Natural Products Expo West 2018

This past month I was lucky enough to visit the Natural Products Expo in California, aka my heaven on earth. For those of you who do not know, the Natural Products Expo is the largest annual trade show (both on the east and west coast) in the natural, organic and health product industry. The exhibitor list has a wide range of companies, offering natural, organic or alternative diet supportive products in the food, beverage, supplement and beauty industry. 

For the past four years I have gone to the Natural Expo to explore the upcoming trends and new product launches from both new and familiar brands. After walking, and snacking, down the aisles of the expo I have consolidated my findings in a small trend report. The report highlights the major flavor, ingredient and allergy trends that will impact consumers in 2018. Take a look at the slideshow below to explore the trends thats that will be hitting your shelves this year.


 

Pip Pip Hooray!

Walking through any grocery store you can tell the popcorn scene is well... poppin. But I am not talking about the microwavable double movie theater butter popcorn or the sugar ridden caramel corn, the new kids on the block are popping corn with a little less guilt and a whole lot of flavor. 

With so many options on the shelves it is hard to distinguish which colorful bag is going to satisfy your late night cravings, that is until I discovered PipCorn. The crunchy, salty, and slightly sweet stuff has got me hooked for a delicious anytime snack. From beautiful packaging to miniature popcorn kernels, they are bringing a new twist to the popcorn craze. 

ALTHOUGH I have been known to take down a whole bag of PipCorn on my own, I love how easy it is to incorporate in to various recipes. The smaller kernels make the popcorn easier to work with in both sweet and savory recipes. Below are a few ideas to keep your snack drawer full and your taste buds happy. 

 

Truffle Rosemary Trail Mix

Yield about 3 cups

  • 1 cup raw almonds 
  • 1 cup raw walnuts 
  • 1/2 cup Raw Peeled Tigernuts 
  • 1-2 cups Truffle Pipcorn
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp truffle salt or truffle oil 
  • zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

  1. In a small sauce pan melt the coconut oil
  2. Add rosemary and cumin to oil, cook until fragrant
  3. Remove from heat stir in raw nuts, tiger nuts and salt (if using truffle oil add at this point.)
  4. Pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet, bake for 10-12 minutes until nuts are lightly toasted
  5. Remove from oven and transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet to cool. while nuts are still warm, sprinkle with lemon zest and truffle salt 
  6. Toss with Truffle Pipcorn 
  7. Garnish with rosemary leaves and enjoy! 
 

Vegan Popped Cherry Cookies

Yeild 18 large cookies

  • 1 flax egg ( 1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp water ) 
  • 1/2 cup earth balance butter 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, place in 1/4 cup wine and 1/4 cup water for at least 10 minutes and drain
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup Pipcorn Kettle Corn (or Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  1. In a small bowl combine flax + water, set aside for at least 10 minutes
  2. In a large bowl, or stand mixer, cream earth balance and sugars together until well incorporated and light in color
  3. Add vanilla, flax egg and to butter mixture. Beat until smooth
  4. In a small bowl sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together. Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture
  5. Fold the cherries, chocolate chips and Popcorn Kettle Corn into the batter
  6. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes
  7. Once chilled, scoop the cookies using an ice cream scoop or heaping tbsp measure 
  8. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12- 15 minutes
  9. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, to ensure the cookie is set and dig in

 

 

 

Mint- Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Busy schedules, late night cravings and chocoholic-ism has lead to stuffing my face with foods that make me feel sluggish and... well gross the past few weeks. 

Working in a profession kitchen leads to awkward hours, late nights and little time to make sure you are eating full nutritious meals every day. Instead you are left mindlessly munching on this or that throughout the night, never sitting down to enjoy what you are eating and most likely missing key nutrients. I quickly felt myself getting exhausted, grumpy and sick. 

In my searches on ways to supplement the vital nutrients I have been missing, I stumbled upon HUM Nutrition. From the bright packaging to wholesome, natural and vegan ingredients I decided to give it a try. I started with the basics like probiotics, vitamin D and B12 plus fun combinations for hair + nail health and a weight-loss booster and you could say I am more than satisfied. Since starting my HUM regimen I have started to get control of my crazy schedule and fuel my body. 

