Monsters and Critics is heading to the best food show around for health conscious foodies, the annual Natural Products Expo West 2016 in Anaheim, CA.
Always one of our favorite destinations, the Natural Products Expo West is the largest tradeshow in the natural, organic and healthy products industry and is held at the Hilton Anaheim March 10-12, 2016 and the Anaheim Convention Center March 11-13, 2016.
As we do annually, M&C has a jump start on the Expo and we’ve been eating our way through some exceptional new food items. Every year we munch, chew, drink and savor everything under the sun sent to us for inclusion in our Best of The Show picks ahead of the event to alert buyers and consumers what to look for.
This year we have discovered some incredible new entries in the sweets, snack, vegetarian and non-veg categories that will be at a grocery near you soon… if not already.
The majority of items are made in the USA by smaller companies who have worked hard to make a mark in a very competitive field of non-GMO, gluten free, and organically sourced ingredients.
Highly recommend are the following fantastic finds for anyone attending this event to look for:
There really was an Ines! In 1910, she began making Olive Oil Tortas by hand and selling them at the train station in Seville, Spain. She used local extra virgin olive oil and unbleached wheat flour. In a short period of time, this Andalusian snack was knocking them dead in Spain.
Today, they are made by hand with the same recipe Ines Rosales created over one hundred years ago. Women from the local village are still employed to create her delectable baked goods in small batches.
We LOVED the tortas, in Original, Seville Orange, Cinnamon, Rosemary & Thyme and Sesame & Sea Salt. Eat them alone or with dips perfect for dipping or topping with cheese. the Cinnamon and Seville orange ones are brilliant with tea or coffee in the morning. They remind me of when I was little and my mom let me roll out her extra pie dough scraps, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake “cookies” until they were crispy and golden.
Another genius item from Inés Rosales is their Cinnamon Cookies, a smaller thicker powdered sugar cookie with cinnamon and anise, a shortbread-like cookie with a caster sugar cover. They win for best cookie we tried of the show!
There is serious truth in advertising here as these all fruit leather bars are thicker than a rollup and way more satisfying. That’s it. makers of two-ingredient snack bars sent us their entire line of all fruit bars, and we are better for it.
You get real fruit and they limit the ingredient list two ingredients per flavor. And the top flavor for me? Apple + Coconut, incredible, moist and satisfying, the fruity apple is enhanced with the nutty coconut. There are nine flavors to choose from: Apple + Apricot, Apple + Banana, Apple + Blueberry, Apple + Cherry, Apple + Mango, Apple + Pear, Apple + Pineapple, Apple + Strawberry, and Apple + Coconut.
The bad stuff is missing. No additives, preservatives, concentrates, purees, juices, added sugars, corn syrup, artificial coloring, or flavoring are in them, and they have an 18-month shelf life. That’s it. fruit bars are gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, kosher, raw, and diabetic friendly.
Paleo friendly, non-GMO, naturally dairy, soy and gluten-free and low in sugar does not mean cardboard, people!
We whipped up the three mixes sent and found that the Chocolate Chip cookie mix was fast easy and made a good chewy cookie that delighted. The Artisan bread made great calzone dough and breadsticks and the waffle mix made fluffy gluten free waffles that rocked.
The Simple Mills Chocolate Chip Cookie Almond Flour Mix makes 20-24 cookies made with 7 ingredients, you add eggs, oil, and vanilla, and bake for about 15 minutes. They were great and not at all dry like some mixes that use coconut flour. They really were good.
The artisan bread has half the sugar, twice the protein and half the carbs of regular bread, and is paleo-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO. You can creative with it and make a pizza crust or calzone wrap if you like.
Are you a mental case for good vanilla? Do you find yourself huffing the vanilla when no one is around? Or doubling the vanilla in every recipe because you just know the vanilla proportions are Just.All.Wrong?
Me too. Get ready to lose your mind with Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste, a kind of costly (about $30 for the bottle) but so worth it…pure vanilla with natural vanilla bean seeds in a gooey brown fragrant suspension infusing the pure vanilla pod into your desserts. 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract – but of course, if you are like me, you will still double it.
Nielsen-Massey Pure Orange Extract
I never realized what I was missing not having good orange extract in my life. That changed when they sent me Nielsen-Massey orange oil extract that is like having a thousand perfectly juiced navel oranges with the rind oil at your fingertips. Need orange zest? No problem. Need fresh juice? Bingo. Chefs can use this with poultry, fish, and seafood dishes. The mixologist of the house can whip up some crafty run, gin and vodka masterpieces.
Orange Oil Extract Features Gluten-free, Kosher orange oil extract 100% Natural, Allergen-Free, GMO-Free 3 Year shelf life. It won;t last that long.
USA!USA!USA! We make awesome healthy gluten free kosher marshmallows! Time to go off the sugar wagon and fire up some s’mores or hot chocolate.
