Innovation would be the single word I would use to describe Natural Products Expo West, 2016. Companies invented innovative ways to consume basic American food staples in novel and unusual formats. Beans transformed into pasta, dehydrated vegetables into flavored snacks and activated charcoal into drinks and chocolate bars. Other trends I noted were fewer protein bars and more trail mix and chips. Maybe it is the crossfit and paleo craze or people are just tired of eating cardboard, but I was happy to see the protein bar fade, giving rise to jerky and trail mix. Speaking of bars, Kind bar is launching a new edition, but this time there are no nuts and it is all about fruit. They are taking the trendy green smoothie staple and packaging it in an adult fruit roll-up bar that combines spinach and a variety of fruits—both sweet and nutritious. Amidst all of the innovation, below are my top five Natural Products picks of Expo West 2016. In order to be in my top five they had to be delicious, nutritious, creative and great fuel for busy professionals on the go.
Quinoa. It has been the hottest grain for the past few years. By now, most people know what quinoa is even if they can’t properly pronounce the word. Personally, I have been waiting for someone to do something creative with puffed quinoa for a while, and now something finally hit the market thanks to I Heart Keenwah. This quinoa puffed ball is probably about the size of a nickel and is featured in a savory and sweet version that makes it great for any type of snacker. Chocolate puffs and peanut butter chocolate puffs work to satisfy any sweet-tooth. They are more delicious than a malt ball and less heavy than chocolate-covered nuts—great texture and taste with every bite. Their savory flavors are super fun as well. My favorite was the herbes de provence. I am not much of a popcorn or chip gal, but these munchies are great for a snack pack, car snack or lunch addition to any salad for a little flair and extra crunch.
I love creating my own trail mixes at home. They usually just consist of seeds and nuts and maybe some dried fruit. However, Ginger’s Healthy Habits created a whole new line of trail mixes that take the concept of eating your vegetables to the next level. Think of having not only nuts and seeds in a snack bag but the additional nutrition of kale chips, zucchini, and tomatoes. All of the vegetables, nuts and seeds are seasoned with natural flavors and are dehydrated so they maintain their nutrients while sporting a more satisfying crunch. Snacking doesn’t have to feel gluttonous, but it can be fun, colorful and tasty.
Ready to have your mind blown? If yes, then try Hope’s chocolate coconut hummus. Yes, I did say chocolate and hummus in the same sentence. Sounds gross, and believe me, I was skeptical, but once I tasted it, I enjoyed the ride. This chickpea, protein-based, cocoa- and coconut milk-infused creation is a healthier and less sugary substitute for all of those nutella or cookie spread lovers. You can even consider it a “healthier” version of raw brownie batter. You can eat it on toast, with a pretzel, celery stick or even just straight out of the container. This dip is protein-based, so you are full faster. Also, because of its deep, cocoa taste, you get to satiate your sweet tooth.
Love me some pasta, especially when it doesn’t leave me feeling bloated, empty and unsatisfied. There is nothing better than having your protein already made for you, only needing to add sauce and vegetables. Tolerant does an amazing job creating various shapes and sizes of pasta with a variety of different legumes. I personally love the red lentil rotini, but there is also a black bean pasta and green lentil. My go-to has been to add sautéed kale, spinach and mushrooms with a pesto sauce. Bada-bing-bata-boom, I have a satisfying, delicious and completely vegetarian-friendly meal to last me for a few days. For all those that crave more protein, this product still works. All you have to do is add additional animal protein, and you will be set.
Watermelons are so hot right now. Not only can you drink watermelon water, but you can eat watermelon seeds thanks to Go Raw! These organic, white, smooth, and buttery like seeds are a tasty sprouted treat that keep your belly and hands happy when you need a snack. They are loaded with protein, and because they are a sprouted treat, they still maintain their minerals and vitamins. Watermelon seeds get to be a healthier alternative to popcorn and potato chips and a new addition to pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Cheers to eating more fruit- and plant-based products!
Discover all of the ways you can be innovative with your own supermarket-shopping list. There are tons of new ways to pack a snack or cook up a new, easy and delicious weekday meal. Try any or all of these products and let me know what you think of their taste and how they fit into your lifestyle.