Thursday, September 25, 2014

Expo East 2014: Miscellaneous Picks

This is part three of my four part series covering the 2014 Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, MD. Each post will be divided into four categories: sweets, snacks, miscellaneous, and my top five. To check out the other parts in this series, click here.


While many of the products I tried at the Natural Products Expo fit into defined categories (snack foods, sweets, etc.) some defied categories which is why I've assembled a "this and that" list of finds. From breads and beans to soups and cereal, each product made the list because they caught my eye and impressed my taste buds. Especially given the deluge of products I tried over the course of the two days I made it out to the show, this list is the tip of the iceberg of sorts showing off the best of what I sampled.

Thince Foods Soup

A nice departure from baked goods, snacks, and sweets came at Thince Foods' booth which was located in the NEXT Pavilion (featuring first-time exhibitors). As a dedicated soup lover, I couldn't wait to try their line of vegan, gluten-free, no-salt-added, completely veggie-based soups. I tried their new kale, white bean, and tomato soup and "creamy" spinach and basil and found both to be delicious. I give a slight edge to the spinach and bean because the creamy, thick texture (achieved through pureed cauliflower) was just so comforting. Currently retailing only in North Carolina, I hope that their soups migrate to Baltimore or Orlando because I definitely would make these a wintertime staple as the temperatures drop. The best part about them? They easily stand on their own or can be jazzed up with leftover meats, veggies, pasta, and flavored to taste since there's no salt in the first place. For more information, check out their website here.




First Field

Florida oranges have their distinct reputation, and for the people behind First Field, jersey tomatoes are overdue for state-associated fame. Skeptical at first at just how different jersey tomatoes could taste, I was proven wrong with my first bite of their tomato ketchup. Robust and tomato-y without the sickening sweetness of conventional brands, I loved the thick original condiment and it's roasted companion that featured the subtle spice of poblano, red pepper, garlic, and onion. I also sampled their simple tomato sauce which could easily be used as a base for soups, pizza sauce, or other marinara. For more information, check out their website here.


Ener-G Select

Ener-G foods is a familiar name in the gluten-free universe. Maker of a a wide range of gluten free bread options, I was excited to discover their new Ener-G Select line of shelf-stable gluten free breads that go above and beyond typical gluten free baked goods. Always on the lookout for gluten-free sourdough bread which to date has been really hard to find, I sampled the sourdough white loaf and was pleased to discover that they've created a darn good sourdough bread. I cannot wait to heat up two slices and take them over to the dining hall for a real sourdough sandwich! While at the booth, I also sampled their pretzel bread (something I never thought I'd see gluten free) and enjoyed that as well but found it a bit dry for my taste (toasting might help). Ener-G Select's full line of breads include the two I tried as well as northwest banana, pacific molasses and cinnamon raisin. Their full product line includes pound cake, cookies, doughnuts (traditional and holes), biscotti, and brownies and are coming soon to a store near you. It should be noted that Ener-G Select's products contain eggs while Energ-G's do not. For more information, check out their website here.


Better Batter 

Although all purpose flour itself is not too tasty, the trick is finding flour that translates to delicious baked goods. Stopping by Better Batter's booth on the main show floor, I was blown away by the non-dairy lemon tart they were sampling that was created using their flour (I can't believe I forgot to snap a photo!). Perfectly flexible as a cup for cup equivalent replacement in regular recipes, the flour's uses are seemingly endless rendering it a must-have staple for your kitchen. In addition to being certified gluten and dairy free, Better Batter is vegan and allergen free since it is made in a dedicated facility. For more information, check out their website hereFind Better Batter's all purpose flour on Amazon here.


Freedom Foods

Hailing all the way from Australia, Freedom Foods offers a line of gluten-free cereals and granola that are free from the top eight allergens as well as GMOs. I sampled their ancient grain flakes which are made with buckwheat and sorghum and minimially sweetened. I loved the whole grain flavor and satisfying crunch. Paired with non-dairy milk or easily able to stand alone, these flakes easily satisfy for breakfast or a snack. For more information, check out their website hereFind Freedom Foods' ancient grain flakes on Amazon here. 


La Esquina NYC

Although I sampled my fair share of chips at the Expo, dips and salsas were less abundant. La Esquina, a New York City based restaurant offering retail products caught my eye with their bold and delicious black bean dip. Thick with smokey and savory notes, this black bean dip showcases the distinct flavor of the beans which are enhanced by fire-roasted tomatoes, onions, and garlic as well as serrano and chipotle peppers. Paired perfectly with chips, the dip also holds its own as I sampled it by the spoonful. Also at their booth, La Esquina was sampling their salsas which were also good, but the black bean dip made the biggest impression. The dip is free from gluten and preservatives and is also vegan. For more information, check out their website hereFind La Esqina's Black Bean Salsa on Amazon here.



Mountain Valley Sparkling Water

Although water is an odd choice for a best-of gluten/dairy free list, I had to give a shout-out to Mountain Valley's lime sparkling water. Bubbly, refreshing, and perfectly flavored with lime, they provided a much needed water break from all the sampling and tasting on the show floor. This sparking water ups the game and proves that water can truly transcend ordinary to be a delicious beverage option that's sugar free. For more information, check out their website here.


Goldbaum's 

As rare as ice cream is for gluten and dairy free eaters, gluten free cones are almost unheard of. Coming across Goldbaum's while on the show floor, I was excited to indulge in yet another childhood treat I thought I'd never be able to eat again. Light, crunchy, and not overly sweet, these cones are primed for any frozen non-dairy ice cream, sorbet, or even my one ingredient banana ice cream. Use them at home, or take them to your local ice cream store to join the fun with getting ice cream on a cone. Look out for them on the non-dairy ice cream buffet at the Food Allergy and Celiac Convention coming to Walt Disney World this November. For more information, check out their website here. Find Goldbaum's on Amazon here.


Each sample was provided to me at the Expo but I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

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