Brad and me at Natural Products Expo '16.
(Lots of interest in Brad's Veganized Seinfeld Logo T-shirt that he designed. Purchase here.)
I'm still in recovery mode from a whirlwind Natural Products Expo weekend. My husband Brad and I ate and drank ourselves high and low, walking about 15 miles, carrying the latest coconut waters on our backs, to scope out the hot new vegan products. And I still didn't make it to the household or cosmetics areas.
This Expo was particularly fun this year because we ran into lots of vegan-food movers and shakers who didn't have booths there, but were just checking things out like us. Heidi of Heidi Ho (you might have seen her on this Shark Tank episode) was sampling cheese at Miyoko's booth, and we had a chat about how well her company is doing--500% growth last year! (She's a warm person, btw. Always nice to know when you're a super customer, like us.) We also ran into the amiable Stanley Chase of our favorite (really, the best out there, vegan jerky) Louisville Vegan Jerky Co checking out the scene. He was kind enough to give us three bags of jerky, and we ended up giving one to Doomie (of Doomie's Vegan Restaurant in LA) who we ran into at some booth selling vegan pate. (Vegan pate, no thanks! Kinda like vegan veal--disgusting premise, IMHO.)
And guess who was behind the cooking of the new VeganEgg at the Follow Your Heart booth? None other than the super talented and super cute Spork girls of Spork Foods, Heather and Jenny. We reminisced about how I used to go to their first incarnation of vegan cooking classes in their apartment in Silverlake like 10 years ago! Now they're super stars, on TV, with a new beautiful space, and a wonderful cookbook Spork Fed: Super Fun and Flavorful Recipes from the Sisters of Spork Foods. And as a long time listener to the Rich Roll Podcast and huge fan of his page-turning book Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World's Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself, Brad and I finally got to meet Rich at the Expo and chatted with this true pioneer in vegan health and fitness about what else? Veganism. Want to be inspired? Get his book here.
Cynthia's Favorite Vegan Products from ExpoWest '16
Last year someone left a snarky all CAP comment on my post that went on to say "ALL THESE PRODUCTS ARE PROCESSED"! Yes, these products are from the Natural Products Expo, not the Farmer's Market Expo. Sorry, person, I'm a vegan blogger, not a nutrition blogger. If you're into super healthy, Brad's list is for you. But here are my favorite new vegan food products.
1. Gardein: Scramble Breakfast Pocket / Skillet Meal / Pizza Pocket (none are yet available)
The Scramble Breakfast Pocket was my favorite new vegan food product from the Expo. It tasted like an Egg McMuffin, only better!
Pepperoni Pizza Pockets
I tried the Asian Chick'n Fried Rice and the Italian Rigatoni. Brilliant idea to make Gardien into super easy skillet meals.
2. Follow Your Heart: VeganEgg (available)
This came out like 5 months ago but I finally got around to trying it, and it was AMAZING! Texture, taste, it's all there. Other companies are coming out with a vegan scrambled egg, but I don't know how they would be any better than this. But bring them on! The more the merrier. (Shelf stable.) Click here to purchase on Amazon.
3. Daiya: Salad Dressings / Pepperoni Pizza (none yet available)
Daiya knocked it out of the park with each of these dressings. I tried all three and each one tasted exactly like the original they were replicating. It's quite impressive. Other vegan blue cheese, ranch, and caesar dressings exist, and they all deserve an A for effort, but these get an A+ for taste, too.
I ate their new pepperoni pizza so fast that I didn't take a photo of it. Duh! No meat-eater would be able to tell it wasn't a "real" pepperoni pizza. Seriously. If you like pepperoni pizza, this is the one for you.
4. Golden Brew Tea: Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic (not yet available)
I grew up drinking Apple Cider Vinegar because of its remarkable healing qualities, but I never got used to the taste. Partly because I don't taste the vinegar, though there are approximately two tablespoons in each serving. I'm a sucker for ginger and turmeric. I tried a lot of drink concoctions at the Expo and this was my favorite. Golden Brew Tea out of Portland, OR is a newish, small company, so this tonic is not yet widely available.
5. Kite Hill: Ravioli / Soft Ripened (available)
Kite Hill has been a leader in artisan cheeses, and they keep branching out into other amazing products. I haven't tried the ravioli yet, but Kite Hill is such a high quality company that I know it's going to be great! Made with almond milk ricotta.
Soft Ripened Almond Product
This is my favorite of their many delicious cheeses. Soft Ripened is velvety and aged with a white, fluffy rind, and it has a delicious tangy mushroom-y flavor. Kinda like a Brie.
6. Banza Pasta (available)
I love pasta, but every time I eat it, I can't help but think that there has to be another, better way--to get good nutrients out of the noodles, rather than empty calories--and have the noodles not fall apart into mush. Apparently, I'm not alone. I was stoked to happen upon this company, started by a 23 year-old guy in his Detroit apartment who thought the same thing, but did something about it. Packed with protein and fiber, because it's made with chickpeas. Purchase here on Amazon.
