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Kelsey Blackwell's Blog

Expo West: Oh, what I ate (top food trends)

As I sit down to write this, I loosen the button on my pants to accommodate a burgeoning belly. My throat’s sore—hopefully from four days of talking and not an impending cold. I want nothing more than to climb into my hotel bed, nurse my blistered feet and hibernate awhile—maybe until Expo West rolls around again next year. Even with all of this, if asked to do it all again the answer would be a resounding HELL YES. I can’t paint a picture of what this experience is like (especially for a first-timer like myself) but if I could, I’d say it’s something like a first kiss—kind of awkward, a bit uncomfortable yet completely enthralling. As NFM’s food editor, oh how I’ve fallen in love. Here are a few favorite finds still lingering on my lips.

Anything from Navitas Naturals. Acai is soo forever ago. Using fruits like mulberries, goldenberries, camu camu and lucuma, this company’s product line is totally next level and tastes amazing. Not only that, but their packaging is just plain cool. Simple, colorful and engaging. Check out their organic superfood chocolate kit to make, infuse and serve your own creations in fun, exotic shapes. I know what I’m bringing to my next party.

Mt. Vikos appetizer spreads. I probably visited this booth two or three times in the course of an hour. Clean, simple ingredients make these dips delectable. I loved their roasted eggplant with subtle spices, red wine vinegar and garlic, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the five spreads—I tried them all (twice).

John WM Macy’s Wheat Sticks. Gluten free is hot. It’s by far the product claim I most often saw emblazoned on new packages on the floor. That out of the way, I couldn’t get over these cheese sticks, which (I’m sorry) are gluten laden but oh, so delicious. Finally, a way to get my breadstick fix without the guilt. These award-winning cheese sticks are made from thin layers of whole-wheat sourdough and aged cheese. Perfect for dipping in hummus or just snacking on plain. I thought I had scored a box for the plane ride home until my colleagues devoured them in our press room. Shucks.

Pure Maple Sugar. Alternative sugars seemed to be around every corner. A fan of pure maple syrup myself, I was pleased to see this new product from Coombs Family Farms—maple syrup in flake form. I don’t know how they did it and I really don’t care. This product tastes great and can be used just like sugar (with the same measurement ratio) in cakes, cookies, pies and anywhere else sugar is normally found.

Rosario truffle oil. A drop of truffle oil can make a box of mac ‘n cheese dinner-party worthy. What I didn’t know, until visiting Rosario, is that most of these oils are artificially flavored. Rosario produces one of the only U.S. Department of Agriculture certified-organic oils on the shelf. What’s also cool is the company's white truffle savory season salts, which are perfect for adding that finishing touch on special dishes or everyday favorites.

It’d be impossible to list all the awesome products I discovered during my week in Anaheim. Stay tuned for more in future issues of NFM.

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