Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Natural Products Expo West: The Beverage Review

As I promised myself last year I attended more than just a single day at Natural Products Expo West. I was excited to learn about new products that I could incorporate into my gluten free and low chemical life style. If there is anything I remembered from last year’s Expo West, it was to stay hydrated. The Expo is huge, so walking around for 8 hours is a sure way to get dehydrated. Aside from my AM coffee or tea, I usually drink water, but recently I’ve been adding kombucha, kafir and vinegar to my daily drinking habit. Kombucha and Kefir are both fermented drinks filled with probiotics that increase the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Those bacteria do all sorts of good things for us like warding off sickness, decreasing anxiety and of course helping with better digestion. Vinegar, specifically apple cider vinegar (ACV), is known as an old natural healing remedy or tonic. Some swear that a shot of ACV a day will keep a cold away.

If you are unfamiliar with fermented drinks or drinking vinegar you are probably thinking it sounds gross. A few years ago, I would have agreed with you, but I’m usually willing to give something a try at least once. The first time I tried kombucha I didn’t like it, and I still make a face when I take a shot of ACV. The best part about Expo West is discovering new products that are great tasting, with the healthy benefits.

Not all Kombuchas are fermented equally, and some are much tastier than others. That can be said of Health Ade Kombucha. I was drawn to their booth because they have awesome packaging/branding. Their kombucha comes in brown glass bottles with a vintage-y label featuring a simple anchor. Think mid-1800’s “Magic Elixir” being sold out of a stagecoach. One of the first facts I learned was that Health Ade is a lot like the homemade stuff. I totally agree. I find that store bought kombucha can be very tart and sweet which I don’t care for, though I prefer store bought kefir. Health Ade kombucha on the other hand is a lot like drinking cider. Justin, co-founder of the Health Ade, also pointed out that they use local farmer’s market fruit to create the flavors and brew small batches in glass. I tried California Grape and Pink Lady Apple. I could probably drink Pink Lady Apple all day long. They were both great tasting with minimal carbonation and just the right balance of sweet and tart. If someone in Anaheim is listening, please stock this kombucha ASAP!

Speaking of good for you, have you ever tried something that tastes good and then you find out that it is healthy too? That’s what I experienced with Urban Remedy. I sampled their gluten free almond brownie snack which was so good. They also had three juices which were all delicious. I first tried Boost Lemonade which is a mix of turmeric root and lemon. I choose that one first because I’m not a huge fan of turmeric or lemon and I wanted to challenge them. The taste was mild and actually very good, even for someone that doesn’t care for those ingredients. Flush is a blend of cucumber, apple, ginger, mint and lemon. The ginger isn’t too powerful which I liked. My favorite was After Party. It has beet, carrot, ginger, apple and lemon. It is sweeter tasting than the others and although these are supposed to be detox juices, I really think it would taste great as an adult beverage mixer. Good thing After Party helps with liver detox and lowering inflammation.

I’ll be honest, I had never heard of “drinking vinegars” before coming across two different types at the Expo. Side by side were companies offering very different, yet delicious, drinking vinegars and I have to admit I went back the next day for more samples. Both Genki-Su and Pok Pok Som are based on ancient Asian drinking vinegars that were used for health purposes. Genki-Su is sparkling coconut vinegar that comes in 5 different flavors. I sampled the Nashi (Pear) and Shiso (Basil) which were both very good. Pok Pok Som comes in a 16 ounce glass bottle to be mixed at home with water, soda or in a cocktail. Of their 8 flavors, the Thai Basil was my favorite. It was served cold over ice with soda water. As I sampled both drinking vinegars I heard many attendees walk up to sample them because they had heard of the “vinegar soda” buzzing around the Expo. I have to add to that buzz because these drinking vinegars take the face-making out of drinking vinegar.
By the end of the expo I had sampled quite a few varieties of fermented drinks and drinking vinegar. Not only did I keep hydrated, but I’m pretty sure I have lots of new friendly gut bacteria to help my health.

Note: Alkaline water seems to be the biggest trend at the Expo. Since I’m still learning about it, I’m taking some time to research the high pH water. Expect an upcoming post.

1 comment:

  1. We make our own kombucha with continuous brewers. Love it!! Our's is fairly mild and has fine bubbles. I add dried ginger and occasionally a hot pepper but love it straight from the brewer.


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