New Products + New Favorites from Expo West 2016!
Expo West 2016 has officially come and gone and OH MAN were there some awesome things to see and eat! I spent 3 full days there this year - one more full day than last year, and it was so worth it. I feel like I saw nearly everything possible and tasted everything I wanted to - some things more than once. Here I've rounded up the best of the best (in my humble opinion) and the best of the newest products at the show to share with you guys. Some of the products are on the market already and some will be coming out later this year.
My top favorite of the show - the STUNNER - was the brand new vegan aquafaba-based mayo from Sir Kensingtons. It comes in a regular and a chipotle flavor, an it is TOO DAMN GOOD. It's totally soy-free, which is perfect since I'm off soy completely now, and tastes bette than any other vegan mayo I've tried...which I think is nearly all of them. It's my new fave BUT won't be on the market officially until summer. At Expo they were serving to with French fries, which was absolutely delicious, but I can't wait to try it in potato salads, on sandwiches, and in dips and sauces! Seriously, my fave new product at this year's show. I seriously cannot wait for you guys to try it!
I've really been trying to eat a few less desserts and watch my sugar intake lately, so seeing these new tart flavors but Hail Merry made me SO happy! Their mini-tarts are rich in healthy fats and flavor and have half the sugar of the regular tarts, plus are bite-sized for easy portion control. The Strawberry Rhubarb was my favorite flavor, but they were all quite good. Hail Merry also debuted a new Salted Brownie macaroon bites flavor and two new bean-free hummus's made from the nuts they also use for the tarts. I loved meeting the people at their booth, they were all so kind and made me feel even better about supporting them. They rock! Also - how rad would those sweet potato tarts be for Thanksgiving? Dessert = made!
My favorite drinks from the show were a toss-up between these new Matcha Almond Milk and Ginger Almond Milk drinks from Califia Farms (left) and these new Fermented Botanical drinks from Clearly Kombucha.
The drinks form Califia Farms are creamy, rich, and a delicious and brilliant alternative to regular nut-milk flavors. The matcha is my personal favorite, but the ginger is a very close second. They are light and sweet and for someone who doesn't regularly drink bottles of nut milk, I love these flavorful alternatives. There is also a thick coconut version, but it didn't taste extraordinary to me. These are available NOW so keep an eye out for them!
The new botanicals drinks are the perfect fermented drink for someone weary of the strong flavors of kombucha or the caffeine in iced tea. They are lightly carbonated and sweet and taste so great - there's nothing else like 'em. Clearly Kmobucha knocked it out of the park on these ones. My favorite flavors were the Lemongrass and Strawberry Milk Thistle but they come in at least 4 more flavors. Look for them on shelves soon!
These products were our favorite unexpected finds of the weekend. The products from Yai's Thai were so incredibly spicy and delicious. They all had a unique flavor and great heat to them, and we fell so in love they let us take a few sample bottles home. These sauces are better than literally ANY other Asian hot sauce (you know the ones) on the market right now, but only for those who really truly LOVE the spice of a good Thai chile. We later found out they started in Maine, my home state, which gave them extra bonus points in my book. Worth buying for sure!
Sheese is a soy-based cheese (off limits to me, but I tried it anyway) out of Scotland, that I;ve seen all over the internet but never in the US. Turns out they just don't have great distribution here yet (hence why they were at the show), but their products are all really good. They come in a variety of flavors and types, and they've really got a great product. Request it in your local stores!
Upton's Jackfruit has been on the market since last year, but this new curry flavor they're releasing is a delicious addition to the family! Its a flavor I would've been hesitant to try on my own, but I love how they paired it with simple brown rice at the show - it would make an easy weeknight meal for sure.
Upstairs, Gardein was sampling their soon-to-be-released breakfast pockets made with Follow Your Heart's vegan egg and Field Roast's chao cheese. They were so good - I would definitely eat them regularly if not for my soy-intolerance. They would be a perfect on-the-go hot breakfast! Look for them this summer.
These were two totally new to me drinks. First the Sapp brand: maple water is seeing a surge of popularity in the market the last two years since coconut water has come out and become so popular. They are similar in texture and lightness of taste, and are equally hydrating. Like maple and coconut water, birch tree water has its own healthful properties, and has a super lightly sweet flavor - much like the Sapp brand name suggests, it tastes reminiscent of tree sap, but in the best way. I really enjoyed these drinks and the packaging and would definitely buy them in the future.
Teaonic is a line of cold tea drinks designed to aid in healthful bodily function in some way or another. They offer a drink for digestion, skin, liver, adrenals, weight, hair and nails, and the brain, as well as a femininity tea. I got the gut version, made with chai tea, since I always seem to have stomach issues. It was unsweetened, which I preferred and was a smaller bottle, so I didn't get stuck drinking it all afternoon. It was actually really good, and did seem to make my belly feel nice after drinking it, though I'm sure I'd need to keep it up for long-term effects. I'd try it again!
