Full disclosure: Monsters & Critics received free samples of the products mentioned in this article for review. However, the opinions expressed are independent and our own.
Monsters and Critics is heading to the annual Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA. March 7-11, 2018!
The Natural Products Expo West is the largest tradeshow in the natural, organic and healthy products industry. We prepared by getting a jump start trying many products that will be exhibiting there, and have discovered some incredible new entries in various categories that are found at many grocery stores 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 consumer market. If you love healthy…this is the bucket list event to shoot for.
As M&C does annually, we have been eating our way through some exceptional new food items, and highly recommend the following fantastic finds in a wide variety of categories for anyone attending this event to look for:
Pet Food Category
Blue Dog Bakery
Outstanding features: Human grade, with no animal by-products, artificial colors, artificial flavors, or artificial preservatives. Blue Dog Bakery Products include biscuits, grain-free biscuits, soft & chewy treats, dental bones, meat snacks and new seasonal treats.
Available at mass grocery stores like Albertsons and pet stores nationwide, as well as online Meet Blue Dog bakery chief revenue officer, Eric Koppelman at the Expo!
(Walking the show)
Portland Pet Food
Outstanding features: Human Grade pet food so alluring in their composition you might be tempted to tear into a bag of their biscuits. Gluten-free versions of bestsellers like Bacon, Bacon Brew, Beef Broth Brew, Pumpkin Brew, and Gingerbread will make you think twice.
Also, the soft pack dog food is made with quality ingredients, as the company works with Oregon Food Innovation Center and AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) to ensure fresh and wholesome foods for your animals.
BPA-free packaging holds the meal pouches. These packages consume 25% of the energy it takes to make a dog food can. Better packaging, high standards for ingredients and delicious varieties make this Pacific Northwest company that is female owned and operated one to seek out.
Booth # N1731-North Hall
Outstanding features: This is THE smoothie or juice portable carrier- made with a cutting-edge design to keep oxygen from spoiling any fruit-based drinks or protein smoothies. Also, Sans is brilliant to preserve wine, cut up veggies and fruit or even make overnight oats.
You twist the top and pump the air out once filled, and then twist back to lock it. Easy, clever and leak proof, this BPA-free reusable 16-ounce glass bottle container has a wide opening and is encased in a protective silicone sleeve, and it fits any standard size cup holder in a car. Nice.
Juice, protein drinks and powders, smoothies, waters
Harmless Harvest Coconut Water
Outstanding features: Probably the cleanest, freshest and most coconut tasting coconut water around. Perfect to make protein drinks or smoothies with or drink by itself on the go. The 8.75-ounce bottle has 70 calories, 15 grams of sugar and one ingredient, organic coconut water. Excellent coconut flavor.
Harmless Coconut Probiotic (Strawberries) Sugars 19 grams, Protein 1 gram,
Outstanding features: A certified Kosher probiotic in a BPA-free bottle that is loaded with 12.5 billion CFUs, fiber, and over 5 grams of MCT’s – a natural coconut fat for energy. No thickeners or stabilizers, the tasty drink is a delicious blend of coconut meat, Harmless Coconut Water and live probiotic cultures for digestive and immune health.
Owyn Ultimate Wellness 100% Plant-Based Protein Powder (Matcha Tea, tropical, Cold Brew Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry/Banana) 20 grams protein 3.5, 4 grams sugar and 4 grams fat per serving
Owyn 20 grams Protein Plant-based shakes in 12-ounce bottles (Cold Brew Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla)
Outstanding features: Vegan, gluten-free and BPA-free packaging has a delicious easy to drink protein meal replacement or supplement at the ready. Has 7 grams of fat and 4 grams of sugar per serving. Made with organic greens and no dairy or soy. 500mg of omega 3’s from flaxseed and a full serving of kale, spinach and broccoli. Easy. Tasty.
Outstanding features: Wize Monkey Coffee Leaf Tea, winner of the 2017 NEXTY award, will introduce two new varieties of their popular Coffee Leaf Tea at the 2018 Natural Products Expo West.
Their teas have similar caﬀeine levels to green tea, and provides clarity and focus minus the “crash” like traditional coffee. It contains chlorogenic acids making it popular in health circles due to their antioxidant and metabolism-boosting effects. And it’s tasty!
The Pickle Juice Company – Pickle Juice
Outstanding features: We sampled Pickle Juice – the secret to Swamp People star Willie Edwards’ staying power out in the bayou, and found it to be perfect before and during non-carbonated drink to counter muscle cramps prior to a vigorous workout.
