My annual trip to the natural products expo is one of my most favorites events to attend each year – its a great way to learn about new products, stay current with what the latest trends are, network with other foodies, and of course who wouldn’t like all the taste-testing!
The main theme at this year’s expo was definitely gluten-free. Though it is great to see so many more gluten-free products becoming available, remember that gluten-free products are meant for those who have celiac disease or an intolerance to gluten – it should not be used as a diet to lose weight, as it is not considered to be a very healthy lifestyle. To learn more about gluten intolerance, visit the Gluten Intolerance Group web site (www.gluten.net).
So what were some of my favorite things at this year’s expo?
- One of my favorite finds from last year’s expo, gopicnic is back with their new ready-to-eat snack kits. Similar to their lunch kits, which I absolutely love (they’re great to take to baseball games), the new snack kits are simply smaller versions of the lunch kits. I also got to try their wonderful new red pepper hummus and three bean dip! Note that’s their products are free of artificial colors and flavors, trans fats, high fructose syrup, and added msg.
- Another great new meal kit is tapaz2go, made by Mediterranean Snacks. Their portable single-serve packages come with sea salt crackers and your choice of hummus (roasted garlic, red pepper, or classic hummus). This easy snack solution (the box turns into a serving tray) is a good source of protein and does not require refrigeration.
- The organic single serve soups from Pacific Foods are so simple to grab and go, and make a great snack. They can also be used as a soup starter (add some beans or fresh veggies) or for cooking pasta in (instead of water to add some taste). Unfortunately, the handy packaging cannot be placed in the microwave, so don’t forget to have a coffee cup or bowl handy if you wish to heat it up.
- The egg white chips from ips (intelligent protein snacks) All Natural are made from corn, egg whites, and other natural ingredients, making them very low in cholesterol. Founder Sean Olson came up with this idea while cooking breakfast for his kids, who I had the pleasure of meeting – Sean’s kids loved the crispy edges on the eggs he cooked, so he decided to turn that into a snack. I also love that the barbeque flavor does not turn your fingers orange!
- Halfpops popcorn is exactly what it sounds like – popcorn that is half-popped. It is air-popped and has no trans fat, corn syrup, artificial flavors, hydrogenated oils, or preservatives. Available in aged white cheddar (which I’m munching on while I write this) or butter and pure ocean sea salt, Halfpops is allowing you to vote for its next flavor on their web site (salted caramel, natural chipotle and lime, or natural jalapeño aged cheddar cheese)!
Special thanks to Erica Dermer (author of Celiac and the Beast), Carolyn Scott-Hamilton (author of Global Kitchen), and Rachel Beller (author of Eat to Lose, Eat to Win) for the autographed copies of their books – I look forward to reading them!