Monday, March 11, 2013

Natural Products Expo West

This weekend I attended the Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center which just happens to be the largest natural product expo. There are exhibitors with natural food, organic products, supplements, health and beauty, and even pets. I only attended Saturday but have already decided next year, I must attend all 4 days to get the most out of the expo. I walked maybe a quarter of the expo floor and was exhausted!

The reason I wanted to attend the expo was that I’ve been thinking more about how vintage and natural living are very parallel. About 2 years ago I decided to make some changes so that we were living a cleaner and more natural life. I did this in baby steps, starting in the bathroom. I bought shampoo and conditioner without sulfates and limited chemicals and made sure that the products we used on our skin were paraben free. I switched to a salt based deodorant that worked for a while and am currently sampling other natural solutions.  Most recently I started washing my face using the oil method which basically combines castor and sunflower oil to clean up. At first I did it because I thought it was going to be cheaper, but I think it costs about the same as using traditional face wash. The difference? My face isn’t dry at all, but it isn’t oily either.

In the kitchen, making small changes was easier than I thought. Growing up we’d always used margarine, so we switched to real butter. Instead of baking with oil, we use apple sauce. We don’t use any fake sweeteners, only granulated sugar, maple syrup and honey. Sometimes we eat gluten free, not because we have any allergies, but it isn’t a nutrient our bodies need. Jeremy has been learning about complete proteins which we’ve been trying to apply to how we eat. For example, rice and beans can complete each other’s amino acid deficiencies, making sure our bodies can get the most out of them.

With change usually come the funny looks, or the comments that something must not taste or work as well as the common products. When you think about the past, natural products used to be the common product. Each generation back had fewer products to choose from, and those products had less man-made ingredients in them. As you work back in time, there is always less. It wasn’t until after World War II that pesticides were greatly used in agriculture, so many foods were the equivalent of modern organic by default. GMOs weren’t engineered until the 1970's so food may have had natural mutations, but they weren’t created by man in a lab. Cleaning products weren’t filled with chemicals that are hard to pronounce. Grandma used baking soda and white vinegar to keep the house clean and they worked just fine.

The Natural Products Expo was huge and a little overwhelming for a first timer like me. My favorite exhibit was the NEXT Pavilion, where the newest products were being featured. Many of these exhibitors are just getting started with a handful of products but had plenty to share about their creations. I’ve picked my favorite natural products that can help anyone ease into a more natural lifestyle.
One of the first foods I tried was organic black bean rotini from Tolerant Foods. The rotini is not only delicious and of pasta consistency, it is gluten free, non-GMO and has many other health benefits. They also offer a red lentil rotini, but I preferred the black bean.
If you are a fan of artichoke, but aren’t quite sure how to cook or season them, Monterey Farms from Salinas, CA has just the product for you. They sell pre-packaged artichoke hearts that come in four different seasonings and are ready to eat. My favorite is the herbal seasoning.
I love discovering new side dishes so I loved trying Soofoo’s organic super food sides. They come in a pouch, are prepared like rice and come in original, curry, garlic and herb, and my favorite Moroccan medley.
After some of my tastings I was glad to find Limonitz for a refreshing drink. Limonitz is a sparkling lemonade with a hint of mint and is tasty. They suggest mixing it with some spirits for a more natural adult beverage. I haven’t tried it, but I think it sounds great for summer time.
Another bubbly drink I sampled was SpindriftSeltzer with tangerine juice at just 10 calories. The seltzers are not sweetened so they add just a hint of fruit taste to the seltzer water. They also make juice sodas which I’m a fan of.
While at the expo I tried some sweets as well! Among Friends sells pre-packaged baking mixes full of goodness. All are named after friends and they even have some gluten free products. Suzie Q’s, or the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie mix was delicious, but when I tried Trish the Dish I was sold. Trish the Dish is a fruit crisp mix where all you have to do is add the fruit. At the expo they added frozen peaches and raspberries, making for a delicious dessert.

I am not a gluten free eater, however 123 GlutenFree might just change that. I am apprehensive with what kind of taste and texture I’m going to get with gluten free products, but these products are great all around. The pound cake was to die for and the pumpkin pan bars were amazing. If there was one product that was memorable it is the 123 Gluten Free samples. They were just delicious and I look forward to trying more.

Roasted granola. Yep, roasted just like coffee. SanFranola Granola is one of the darkest granolas I’ve seen. That’s probably because it is sweetened with molasses and roasted. It isn’t too sweet, and has just the right amount of crunch. You can get it in a bag or single serving boxes.

After working out I always try to have a protein shake to help my body recover. Pro Yo had the great idea of making a soy and gluten free protein frozen yogurt to change it up a bit. There are 20 grams of protein and 160 calories per tube and the great part is they taste good. I sampled all four flavors: vanilla bean, blueberry pomegranate, Dutch chocolate and banana vanilla. All were delicious but banana vanilla came out ahead. It is difficult to find a great tasting protein supplement without a bad after taste, but I wouldn’t mind having this treat after a workout at the gym. The staff at this booth was one of the exhibitors that was most excited about their product and spoke about how they use it daily.

I’ll admit that I’m a fan of 'baby sauce', or ketchup as most of you know it as. In fact I’ve been meaning to can my own ketchup but haven’t gotten around to it, and might not have to. Sosu, which means sauce in Japanese, was created by sauce maker Lisa Murphy and is delicious. Srirachup is a spicy ketchup that puts sriracha into the mix. I’m not a huge fan of spicy foods, but it was tasty and I immediately thought it would be a great sauce to cook vegetables in. The Thai infused ketchup, or Thaichup was delicious. It is a bit on the sweeter side and perfect for dipping fries. Did I mention they used locally grow tomatoes from Northern California?

A big thank you to the Natural Product Expo West for a wonderful experience and the press gifting station and all of the companies that contributed.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by and chatting!