The USDA Organic Certification-approved juice has 10 times more electrolytes than other sports drinks and is sugar, caffeine, GMO, and gluten-free. It also kills food cravings believe it or not, weirdly satisfying.
Waterloo Sparkling Water
Outstanding features: Texas-sized tasty, refreshing and absolutely no guilt. Waterloo is a zero-calorie crisp beverage offering true fruit flavor in an authentic way and is packaged in traditional 12-ounce cans.
Flavors include Original, Black Cherry, Watermelon, Coconut, Lemon, Lime & Grapefruit. Waterloo can be found at all Whole Foods Market locations. Grapefruit and Lime were two favorites. Fun fact: Austin was once called Waterloo, the name changed in 1845!
Grains and cereals
Hemp Hearts Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds
Outstanding features: Versatile nutty flavored vegan and non-GMO seed grains, Hemp Hearts can be a breakfast staple with yogurt or mixed into a salad.
They pack two times more protein, more omegas-3 and 6, and fewer carbs than chia or flax seeds do. Has 10 grams of Omega-3’s and 3 grams of fiber a serving. The addictive nutty flavor is a great nutritional swap for go-to wheat germ fans. They are a perfect topper or blend-in to add a nutritional punch to any of your favorite recipes.
Note: Manitoba Harvest will be at two different booths this year at Expo West, providing samples, nutrition information, and activities centered on their various hemp products:
Booth #765: Manitoba Harvest’s main floor booth will be bringing the wonders of hemp fields right to Expo West. Attendees can check out what the hemp plant looks like and get a deeper understanding of hemp seeds as a farming crop. They will have samples at this booth and celebrating Manitoba Harvest’s 20th anniversary on Friday, March 8.
Booth #5322: The Hemp Yeah! Protein booth on the lower level will be revealing new protein powder offering, which will be on shelves July 2018. Attendees will be some of the first to try the NEW Hemp Yeah! protein powder and learn about all the delicious and nutritious recipe possibilities.
Made Good Crispy Light Granola (Chocolate Banana, Apple Cinnamon, Strawberry, Cocoa Crunch)
Outstanding features: Light, airy, organic, gluten-free and no dairy, this peanut free and nut free granola will not carve up the inside of your palate. It is made without wheat or soy, and tastes delicious. It is made with vegetables like carrots, broccoli, beets, and tomatoes. Bonus: Tastes nothing like vegetables!
Fruit + Chia by ZEGO
Outstanding features: Dairy, gluten, grains, soy, GMOs or nuts, this vegan bar donates a portion of their sales profits to ABettercouse.org to help low-income kids. Flavors include Fudgy Chocolate, Raspberry, Strawberry, Just Fruit Strawberry, Cherry, Apple Cinnamon, Raspberry, and Blueberry. Tasty too, and averages 12 grams of sugar and 6 grams of protein.
There are two product lines — nutrition bars and “Mix-Ins,” a seed and fruit trail mix safe for common allergies coming from non-GMO, plant-based, US farms, organic, clean! Their products fit most all “free from” diets and they test their products for glyphosate/pesticide residue.
OHi Superfood Bar
Outstanding features: California-based maker of plant-based superfood bars and formerly known as bRAW is now OHi – coming out of Hawaii, OHi’s delicious bars – Almond Crunch, Coconut Macadamia, Super Green and Chocolate Espresso – are nutrient-packed, long-lasting energy blends rich in plant-based fats and protein.
All four original flavors are non-GMO, vegan and paleo and are free from gluten, grain, dairy, soy and refined sugars. Bar averages 23 grams of fat, 8 grams protein, 8 grams of sugars and 300-330 calories per bar.
Snacks, cookies, and chips
Hain Celestial Group
Outstanding features: Expo faves Sensible Portions, Garden of Eatin’ and TERRA will roll out new varieties and flavors of classic favorites while introducing first-of-its-kind products. They have consistently dominated the natural food space.
Sensible Portions Organic Veggie Straws are winners, a not too salty snack made with delicious, wholesome ingredients with zero preservatives and come in Sea Salt and Zesty Ranch.
Garden of Eatin’ Organic Corn Chips are made with USDA Organic quality ingredients and come in three addictive flavors, Sea Salt Yellow Corn, Sea Salt Blue Corn and BBQ Black Bean Yellow Corn
Newcomers TERRA Sweet Chipotle and TERRA Sweets Medley are too delicious for their own good- should come with a warning label.
