I haven’t been down to Natural Products Expo East in a couple of years. My general rule with food expos is to talk but not taste. I learned early on as an RD if you take a taste, bite or sample size of many, many different items digestive distress ensues. So what did I do when confronted with hundreds of booths to sort through and see? I tasted everything in sight. I could blame this on the brevity of my trip (I only had a few hours in Baltimore) or the enthusiasm of our Snack Queen Joanna Li, at her first expo, who decided it was her “dream day” before we entered the convention hall or but I will fess up- I was in the mood to taste test.

From jerky to juice, smoothies to soup we sipped (and here and there spit out), crunched and

conversed with company reps. Here are some favorites.

Kimchi chips– I’ve written about Food Should Taste Good before. In fact, when we stopped by their booth I wasn’t paying that much attention thinking been there, snacked on that until I saw these Kimchi chips. These aren’t any wallflower, run of the mill snacks; they’re one of the most memorable spicy, vinegary bites I had all day.

I’m an admitted smoothiehaulic and coffee addict and it seems I’m not alone in my dual dependencies. Enter AmazingMeal Café Mocha. I know, I know coffee, greens and hemp protein don’t sound like anything you’d seek out but this was really good. We sampled it mixed with rice milk, I can’t wait to introduce it to the Vitamix, some ice, maybe even a little more cacao. Each packet or serving has 10 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber delicious.

Iced tea is usually either laced with sugar (or nastier substitutes) or bland and boring. These iced teas from Ayalas are unsweetened and delicious. And as with their herbal waters the flavors are interesting too. I went for nutmeg, cacao, cardamom while Joanna enjoyed the cinnamon rose rooibos (rooibos tea is fantastic for your skin).

Popcorn and coconut oil figured prominently at the expo this year. Joanna beelined it for BoomChickaPop, I fell in love with Ziggy Marley’s flavored coconut oils.  Seems the Marley family had some hemp seeds lying around. I’ve seen their seeds sold (great packaging) for some time but curry and orange, almond infused oils? Cinnamon Orange Almond Popcorn? Coco’mon it is.

As we rounded the corner of the last row of booths, my stomach was rumbling. I think it was a tiny spoon of ghee that didn’t sit well. I was done. And then we saw an adorable booth with a bubbly girl telling us about her juice company that launched that day. I have green juices everywhere and only tasted it because I thought perhaps it would settle my stomach?  So I took a sample sip of her “Duke of Kale” juice, Joanna did too.  We looked at each other nodding, this wasn’t a dirty, too-green juice or a fruit fest. It was refreshing and interesting (I recall dandelion greens). The company is so new that I cannot even verify the other ingredients. Look for Love Sam juices at stores near you.  I will be can’t say the same about that ghee.
Have you tried any of these products? Which sound interesting? How do you do with situations where there are lots of different types of food?


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