Vegan puffy soft heaven! Non-GMO, Dandies Marshmallows are comprised of tapioca cane sugar and natural ingredients, and zero high fructose corn syrup or gelatin (they’re 100% vegan!), and are the first ever marshmallow to be Non-GMO Project Verified. These suckers are made for those who demand their guilty pleasures adhere to the no horse hoof gelatine rules! So yay for Dandies.
USA!USA!USA! We did it again, actually, Shela G did it, she made a tasty guilty pleasure that defies categories. Okay just stop judging. yes… they are full of gluten and sugar but they are made with really quality ingredients you should probably limit in your diet.
Personally, I always wanted the corner brownie, the crisped crunchy corner where the gooey fudge seemed to migrate to the middle I hate the middle. Brownie Bites are for people like me who like brownies flat, crispy and like a crunchy brittle cookie. They are convenient and come in a new flavor I recommend: Peanut Butter Chip Brownie Brittle.
So where’s the kale you ask? Not here! This right here is caramel heaven and homecooked Annie B’s caramels are made in the same copper kettles for 25 years. They are enhanced with a bit of sea salt. Buttery and creamy caramel aromas that don’t stick to your teeth. If you dig caramels, this is the best.
They can be cut them up in brownies, on your apple pie, for your favorite sweet treat. Keep them refrigerated as no preservatives are in them approx. 3 mo. shelf life.
Laiki Rice Crackers
Red Rice/ Black Rice
These Thai crackers are like crack! Addictive, almost a popcorn lightness and really tasty, they go with everything and for the gluten free people, so darn worth your time to investigate. The secret to Laiki’s taste is black and red rice from Thailand. I don’t know how they do it with three ingredients, but these are buttery and crispy, super light and versatile, whether you eat them alone, with cheese or even peanut butter.
They are 100% whole grain, vegan, gluten-free, nonGMO. Laiki Crackers are made from rice, oil, salt and nothing else, made in a dedicated facility and ELISA tested for any presence of gluten with independent lab services provided by Intertek, a globally renowned testing firm AND they use sustainably-sourced palm oil from Thailand. Their palm oil does not harm orangutans or their habitat.
Oz-land rules! Aussies are the inventors of this eucharist-like ultra thin (paper actually) Australian crispbread. 34 Degrees was invented in Sydney and now is made in Colorado, where pot is legal, so their sales have to be amazing!
34 Degrees is a gold certified bakery and regularly audited by Silliker, the leading internationally accredited food testing and consulting network. HAACP-certified (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so these crackers are so pure and perfect.
Plus, they give to the Food Bank of the Rockies’ “Children’s Totes of Hope” program. Tote bags filled with 8-9 pounds of nutritious food are distributed on Fridays to hungry children in Colorado and Wyoming. 34 Degrees also gives to Project Angel Heart, an organization that delivers nutritious meals at no cost, for those coping with life-threatening illnesses.
Here’s what you need to know, nine crackers equals 50 calories. And they are ethereal, loaded with flavor but like air on the tongue. A perfect foil for a strong cheese or a dip, and addictive and toasty perfection. The Cracked Pepper and the Natural are our favorites.
Sprouted Chia, flax seed, and quinoa never tasted so good. These are AMAZING quality tortilla chips with a nacho flavor that does not taste artificial, and they disappeared in a nanosecond. Light, crispy, buttery, not too salty, just a fabulous new item from a company that knows how to make a chip. Head to booth #5586 to see what I’m talking about. Best chips that we tried.
This line of natural oils works my brain, they are exceptional and packaged so well. There newbie is Organic Sun Coco Oil, a unique blend of organic high-oleic sunflower oil and organic refined coconut oil IN A SPRAY! Love th econvenience, as I already use their Olive Oil and Seasme Oil in the spray form too. Neutral in flavor and with a smoke point of 440°F, Organic Sun Coco Oil combines high-heat properties of high-oleic sunflower oil and buttery texture from coconut oil, making it perfect for any non stick situation.
The new pourable “must haves’ in your pantry is their three winners: Herbes de Provence, Basil, and Garlic Oil. Making a vinaigrette? Use any of these. Stir frying anything? Garlic Oil! Making a pasta salad? Basil Oil! There. I just made summer season easier for you.
For the Sun Coco spray: Store in a cool, dry place. Do not refrigerate. Make sure to shake well before using. If stored at room temperatures under 76°F – coconut oil may solidify at the bottom. Organic Sun Coco oil is Omega-rich, contains MCT oil and acts as a natural antioxidant due to the high level of vitamin E.
The Herbes de Provence Oil can take the heat and is fantastic for meat and fish. I used it as a brush on for the artisan bread from Simple Mills mentioned above! Grown in France by a five generation family owned-producer, the herbs are utilized at their freshest, they are naturally infused in organic expeller-pressed high-oleic sunflower oil. Herbs de Provence Infused Oil is made with fresh rosemary and thyme.