These drinks all fall into the category of things I've tried before, but love too much not to share. Farmhouse Culture makes some of the best sauerkraut on the market - their smoked jalapeño flavor is life-changingly good. Their Gut Shots are equally as awesome, and a smart way to use the healthy, probiotic-packed juice from their fermented products instead of dumping it down the drain. The liquid is filled with a ton of good-for-you bacteria and has a yummy, spicy kick that makes your whole stomach feel good after drinking it. I drink a shot every morning before breakfast and whenever my tummy feels a bit off. It is my GO-TO probiotic product!
I've said it a million times on instagram, but I'll say it here too: I love me some Mamma Chia! They make the best chia-packed drinks out there, and these energy drinks are an excellent addition to their line, They're a little tangier than the regular drinks and are a great coffer-free alternative to that afternoon slump.
Daily Greens makes some really fantastic green juice. They have a bunch of flavors, but this Renew flavors packed with watermelon juice + greens, so it not only tastes great but is super hydrating. Plus, the packaging is lovely. You can find these at Whole Foods and Sprouts for sure, and hopefully more chains in the future!
I had seen the Bixby Bar once or twice at Fresh 'n' Easy before they closed them all down here, but had never tried one. As soon as I realized they were made in Rockland, Maine I knew I HAD to get my hands on one. This bar was TOO GOOD. Salty and sweet and rich - super indulgent and satisfying. Also totally GF and organic. They come in several flavors and I would definitely buy them again. I think they're available at Whole Foods!
Oh Alpendough...so good, so only available in Colorado. I'm really hoping they get their distribution opened up because it was AMAZING, especially since it was all gluten-free as well. Big fan, and will be a big customer when it makes its way to California!
Organic Gemini has taken a little-known tuber, the tiger nut, and turned it into a soon-to-be-sensation and one of my favorite products at Expo two years running. They 'milk' the nuts into a creamy, rich, lightly-sweetened drink and add cinnamon and one of 8 flavors. They are MIND-BLOWINGLY good. And super good for you, too! We have a recipe for a Chocolate Mocha Smoothie made with tiger nuts if you're looking for a recipe to try for yourself.
Rawpothecary is another juice company we love that is all about drinking straight from natures pharmacy. Their creative juice blends taste incredible and began as a treatment for her fathers illness. The Holla Pîna flavor is my favorite!
LoveGrace is a juice company based in New York. I happened to meet the owners at a vegan party in the Field Roast suite after Expo one night, and they hooked us up with some of their juices and smoothies. The Cacao Smoothie was super good - rich, sweet, satisfying - like a healthy milkshake! But ever more I loved the Yerba Mate Herbal Energy drink. It was mixed with nice so it was sweet and tasted like a spicy lemonade, but gave me a ton of morning energy - which was exactly what I needed to get through day 3! They have a ton of juices in their line and ship to your door, or you can visit one of their locations in NYC!
Temple Turmeric is a company I really love. They make a great product and turn turmeric into a normal, taste-good drink. I love all their flavors, but could;t get enough of this spicy Pure Fire Tonic. It has a billion (literally - it say so on the bottle) probiotics in it, and wakes your digestive right up. My insides felt clean and refreshed after drinking it, and I daresay it even gave me an energy boost. I'll definitely be buying these regularly!
I know that these Chia Pods are a tad expensive to always have in the fridge, but I got to take home these free ones from Expo this year and I am loving them! They're great on the go or when you just don't have the time (or enegery) to make your own chia pudding - even though its pretty easy to DIY. But these awesome little snacks come in 8 flavors and are easy lunchbox food, which sometimes is the only think you want to eat. Yum!
I had heard about Little Secrets dark chocolate candies (super similar to M+M's) all over expo and told I had to get over there. When I finally did I tried like 4 of the flavors before realizing only 3 of them were vegan. Whooooops. Anyway, the dark chocolate ones are totally vegan and totally delicious. Again, had to go easy on them because they do contain soy, but they tasted so much like the real thing - but way better and less full of artificial ingredients. I would definitely use these for entertaining non-vegan guests - they'd never know the difference!
Last party attended at Expo was at the Hope Foods booth. They were debuting their new green chile guacamole - which I can confidently say is the ONLY packaged guac I'm comfortable eating - and sharing mini margaritas with everyone. I'm not a big drinker but definitely needed one after walking around for 10 hours at Expo. Also - the people at their booth were so FUN! We even got hat that read 'Nice Spread'. Ha! 😉
Overall it was an excellent experience. I got to bring some friends along this year and show them the ropes, plus I met a ton of great people working for great companies that I am really happy to support. Oh yeah, and I think I visited the Daiya booth at least 6 times for snacks - you can see their mac 'n' cheese samples below. And Tim (@veganfatkid) is also down there. Expo is like the biggest blogger get-together ever, we all have way too much fun hanging out together and munching the day away. Plus the after parties are rockin'! We're talking full vegan taco bar, here. We can't wait until next year! Until then, which products are you most excited to see hit the shelves?
