Expo West 2015 Gluten Free Product Picks
I look forward to Expo West for about 360 days of the year, give or take. It’s a 4 day crash course in food trends, flops and superstars. A sneak peek at what will be on the shelves in the coming months, and a chance to talk to the brains behind all the brands. It’s also a time to catch up with great friends from the industry and to make new ones too. And there’s never enough time!
There are all sorts of industry professionals at Expo West — 71,000 of them this year, to be exact. Networking, marketing, tasting, learning, and occasionally goofing off with good friends at the end of long days. But in the end, there’s lots of work to be done to sort through and bring you the scoop on what I found to be the most exciting, ingenous, delicious and safe new gluten-free foods for 2015.
I was honored to have been chosen again this year to be a member of New Hope 360’s We.Blog Editorial Board, and have been busy since returning from Expo, recapping my top product picks and writings articles on education sessions I attended. You can see my top picks, and those of my other board members, on their website here. (Spoiler Alert: I picked So Delicious’ new Cashew Ice Creams, Miyoko’s Kitchen Vegan Cultured Nut “Cheeses” and GivFoods’ Vegan Veggie Burgers and their fantastic mission to donate 50% of profits to charity.)
Of course, choosing only my top 3 new product picks for New Hope 360’s magazine leaves my other top 32 picks out of the loop. And I loved all these products so much that I am sharing them with you here, so you will know to look for them in stores near you soon, too!
So, in no particular order, here are my OTHER top Expo West 2015 product picks:
Field Roast® Chao vegan cheese – Known for their fake meats containing gluten, I was loathe to try this product, but when I tried the (not made with gluten ingredients) vegan cheese in my press bag, I wanted more. If I could sum up what impressed me most at Expo this year, it would be the vegan cheeses, and this was one of the best. Finally we lactose-free and dairy-free cheese lovers have cheese options that taste like real cheese! Chao slices are non-dairy coconut cheeses in these unique flavors: Coconut Herb with Black Pepper; Creamy Original with Chao Tofu; Tomato Cayenne with Spicy Peppers. No gluten-free claim is made, but the ingredients do not contain gluten.
Follow Your Heart® Slices and Blocks — Again, here’s to real cheese flavor, texture, melting and consistency! Their new provolone is definitely sandwich-worthy! American, Provolone, Mozzarella and Garden Herb.
Let’s Do® Organic Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk – FINALLY! Not that it’s super hard to make this at home yourself, but the convenience and consistency is welcomed! I was also assured that coconut evaporated milk is in the works!
KIND® Healthy Grains Bars – I honestly didn’t expect to love these like I did. The coffee tempers what are otherwise bars that are a bit on the sweet side, to me, making them a perfect afternoon snack with 18 grams of whole grains and a good source of fiber. Two new coffee flavors: Caramel Macchiato and Dark Chocolate Mocha. Other new flavors are the Peanut Butter Berry (tastes remarkably like a PB&J) and their two “Popped” bars made with popped sorghum: Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt.
All KIND products are gluten-free.
Vixen Kitchen™ Premium Vegan Gelatto – All I have to say about this woman-owned, ingeniously-flavored, cashew-based, sweetened with 100% organic maple syrup, vegan and gluten-free gelato … is yum.
ZaZa™ Sweet Nut-Thing – These paleo nut-based desserts were creamy, smooth, delicious and lacked nothing in flavor. Since they’re made with whole fruits, vegetables, nuts and only natural sweeteners, they taste decadent but leave you feeling light. Zaza even claims they energize you! Hard to tell after walking the show floor for hours. I should have gone back for another sample.
Love Beets™ – I’ve been so proud of myself in the past year or so, coming around to liking beets … sometimes … in some things. They’re so darned healthy for you, but the flavor is sometimes just too much for me. Well not anymore. These marinated beets were the BOMB! I loved the White Wine & Balsamic Beets right out of the container! They also have beet juice, snack trays and plain cooked beets to use in any recipe. Great company, great product. (Note: Honey + Ginger flavor NOT gluten-free)
Clif® Organic Trail Mix Bars – How nice that these chunky, flavor-packed bars are not only organic, but also gluten free! Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt; Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond; Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter; Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Raspberry; Cranberry Almond; Wild Blueberry Almond; Coconut Almond Peanut (some bars may contain traces of milk).
LUNA® Gluten Free bars — While not exactly “news” at Expo, I’ve got to throw some love LUNA’s way for taking their entire line Gluten Free last year! Finally I can enjoy a LUNA Lemon Zest Bar again!!! Made for women, these bars are 70% organic and contain the vitamins and minerals women need to stay strong and healthy.
Lundberg Farms® Thin Stackers – Unassuming rice cake-looking squares that are actually super tasty. Not vacuous like a typical rice cake, these would be awesome with peanut butter or even hummus. The Red Rice and Quinoa flavor was particularly great. Four cakes have only 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of dietary fiber and 2 grams of protein.
Pure® Bars Ancient Grains – A little like a rice crispy treat, their new Vanilla Almond flavor is light, crunchy and full of protein without a lot of sugar or sodium. Almonds and ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth, flax and hemp combine for a balanced bar with great flavor.
Simply Gum – The shape of this gum is off-putting, initially. It reminds me of an oversized guinea pig pellet. But I got over it once I tasted the cinnamon flavor. 100% natural, made with chicle, vegetable glycerin, and no synthetic ingredients like other gums. Did you know that conventional gum often contains up to 80 synthetic and artificial ingredients in their “gum base”? And that many of those are the same components used to manufacture car tires, plastic bottles and glue? Not in Simply Gum – better for your body and biodegradable, too!
