care for carrot soup, but this one was spiced perfectly and left a natural, clean taste in my mouth. The other flavors that I recommend based on ingredients are the All-Bean Chili, Red Lentil Veggie, and French Onion Soup.
• Snack On: Next was trying to find a faux "cracker" that had great ingredients and taste. I found a company called Doctor in the Kitchen that fit the bill. They make Flackers, which are raw flax seed crackers. (Don't you love the name?) I recommend the Sun-Ripened Tomato & Basil, which had the best taste and ingredients. I also tried their new product called Super Seed Clusters, which were amazing and worth every bite -- stay tuned for their debut this summer.
• Vegetarian Omega 3s? Being a big believer in getting enough omega-3 fats, I am on the lookout for how my vegetarian clients can get their omega 3s. Flora Health came out with a product called 7 Sources that is a complete, all-in-one essential fatty acid product derived from different land and sea plants including flax, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, evening primrose, and algae. It contains small amounts of the important omega 3s -- DHA and EPA -- from cultivated algae.
• Flavored Olive Oil: And lastly, finding a good tasting extra-virgin olive oil that is unadulterated is a great find. Maison Orphee has a new line of organic cold-pressed olive oils from Argentina. My favorite was the basil olive oil, which is made from harvested olives that are crushed with fresh basil leaves. It comes as a spray for easy use on your veggies or salads.
I picked up some organic dog treats for my puppy, and he and the husband were happy to have me home with some of the samples and tasty foods I picked up along the way!
Disclosure: These are my own opinions and observations and I did not receive anything from any companies in return for mentioning their products.
Susan is the author of A Recipe for Life by the Doctor's Dietitian. Her new book, Healthy You, Healthy Baby: A mother's guide to gestational diabetes is now available. For more information, visit susandopart.com.
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