I sat at their booth eating ice cream for so long that they gave me a coupon for a free container, just so I would leave, I think. No, they were super nice. And let me eat all the ice cream I wanted. I filled up on this new delicious flavor. So creamy and chocolatey.
I'm a huge fan of Miyoko's. She's been doing artisan vegan cheeses for awhile, and now she blesses us with a wonderful palm oil free vegan butter. Melts, cooks, bakes, spreads and tastes like butter. Made with Organic Coconut Oil & Organic Cashews. It's so good.
Aged English Smoked Farmhouse "Cheese"
It's hard to pick a favorite Miyoko's cheese, but if I had to, I'd say this one. It's a semi-hard wheel with rich, smoky and sharp tones. Reminds you of the tasty fancy cheeses I used to eat. What am I talking about? All her cheeses do.
10. Teatulia: Red Energy Tea (available)
I drink tea to relax, but I love the idea of using it as energy. I had not heard of this Colorado company that gets its tea leaves from Bangledesh. Their secret ingredient is Eleuthero Root, used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine to help the body perform optimally and recover faster. It tastes great with a slightly sweet natural flavor. Purchase on Amazon here.
11. Vegetarian Plus (available)
I've seen this brand in grocery stores but I shied away from it because I thought it was vegetarian, not vegan. IMHO, their name isn't doing them any favors. Come to find out at the Expo, they're a 100% vegan company. We don't eat a lot of frozen foods, but I would totally stock the freezer with these for a quick meal. If you see these entrees at your local store, pick them up, doesn't matter matter which product, because I sampled nearly all of them, and they're super tasty. I love the idea of having a quick vegan meal of tikka masala when the craving for Indian food strikes! Purchase here on Amazon.
Vegan Tikka Masala
Vegan Black Pepper Steak
Vegan Ham Roll
12. Ginger's Healthy Habits: Raw Veggie Trail Mix / Raw Kale Chips (available)
I'm actually not a trail mix type of girl, nor do I like anyone else's kale chips except my husband's home made ones (recipe here). But I can't really say those things with confidence after tasting Ginger's Raw Pepperoni Pizza Trail Mix and her Raw Cheezy Chia Kale Chips. I gobbled them up! It's the first trail mix made from only veggies! These products aren't widely available yet, except online.
Yes, this does actually taste like pepperoni pizza!
Brad's Favorite Vegan Things from Expo West '16
Written by Brad Klopman
1. Mother in Law's: Tangy Vegan Liquid Kimchi (not yet available)
When I first found Farmhouse Culture’s “Gut Shots” I was instantly hooked. Probiotics, hydration, flavor, all from what once was considered a waste byproduct in the process of making sauerkraut. At Expo West this year I saw two more versions. Mother in Law’s Tangy Vegan Liquid Kimchi and Wildbrine’s “Kimchi Shots” up next). Both are great!
2. Wildbrine: Kimchi Shots (not available yet)
Again, probiotics, hydration, flavor, all from what once was considered a waste byproduct in the process of making sauerkraut. So smart.
3. Sir Kensington's: Fabanaise (not yet available)
Another great idea of the food byproduct space was Sir Kensington's Fabanaise. Sir Kensington has its fanbase for their "regular" mayo and condiments but wanted some skin in the Hampton Creek dominated vegan mayo space. They set out to create a mayo that didn't use the powdered soy, pea or modified food starches as a base but instead a naturally occurring byproduct of hummus production: aquafaba, the water you pour down the drain when buying canned chickpeas. They've turned it into an amazing more whole food vegan mayo that's not "made it a lab" as they put it. Really tasty.
4. REBBL: Maca Cold Brew (available in some Whole Foods)
Having accidentally fallen back into the flavor of coffee thanks to complimentary K-cups from staying at Los Vientos Hideaway near Joshua Tree I was trying all sorts of vegan cold brew drinks. This one was my favorite. Not just because it tasted great, but because it puts a little something extra in there, maca. Maca is an adaptogen used to enhance vitality, stamina and energy. Why not add it in there, right? REBBL stands for “Roots, Extracts, Berries, Bark, and Leaves,” Great company that prevents exploitation in the Peruvian Amazon.
5. Detox Water: Bioactive Aloe Water (available)
This is a "healing elixir in the form of a bioactive, aloe infused water". I love aloe water because it feels like I'm really doing my insides a favor. Ever buy aloe water with pulp in it? Turns out that's nothing more than a marketing ploy. The guys at Detox Water educated me on aloe waters, and now my buying habits are forever changed. Their motto is "Not all aloes are created equal." It tastes great, too. Big fan. Even my wife Cynthia, who doesn't like aloe water, has been drinking them up!
Our entire haul from the show!
Even though this month was my last blog post of my monthly "My Favorite Vegan Things," I will continue to bring you articles on veganism and animal rights, as well as healing your life. Likewise, each year I will report on the newest vegan products from the Natural Products Expo. It's exciting to witness the explosion of veganism!
Thanks to all the vendors for samples and to you my reader-friends for reading.
Viva La Vegan!