Highlights From The 2015 Natural Products Expo West!

March 23rd, 2015 - filed under: Furthermore » Reviews

all the vegans at expo west

How many vegans can you fit in a photo booth? (featuring Conscious Chris, The Vegan Zombie, The [other] Vegan Zombie, Michelle from Vegan Break, Jill from Vegan Cuts, Jackie from Vegan Yak Attack, The Sexy Vegan, Kylie from Fellowship Of The Vegetable, and many more!)



I did it! I FINALLY made it to Expo West!

Two years in a row I secured a press pass, got everything all lined up, scheduled the time off . . . and then had to cancel my trip at the last minute. Two years in a row I missed my chance, but this year, I finally made it. EXPO!

For those of you unfamiliar, Expo West is the largest natural products convention in the world. It takes place annually at the Anaheim Convention Center, and sees over 70,000 people perusing the thousands of companies exhibiting their latest and greatest natural food, supplement, bath and body, and eco-lifestyle products.

But . . . mostly food.

Beyond Meat at Expo West

The Beyond Meat booth was made to look like a fast food counter, and they were slingin’ their brand new Beast Burger sliders and Beyond Chicken Tenders. And then after 4, beer. Lots of beer.


It’s funny at Expo, trying to make sense of it all. I had this really interesting conversation with Tess (aka The Blender Girl) and Whitney (aka Eco Vegan Gal) and Cobi (aka Veggietorials) on the last afternoon of the conference. We had discovered these brand new potato chips that taste like chicken noodle soup (no lie, they literally taste like chicken noodle soup! But they’re vegan of course) and they were one of the best and unique things that any of us had tasted. But then we were reading the ingredients and, yeah, pretty bad. And Tess said something along the lines of “Yeah well, at Expo there’s sort of like, 2 different things going on. On the one hand you have the coolest, most cutting edge, most incredible food science innovation. And then on the other hand, you have all these exciting and incredibly healthy new products. But those are basically two totally separate things.”

And she’s right. And it got me thinking, as I drove myself and a trunk full of product samples, and also half of a 37 pound fresh jackfruit, 3 hours home to Santa Barbara.

What would my readers be interested in? Cutting edge food science innovation? (you guyssss the new cheeses are crazy, crazy I say! SO good. Daiya ready-made mac is what dreams are made of)

Or the most creative, most whole-foods-plant-based, absolute healthiest new foods? (like you guys, Miyoko’s Kitchen makes amazing artisan vegan cheeses using whole, natural ingredients and applying ancient, traditional cheesemaking techniques. And they’re SO good!)

And then I realized, that really, I – and my readers too I’m guessing – appreciate both. Because we believe in balance. Because we know that processed foods, though maybe not the healthiest, is also a wonderful treat that make veganism more accessible and more enjoyable. And we know that the healthiest foods are equally as important, to keep us nourished and strong and happy and vibrant. It’s all about balance, and embracing the entire spectrum of vegan options.

But then, I began to think about what’s really important to me. Like if I were to make my “Best Of Expo” list, what would be my most important criteria? Food science innovation? Ultimate health?


uptons jackfruit expo west

The infamous 37-pound jackfruit. From Upton’s, who will be releasing their packages of pre-cooked, pre-seasoned jackfruit in “BBQ” and “Chili Lime Carnitas” coming this summer!


But no. For me, it’s just about integrity. A company that’s ethically intersectional, holistic, and truly eco-friendly. Not just vegan. Not just healthy. I want to witness the next level of food production, where everything is taken into account. That’s what’s important to me.

And I bet that’s important to you, too.

So this year I’m giving out three awards. #1 – for the Best Food Science Break-Through, #2 – for the Best New Healthy Option, and #3 – the Integrity Award.

Plus pics of all the other goodies, and oh-so-many shenanigans! Without further ado, I present: Highlights From The 2015 Natural Products Expo West

getting lost at Expo West

Brian and Kylie and I . . . a little bit lost in the convention center.


flower water at Expo West
This flower-essence-infused water by Blossom Water was a stand-out new product. SO refreshing!


Daiya cheddar mac and cheeseDaiya mac and cheese

The new boxed mac by Daiya, in cheddar (left) and alfredo veggie (right). Soooo good.



1) Best Food Science Break-Through

Daiya Cheesecakes
image via Choose Veg


I have eaten a lot of vegan cheesecake. A LOT. More than my share I’d say – raw, cooked, homemade, gourmet, at restaurants, tofu-based, cashew-based, and on and on. I adore cheesecake and before I went vegan it was probably one of my top 3 favorite desserts. And vegan cheesecake is okay, but it’s never been quite the same as the original. It’s always lacked that . . . I don’t know . . . tang? There’s a certain soury tart je ne sais quoi that vegan cheesecake has been missing . . . until now. And now, Daiya nailed it.

