Fabulous Foodie Finds from Natural Products Expo West 2012!

Last Saturday, I put on my comfy boots and hit the road with two of my healthy foodie friends, for a drive up the Southern California coast to attend the 2012 Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Natural Products Expo West continues to be the leading trade show in the natural, organic and healthy products industry. Rated as one of the top 200 trade shows in the US by Tradeshow Week, Natural Products Expo West continues to help attendees reach their business goals.

Join 58,000 other industry professionals interacting with over 3,000 exhibits. Co-located with Engredea, Nutracon conference, the Beer, Wine & Spirits Marketplace and Fresh Ideas Organic Marketplace, these combined events showcase the entire value chain of healthy products from start to finish, identifying the bestsellers of today and the trends of tomorrow. {From Natural Products Expo West Home Page}

If you’ve ever been to a Natural Product Expo tradeshow {There is an Expo East too which takes place this year September 19-22 at the Baltimore Convention Center!}, you’ll understand that comfy shoes are required.

It’s huge!

My friends and I spent over 5 hours schlepping our goodie filled bags around the convention center, and I doubt we even made it to half of the exhibits.

Fortunately, my friends and I did not go hungry or thirsty {I think one of my friends sampled 15 brands of coconut water that day!}, and we had a blast crunching and slurping all the bars, chips, teas, and other delectable foodie finds that day.

Let me share just a few of my favorites with you…

Simply…Gluten-free Desserts by Carol Kicinski

One of the highlights of my day, was meeting blogger and cookbook author Carol Kicincki of Simply Gluten-Free.  Carol was signing copies of her gorgeous book Simply…Gluten-Free Desserts.  All I can say, is that Carol is as lovely as her book and her blog! It’s always such a pleasure meeting well-known bloggers in person who are friendly, gracious, genuine, and down-to-earth.  We chatted a little, and had a fun photo-op {see beginning of this post}, and I was lucky enough to bring home a signed copy of Carol’s book.  Big Tex just happened to be craving cake the next day, so we whipped up a Red Velvet Cake, using Carol’s recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes.  The result?  Absolutely pure indulgence of the most decadent kind.  Seriously, this super moist cupcake/cake recipe puts all those Red Velvet cupcakes from fancy schmancy cupcake store to shame! I wish I had a picture of our cake to show you, but we have eaten it all, including our naughty dog who licked the frosting straight off the top of the cake!

Love Grown Foods Granola

Not a totally new foodie find for me, but one I’ve been searching for in my local stores since a ski trip to Keystone Colorado over a year ago.  Seriously tasty {Cranberry Pecan is my favorite} and not overly sweet like many granolas, I’ve been on the hunt ever since.  Made with certified gluten-free oats and a variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and dark chocolate, I was happy to discover Love Grown Foods is coming to a Whole Foods near me {in La Jolla} soon! Click here to learn more or to find a store near you to purchase the LOVE!

Vega Sport Protein Powders and Bars

I first heard about Vega Sports protein powders and bars through Elizabeth Jarrard on her fun nutrition and healthy living blog, Don’t White Sugar Coat It.  I typically use whey powder or egg white powder for supplemental protein in my smoothies or after a hard workout, but I also like to mix things up a little and it’s nice to have an alternative for myself, and for clients who can’t consume dairy products or eggs due to food sensitivities, or for those on a vegan diet.  I sampled both the vanilla and chocolate Performance Protein Powder, which contain a combination of yellow pea protein, SaviSeed inchi protein, sprouted whole grain brown rice protein, hemp protein, and alfalfa protein.  One scoop of the stevia sweetened powder provides 26 grams of protein, branched chain amino acids {BCAA’s}, and L-Glutamine.  Unlike other pure hemp protein powders I have tasted, I found the blend of plant based proteins in Vega Sport to have much less of a biting aftertaste.  To learn more about the performance and recovery benenfits of Vega Sports powders and bars, click here.

Pukka Teas

I love me a good cuppa’, so I was excited when Lauren Slayton, at Foodtrainers, turned me on to Pukka Herbal and Green Teas a couple of months ago.  Up until the Expo, I had only tried Lemon Grass Ginger, but now I have also tried their soothing and delicious Love, and Three Mint Teas as well.  Made with organic and fair trade herbs and green tea leaves, there are over 20 varieties of tea blends to lift your spirits and soothe your soul.  If you are here in San Diego, you can find Pukka Tea at Jimbos Naturally, or if you are outside of San Diego check out the Pukka website for more information.

