Partying is not associated with healthy eating. Hors-d’oeuvres, canapés and plenty of booze have nothing to do with a healthy diet. But as a dedicated food writer, I attended the Expo East, Natural Products Show in Baltimore last week and explored the floors with plenty of curiosity, appetite for new discoveries and willingness to chew some gluten free granolas. Here are the 10 different, unique and with an edge products but I am not saying that they all taste fine.
1. 1. Zen Indulgence – the first hemp gelato looks nice. It is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free but it does not feel or taste like ice cream. Think frozen yogurt with more texture and weird taste. But for those who want to try something new, it’s an option. Just a dessert, not an ice cream.
2. 2. Tula’s CocoKefir was another unusual product. A probiotic drink based on coconut – dairy and gluten free, fat free and low in calories, it is an ideal alternative if you like coconut.
3. The much expected Monk Fruit Sweetener. For those who didn’t know, the Monk Fruit has traditionally been grown in China with little exposure in the West but has been prized for its intense sweetness, medicinal and antioxidant properties in all Asian countries. Nature Wise created the Monk Fruit Sweetener, a 100% natural, 5-calorie sweetener that combines the Monk Fruit with the Pure Cane Sugar. I tasted it and it tastes like a sweetener. I personally didn’t see any difference with any other sweetness “enhancer”. But I am not an expert in sugar either.
4. Michael Season’s Popped Black Bean Crisps. Think Popped Chips and Beanitos in a complete new version. I liked those, are healthier and tastier compared to other chips. Plus, I don’t eat beans so those chips may well be a healthy substitute? They are gluten and wheat free, low in sodium and low in fat. They are in!
5. The Qrunch Burgers powered, as they will tell you, by Quinoa Superfood. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, wheat-free, egg-free, nut-free and I wonder what exactly is inside them. Just Quinoa! Also millet, onions, carrots, broccoli, spinach and other ingredients….(no, there is no chocolate!). As good as you can get.
6. 6. The ChiaCharger, an all-natural bite-sized snack that is portion-controlled into 3, 1-ounce sized bites per package. Made with chia seeds, is also loaded with other “superfoods” like cranberries, sunflower seeds and oats, is a healthy choice. The Chiacharger is certified vegan. It tastes OK.
7. 7. Eat your vegetables snack from Snikiddy. Probably one of the tastier snack foods I have ever tried, those snacks are perfect for those who hate veggies as they are made with potatoes, beans, carrots, green bell pepper powder, rice flour and a few others as paprika, spice and vinegar. Are good for children? They have no fat, are gluten free and cholesterol free so why not? Ideally children should eat real greens but this is the easy solution. The jalapenos flavor is for grown ups.
8. 8. Way Better Snacks is a new snack line with sprouted whole grains introduced in the chips. I am sure kids will appreciate this (just joking!). Those chips are delicious and seem to be a healthy option. According to the producer, sprouting delivers many benefits including: increased vitamins and minerals, increased antioxidants, nutrient absorption and digestibility. This certified gluten free product, is also vegan, all natural, non-GMO, certified kosher and low in sodium. They taste yummie, and I am addicted. Try the Sprouted Blues Tortilla Chips or the Simply So Sweet Chili.
9. 9. Another new snack, the World Peas made with real peas and flavored with different spices. The Sichuan chili peas are hot and spicy but they taste good if you are up to the challenge. They are all-natural, have no trans fat, no cholesterol and no colors or sweeteners. But when I look at the ingredients I see modified corn starch. Is this good?
1 10. Finally, I will mention the new Millet-Chia Bread from Udi's, the Coconut Spread from Earth Balance and the Cheribundi, a new Cherry Cocoa drink that is an interesting blend and a nice change from anything that contains coconut, chia, millet and quinoa.
After spending an entire day at the Expo East with its natural products, I was much more educated on the new trends in this field, talked to food developers and met with healthy food veterans. But I don't want to see another raw nut, seed and agave infused energy bar. I am done.