Daiya cheesecake drops in Whole Foods and health food stores across the nation, like ASAP. Like this week.

GO GET IT.


follow your heart expo west

The Follow Your Heart booth was so cute! They have a whole line of new block cheeses that just hit the markets. I’ll be posting a full review coming soon!


Beyond Meat Expo West
Muggin’ with Joni from Just The Food.


Toms at Expo West
Great new stuff from my friends at Tom’s.


So Abby at Expo West
And Abby from the So Abby Show was so impressed with the folks at Tom’s that she made an impromptu video in the booth.


Miyoko cheese at Expo West
Miyoko’s cheeses are OFF. THE. HOOK. I was so happy to finally taste them!



2) Best New Healthy Option

Hemp Bites at Expo West

I was a little hesitant to pick these as my winner for “healthy option” because they contain sugar, but in the end I had to do it. These Hemp Heart Bites by Manitoba Harvest were simply my favorite, and I haven’t seen anything else like them out there. Just organic hulled hemp seeds with organic cane sugar, a bit of vanilla and a hint of sea salt.

THESE ARE SO TASTY. They’re kinda crunchy and kinda chewy. They remind me of a Bit-O-Honey or the inside of a Butterfinger, but of course they’re full of protein (10 grams per serving!) and healthy omega 3 fatty acids. These would be great for an after school kid snack . . .

. . . Too bad Jeremy and I ate them all before Waits could try them (they were too good!)


Justins vegan peanut butter cups

Had to fight Brian for the giant bag of Justin’s vegan peanut butter cups!


Teese at Expo West
One of the original vegan cheeses, and still one of my very favorites (especially after they reformulated soy-free!). The Teese cheese sauce makes the very best nachos, for reals.


Green Toys at Expo West
It was fun to see the whole line of Green Toys – and to see how much the line has expanded since I first found it! Made in America entirely from recycled milk jugs and plastic bags. I just adore this company, and Waits grew up playing with their trucks. ♥


TaDah Foods at Expo West
This company makes frozen “falafel bites” with a hidden hummus center. HELLO! These are amazing – look for them coming to a Whole Foods near you.


So Delicious at Expo West
Breaking! Breaking! Ice cream made from cashews does, in fact, taste rich-creamy-delectable-delicious. Shocking, I know.


Kylie and Sayward at Expo West
Shenanigans. So. Many. Shenanigans.




3) Integrity Award

one degree veganic cereal

And finally, the winner of my “Integrity Award” goes to One Degree Organic Foods, for their organic, VEGANIC line of whole grain products: cereals, breads, flours, and seeds. Speaking with the folks at this booth was like a big bright breath of fresh air. These are good people, and they really care, and they’re really pushing the boundaries of sustainable food production.

Oh yeah, and they have chocolate rice crispies* so they WIN. (*by which I mean veganic sprouted brown rice crisps made with organic coconut sugar and organic cacao)