My newest HUM obsession is their new Raw Beauty superfood powder. Its an all in one boost of superfoods like spirulina, ginger, chlorella, wheat grass, flax, goji berry, matcha (and SO much more) all wrapped together with the delicious flavors of mint-chocolate. The powder is delicious to add to smoothies, 'nice' cream or just shaken with almond milk. BUT I decided to give into my sweet and indulgent side and turn it into a luscious vegan chocolate sauce. The sauce is perfect for dipping, pouring or spooning ;) 

MINT- CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE

yield : 1/2 cup sauce

1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk 

6 dates, pitted 

2 tsp chia seeds

1 tsp vanilla extract 

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbsp HUM Nutrition Raw Beauty powder

  1. In a blender, combine almond milk, chia seeds and dates until smooth. 
  2. Strain mixture into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently until thickened (about 5- 10 minutes). 
  3. Whisk in cocoa powder, HUM Nutrition Raw Beauty and vanilla until well incorporated. 
  4. Remove from heat and dip, pour or smear. 

The Fresh Challenge : Hemp

For this month's Fresh Challenge sit back, grab a spot on the couch and pack a bowl... of HEMP seeds! 

Hemp is a all around plant- based power house of nutrients that can be added to smoothies, salads, baked goods and well... just about anything! 

Protein Hit - Hemp hearts contain 10 grams of protein per 3 tablespoon serving. The protein found in hemp is a complete protein and easily digestible! 

Fiber Fire - Add more fire to your belly. These little seeds are full of fiber to aid your gut health and digestion. The standard diet is lacking in this nutrient as we chips in snacks instead of fruits and vegetables, but hemp can help swing the pendulum in a better direction. 

Omega-3 Good-Good - Protect your heart and improve your brain function with a daily dose of Omega- 3 fatty acids. Adding omega- 3's to your day helps reduce inflammation, reduce your risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. 

The best part about this challenge? Hemp is easy to find anywhere these days from raw hemp hearts to milks you can take the challenge out of this Fresh Challenge. Just in case you need more direction when the munchies kick in, here are a few of my blazin picks. 

 

 

 

Recap: Natural Expo West

The Natural Products Expo West is officially over, which means 3 days of samples, amazing product launches and mindful brands have come together to share their take on how consumers should nourish their bodies. As I promised I scoured through the exposition floors in order to seek out the upcoming trends that you need to know. Take a minute and explore my take on the top 8 trends for 2016. 

1. Sustainability

Sustainability has been a buzz word among many industries for the past 5 years as consumers become increasingly aware of our impact on the environment and how to improve. Similarly in the food industry, many restaurants increased their focus on sourcing local, organic ingredients and utilizing every aspect of the ingredient. As a natural progression, food manufacturers are taking note and looking for ways to use every part of their ingredients in order to eliminate waste. 

Kimchi companies such as, Farmhouse Cultures, and Not Your Mother's Kimchi have taken their classic fermented products and created a sustainable new way of offering the same probiotic benefits in a drinkable form. They have bottled the excess probiotic-rich fermenting liquid so that you can drink your way to gut health with one simple shot. 

The sustainable transformations didn’t stop there, Forager Project, traditionally a pressed juice company launched 4 flavors of vegetable tortilla chips. You may be thinking, ‘vegetable chips aren’t new’ but Foragers’ method for utilizing their ingredients stole the show. They have created each of their 4 flavors from the excess vegetable pulp that is created during the cold-pressing process. By utilizing the pulp they have transformed their waste into a delicious, crunchy and nutritious snack. 

2. Algae

No longer scum of the sea, algae is making a debut as a nutritious superfood that adds an earthy, savory flavor to many products hitting the market. Spirulina and chlorella seem to be the buzz worthy algae for manufacturers due to their milder taste and vibrant color. These algae are packed with vitamins, minerals and protein that are easily absorbed by your body. Not only do they work to nourish our bodies they also aid the detoxing process by improving gut health and vitamin absorption. From protein bars, tortilla chips, popcorn and chocolate bars algae brings a new twist to snacking your way to health. 

Find out more about algea such as spirulina and take part in The Fresh Challenge!

3. Spice is still King

Last year companies rolled out exotic spices and flavors to pump up the heat in their products and this year was no different. As the sriracha obsession continues to grow and our curiosity with all things painfully delicious, spice continues to be the focus of natural food companies. From jalepeno, habanero and sriracha EVERYTHING, I hope you have a glass of milk handy (non-dairy of course) because things are about to get hot in here. 

