15 Interesting Food Trends & Finds at Expo West

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

Last week I got to attend an expo where healthy food and conscious foodies collide: Natural Products Expo West. It’s an awesomely overwhelming show with every kind of food producer you could possibly imagine – from things you’d expect like protein bars, nut butters, and salad, to things you probably have never thought of, like brand new products that have never been sold before. There’s no shortage of yumminess, and brands are eager to have you sample their latest products. I sound like Captain Obvious saying this, but I love attending Expo West!

Today I thought it’d be fun to dive into 15 things that stood out to me at the show. Let’s get to it!

1.) Vegan food has gotten more delicious. Even as a vegetarian myself who eats vegan the vast majority of my meals, I used to shy away from some veganized products because they just didn’t taste that good to me. Well, that has changed, as brands are perfecting the art of meat & dairy-free food! Daiya’s vegan cheeses have gotten tastier and more melty, and I also liked their caesar dressing. Ozery Bakery introduced vegan brioche buns that were fabulous.

And Kite Hill is doing dairy-free deliciously too. I’ve bought their yogurts before so I already knew that I liked them, but I tried a bunch of their cream cheese spreads at the show… and trust me when I say that you wouldn’t even miss the dairy if you spread it on your bagel.

2.) Protein cookies are big right now. And I am not complaining about that! I like eating cookies and I like making sure I eat enough protein since I lead such an active lifestyle, so why not combine the two? Munk Pack came out with 4 tasty vegan, gluten free, non-GMO certified protein cookies flavors.

I also got to try Buff Bake‘s protein cookies, and their chocolate donut flavor was my favorite.

3.) Millet tots. For two days of the show, I was working at the booth of Rollin’ Greens with a blogger friend of mine, Laura. Since they’re doing something unique (& tasty of course!) in the market, I had to include them in this rundown. Rollin’ Greens is a Boulder-based company that puts their own healthy twist on tater tots, making them with the ancient grain of millet instead. They have their original flavor, and recently came out with two new flavors: an Italian herb + a spicy-sweet combo. Healthier takes on comfort food is one of my favorite things to create, so I love what Rollin’ Greens is doing!

4.) Cold soup bottles are the new green juice. Okay, I actually don’t know if I should take it that far, but know that soup in a bottle is a thing now. One company doing it is ZÜPA NOMA. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what I’d think of the soups… but in trying their flavors, I was pleasantly surprised to really like them! Their tomato gazpacho was full of fresh flavor, and I would totally buy soup bottles to drink on-the-go and get my veggies in.

5.) Sambazon’s new chocolate covered acai bites are delicious. Sambazon makes frozen acai packs that you can buy to make your own acai bowls at home, along with other acai products, and at the show they unveiled a new product: chocolate covered acai bites. They’re awesome, and I’ll definitely be buying them when I see them in stores!

6.) Tea with maitake mushroom powder is a thing. At the show I sipped on some organic tea from Blue Buddha that was made with ashwagandha extract and maitake mushroom powder. Sounds a little odd, but tastes good I swear! The company focuses on the tradition of using plants and herbs to help keep people healthy for thousands of years. The antioxidants from maitake mushroom help support a healthy immune function, while ashwagandha has been shown to relieve stress and increase mental focus. I’ll drink to that!

7.) Vita Coco gets the most clever booth award from me.
Vita Coco makes coconut-based water, milk and oil products, and their Expo West booth had the awesome above pictured display of a cow on vacation. I also thought their tagline, “Tastes like no udder” is pretty clever!

8.) Roasted soybean spread exists. I stumbled upon the Don’t Go Nuts booth, which makes non-GMO soybean spread. Think nut butter without the nuts. Their chocolate spread tastes like a healthier Nutella. They’re definitely a great alternative for people with nut allergies!

9.) If you love candy, UnReal Candy is what you should be buying. Think M&MS without the artificial coloring, made with organic, non-GMO, fair trade ingredients. UnReal Candy has been on my radar for awhile, and at Expo West they introduced dark chocolate almond butter & peanut butter cups + dark chocolate quinoa & peanut gems, which they won a Veg News award for Best New Vegan Product for. Their booth was right by the Rollin’ Greens booth, so I sampled all of their products multiple times!

10.) Stonyfield Farms is reducing the sugar in its yogurts. Stonyfield has been doing dairy the right way and making awesome organic yogurts for over thirty years. I’ve heard one of their founders, Gary Hirshberg, speak at a few events, and he’s a leader in the organic food movement. The only downside to their yogurts is how much sugar is in a lot of them… which is why I was happy to hear the company’s plans to reduce the sugar in its yogurts! Many of their yogurts will have 20-40% less sugar by later this year, and I’m looking forward to trying their revamped yogurt line.

