10 Food Product Highlights at ExpoWest 2013

Lotus foods rice bowls

Lotus makes eating good rice effortless.

As I pat myself on the back for resisting dipping my Greek Shepherd Bread into olive oil (something I cannot resist when Judy’s Love Sticks* are on hand)), I thought the first in my series of ExpoWest wrap ups should suitably begin with the most memorable of the tens of thousands of calories I must have consumed in “better for you junk food” at the Natural Products Expo. First I must disclaim I’m only mentioning foods that were new to me. Lotus Foods has a cool ready-to-eat Forbidden Black rice bowl and Numi Tea’s savory teas continued to amaze my friends as they did at the Fancy Food Show. I’m no stranger to Ocho Candy or they might have landed on the list too.

Now that I’ve started writing, I realize what a blur the ice cream, bars, kale chips…and so much more are in my head. Overall, Quinn Popcorn stood out as my personal best in show for its innovative approach to microwave popcorn. A these memories:

  1. Loved Justin’s Organic Dark Peanut Butter Cups, which won Best of the West Press Award for it’s all around “goodness,” as if we needed yet another reason to indulge. We did.
  2. Lyfe frozen meals, which they served buffet style at a press breakfast. These good for you frozen meals slip right out of the pouch, onto a plate, ready to microwave. While they’re not economical for a large family they’re definitely restaurant-quality so great to have on hand for quick, well-balanced meals.
  3. Suzanne’s Ricemellow Creme made with brown rice syrup made me think I could become a marshmallow cream eater.
  4. Natural maraschino cherries. Only because I never thought I’d live to see the day where I voluntarily at a maraschino cherry (in my adulthood, post Shirley-temple anyway) did Oregon-based Royal Harvest wow me with their ability to make an all natural product glow in the dark — and taste good too!
  5. Dried chestnut chips from Allen Creek Farm (who have the killer domain chestnutsonline.com). They also have chestnut flour. The chips are super hard and crunchy, a fun snack for chestnut lovers with interesting baking possibilities.
  6. Toasted coconut chips from Dang Foods, based in the SF Bay Area, with family back in Thailand who work with the growers to produce the crunchily fulfilling chips.
  7. Garden Bar, started by the inventor of Gardenburgers, has a truly savory meal bar, with pungent flavors like Indian and Italian.
  8. Chobani yogurt bar. Simple idea, amazing recipe execution. Who knew orange slices with chocolate, mint, and pistachio could elicit a similar reaction to an ice cream sundae?
  9. Bach Rescue Gum, not new but new to me, this stress relieving gum, filled with an orange and elderflower water liquid, recalled warm childhood days filled with Bubble Yum fun. Available in mainstream drugstores this is a cool product development, when elderflower liquor is not on hand for stress relief.
  10. California-made Real McCoy brown rice puffs make a less-guilty alternative to corn puffs (with yummy coatings) regardless of whether they actually are a “better for you” puff. I love that they’re made by the company responsible for introducing corn chips to the American market decades ago. If it weren’t for the real McCoy we may not have nachos!

See more trends below in the pics. Coming up will be a post on ingredients trends that caught my fancy and eye!

*Could this company make more money selling its domain than with its bread business?

chobani yogurt bar at expowest

marshmallow cream made with brown rice syrup

Bach rescue stress relieving gum


Real McCoy brown rice puffs

Chips with veges added in and gourmet flavors

Chips with veges added in and gourmet flavors


Popcorn in every permutation – mostly lightly coated for just enough sugar and salt with a light crunch. Halfpops fit a nice niche in a less likely to break your teeth category, and I overheard passersby saying this is their favorite part of the popcorn experience.

Grower Pete’s living lettuces for healthier and longer shelf life lettuce. Based in California, Hollandia Produce will hopefully spread this lettuce across the US. Such a cool idea.