This September, I took the train from NYC to Baltimore and spent two days at Expo East. It was an epic two days fueled with great eats, drinks, as well as the discovery of various new supplements, beauty and other natural products. Here are the goods that impressed me the most.
Bare Snacks: Coconut Chips
These crunchy, salty-sweet coconut chips are oh-so-addictive. Apart from the more traditional flavors, Bare also makes some very unique ones like sweet and heat (great for those that like it hot, and as a salad topping), coffee bean and sweet ginger. Bare also makes apple and banana chips.
Quinn Snacks: Gluten-Free Pretzels
I've long been obsessed with their farm-to-bag popcorns, but at the Expo I tried their newest product: gluten-free pretzels. I'm not a big pretzel eater because I find them too floury and bland. But Quinn's version is deliciously crunchy because of the brown rice flour, whole grain sorghum flour and potato flour used—not to mention that it's a great solution for the gluten intolerant.
RXBAR: Protein Bar
I'm used to eating protein bars with protein sourced from whey or plants like pea and rice. Every RXBAR contains 3 egg whites from whole eggs, fully pasteurized and cooked into a fine powder, which is 12 grams of high-quality protein.
There are no preservative or added sugar, the only other ingredients are fruits and nuts. Therefore it's also great for those with gluten, soy or dairy intolerances. It has a nice chewiness from the dates and a bit of crunch from the nuts.
Organic Prairie: Mighty Bar
These meat bar snacks are made with organic meats produced by the same farmer-owned co-op as Organic Valley, known for their grass-fed dairy products. These protein-rich meat bars are made from 100% grass-fed and organic beef, and are a great savory treat for in-between class snacking and pre or post-workout fuel.
I spent a long time at Caboo's booth talking to their representatives. Sustainability is important to me and Caboo makes paper towels, baby wipes, toilet paper rolls and more using bamboo and sugarcane instead of hardwood, and is 100% BPA free. The former two are grasses that not only grow quickly, but also grow back just as fast after harvest—in as little as three to four months (compared to up to 30 years for trees to grow/regrow). Unlike trees, no replanting is necessary for bamboo and sugarcane.
Furthermore, recycling a tree into tissues can take much more water and energy than the processing Caboo uses to make paper from bamboo and sugarcane, not to mention that BPA is sometimes found in recycled paper. Caboo is also a family-owned company—the baby models you see on their promotional material are the owner's kids.
PUR Company: Gum and Mints
Most sugar-free gum and mints are sweetened with aspartame, a man-made synthetic sweetener. PUR products are sweetened with 100% xylitol, an all-natural sweetener derived from birch and beech trees.
It's also certified vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, allergen free and diabetic friendly. I was immediately smitten by the bubblegum and mint chocolate flavors.
I've been drinking kombucha for a long time now, but I tried Health-Ade for the first time at the Expo and immediately tasted a difference from other kombuchas.
I was then told that it is brewed the old-school way, fermented in glass to prevent plastic and metal leaching (they're the only commercial glass brewer). It is brewed in super-small batches for premium quality, and contains no fake fermentors, engineered probiotics, or chemicals. They also use raw in-house cold-pressed juice from organic produce.
Justin's: Peanut Butter with Banana Chips
We're all familiar with their dreamy peanut butter cups, but have you seen their adorable Halloween edition mini peanut butter cups?
I also tasted their new peanut butter with banana chips for the first time, which are packaged just like their pretzels and peanut butter snack packs. I love eating toast topped with Justin's peanut butter and sliced bananas, and this is a delicious on-the-go version of it.
This company makes flavored gochujang (Korean red pepper sauce) that is great for seasoning meat and veggies and also great as dips for your favorite chips. My personal favorite is the sesame flavor.
They also debuted their kimchi elixir—which is packed with probiotics from the fermented kimchi, but in liquid form so you can take it as a shot or add it to your dishes for extra flavor.
Coco Roons: Coconut Cookies
I've had my fair share of macaroons in my life, but these Coco Roons taste more like a cookie, because of the finer coconut flakes used. Coco Roons use organic coconut, are sweetened with pure Vermont maple syrup, and come in so many great flavors like brownie, apple pie and vanilla maple.
If you like lemon-flavored desserts like me, then the lemon pie Coco Roon is for you. I may or may not have had several samples of this.
Kite Hill: Vegan Cheese
Are you thinking of going vegan, but don't want to give up cheese? Well, this is for you. I sampled Kite Hill's plant-based cheeses, from a soft, brie-like cheese to fresh vegan ricotta.
Their chive "cream cheese" is great for spreading on sandwiches and serving as a dip at parties. They also make almond-based yogurts in various flavors.
Nature's Approved: Flavored Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is not new anymore, but Nature Approved makes coconut oil infused with natural flavors. They use extra virgin coconut oil and add organic oil from plants for flavoring.
The garlic one is fantastic for making curries, and I tried a lemon one which is so fragrant and fresh—I'm planning to bake a lemon pound cake with it.
Kiwa Andean: Potato Chips
Even if you're a health-conscious eater, these chips are worth every calorie. I could taste real potatoes from the first bite. Kiwa uses native Andean potatoes from South America, where the founder is from. The potatoes are harvested at over 11,000 feet above sea level in the highlands of Ecuador.
A great source of iron and vitamin C, these chips obtain their natural beautiful colours from their high anti-oxidant levels.