4. Gut Health

From probiotics, prebiotics and fermented food and drinks its all about the gut. Due to decades of consuming highly processed and nutritionally impaired foods the health of the micro biome in our gut has diminished, increasing dietary inflammations, sickness and poor absorption of nutrients. Thankfully natural food companies have taken note and found various ways to add live cultures and healthy bacteria back into our diet. 

Kimchi and sauerkraut still have their moment in the spotlight at this years show, companies such as Wildbrine and Farmhouse Cultures are serving up new flavor combinations and ‘gut’ shots from the fermenting liquid. 

Kombucha is the new pressed juice… walking down the aisles of the expo it was impossible to miss a kombucha company that was launching new flavors or a new formula. As a huge kombucha fan (I kind of live on the stuff) it was exciting yet overwhelming. With so many options how are you supposed to pick the best kombucha brand?! I think for now you have to go with your gut [ ;) ]. The smells and flavor of kombucha can be off putting for some, so switch it up and try different brands to see which one fits your palate. Health-Aid and GT’s are my go to’s all of their flavors are delicious and they have really improved my gut health.

Suja Juice is getting on the probiotic bandwagon with the launch of their new probiotic waters in 4 light and refreshing flavors. Each flavor is made of a blend of vegan probiotic cultures and cold-pressed fruits each flavor was delicious but Ginger Lime gets my vote for best pick. 

Now we have all heard of probiotics in fermented kimchi, kombucha and supplements but I know the sour, feet-smelling can be hard to get on board with.  But don’t worry, YumButter is mixing up the gut health scene with an approachable almond butter protein + probiotic blend. The almond butter is delicious, easy to spread and contains 10g of protein per severing! It is the perfect way to sneak probiotics into your day without the, “you’ll get used to it,” encouragement. 

5. The Super Take-over

For those that know me, you know I’m all about superfoods… pretty obsessed. But apparently I’m not the only one, manufacturers are putting superfoods in just about everything! From power bars, crackers, popcorn, chocolate and beverages, ‘superfood’ was the buzz word of the Natural Expo this year. Now what is a superfood?! It is any whole food that is naturally nutrient dense aka it packs a big nutrient punch in a little package. Adding superfoods to everyday meals or snacks is a simple way to increase your daily vitamin, mineral, protein or omega-3 fix and companies like Larabar, Natives, Activate Living Foods, MamaChia and Hemp Hearts are taking note. Although they are all amazing, the superstars this year were chia seeds, hemp seed, goji berries, maca root, cocao, turmeric and ginger. Not only will these products fill your nutrient voids, they also taste too good to be true. So, get ready for the newest superheros on the block because they are here to stay. 

6. Got (non-dairy) Milk?

Milk is a huge part of our life, whether we believe it or not. Cereal, pastries, cheese, ice cream, coffee, yogurt, sauces, frozen yogurt, batters, butter… ok you get it, without even blinking an eye you easily have 2 servings of dairy at every meal! However, with the overwhelming consumer shift towards sustainable, ethical and nutritional foods there is a need to find a better alternative. Almond milk has been on the rise, gaining popularity for its delicious flavor and ease of conversion as a milk substitute. But this year the focus was on expanding the non-dairy craze with macadamia nuts, hemp, flax, coconut and veggie milk. From the classic drinkable milk to yogurts and frozen desserts non-dairy is the move with companies such as Califia Farms, Milkadamia, Go Veggie Milk, Vixen KitchenNadaMoo and The New Barn you can’t go wrong.

7. Return of the Familiar

Last year exotic flavors and spices from around the world were the push for consumers to expand their spice drawers and become ‘foodies’. But this year the pendulum is starting to swing back to more familiar mediterranean flavors of lemon, rosemary and truffle (but don’t worry there is still plenty of spice to go around!) and I am not complaining. These flavors are bright and comforting and easily paired with your other favorite products. You can see this trend in mixed nuts, popcorn, crackers, chips and protein bars. Rediscover the familiar like never before. 

