Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending one of my favorite annual events that’ll give you a hippie-gasm. Or an agoraphobic meltdown – seriously, there are 60,000+ visitors trolling around. Yikes.
ExpoWest is the name. It’s an all out organic food and supplement and body care fiesta. This calm photo from outside the convention center does no justice to the chaos that awaits inside. The companies behind any and every product on the shelves of Whole Foods or your local health food store has a booth. Plus, new and/or small companies present their products just hoping that retailers will start carrying them. I go to get a lay of the land for the upcoming year and sample my little heart away. (And yes, I leave with a very confused stomach.)
My intention is to find new products that aren’t all hype and that may serve my clients. You bet I’m checking ingredients! I love having the opportunity to meet the face(s) behind the products and ask a ton of questions. One rep even thought I was a food scientist when I asked some insider Qs about manufacturing processes and ingredient sourcing. Nope, just your curious and well-informed nutritionista.
Anywho, I thought I’d share a few products that I found interesting. And, NO, no one paid me to write this. It’s just my honest opinion.
1. Elli Quark – First on my list is a product called quark, a German-style fresh cheese made in a process similar to cottage cheese, but results in a texture more akin to Greek yogurt. The nutritional profile is also similar to Greek yogurt in that it’s low in carbs and high in protein. I love that their sweetened varieties (in flavors like Pineapple and Red Velvet) rely mainly on stevia for sweetness and yet avoid that annoying stevia aftertaste. Mmm… quarky! (Did you catch my pun?) The product is common in Germany, but not well known here in the states… yet. This, my friends, may just be the next big thing for health conscious shoppers. And who can resist the cute little tubs it’s sold in, again, looking much like Greek yogurt. You’ll have to wait a bit to buy this goodie. The product is set to release this spring. I’ll bet Whole Foods will be one of the first major retailers to stock Elli Quark. The first incarnation is not organic, but at least uses hormone-free milk. The reps told me an organic product will likely be on the horizon.
2. Barney Butter – Ok, this is not a new company, but they have some new products coming out. Barney Butter is known for their out-of-this-world almond butter made from roasted California almonds. Their almond butter has the velvety smooth texture of junk peanut butter (sorry, JIF), but isn’t junk. They use a wee bit of palm oil to keep their product no-stir. All of their original products used a bit of sugar and salt, probably to mimic the familiar junk peanut butter and be kid-friendly. They’ve released two new product lines. One is Barney Bare, which lacks added sugar and salt (ingredients: almonds, palm oil). The others are flavored or have added loveliness, like chia seeds. Nutritionally, the sprouted almond + chia variety is healthiest. The flavored ones would make an excellent low sugar, late night indulgence straight from the jar. I’m talking to you, vanilla bean + espresso or cocoa +coconut!
3. EPIC Bar – This may be my favorite product of the whole Expo. I was pleased to see many new beef jerky style products made from good ingredients. Hallelujah. The folks at EPIC Bar did it best. They combine humanely raised grass-fed meats with dehydrated fruits and nuts to make an incredible jerky-like bar that is tender as can be. There are three varieties – bison, beef, and turkey. I tried all three. I love all three. The end. The product has yet to reach store shelves, but if Whole Foods wants to satisfy the paleo, low carb, and conscientious omnivores, they will carry this. In the mean time, you can buy some online.
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