Califia Farms Almond Milk

You can always find several varieties of “milk” in my fridge including cow’s, goats’, soy, and almond.  I enjoy almond milk as a dairy-free alternative, and many of my clients do too.  Sometimes, though, I find almond milk to be a bit on the watery side, and with a bit of a “bite”, so I was delighted to taste Califia Farms Creamy Almond Milk.  It’s smooth, and creamy, with no bitter after taste, and has become my new favorite nut milk.  I was told Bristol Farms in San Diego carries, or will carry Califia Almond milk soon, but it is a relatively new product, so to find out more information on where to purchase in your area, check out the Califia Farms Facebook Page.

And, last but not least, I can’t leave out the most scrumptious raw, gluten-free, and vegan tarts I’ve ever tasted…

Hail Merry Raw Vegan and Gluten-Free Craveable Snacks

Let me go out on a limb here, and say “craveable” is an understatement for these amazing snacks!  I first heard about Hail Merry snacks through my gluten-free friend and President of the Southern Arizona Celia Support Group, Kim Peebly, when she first posted about them here.  Sadly, I hadn’t been able to try them up until last week.  Let me just tell you, they were worth the wait! Blonde and chocolate macaroons melt in your mouth.  Vanilla maple almonds with a touch of sea salt, are the perfect antidote for any mid-afternoon sweet/salty cravings you may be having.  And, words can not describe the amazing raw, vegan, and gluten-free “miracle” tarts flavored with your choice of chocolate almond butter, chocolate mint, meyer lemon, persian lime, or the newest flavor, coconut.  If you don’t believe me, click here to learn more on where you can score your own craveable snacks.  And, if you’re in San Diego, I learned that Hail Merry snacks are currently at Whole Foods in Hillcrest, and will be coming soon to La Jolla Whole Foods.

And, before I go, a little button, magnet, and tatoo fun from Natural Products Expo West…

Have you tried any of my foodie finds?  Have you ever been to a Natural Products Expo West or East, or any other big food show?  Dog owners:  Who else has a naughty, frosting loving dog too???

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  1. The Gross One says:


    Nicely done and very informative. Next time hit the other half of the exhibits.

    Keep up with the good work. You may not hear from me very often–I do read all your blogs.

  2. Great reviews! I’m so jealous that I couldn’t attend this year.

  3. i love tea, so i’ll have to look up the pukka teas. looks like you found some awesome products – yay!

  4. I LOVE hail mary macarons. They are amazing! I don’t know how they’re vegan.. so good. Looks like you got to sample a lot of tasty foods. Look forward to some gluten free dessert recipes from the cookbook. Great re-cap. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I have not tried any of these delicious finds, but will have to keep my eye out for them:-) I have never been to the expo, but sounds like you had a wonderful time! Thanks for sharing all the fun! Hugs, Terra

  6. My goodness, what a list. I so love natural foods expo and just put east dates in my Sept calendar (thank you). I really want to try that almond mlk. I use almond milk in smoothies, overnight oats and chia pudding but plain…eh. I love Vega’s performance enhancer (pre workout drink) I’ll give their powder a try again.

  7. Looks like you had a great time at the expo and lots a goodies. Sounds like you were well fed too!

  8. Wow, you have got some great products!
    I was also interested in trying out the Vega products.
    Whenever I go to FNCE, I am usually too full to eat an actual meal since I end up filling up on all the samples. :)

  9. I love all the loot! What a blast!

  10. I Can’t believe we don’t carry ANY Of these products in our store!! What kind of “foodie” store do I Work at anyway?! I’ll need to get on top of the people doing the ordering! I especially want to try that granola.

  11. What a fun day trip for you and the gal pals!!! I have never been to one but look at all those treats!!! And no..have not tried any of those products either but I really like the magnets.How cute are they?? Have a fun weekend EA!!!

  12. How did I not know this type of Expo existed?!?! Baltimore is not a far drive from me either……hmmm. Putting those dates on the calender and hoping my work and school schedule can allow me to attend this fall. Did you find most of the exhibitors to be accurately promoting the health benfits of their products or stretching the truth a bit too much?

    • Great question Tanya! I chose products mainly by taste, and they had to be gluten-free. There are definitely some manufacturers making big claims for their “super foods”, but the majority of the vendors I met with we’re pretty accurate in their health claims. Of course, I probably did not meet the other half :-)

  13. looks like fun :-)

  14. Looks like you hit jackpot with that book! Can’t wait to see how you put your goodies to use. Everything looks so good.

  15. oooo i would love to try that almond milk! i noticed that it is a bit on the watery side, especially the homemade kind, so i usually thicken it up with flax seed and let it sit overnight! those macarons look delicious!!!! haha i’m sure i would snack on multiple packets! have a great monday, EA!

  16. Wow – loved reading this review – have never been to this Expo but would love to check it out some day. And that granola sounds divine! And no dogs here but I use to have a cat that adored yogurt….


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