I was at the Natural Product Expo in Anaheim, CA this past Saturday. This year Natural Products Expo West hosted over 58,000 industry members and over 3,000 exhibits showcasing products in the categories of natural and specialty foods, organic, supplements, health and beauty, natural living and pet products. It is the biggest exhibition of this kind in the world.
Walking for almost 6 hours visiting the exhibition, I was thinking what should I share first with my readers? So many wonderful products, so much to try, to see, to learn and to share!
To be honest, I have a clear preference for small, family owned businesses with unique and pure products, that come from the heart, not from the pocket! So I was diligently looking for this “kind” at the fair as well…Trying not to get blinded or deaf from the flashy advertisements and noisy “buzz” of the “big ones”, I made my way to the “small enthusiastic ones”, with a big heart, smile and great, unaltered products! I just LOVE to talk to these kind of people! :)
So here are some of my highlights and I’ll start with my all time favourite :
First, let me remind you how HUGE this exhibition was…and how there were thousands of products to browse through…But I DID find my “treasure” :) I like to think I developed an eye for spotting great, healthy, unaltered food so this is my best pick! Why? Because I KNOW how hard it is to cook with NON-GLUTEN grains like AMARANTH, BUCKWHEAT, QUINOA, MILLET, TEFF ! Although they are highly nutritious and I totally recommend them if you want to eat grains, I know it’s not easy to bake with them. I experienced a lot in my kitchen with these types of grains and baked a whole lot of things from pancakes to muffins, waffles, cookies, short breads and pies. Well, after I tasted their Teff biscotti I felt I still have a lot to learn! I’m still amazed how that incredible texture was even possible with teff and buckwheat flours?! It also had a nice blend of seeds like pumpkin and some dried fruits like dates and an incredible crispiness which I absolutely love! NO questionable ingredients, no preservatives, nothing! On top of that, many of their products are also dairy-free and egg free! Although I don’t recommend against these two, I can tell there are many people who are reactive to them and for this reason, their products don’t include them.
Hilary Kass, the owner and baker obviously experimented a lot in her kitchen as well. She told me she also offers cooking classes! The company is based in Lawrence, Kansas and is currently selling only locally, but I’m pretty sure after this exhibition their delivery area could expand! So keep an eye on that! And as far as cooking with ancient grains, this lady fully convinced me, she IS an expert so don’t hesitate to contact her for any questions regarding cooking with ancient grains!
I’m not a big fan of “imports”, unless there are necessary ingredients that don’t grow locally and even then this subject is questionable. I’m not a big fan of drinking commercial juice either, but if you want to have it, you’d have to try this one from JUVE Juice!
First of all, their Maqui Berries juice tastes AMAZING! Not too sweet, not too sour, similar to hibiscus and absolutely delicious! Most important, by using 100% natural hand picked Maqui berries from the Patagonia region of Chile, JUVE Juice is one of the highest antioxidant beverages on the market. For centuries the Mapuche Indians, native to the Patagonia region of Chile, have lived and thrived as an undefeatable tribe of warriors. Much of their strength, health, and energy has been contributed to a natural diet that included a large portion of the Maqui berry superfruit.
Traditional, ancestral wisdom, packed with amazing health benefits that come directly from the unaltered wilderness, make this unique drink top of my list when it comes to juice. The price is not your regular “Minute Maid juice” price you see at the market, BUT…! Juice should be used wisely, occasionally, with a purpose and in moderate quantities. Following these criteria you can’t go wrong with JUVE!
EXCEPTIONS: BIG, BUT STILL GREAT AND PURE!
“We realize that making a reasonable proﬁt enables the company to grow, yet proﬁts can’t be placed above the health and welfare of people or the planet.” John Roulac
This statement should be the core premise for each big company or corporation, then our health will be less in danger. This statement is the core premise for NUTIVA company, the one I’m buying my organic, cold pressed, extra virgin coconut oil from, for a while now. Sure, there are also other couple of companies out there that offer great quality for coconut oil, have a great mission and story behind while supporting a right cause, but NUTIVA is my pick today. I feel I know them better than the others, I love their products and they have the best price for the quality I’ve found so far. I also love their marketing, education on products and outreach, while they also offer a great support for distribution, which I might consider in the near future!
As far as HEALTH BENEFITS , there are tons from consuming coconut oil. It promotes weight loss when needed, and also supports your thyroid gland as well as a healthy metabolism and immune system. One of the good fats, lauric acid, makes up about 50% of coconut oil. Lauric acid is a rare medium-chain fatty acid found in human breast milk. It supports healthy metabolism and is being studied for its anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial health-protecting properties.
So here is what I always have in my cupboard and use daily in SO many ways…
and their latest product, MANNA…
Next I’ll move to SNACKS! Everybody loves them, but they can be your enemy or your friend. I’m very picky when it comes to snacks and since I don’t buy or consume processed foods, you’ll hardly see any “snacks” in my house, but rather mini portions of meals, jerky, fruits, home made cookies, muffins, and guacamole, cheese, nuts…These are the snacks in our house and so I’m never actually looking at the “snacks” department when I shop.
At the Natural Product Expo, the isles where loaded with chips, bars and snacks of all kinds..Most of them were somewhat ok, some shouldn’t have participated at an “organic” exhibition in my opinion and some…well, some caught my attention! LATE JULY was one of them – it just seemed familiar since I’ve seen them before at Sprouts. So I stopped and tasted and checked the ingredients and found out more and…they “passed” my screening! :) I liked in particular their sweet potato corn chips and blue corn chips. Most snacks of this kind have horrible oils in them and all kind of preservatives. But this is what the Late July Sweet Potato Corn Chips have as ingredients: organic ground whole white corn, organic whole yellow corn, organic expeller pressed saunflower oil and/or organic expeller pressed safflower oil, organic sweet potato, organic brown rice, organic evaporated cane juice, organic chia seeds, sea salt.
Well, I’m impressed! Compare this with most chips out there and you’ll see there are not many like this one! Not to mention I could eat a bag of these in no time, that’s how GOOD they taste! Thankfully, I have enough self-discipline :)
From a nutritional point of view though, I’d recommend these in moderation due to the “corn issue” and the mass contamination of GMO crops over the organic crops. Also, sunflower and safflower oils are to be used in moderation or avoid completely, and consume only if organic and unrefined. As you see, I am picky and screen my food well, but I also believe we can enjoy foods like this in moderation and feel good about it, since there is nothing horrible in there to harm us!
Moreover, their mission and statement was the cherry on top that fully convinced me I made the right choice writing about them! Here it is:
“Late July Organic Snacks is a family owned and operated company that cares deeply about family and the integrity of our products. Not only are all our products certified USDA organic and proudly wear the organic seal, but on any given day you can find three generations at work including eight-year-old Stephen and four-year-old Benjamin. We all hope you enjoy our snacks!”
I hope you’ll check out these companies and look for their products, that’s how any “health journey” should begin! :)
Stay tuned for part 2 featuring personal care products you will find delightful!