You can read more about this amazing company, and their amazing commitment to Integrity, here

~~~

And well, that about wraps it up for my 2015 Expo West report. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun, and I just can’t wait for next year!

And I’m sure you’ve seen all the bloggers recapping with all their highlights, so what about you guys – what products are YOU most excited about? Let me know in the comments below!

Oh and PS – Michelle from Vegan Break put together this adorable video => “Vegans Invade Expo”, and it’s funny to me how many times my blue hair pops up in the background. I definitely don’t blend in!

Also you can see Colleen Patrick-Goudreau creepin’ on my beer. Shenanigans!





Cheers!

♥ ♥ ♥

  • veganinbrighton

    I love this post! It’s always super exciting to see what products are coming out in the US but it’s extra exciting for me this time because I’m going to be in Austin for five weeks around Vida Vegan Con and I’ll have a kitchen!! I can’t wait to try the Daiya chocolate cheesecake and their new boxed mac & cheese as well as Miyoko’s entire artisan vegan cheese range!

  • katied

    Where did you get your pink “girls just want to have fundamental rights” tank? I need to buy one for myself right meow!

  • Rebecca Carnes

    Oh my goodness!! So much fun, I am soooo sad I missed this…. I need to mark in calendar to make it next year! The Green Toys are awesome- P has one of their dump trucks and the plane which he launches in the air to fly :/n oops! And I seriously need to get my hands on those Hemp Bites & cheesecakes… little man’s bday is coming up so that would be a great option for him:) Love all the pics!

  • Kylie @ FotV

    I’m so glad you finally made it! It was fun walking the floor with you! And I agree, absence between the healthy stuff & processed stuff is good and makes leading a compassionate lifestyle much easier and more accessible!

  • http://windycityvegan.wordpress.com/ Monika {windycityvegan}

    Great recap, and it looks like you had a blast! Those hemp bites will definitely be making their way into Nina’s lunch box. The veganic sprouted brown rice crisps will be making their way into a pot full of melted coconut oil and ‘mallow fluff. And I love that you gave an Integrity Award.

    Very important question: Is the boxed Daiya mac gluten free? It isn’t listed on their website yet. The cheesecake is, so I’m really hoping they have a gf mac, too.

    Second question (couched within my ramblings):
    I stopped buying Justin’s dark chocolate pb cups a while ago, because they removed the ‘vegan’ label. I know they have an explanation on their website, and I appreciate their attention to allergen sensitivities, but I also feel like it gives them an out if the company decides at some point to use a dark chocolate that has dairy in it (instead of just the threat of cross contamination). I guess what I’m rambling about/wondering is: did they address this at all at the expo? Did anyone notice, or ask about it?

  • Kylie @ FotV

    A BALANCE – not absence….thanks autocorrect!!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I’m so excited for Vida!! And girl, all the cheese right now are amazing, you’re going to flip. Have you tasted the Chao?? It’s some of the best. So much good food, you’re going to be in heaven!!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    It’s from FCKH8!

    http://fckh8.myshopify.com/

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    The hemp bites are awesome, they’re not in stores yet but hopefully soon. They’re so perfect for kids especially since hemp is sooo good for growing brains! =D

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Totally – I feel like you’re someone who really strikes that healthy balance Kylie. Mostly nourishing plant-based food, but treats when you want ‘em, beer when beer is called for, and no crazy restrictions. That’s the good life!

    Always fun spending time with you. See you at Beer Fest!!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Haha, I was JUST telling Jeremy that we should make rice crispy treats with the chocolate rice crispies I brought home from Expo + the Dandies that have been chilling in the freezer. Must be a rice crispy treat kinda week!

    Daiya boxed mac is g-f! Apparently their whole line is, they were making a big deal about that. And it’s not a powdered cheese, it comes as a sauce in one of those foil pouch thingies. I know everyone loves the EarthBalance boxed mac, but to me the powdered cheese was just *too* reminiscent of Kraft. It had that powdered cheese vibe I just couldn’t get past. But the Daiya is perfect, so rich and creamy and awesome.

    I didn’t talk to anyone from Justin’s, and I didn’t see that concern being addressed in any overt way. I had heard that they changed the packaging but thought it was for allergy reasons (and being “processed on machines etc”), but hadn’t considered it may be to cover their butts down the line. Very interesting . . .

  • Gretchen Keller

    OOOH! Can you save me some of the yummy cheese samples you got?!?!?! We’ll be in town for Easter weekend… just sayin… wine & cheese date!!! But seriously, GREAT recap!

  • http://windycityvegan.wordpress.com/ Monika {windycityvegan}

    I am so excited the Daiya mac isn’t a powder. Also, can I tell you that I really, really, really do not like the EB boxed mac? Nina thinks it smells funky, and she goes outside when her dad makes the stuff. I definitely keep it on hand for the mister, and I think if I doctor it up a bit, I might like it . . . but the pouches kind of weirded me out, too. Excited for the foil pouch g-f mac!

    I wasn’t even thinking of it in terms of covering their butts, so much as their making a cost-effective decision at some point down the line. Then again, maybe they’ll increase their line of non-dairy items and eventually get dedicated machinery.

  • Rebecca Carnes

    Yes! Would be perfect for P to bring to school:)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    LET’S HAVE A CHEESE PARTY

  • Gretchen Keller

    You provide the cheese, I’ll whine!!! :)

  • Brie

    So cool! I wonder how long it will take to get some of those products here in Alaska. We are usually a year behind in most things.

  • Biana

    One of these days, I’ll make it out there. One of these days!! I would definitely have been most excited for the Daiya cheesecake and mac. I’m definitely more into the veganized comfort foods over the super-healthy stuff! :-) I was at Seattle VegFest this past weekend and Daiya was there, and I was REALLY hoping they’d have the cheesecake and mac, but sadly, no. They were just sampling pizza and cream cheese. Oh well. Soon, I’ll be able to buy them at WF, I hope.

  • Babette Vegan

    I tried the Daiya cheesecakes and they are so wonderful. Can’t wait to try Miyoko’s cheeses, and the new FYH!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I have half of one in my fridge right now! haha

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