 

 

 

8. Alternative Proteins

Similar to the non-dairy transformation, sustainable, ethical and nutrition focused consumers have created a shift for meat-less proteins. But I am not talking about faux-meats this time. Crickets are getting the more exposure than the days of Jimmy Cricket’s debut. That’s right. CRICKETS. Cultures around the world have been eating these crunchy protein packed bugs for centuries and it’s our turn test it out. Crickets are an inexpensive and sustainable source of protein containing 65% protein, more iron than spinach and minimal water requirements, crickets may be the food of the future. But don’t freak out… companies like Exo and Bitty Food’s are bringing you the benefits in an approachable way through chips, bars and protein powders. Close your eyes and take a bite, your tastebuds may surprise you. 

 

 

 

 

The Fresh Challenge : Spirulina

Keep away from the wrath of the leprechauns and go green this month with spirulina. Spirulina is a powerful blue-green algae that will boost your daily nutrient intake, detoxify skin, improve energy and aid digestive health. With 2000% more beta carotene than carrots, 4000% more iron than spinach and 280% more antioxidant strength than berries, spirulina is the ultimate addition to your diet. This super- algae is an easy addition to smoothies, desserts, snacks or even salad dressings. 

 

Protein Boost

Spirulina is a nutrient dense algae composed of 60% protein, B vitamins, iron, potassium, magnesium and manganese. However, what sets spirulina apart from other plant based proteins is that it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids our bodies require to digest and utilize for optimal cellular function. In fact, 1 tbsp of spirulina powder contains 4g of protein with only 20 calories and 2g of carbohydrates. 

Anti- aging

This algae is more than just a protein powerhouse, it has also been found to have substantial anti-aging properties due to its high percentage of beta carotene, antioxidants and phycocyanin. Phycocyanin is the active ingredient in spirulina that is responsible for its bright blue- green color. Phycocyanin is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant that fights free radicals in the body while reducing the production of inflammatory molecules. Move over carrots… beta carotene levels in spirulina are 10 times more concentrated than those found in carrots, making spirulina a one-stop-shop for anti-aging from the inside out. 

Gut Health

There are countless detoxifiers and digestive aids hitting the market these days but few target the micro biome of your gut to remove toxins quickly and effectively. Well, spirulina does just that, the blue-green algae stimulates the growth and function of beneficial flora while suppressing bad bacteria in your digestive tract. This promotes proper digestion and the removal of toxins and heavy metals in your bloods stream. The stimulation of beneficial gut flora also improves digestive conditions such as constipation, candida and leaky gut syndrome. 

Energy

Lastly, spirulina’s antioxidant, protein and vitamin rich properties make it a compact energy booster. Some studies have shown that regular consumption of spirulina may improve endurance and reduce muscle fatigue among athletes. 

How to use

Raw spirulina can be found in tablet or powder form by companies such as go raw and Sunfood.  Due to the algae's strong earthy flavor is best when paired with sweets fruits such as bananas, mango, pineapple, dates or berries in smoothies or juices. If dessert is what your craving, add a spoonful of spirulina powder to raw chocolate brownies, truffles or chia pudding for a depth of flavor and boost of nutrition. Don’t have a sweet tooth, no worries. Spoon some into your oatmeal in the morning with a sprinkle of sea salt and handful of nuts, toss it with your popcorn or add it to salad dressings. 

For the purest out there, you can dissolve a tablet or spoonful of powder into a glass of water and drink it straight! But keep a glad of water handy because the dark blue-green color will temporarily stain those pearly whites if not washed down. 

Spirulina is gaining popularity among the health food scene and can be found a various prepared snacks and drinks. Check out Go Raw Sweet Spirulina Bar, GT's Multi-Green Kombucha, Roobar's Spirulina + Chia Protein Bar or Vosges Matcha + Spirulina Dark Chocolate

Monthly Myth Buster

Vegan Misconceptions

#5 “Being vegan is too expensive.”

It’s true, vegan eateries, juice shops, organic grocery stores and even processed vegan items can leave you wallet thin. But think about it, most of these manufactures are not sourcing ingredients from GMO farms to obtain the cheapest produce, nor are they filling products with artificial ingredients to prolong shelf-life. So while we may never see a $1 menu at a vegan café, it is safe to say that in many cases the quality of the product you’re ordering is a step above a Big Mac.

With that being said, a vegan diet can actually be a very affordable option (once you step away from the prepared food aisles and juice shops). Here are my best tips for how to make a vegan lifestyle affordable when grocery shopping.

