Last year, I attended Natural Products Expo East with no experience, knowledge, or preconceived notions. I just knew that it might be interesting to explore some food and product innovations in the natural space. And I got majorly schooled.
Not only did I discover this thriving industry but I learned a lot about what I was putting into or on my body. Since that time, I’ve had a reawakening. I committed to the Whole 30 plan back in January (and yes, I lasted the entire 30 days). And although I didn’t experience a dramatic weight loss or health change, it made me hyper aware of my own health and how the ocnsumer choices I make can affect it.
This year, I was able to attend for two full days (instead of part of one, like I did last year). By the way, it’s still not enough time to cover everything at the expo. While I was there, I tasted and talked and compiled lists of things I think you should know about. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on drink trends (there are a LOT of them) and ideas for healthier kids snacks.
But before I dive deep into either of those topics, I wanted to share my favorite products from this year’s show because they are different or innovative or just plain amazing.
What it is: America’s #1 organic sliced bread! It’s not necessarily new or innovative (you can find it at Walmart) but it’s chock full of whole grains and uses no high fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives, or artificial ingredients.
Why I like it: This is probably the only gluten you’ll find on this list but sometimes you just need a sandwich. We actually regularly buy the Thin-Sliced 21 Whole Grains and Seeds bread – only 60 calories per slice!
Learn more: daveskillerbread.com
2. Dave’s Gourmet Creamy Hot Sauces
What it is: Not to be confused with Dave’s Killer Bread, this Dave is the one of Dave’s Insanity Sauce fame. This time they wanted something a little more approachable and have created creamy sauce condiments for use at any meal..
Why I like it: I’m a mild to medium kind of girl and I found both the Creamy Roasted Jalapeño and the Creamy Citrus Ginger sauces something I would use with a lot of chicken dishes. And spice is king in my house!
Learn more: davesgourmet.com
3. Ithaca Cold-Crafted Hummus
What it is: It’s hummus but if you know hummus, you know they aren’t all created equal. This cold-crafted (cold-pressed, cold-blended, cold-pressure) hummus is hands-down the best hummus I’ve ever tasted. But it’s made in Ithaca, NY and has a limited shelf life. While it’s appearing in some Wegman’s, I’m hoping for larger distribution after this show!
Why I like it: Sometimes hummus is grainy or bitter or OMG-too-much-garlic! This is the right blend of creamy texture and flavors. Any overpowering flavor is tempered by another making an unusual combination like Fresh Lemon Beet my favorite!
Learn more: ithacacoldcrafted.com
4. Brazi Bites
What it is: Brazilian cheese bread kept in the freezer and baked to perfection in minutes. Multiple cheese flavors and naturally gluten-free!
Why I like it: I fell in love with Brazilian cheese bread after my first experience at a Brazilian steakhouse. Since then, I snag it up any time I can get it (Last time was at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival!). We just enjoyed the 3 Cheese pizza at home last night!
Learn more: brazibites.com
5. Oggi Frozen Pizza
What it is: Gluten-free, non-GMO fresh frozen pizza. It’s a product of Italy but produced by Oggi Foods in Montreal.
Why I like it: I actually happen to like the taste of gluten-free pizza and often choose it but there are plenty that taste like mushy cardboard. I’m guessing that if I handed you a slice, you wouldn’t know it was gluten-free unless I told you. The only downside? They are currently in Canada only but I’m hoping their time at the Expo with change all that!
Learn more: oggifoods.com
6. Miyoko’s Vegan Pub Cheese
What it is: Consider to be “cheddah” vegan pub cheese, it’s made from cashews, coconut oil, and rice miso among other things. Just one in a line of vegan cheeses from Miyoko’s Kitchen.
Why I like it: I’m not a vegan and I don’t even pretend to want to be. I just frankly liked the taste of this cheese – delicious and so easy to spread. And if I am looking to cut more dairy from my diet, I don’t have to lose my “cheese!”
Learn more: miyokoskitchen.com
What it is: Coconut oil mayonnaise!
Why I like it: When I was doing the Whole 30, I was surprised at how easy it was to make my own mayonnaise. I still buy it from the store but I’m much more selective based on the ingredient list. Coconaise is a fresher-tasting mayonnaise because it’s made with mostly coconut oil and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil.
Learn more: coconaise.com
8. Misha Quark (now Wunder Creamery)
What it is: Quark is a dairy product that’s been popular in Europe for years. It’s technically a cheese but has more of the consistency of yogurt without tasting like a yogurt.
Why I like it: It’s way high in protein, 95% lactose free, and it’s versatile. You can eat it with fruit, like a yogurt, or buy it plain and mix it into your scrambled eggs (like I did) for the best eggs ever!
Learn more: wundercreamery.com
What it is: Fiber-based pasta made with the root of konjac. No starch and very low in calories.
Why I like it: See above (no starch and very low in calories). The lone gentleman who was serving this up couldn’t understand why I said “I need this product in my life.” I love pasta and this is a game changer! Too bad it’s only in Canada right now.
Learn more: nupasta.com
10. Kite Hill Ricotta
What it is: Sweet, cultured ricotta cheese made from almond milk.
Why I like it: Kite Hill creates artisan almond milk foods, which is again, perfect for those looking to avoid dairy and/or follow a food plan like Whole 30 or Paleo. Oh, and it was delicious!
Learn more: kite-hill.com
11. Kodiak Cakes Protein-Packed Pancakes and Waffles
What it is: Healthier pancake and waffle mixes (and frozen waffles) enriched with whey powder provided a protein kick for breakfast.
Why I like it: Can’t we have our cake and eat it too? For weekend breakfasts, the Protein Packed Flapjack mix not only made everyone happy but also filled us up with a hefty portion of protein. And it’s DELICIOUS! I’ve already bought everything on the shelf at my grocery store!
Learn more: kodiakcakes.com
It was such a successful year for me. The expo gave me time and the ability to tap into healthy food trends and start to look at products outside of the food space that can enrich our lives. Most importantly, I met some amazing people. Almost everyone I met was so passionate about their business and their product and their commitment to health. I hope to continue to showcase some of these brands and be sure to look for them on Amazon, Whole Foods, Wegmans, Walmart, and even your local grocery store – all of which realize that consumers want to see better-for-you products on their shelves!
Disclosure: Some affiliate links are included below.