Ok, so full disclosure, I did not get to every exhibitor at Expo West. Not even close. There were SO. MANY. In fact, if any one person said they made it to every booth, they are either The Flash or lying. The sheer size of Natural Products Expo West is staggering.
Which is really cool if you think about. All of these companies, no matter their size now, started with someone wanting to create a better-for-you and/or a better-for-the-world product. And while you still have to be vigilant (there is a lot of clever marketing going on), there are some really cool things happening in the natural products world.
So, without further ado, here is a list of some stand out products that I came across, in alphabetical order:
So I *may* not have technically made it to their booth. But I have had pretty much all of their flavors, and I did try other kombuchas at the event, and Brew Dr. just beats all of them. They don’t do a second ferment, they just get their flavors from the amazing teas they use. I am #obsessed. In an ever crowded kombucha market, Brew Dr. is the one to beat in my opinion. I can’t wait until they are carried in more stores. Also, Brew Dr., if you are reading this and feel like you want to send me a lifetime supply of Mint Lemonade, I’m into it.
Cauliflower is the new kale. Or turmeric. Or CBD oil. Or whatever craze we’re on these days (I can’t keep up). There was cauliflower everywhere at Expo West but Califlour is a real deal natural product. Their crusts contain only 4 ingredients: cauliflower, eggs, cheese, and spices. While most of their products are not vegan, they do have a plant-based option. My favs were the Sweet Red Pepper and The Original Italian. This is another product that needs to be in more stores STAT. So delicious and made with simple ingredients.
We had the good fortune to be in the booth right next to Frill. Their plant-based frozen desserts are right up Maxine’s alley – simple, nutrient-dense, and delicious. Take for example their Refreshing Green flavor. The first two ingredients are water and vegetables (spinach, celery, avocado, and basil). It was indeed refreshing and green. They also had a delicious Intense Chocolate, Bursting Berry, and Nutty Caramel (in the running for my favorite flavor along with Refreshing Green). All flavors are non-GMO, dairy free, gluten free, high in fiber, and have no added sugars. You can eat a whole pint and not feel bad about it.
On top of that, the whole team is SUPER NICE and they are local (Pasadena). I won’t lie, I walked away with a case of each flavor and I plan on eating every last bit of it (probably loaded on top of Maxine’s Heavenly cookies).
Hu‘s list of attributes is insane: NO Dairy, NO GMOs, NO Emulsifiers, NO Soy Lecithin, NO Gluten, NO Refined Sugar, NO Cane Sugar, NO Sugar Alcohols. We can’t wait until they start selling chocolate chunks so we can use them in our cookies. We haven’t been able to find another chocolate supplier that doesn’t use cane sugar!
Ok, so Kerber’s makes us more than a little jealous. Founder Nick decided to open a farm and make delicious products and write books and get on Oprah’s favorite things list a thousand times. I mean, this guy is living the dream. You’re going to want some Kerberry Jam in your life ASAP, as well as the Versailles and Currant candles.
I would have to describe Koia products as silky and comforting. Probably not a helpful explanation, but if you’re looking for a good plant-based protein drink that doesn’t taste chalky, Koia is for you.
Oh Malk. We heart you so much. Traditionally, I am not a huge fan of almond milk. They are always filled with a bunch of chemicals, not so many almonds, and the end result never tastes very good. Malk has changed all that. Their products are “made with six ingredients or less, and more than one cup of sprouted organic nuts in every bottle, cold-pressed with the latest technology to retain all the nutrients without losing any of the flavor.”
I had avoided trying their products in the past because I have been let down by so many almond milks. But luckily at Expo West tasting is the name of the game, and Malk kindly let me try sample after sample. They were all delicious. And the coffee/pecan malk will be holding a permanent place in my fridge from now on.
Plus…COOKIES AND MALK. Come on. We’re a match made in heaven.
I know. Including our own product in the list of best products, seems a little like, “Really”? But, really, y’all. I went around and tested a bunch of the vegan and gluten free cookies available at the show. I was left with a renewed sense of pride in our products. We’re truly unlike the others. Because you don’t need to be vegan/gluten free/healthy to enjoy our cookies. We have a homemade taste and texture, and despite some other companies saying the same thing, we have the goods to back up that claim.
Humble? No. True? Yes. More and more companies are coming out with soft-baked vegan and/or gluten free cookies. But I have yet to find one that matches Maxine’s Heavenly in deliciousness. As I said before, there’s a lot of clever marketing out there. I suggest you read the labels and taste test many different brands and see for yourself.
Modern Table Meals
Um. Gluten Free pasta THAT ACTUALLY TASTES GOOD. And on top of that – Modern Table Meals are complete proteins. I tried the Mac N Cheese and the Parmesan Pesto meal kits and they were incredible. I am not on a gluten free diet, yet I will still be buying these to eat, even though I am fully able to eat regular pasta…and that is really saying something.
We’ve written about Nelly‘s before because their candy bars are just so incredibly good. Super clean, but they taste better than traditional candy bars. Do yourself a favor and try them.
Smartypits is not food – it’s aluminum-free deodorant. I only stopped by their booth because I saw that they had a rosemary mint scented version and lately I have been on a mission to make everything in my life smell like rosemary mint (so calming, yet refreshing at the same time). Anyway, I decided to give them the ultimate test… I wore their deodorant to work Expo West on Sunday. I was on the move all day long and when I got home hours and hours later, my pits smelled like Rosemary Mint!!
Tea + juice = yum. TeaRiot was another brand that I had been meaning to try and was glad to find that they had a booth near ours. We stopped by often to try all the flavors and drop off cookies. They are all delicious, but my personal favorite is Matcha Rise. It’s the perfect refreshing drink.
ZenBasil was a really fun find. Their drinks are sort of a mix of a chia drink and boba. They use hydrated basil seeds in their beverages. I highly recommend the Healthy Greens Flavor.
Support Their Dreams, Support Your Health
I encourage you to check out all these brands. They vary in size from very small to large, but they are united in their quest to get better-for-you products out into the world. We’ll only see growth in the natural foods industry if consumers support them… and how nice would it be to see the shelves of your big name grocery store filled with clean ingredients products!