Trends and New Food Products at the 2015 Natural Products Expo West

IMG_0016by Melissa Diane Smith

Amidst the noise, crowdedness, and sheer size of the 35th annual Natural Products Expo West – the world’s largest event devoted to natural and specialty food and beverages, organics, supplements, health and beauty, natural living and pet products – the trends that stood out to me were:

  • A growing emphasis on non-GMO and organic foods and products
  • Gluten-free, while still big, seems to be narrowing in favor of many more grain-free and Paleo food product offerings
  • More options of minimally sweetened products made with simple, whole food ingredients and sweetened with just fruit or small amounts of better-for-you sweeteners such as organic coconut sugar.

These are all positive developments for me, my clients and readers, and the growing number of people who shop and eat against the grain and against GMOs.

As you read the rest of this article, keep in mind that the best foods are unprocessed whole foods like vegetables that aren’t packaged. Longstanding favorite food products that have been out for a while are covered in my new book Going Against GMOs. But, among the “new” food products I recently discovered, the first three are the ones that stood out as being the most pure, nutritious, and helpful for some of my clients and readers. (The latter four on the list are minimally sweetened sweet treats.)

IMG_0020Real Bone Broth

The biggest food trend in America right now may be bone broth, which Good Morning America calls the “New Super Food.” Rich in easily absorbable protein and nutrients, bone broth is actually a time-honored super food that our ancestors knew was healing for us. However, in our busy, fast-paced culture, most people don’t take the time to prepare it. Nutritionist Sharon Brown saw this as the huge problem that it is, so she teamed up with her chef husband to create Real True Foods Real Bone Broth. The beef Real Bone Broth is made from organic, grass-fed and grass-finished beef bones, and the chicken variety is made from organic pasture-raised chicken. It is not a shelf-stable product. Rather, it is a real food that must be frozen. I guarantee you that it is not only super nutritious and almost energizing, but very tasty.

When I talked with Sharon early in the show, she said her company was talking with UNFI, the largest natural foods distributor, and Whole Foods about bringing her product in. Request it at a natural foods store near you, or order it directly from the company and have it delivered to your door!

Wildway GranolaWildway Grain-Free Granola

A husband and wife team who eat a Paleolithic diet created a grain-free, sweetener-free, oil-free, non-GMO cereal and snack food called Wildway Grain-Free Granola. It is made entirely of fruits, nuts and seeds – that’s it! Many grain-free nut and seed products are hard and sticky and overly sweetened with honey or agave syrup. Not this one: It is minimally sweetened with dates and either coconut, banana, or apple, and it has a unique soft and chewy texture unlike anything else like it on the market. Available in Coconut Cashew, Banana Nut, and Apple Spice flavors, the granola provides 5 or more grams of fiber (which aids in digestive health) per serving and 7-8 grams of blood-sugar-balancing protein. Being that it’s raw and vegan, it also can be used to support those who eat plant-based diets.

Gather barThunderbird Energetica Gather bar

I actually found out about this bar before the show when I saw it at my local Natural Grocers store. However, but it’s new enough that I’m including it on this list of new products. Like Wildway Grain-Free Granola, Gather bar is made entirely of nutrient-dense superfood fruits, nuts and seeds that humans have gathered for millennia, and it has no sweeteners added. It’s grain free, Paleolithic, rich in fiber and good fats, and serves as a helpful blood-sugar-stabilizing mini-meal to take on trips or during long days away from home. Available in three varieties, my favorite is Pecan Persistence, which is made with pecan butter, pecan meal, organic dates, a berry mix, and Himalayan sea salt.

Assorted grain-free “treats”

Grain-Free TreatsAs you likely know from reading books and articles of mine, I consistently advise people to avoid eating added sugar for long-term disease prevention and good health. If you have blood sugar problems or are addicted to sugar, stay away from the following foods. But if you’re going to treat yourself – or your kids – to an occasional dessert, the best way to do that is to have grain-free sweet treats sweetened as minimally and simply as possible. Pictured here are a few seen at the show.

Barnana Organic Apple Cinnamon chewy banana bites. Though Barnana makes several varieties of its chewy banana-based treats, including some coated with organic sugar-based chocolate, it’s best one is its simplest, newest one made only from organic bananas, organic apples, and organic Ceylon cinnamon. Cut into small, bite-sized pieces, you only need one or two to feel like you’ve had a sweet bite. This variety should be available in stores in May or June.

Nutiva O’Coconut. Nutiva, one of my favorite companies because of the high-quality coconut products it produces and its commitment to organic, sustainable agriculture, has taken coconut, which Nutiva does best, and combined it with organic tapioca syrup, inulin, and monkfruit to create its version of a lightly sweetened coconut macaroon. Its O’Coconut Classic is the closest thing to a homemade coconut macaroon you’ll find.

Gorilly Goods. Another organic treat is raw, crunchy Gorilly Goods Original and Chocolate raw fruit and nut things. As the name implies, these nut clusters are made with raw nuts and fruits and a small amount of organic coconut nectar. (Note: I like the idea of another product by this company called Savory Snack Things. However, I’m not recommending them because they contain nutritional yeast, a processed product that contains free glutamic acid, which mimics the effects of monosodium glutamate or MSG, and can cause other adverse reactions in people with yeast overgrowth and autoimmune conditions.)

Betsy’s Best Bar None (not pictured). Owner and founder Betsy Langton created a 100% organic, grain-free, nut-free, allergen-free bar. The five varieties of Betsy’s Best Bar None bars are based on organic hemp, seeds butters, and coconut oil and lightly sweetened with organic coconut palm sugar. (Note: The varieties that have chocolate also contain organic cane sugar. However, the Lemon Coconut and Cinnamon Cardamom do not.)

The great news is that these and many other gluten-free and grain-free products should be coming to a natural food store near you. With many more options, don’t get fooled by product hype and misleading labeling. Be sure to choose wisely and follow the principles of good nutrition. If you need a rundown of info to help you make savvy food selections, make sure to get a copy of my new book Going Against GMOs. Pay special attention to Chapter 8, Eating Against GMOs for Optimal Health Eating Guidelines, and Chapter 10, How to Be a Savvy Non-GMO Shopper.

Copyright 2015 Melissa Diane Smith

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