Hain Celestial’s Booth #360 onsite
Peatos – A World Peas Brand
Outstanding features: The flavors are wild, Masala, Classic Cheese and Fiery Hot Cheeto-shaped and are much more protein-rich and healthier snacks. Peatos are made of pulses, peas, lentils, and chickpeas coined by Food Network as a “superfood.”
An addictive snack, pea protein powder replaces bad ingredients and packs over twice the protein and three times the fiber than a comparable snack item. Caveat: You cannot eat just one.
Made Good Soft Baked Mini Cookies (Double Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Banana)
Outstanding features: Addictive portion controlled size yumminess with no gluten, dairy, soy, sesame or tree nuts, and peanuts. Moist, tasty little bite-sized cookies made from six vegetables totally hidden in the natural flavors. If you have a kid that hates veggies, invest in this line of snacks and cereals. So good.
emmy’s Organics Superfood Bites Coconut Cookies – Lemon Ginger, Vanilla Bean, Peanut Butter, Dark Cacao
Outstanding features: Also fantastic, emmy’s Coconut Superfood Bites are an addictive and portion control sized moist coconut and almond flour- based organic, vegan and grain and gluten-free cookie sweetened with organic Agave.
They truly are tasty. It’s hard not to eat more than three in a setting, so a caveat there. Probably my favorite Paleo-friendly cookie out there, but you have to really love coconut as I do!
Three Twins Ice Cream
Outstanding features: Organic ice cream maker, Three Twins Ice Cream, is revealing two new lines at Expo West this year: Slim Twin and Maxine’s.
Slim Twin is a certified USDA organic, low-calorie, low-fat, protein-packed ice cream line with no added salt, glycerin, stevia, or artificial coloring, flavors or preservatives.
Maxine’s has a lighter texture and less fat than the original line and is packed in larger 1.5-quart containers. Tasty and a good option for ice cream addicts who are trying to watch calories.
Candies and confections
Sweet Valley Organics – Sea Salt Toffee Almonds, Cinnamon Praline Pecans, Tender Bananas, Tart Cherries
Outstanding features: Hands down the best thing at the Expo! If you have a sweet tooth, like organic dark chocolate and appreciate a company that uses fair trade cocoa, this is your candy line to explore. Billed ‘GMO & Weird Stuff free” and certified organic, the Tart Cherries enrobed in dark chocolate are the BEST.
If you appreciate a tart real dried cherry and dark chocolate, the combo here rocks. The others are great too, but my partialness to cherries in chocolate sealed the deal. Run and buy these.
Mount Franklin Foods booth (Booth 8209)
Mount Franklin Nutritionals booth (Booth 4689).
Softer Than Brittle – Peanut, Cashew, Almond, and Pecan
Outstanding features: Softer Than Brittle is a cross between a nougat, crisp cookie and a brittle, the flaky and not too sweet vegan confection is made in small batches in a copper kettle with minimal ingredients.
No preservatives, cholesterol, gluten, dairy, or hydrogenated oil. A delicious candy for when the need to have a sweet treat is called for.
Our favorite was the Pecan but they all are amazing and are a bit easier on the teeth than a proper brittle.
Mount Franklin Foods booth (Booth 8209)
Mount Franklin Nutritionals booth (Booth 4689).
YumEarth Organic Candy – Organic Pops, Organic Licorice (various flavors), Organic Fruit Snacks and Sours
Outstanding features: YumEarth makes an array of yummy and kid-friendly candy that is (mostly all) USDA Organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, allergen-friendly with no nuts, egg, dairy, soy, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial Colors, flavors, or dyes. The Sour Twists were the best! They will be sampling their entire candy line, including their popular seasonal products at the Expo. Easy to find, major grocers like Albertsons stock these yumzilla treats.
Booth #2153 on the main floor and N1704 in Hot Products
Zolli Pops – Zaffi Taffy and Zolli Drops
Outstanding features: A kid invented this! Alina Morse was 12 when she rolled this candy out with a minimal investment from her grandparents.
She will be at the Expo to promote her all-natural candy pops line for kids, and the Zolli Drops line sweetened with Xylitol, Erythritol, Stevia and aimed at adults. Also available is Zaffi Taffy, a chewy form of the candy.