11.) Golden milk lattes are yummy. I had heard of golden milk but never tried it until last weekend, when the Spice Islands booth was serving samples of it. They made it with almond milk, turmeric – which is great for its anti-inflammatory benefits – cinnamon, maple syrup, ginger and pepper. They sent me home with their Maple Grove Farms maple syrup, which I buy all the time, along with some turmeric, so I’m going to make golden milk lattes very soon!

12.) Vegan, gluten free baking mixes with chia seed “eggs” are coming to market. I got to visit the Atlantic Natural Foods booth, where I sampled Neat baking mixes. They’re egg-free, soy free, gluten free, dairy free and non-GMO…and taste really good! To my knowledge, this is the first brand that is making baking mixes like this with an egg replacement. The “Neat egg” is made from chia seeds and garbanzo beans and serves as an alternative to a regular egg. Their cookies and brownies have super short ingredient lists, and I can’t wait to find them in stores soon!

13.) Cascadian Farm Organic has announced a new sustainable farming initiative. I love Cascadian Farm cereal and buy them all the time, so I was happy to learn more about the organic sustainable farming that they’re focused on at their Expo West booth. The company, who is owned by General Mills, is investing in the commercialization of organic Kernza, a perennial grain and wild relative of annual wheat, whose deep roots show promise to increase soil health, carbon sequestration, water retention and enhance surrounding wildlife habitat. I love when companies are dedicated to developing practices that are more beneficial to our environment and earth. You can check out more about their Kernza farming here.

14.) New protein ice cream pints are hitting the market. While I love Halo Top Creamery low-cal/high protein ice cream, there’s always room for new delicious healthier ice creams, right? I stumbled upon the ProYo booth at Expo West and recognized them from their high protein smoothie tubes. The company just released high protein low fat ice cream pints. Calorie-wise, a 1/2-cup serving comes in around a normal light ice cream around 120, but the nice thing is how much protein a serving has… 10 grams! Pretty good if you ask me, and the flavors that I tried pleased my tastebuds too.

15.) Zing Bars is coming out with a vegan, gluten free pecan pie bar flavor. One of my favorite snacks on-the-go are bars that have a good amount of protein and fiber with short ingredient lists, and I buy Zing Bars often. A visit to their Expo West booth let me know about new flavors that will be on the market this summer, including a gluten free, vegan, non-GMO pecan pie flavor. Made with cashew & sunflower butters, brown rice protein, pecans, and maple syrup, it had this rich, buttery taste to it – so good!

Tell me.. Have you ever been to Natural Products Expo West or East? What are recent food trends or new products that you’ve noticed?

PS – The winner of my One Tribe Apparel giveaway has been chosen & notified. Thanks to all who entered!

8 thoughts on “15 Interesting Food Trends & Finds at Expo West

  1. Rachel @ Health My Lifestyle

    #1 All the way! Vegan alternatives have really stepped up their game and have made it easier than ever to transition. I love that there were so many vegan products there!

    I’m so jealous you went to this expo–it looks awesome! I will have to add it to my list of events to attend someday. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. foodielovesfitness Post author

      Me too, it was awesome! I love finding new tasty vegan products. It’s made it easier for me to transition a lot of my old dairy staples to vegan ones in the last few years.

    1. foodielovesfitness Post author

      Reading healthy living blogs while at Whole Foods?! You’re really a San Diego yuppie hahaha (as I am, obviously!)

      You’d like the acai bites for sure! And Blue Buddha just sent me some product so I’m excited to get to drink more of their tea 🙂

  2. David @ Spiced

    This is awesome, Nicole…thanks so much for posting all of the pics and info! I’ve always wanted to go to one of the big food shows, but I haven’t made it there yet. Saffron Road (they make those ChickBean Crisps that I included in a post a couple of weeks back) was out there at Natural Expo West. I totally need to put this one (or the East one) on my radar for sometime soon. Sounds like you had a blast and got to see some really cool new products at the same time! 🙂 (Also, the tea with mushroom powder sounds odd…but I’m willing to try it…)

    1. foodielovesfitness Post author

      Ah yes, I totally have a few bags of their crisps in my cabinet from the expo! And take my word for it, you can’t even taste the mushroom powder in the tea – it just tastes like sweetened tea 🙂


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