  1. Think less processed. The further you stay away from processed, manufactured or prepared foods the less strain you put on your wallet. This means you will have to be more creative in the kitchen but isn’t it about time you finally used your oven?
  2. Fill your pantry with dried beans, lentils and grains. These staples are packed with nutrients and are usually available in the bulk section which allows you to get more for less. Plus, these dry ingredients will last in your pantry for a long time. Beans, grains and legumes are a perfect addition to many dishes + they can be blended into dips and spreads.
  3. Buy produce in season and at farmer’s markets. Buying large quantities of produce, preferably organic, can also have you fearing the cashier. But there are a few ways to buy your kale in peace. First, buy from your local farmer's market. Not only will you get amazing quality, it is often cheaper than grocery store prices. No markets? No problem, look for produce that is in season in your area. These items are usually cheaper since they had a shorter distance to travel before ending up in your store.
  4. For condiments, versatility is key. These little seemingly harmless purchases can really break the bank if you aren’t careful. Grab condiments that compliment what’s in your fridge so that it can be used with your staple items. For example, Dijon mustard is great on its own or in salad dressings, marinades, soups or dips
  5. Utilize the bulk section. When purchasing expensive items like nuts, specialty flours, grains or dried fruit head to the bulk section and purchase the amount you need for a recipe so that you do not have wasted products in your pantry that will go to waste.
  6. Buy specialty items on sale. I am a huge fan of superfoods, protein powders and power bars but sometimes the prices are outrageous! The reality is people have been vegan for years without these highly marketed foods products, stick to the basics and splurge on a sale.

Need more ideas for wallet friendly meals? Check out Plant Based on a Budget.

 

 

The Fresh Challenge : Maca

It’s that time of month again… to add something new to your diet and rev-up your healthy 2016. Just in time for Valentine’s Day we are showcasing Maca for its vitamin-packed, libido enhancing and energy boosting qualities.

maca love.jpg

Maca is a root native to Peru, also known as “Peruvian Ginseng”. Maca is most commonly found as a powder in grocery stores and health food stores, making it an easy addition to your daily routine. It is important to buy organic maca powder to avoid fillers or imposters - my go-to brands are Sunfood, Navitas and Vega.

Now let’s talk about the benefits of Maca…

  1. It’s potent in vitamin B, C and E, calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. All of which are essential minerals if you follow a plant-based diet.

  2. A natural love potion, maca has been found to increase libido and endurance, especially in men. While maintaining an even hormone balance and improving fertility in women.

  3. This superfood can improve energy and stamina levels throughout the day.

  4. It improves mental clarity and focus as it reduces mood imbalances such as depression, anxiety or mood swings.

  5. So long to PMS! Maca can reduce irritability, cramps and hot flashes caused by menstruation and menopause.

Added Bonus: The hormone balancing properties found in maca have shown a positive effect on reducing hormonal acne and improving skin tone! How about that for positive vibes?!

Need some ideas about how to incorporate maca into your day? From energy bars to smoothies to ice cream - there’s no shortage of ways to fit this into your daily diet. 

In the spirit of Valentine's Day I have an easy recipe that is perfect as a dessert to share or to show yourself a little love.

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Maca Dark Chocolate Bark:

12 oz dark chocolate       1/3 cup dried cherries

1 tbsp coconut oil            1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes

1 tbsp maca powder        1/4 cups cocoa nibs

1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped    

1 tsp sea salt

  1. Over a double boiler melt 8 oz of the chocolate. < If using a microwave melt in 30 second increments, stirring between each until melted >

  2. Once melted, add in remaining chocolate, coconut oil and maca powder. Stir until fully melted and smooth. 

  3. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat

  4. Pour the chocolate onto the prepared surface and spread into an even layer using a spatula. You want your bark about 1/4 inch thick. 

  5. Top with the dried cherries, almonds, coconut, cocoa nibs and salt to evenly cover the surface. Let on the counter to harden but if you just can't wait to take a bite, pop it in the fridge for 15- 20 minutes. 

  6. Once the chocolate has set, break it apart and enjoy! 

NOTE: Too much maca can add a slightly chalky taste to your food so take it easy. A little goes a long way with this superfood, only one tablespoon a day is recommended. IN FACT, it is important to build up your tolerance of Maca due to its potency. If you are new to the product start with ½  a teaspoon and work your way up to a full tablespoon over time.