Zollipops are sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan, dairy free, kosher and made with natural color and flavors in the USA. Alina donates 10% of her profits to oral health education in schools AND she is also part of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Special Edition 2017 book.
Her Zolli Pops and candy were at the 2015 and 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative.
Lily’s Sweets – Lily’s 40% Salted Almond & Milk, Creamy Milk, and Original Dark Chocolate, sugar-free and Stevia-sweetened
Outstanding features: Lily’s Sweets’ creamy rich chocolate is sweetened with stevia instead of sugar (less than 1 gram of sugar per serving) and are gluten-free, non-GMO and Fair Trade, with select products that are vegan. Available in chocolate bars, snack bars and baking chips too.
For Expo, note that two new chocolate bar flavors, 40% Caramelized & Salted Milk Chocolate and 70% Dark Salted Almond Chocolate are making a big splash. Lily’s Sweets Co-Founder, Cynthia Tice will be at the Expo to answer any questions too!
Healthcare, beauty, wellness, weight loss
Tom’s of Maine Whole Care in Fresh Mint, Lavender and Shea Body Wash and Coconut Lavender Antiperspirant/deodorant
Outstanding features: Expo West veteran Tom’s of Maine, is known for personal care minus the toxic heavy metals.
They will roll out their natural mouthwash featuring six benefits to natural lavender-scented antiperspirant and body wash, these products harness the best of nature – and include absolutely no artificial fragrances, flavors, colors, preservatives or sweeteners and no animal testing. Tom’s of Maine gives 10% of profits back to helping people and the planet.
Whole Care Mouthwash is the first new mouthwash from Tom’s in 8 years, an alcohol-free mouthwash which helps fight cavities, freshen breath and restore your teeth’s natural minerals to strengthen weakened enamel.
Coconut Lavender Antiperspirant clinically is proven to provide 24-hour odor and wetness protection. The antiperspirant is made entirely from ingredients derived from plant and mineral sources, including 100% natural fragrances.
Lastly, Lavender & Shea Body Wash is the newest addition to Tom’s line of body washes and beauty bars and is made from raw shea butter and has a 100% naturally-derived lavender fragrance. It’s incredible and smells strongly of fresh lavender, love it!
Booth # 2717
Curoxen Organic All-Natural Ointment
Outstanding features: Made with three simple ingredients: oxygenated organic olive oil, calendula, and lavender essential oil. Curoxen will be at Expo West and will be doling out a free first aid kit.
Curoxen is the only organic, all-natural ointment on the market. It’s proven to be over 5X more effective at killing bacteria than any other product on the market today – including creams like Neosporin.
You can find it at CVS and other retailers.Note that they will be launching three new products at the show: Curoxen with Vitamin D for kids, Curoxen oral and FemiClear (for yeast infections).Coupons, raffle prizes and first aid demos also planned.
Booth 2599A (Hall C)
Birdie by OLIKA
Outstanding features: Fast Company raved that this was “the world’s most beautiful hand sanitizer.” Well, Olika IS a beautiful bird-shaped 2-in-1 hand sanitizer containing a spray and dry wipes for additional cleaning.
But it works great and is one of those items that modern design and clever thought have really paid off. Find them in the New Products Pavilion at Expo West.
Made with essential oils and aloe vera, their natural formula quickly does the job with no gross sticky residue. Spray the liquid on to the wipe to create a fresh towelette on-the-go.
ThroatCalm by Boiron
Outstanding features: ThroatCalm meltaway tabs are from Boiron, the leading homeopathic pharmaceutical company that was founded in 1932 in France.
This new homeopathic medicine soothes a red, dry sore throat, as most over-the-counter products numb a sore throat with an active ingredient like benzocaine.
ThroatCalm works to relieve sore throat pain instead of numbing it, mitigating any hoarseness due to vocal strain. It’s available through natural product retailers nationwide.
Outstanding features: Fashionable while repelling? Yes says the leading manufacturer of natural, waterproof and wearable DEET free mosquito repellent. Para’Kito has a trendy and chic collection of Party Edition wristbands. They are sleek black, white, gold and silver colors and patterns.
The wide Lycra bands are adjustable can be worn around the wrist or ankle and are inserted with the Para’Kito pellet of 7 all-essential oils (Citronella, Rosemary, Geranium & more), offering a pleasant smell with over 2 weeks of protection.
Booth#2965 in Hall C
FULL DISCLOSURE: Monsters and Critics received free samples of the above items for testing.