There are a million granolas. So why Viki’s? Simple. This granola pinged on taste, ease of eating, quality of ingredients and varieties. Granola can be a boondoggle, meaning it can rip the roof of your mouth out and shred it, or it can break your teeth.
This granola has a softness or smaller “bite” that makes it a pleasure to eat. Simple ingredients, no fillers, salts or preservatives, mix in favorite yogurt or ice cream, enjoy it as a bowl of cereal with milk, or straight out of the bag. Recommended: Viki’s Granola Original Honey, made of Rolled Oats, Honey, Almonds, Sunflower Seeds, Canola Oil, Unsweetened Coconut, Pecans. Contains Tree Nuts.
Dense, moist coconut palm sugar is a brilliant swap for the white stuff. It’s a low-glycemic sweetener that is rich in minerals and delivers energy by delayed glucose absorption. Nutiva’s palm sugar comes directly from the blossoms of Indonesian coconut trees. This coconut sugar has a brown sugar and caramel vibe. Unrefined, unprocessed, and mineral-rich, use it for baking, smoothies, and to balance out the flavor of savory dishes.
Where’s the kale? Not yet! Another natural sugar. The Real Co organic raw cane sugar is made at the Assukar farms, owned by The Ortuño Family, in the Jurassic Park location of Tayutic Valley of Costa Rica. This multi-generational family-run farm dates back to 1877 and they make it in the original process, A true non-GMO cane crystal sugar.
Personally, I believe in quality real sugars over anything artificial, just use less of it. The farming and milling operations at Assukar farms is a sustainable community food product that employs ten villages.
No gas is used. Instead, through the use of animal traction, a non-pollutant manual method is utilized, see how they do it.
The Real Co Himalayan pink rock salt comes from a small mining community in the Karakorum range of the Western Himalayas. Hand-mined and crushed at the source, this has 84 live minerals, which is exactly the same as found in the human body. The alleged benefits of this natural salt include managing the water content throughout your body, healthy PH balance in your cells, hydration, anti-muscle cramping, blood pressure and circulation improvements and helps the intestines absorb nutrients.
The Real Co White Basmati Rice will have you hearing Zeppelin’s Kashmir in your head. It is sourced directly from one farm in the Himalayas. This unique farming situation – aging the grain six months – nets a grain that doubles in size when cooked. Tastes amazing too.
Raisins but not raisins. Chewy, dried natural sweet balls of real fruit that can go solo or mix in with granola. This is a staple in our house for mulled wine (glogg) and for Sangria too, as the dried cherries are a secret flavor weapon. These are Washington State, USA grown, minus artificial colors or flavors, hydrogenated oils, sulfites, or high fructose corn syrup. Go for the dried cherries or the Blended Fruit Mix.
See? kale. Okay not as sexy as the Brownie Bites, but not everyone loves the sweets. Savory snacks rule and smart ones like Broccoli Bites and Roasted Kale by Rhythm are pretty amazing. It is no secret that cruciferous veggie broccoli is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, – a virtual powerhouse of nutrition and health benefits. Rhythm blends broccoli florets in a light dressing of seeds, veggies, herbs and spices, and dehydrates them at low temperatures to crispy perfection, preserving all of those naturally occurring nutrients for a straight outta the bag blissful snackathon.
Their 100% fresh organic Lacinato Kale is triple-washed, roasted in a delicate oil and seasoned preserving their vitamins A, K, and C.It’s wispy thin and full of flavor.
Tuna is a disappearing species in the oceans, as it is being overfished and quite frankly, is a repository for heavy metals like mercury. SafeCatch mercury limits are ten times stricter than the FDA mercury action limit making it the official tuna of the American Pregnancy Association. Safe Catch Elite Wild Tuna is also a fantastic tasting tuna and worth the extra money – this is your body and your health. Support these fishermen who do it right.
Spit that Slim Jim out and get some religion when it comes to a meat snack. Vermont Smoke & Cure launched three new flavors of its Meat Sticks during the 2015 Natural Products Expo East. They are also going to be at Natural Products Expo West! Like the other half-dozen flavors of the better-for-you meat snacks in the line, the Spicy Italian Pork, Rosemary Thyme Chicken and Teriyaki Chicken Sticks are gluten free and contain considerably less fat and salt than competing meat sticks.
Most meat sticks are snout or mushed up ears and guts, so be kind to yourself and eat real meat, not offal. These are made with quality meat. Beef in the sticks sources from lead supplier Pineland Farms Natural Meats in Maine or other similar suppliers. Pork is purchased at DuBreton in Quebec or from Coleman Natural Foods, which works with family farmers throughout the country to produce meat raised entirely without antibiotics.