I’m always amazed and overwhelmed by the number of incredible products I see at Natural Products Expo West (put on by Delicious Living's parent company, New Hope Natural Media), and this year was no exception. Here are a few foods and drinks that particularly caught my eye. (See also our blog on these and other non-food items.)
Barbara’s Bakery crispy rice treats. These aren’t actually a new product, though I wish they were … they were developed by Chef Ann Cooper as a sample of how to make a healthy organic snack for kids, perfect for lunch boxes (her mission is to get healthy food in schools), and they completely rocked. Recipe coming soon on my blog.
Bragg’s apple cider vinegar drinks. Apple cider vinegar has a long history of therapeutic use (and a 2004 study in Diabetes Care showed that vinegar helped insulin metabolism for diabetics), but it’s pretty intense to drink it straight. Bragg’s solves the problem with delicious, drinkable mixes. In addition to their existing organic apple cider vinegar and honey blend, this year they introduced three new, stevia-sweetened flavors. My favorite was the ginger spice, but also try the grape-acai and the apple-cinnamon.
Freekeh. Yet another ancient superfood that’s being rediscovered (think quinoa, chia, hemp), I predict we’ll be hearing a lot more about this nutritious grain in coming months. A “green wheat,” freekeh reportedly contains four times as much fiber and iron as brown rice. Freekeh is currently only available in bulk distribution (some people have also spotted it at Trader Joe's), but it’s delicious (I sampled a Southwestern Warm Freekeh Salad with cumin, beans, and corn) and easy to cook, so I hope to see more of it in stores or blended into other products before long.
Honey New Zealand Organic Pumpkin Blossom Honey. These folks had a huge lineup of unique honeys, both for therapeutic and culinary purposes. I’m smitten with the pumpkin-blossom variety, which was mild, creamy, and almost like white chocolate.
Ian’s gluten-free chocolate- or yogurt-covered pretzels. I’m thinking of my gluten-intolerant son with these new (not yet on their website) offerings from gluten-free Ians/Glutinos. My son complains that parties at his university often serve only cookies, pizza, and beer … all of which traditionally contain gluten. But I know if he brought a bag of these GF pretzels, they’d be a hit with gluten- and non-gluten eaters alike.
Kettle Cuisine frozen soups. I am a dedicated believer in made-from-scratch soup, so a prepared soup has to be truly good to catch my attention and make me want to eat it. Kettle Cuisine hits the target with their line of gluten-free, moderate-sodium soups. Every one I tried was excellent, especially the Organic Carrot and Coriander Soup and the Chicken Soup with Rice Noodles. Next time I’m in bed with a cold (and in no shape to make my own soup), I’m going to heat up one of those comfort-food classics.
Organic Valley omega-3 milk and drinkable “live” yogurt. These two products are hot off the press from Organic Valley. Each serving of the omega-3-boosted milk has 50mg DHA/EPA (one-third the daily recommended amount) from sustainably harvested fish that’s completely undetectable by taste. The drinkable yogurt contains 10 billion live probiotic cultures per serving for digestive health, plus organic inulin (fiber), and comes in plain, vanilla, and yogurt – and they’re sweetened with agave instead of sugar. Super good straight from the bottle or, in the case of plain, used in salad dressings and dips.
Promethius Springs Capsaicin Spiced Elixirs
Promethius Springs Capsaicin Spiced Elixirs. The most original, exciting drink I tried at Expo, these kicky, organic refreshments contain antioxidant-rich capsaicin extracts from chiles. When you sip it, you feel the burn (but not in a bad way) … but as you keep sipping, the fire subsides considerably, making these drinks are enjoyably spicy, different, and really fun. Flavors include Pomegranate Black Pepper, Lychee Wasabi, and Lemon Ginger.
Ruth’s Foods Chia Goodness. Chia is hot: It’s gluten-free and contains tons of calcium, protein, omega-3s, and fiber. According to the irrepressible Ruth Shamia of Ruth’s Foods, Chia Goodness is the only instantly usable, first-ingredient chia food on the market; all you do is mix it with hot or cold water (or, better, almond milk), and you have a supernutritious porridge. I didn’t think I’d particularly like it, but trying Chia Goodness made me a believer. I loved both the apple almond cinnamon and the chocolate flavors.
Tazo zero-calorie iced teas. I’m psyched to see no-calorie, all-natural stevia popping up in things like these ready-to-drink teas from Tazo. I especially liked the Passion flavor (infused with hibiscus and rose hips) – it’s also a gorgeous rose-pink color – but Zen (lemongrass and spearmint) and Refresh (peppermint and spearmint) flavors were also terrific.
Turtle Mountain So Delicious Coconut Milk and Coconut Coffee Creamer. Coconut is finally throwing off its scary-fat image as more people get the message that its plant-based, medium-chain fatty acids act completely differently than animal-based sat fats in the body. And coconut seemed to be everywhere on the show floor. I admit I’m already a sucker for anything with coconut, but So Delicious’ nondairy coconut milk and especially coffee creamer delighted me with their subtlety and texture. The creamer is the perfect drizzle to soften coffee’s edge. I hear they’re soon coming out with a “barista” version, too, that will foam; can’t wait.