Top 5 NEW Faves from Expo West 2015
It was our first year tackling the monster that is Expo West this year- and I had a goddamn blast! There were tons of products to see, people to meet, and of course samples to eat. I spent 2 full days there and still feel like I missed seeing half the vendors. It was madness! We got bags and bags of samples, found a bunch of new products to love, and met the faces behind some of the products we already love. We dug through our goodies, used most of them, and then decided to share a few of the favorite NEW products we found at the show. Not all of them are on the market yet, so you're even getting a little sneak preview of some products that'll be hitting shelves this summer. We can't wait for Expo West '16!
1. Sriracha Sunflower Seeds from Hail Merry
Jackie from Vegan Yack Attack and I were walking around the Expo when we spotted these on a corner table at the Hail Merry booth. The ladies there were all really sweet in indulging us by opening the bag, letting us try them, and them giving us each bag for later. They were so good! I'm already a sunflower seed fan- I love the crunch and getting a little extra protein in salty snack form- but these elevated the seed game for sure. They're just the right amount of spicy, without being too greasy or sticky to eat. Of course they leave a little spicy orange residue on your fingertips- just lick it off! These seeds are low-temperature dehydrated, then covered in spicy sriracha powder. They're not only vegan but gluten-free, non-GMO, and paleo-friendly, too! These aren't on the market yet- but they'll be here soon! Kept eye out for them here.
2. Organic Soda Syrups from Organic Fair
This is one product that I knew I was going to love as soon as I saw it and now I can't wait to order more! The booth was tucked away on the top floor of the event and had some of the friendliest guys behind the booth. Organic Fair makes simple syrups for soda out of organic, vegan ingredients like raw cane sugar, spring water, citrus, hibiscus flowers, molasses, herbs + spices. They're what soda should be, frankly. And they taste way better! I haven't had traditionally commercially made soda in years- its just bad for you, and we all know it. So this was a nice treat! I was able to buy a little sparkling filtered water down at Trader Joe's, pour about a tablespoon of syrup into a glass, and add the water. Ta da! Soda. I loved the earthy, lemony lavender flavor best, and Alex was really diggin' the ginger ale. We will definitely be buying more- its the perfect cure for a sweet craving and a great thirst-quencher on warm days!
3. Haunted Ghost Pepper Tortilla Chips from Paqui Tortillas
We stumbled upon the Paqui table on Day 2. The bright green cilantro tortillas (some of the best tortillas I've EVER HAD) caught Alex's eye so we wandered over and started grabbing chips. The guy at the table was super friendly and after we chatted about our mutual affection for super spicy foods, he pointed us toward the end of the table with a scary looking black bag labeled 'HOMEMADE HORROR'. Naturally, we were intrigued and had to know what was in the bag. Turn out, Paqui is the only company making tortilla chips dusted in a heavy orange GHOST PEPPER powder. Yup, ghost peppers- one of the spiciest peppers in the world and ranking at nearly a 1 MILLION on the Scoville Scale. And that sweet sweet goodness is spread all over these bad boys! Don't get me wrong- they're super fucking hot. But if you like really spicy food, this may be just the snack to for you! Also, would make a good (and also awful) prank food for someone. We like them best dipped in a bit of cold, fresh guacamole to mellow out the spiciness. You can order them here, but be aware that not all the other flavors are vegan-friendly.
4. Cheezy Mac in 3 flavors (Boxed) from Daiya Foods
ON MAN. This one's a game changer. After trying the Earth Balance Boxed Mac last year I was left disappointed. It lacked the flavor and texture of the boxed mac I grew up with, so when we saw samples of this new shelf-stable boxed mac with cheese sauce- I was hesitant. Luckily, I'm not one to let free samples go uneaten, so I grabbed a little cup of each flavor and tiny spoon and gobbled 'em up. I liked them all, but the alfredo was the cheesiest and yummiest. They're easy to whip-up and I can't wait 'till they hit shelves this summer. They're the perfect after-school snack or comfort food to munch!
5. The Neat Egg from Neat Foods
I was pretty excited to try this product after having tried their amazing neat meat- a meat alternative made from just a couple pronounceable ingredients like nuts + beans! No weird fillers here. And the neat egg? Literally just CHIA SEEDS and GARBANZO BEANS! Can it get any better than that?! We've used it as a binder now in cookies, waffles, and a loaf of banana bread with great results. We're big fans of this eggy alternative! Look for online and in stores soon.