Cultured & Saucy™ probiotic condiments — The two sisters who founded this company are passionate about fermentation. The microbiome was discussed all over Expo West, from seminars to large lecture halls, and booths boasting products like kimchee, yogurt and kefir. Cultured and Saucy condiments also contain probiotic cultures that promote digestive regularity and may help fight diabetes and obesity. Tasty and good for your gut – winning!
Glutenetto Biscottini – Hailing from Italy originally, the bakers behind this brand make authentic Italian cookies from recipes that have always been gluten-free and some that they have modified. Linzer, Wedding Cookies, Biscottini, Pignoli and more.
Veggie Fries® — The idea behind Veggie Fries is simple: everybody loves French fries, by they would certainly never qualify as health food. These crispy fries have fluffy insides made of vegetables and potatoes for a yummy blend of gluten-free vitamins, fiber, and flavor that your kids will definitely love.
Organic Wacky Apple™ — This family farm in Colorado produces delicious, organic fruit, and now fruit products like applesauce and fruit leather with no added sugar or artificial ingredients. Free of nearly everything but the fruit, they are products you can feel good about sharing when fresh fruit isn’t handy.
Simply Dara Raw Balls™ — When you’ve walked as many Natural Products Expo show floors as I have the past few years, it’s no surprise to see raw bars, balls, cookies and granolas. I must say that this product was better than nearly any other similar one I’ve tasted, though. Tree-nut based with over 90% raw ingredients, no refined sugars or additives, GF, peanut-free, soy-free and vegan, non-GMO … all good things, but the taste is what really set them apart for me.
Dr. Praeger’s® Gluten Free Fish Sticks and encrusted fish – So happy to see Dr. Praeger’s creating more gluten-free options. Their fish sticks and encrusted fish products will be great for GF kiddos.
Toufayan® Gluten Free Scoopable Pita Chips – I was lucky enough to try these at Expo and then again at the Tampa Gluten Free Food Fest one week later. The company manufactures in Plant City (famous for strawberries, and now I dare say, for gluten-free pita chips). These chips are thick and substantial enough to hold up to all kinds of dipping, and with flavors like Sea Salt, Chili Lime and Salted Caramel, you’re bound to find something you want to dip them in. Oven-baked with no cholesterol or transfats.
Glutenfreeda® Steel Cut GF Oats – Love these ladies and I trust their GF products. They released gluten-free steel-cut oats at Expo, so stay on the lookout if you have been craving steel-cut oats!
Bakery on Main™ Nut Crunch – A mixture of gluten-free oats, dried fruit or chocolate and overall savory/sweet palate-pleasing flavors. I particularly liked the maple vanilla for afternoon or mid-morning snacking!
TruJoy™ Fruit Chews (~starburst) & ChocoChews (~tootsie rolls) – These candy knock-offs have no artificial flavors or colors, are gluten-free, vegan and kosher. No corn syrup!
Kate Farms Komplete Kids’ line – I’ve always liked these soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free protein/meal replacement drinks myself, but the release of a line specifically designed for kids’ growing bodies is exciting to this mama. I can never seem to get enough vitamins, minerals and protein into my two kids, so I’ll definitely be adding these drinks to lunches and afternoon snack routines.
Canyon Bakehouse® Bagels – It’s no secret that when I’m not baking GF bread for myself and my family, Canyon Bakehouse bakes my favorite ready-made GF breads. Their new bagels are not surprisingly awesome, as well. Plain and Everything varieties will be available soon!
Daiya® Vegan Cheesecake – This vegan, gluten-free cheesecake was a hit at Expo. I expect to see it in freezers around the country soon. I will admit that I enjoyed several samples of the Key Lime flavor and never bothered with the plain or chocolate. I was quite happy with the citrus-y smooth taste of the Key Lime Cheesecake and will definitely look for it if I’m ever in too much of a rush to make a cheesecake myself.
Arctic Zero® Protein & Fiber Frozen Desserts – Arctic Zero has added some new flavors to their GF, lactose-free (contains whey), non-GMO “fit frozen desserts,” and these boast the addition of protein and fiber. Yeah, I had some for breakfast. I’m not ashamed.
Kevita® Tonics – Called “Cleansing Probiotic Tonics,” these are actually drinkable apple cider vinegars that TASTE GOOD! Cinnamon, Kale Lemon, Turmeric Ginger, and Red Beet flavors. Certified organic and non-GMO, low calorie, vegan and gluten-free. Sweetened with stevia.
Feel Good Foods™ Egg Rolls (new formula) – If you’re ever craving an egg roll, I urge you to rush right out and grab a box of these from the freezer of your local market or organic grocer. Chef Tryg has improved his formula and these egg rolls are crisper and crunchier than ever before.
JJ’s Sweets Cocomels™ Coconut Caramels – Coconut milk caramels, some even enrobed in dairy-free chocolate!
Justin’s® Mini Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups – Do I even have to explain?? No milk, just pure chocolate-peanut butter goodness, now in mini size (no calories for minis, right?).
Mary’s Gone Crackers® Thins Snack Crackers and Minis (Graham and Vanilla) – Mary’s launched a new line of really yummy Snack Crackers at Expo (even if you didn’t like her seeded crackers before, you must try these!) and also mini versions of gluten-free graham crackers and vanilla wafers in fun shapes for the kiddos.
Califia Farms® Agua Fresca Kiwi Cactus Lemonade – I’ll sheepishly admit that I tasted this juice only because they were offering it in margaritas at the end of a very long day on the show floor! I already love Califia Farms’ Almond Milk Coffee, so I stopped by to see if they had anything new, and this divine (albeit too small) margarita was handed to me. I cannot tell you how delicious this libation was, and how simple! Check out their recipe: Agua Fresca Juice; tequila; fresh lime. No hfcs, no junk. I’ll drink to that! Agua Fresca also comes in Watermelon-Ginger-Lime and Strawberrry-Basil.