Saturday, March 20, 2010

Natural Product Expo West

Last Saturday, I was very fortunate to attend Natural Product Expo West as a member of Compassion Over Killing. It's difficult to describe how fantastically magnificent this experience was for me. I'd say I was like a kid in a candy store, but it was far beyond that...perhaps I was like a kid at Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Before I even set foot on the Expo floor, I was sampling tetra packs of O.N.E. coconut water and new sustainably-sourced water. Robert Cheeke, the vegan bodybuilder about to publish his first book, met me with my badge and a reusable bag already loaded with Vega goodies.

Finally walking onto the Expo floor, well, that was beyond what I could have imagined. Thank goodness I was armed with the reusable bag I'd brought and the Vega one that Robert gave me because I needed both! I don't even recall where I started, so I will just go by memory.

Turtle Mountain was there serving up cups of their So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage, Coconut Milk Kefir (my first kefir ever!), Coconut Milk Yogurt, Purely Decadent ice cream, and one of the most exciting new products of the Expo, coconut water-based sorbet! Most sorbet has a sugar water base, so I'm very excited about sorbet that has the nourishing electrolytes and hydration power of coconut water. I tried the hibiscus (my favorite) and lemon flavors and they were delicious! I can't wait until they are available on the market.

The Nasoya booth was serving up a great tofu egg salad (I had mine on a spoon because the crackers weren't vegan) and chocolate pudding that showcased their Dark Chocolate Silken Style Creations.

I had fun gushing to the folks at the Luna bar and Clif bar table about how much I love Luna bars. They were so appreciative of my devotion that they gifted me a full case of their White Chocolate Macadamia Luna bars! While I was there, I also sampled their new White Chocolate Macadamia Clif Crunch granola bar (be careful; the other three flavors contain honey).

Larabar attended with four not-yet-released flavors: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (those two are based on the existing Peanut Butter and Cashew Cookie flavors, just with chocolate chips added), Chocolate Chip Brownie, and Carrot Cake. I also tried the Peanut Butter and Jelly and Tropical Fruit flavors, which were recently released.

Tofurky brought out the big guns with new frozen pizzas that feature Daiya cheese and vegan meats. The pepperoni was my favorite; so spicy and delicious! The other variety was vegetable and sausage, if I'm not mistaken, and was also quite good. They also had a new Smoky Maple Tempeh Bacon that was amazing! Absolutely keep an eye out at your local stores for these new products.

Lightlife was handing out vegan Smart Dogs with sauerkraut and your choice of condiments. That really hit the spot after I'd been walking around sampling products for a while!

Cool Cups make lunch box size vegan gelatin cups to satisfy your childhood nostalgia. I tried the Peach Mango flavor and it was tasty! These are also re-packaged with Trader Joe's branding at your local Trader Joe's stores. Look for them in the refrigerated aisle.

Also for your lunch box, Eco-Planet was at the Expo with their organic vegan pretzel and cheddar crackers, which I buy if I know I'll be spending time with my nieces and nephews. More exciting than their yummy crackers, though, they now have incredible hot cereal (I tried Maple & Brown Sugar) and toaster pastries (think vegan pop tarts)!

There were many vegan samples of Chocolove to try, including Raspberries in Dark Chocolate.

I was overwhelmed with the massive varieties of tea from Yogi, Stash, and Eden. Check out all the tea bags in the photo of the samples I brought home, not to mention the individual bags of Teechino!

Bach Flower Remedies gave samples of Rescue Remedy, Rescue Sleep, and Rescue Cream. I use Rescue Sleep regularly.

My favorite boxed chocolates company, Sjaaks, had a booth with samples of their Chocolate Mint Bites, Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites, and Chocolate Almond Butter Bites. Their newest piece of excitement is vegan chocolate-covered marshmallows (Dandies, I believe) that were so good!

I finally got to try the fabulously tart goldenberries at the Navitas booth.

Daiya, which I now know is pronounced "day-uh," was downstairs, serving up delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and pizzas. Their big news is that they now have cool retail packaging.

Xan Confections chocolates, which are perfection, gave me a sample of two of their vegan flavors: a Strawberry Saintly Sin and a Coconut Pecan Caramel Jewel. These are so amazing! They're sold at select large Whole Foods Markets, so buy some if you see them. Only the Jewel, Saintly Sins, and some of the turtles are vegan, though, so be sure to ask.

I take Vitamineral Green daily, so I was thrilled to visit the Health Force Nutritionals booth. They were distributing samples of their products Vitamineral Green, Earth, ZeoForce, and Warrior Food, all of which I'm eager to try in smoothies or on their own.

Along with all the incredible Vega samples, Brendan Brazier, the amazing vegan triathlete, autographed a copy of his book Thrive Fitness for me. I'm excited to read it!

Follow Your Heart, one of my favorite places on earth, had a booth where they showcased their delicious vegan salad dressings, barbecue sauces, cheesecake, and more! Their big news is a reduced-fat version of Vegenaise (pronounced "vej-eh-nayze"). I had a lovely chat with the brother-in-law of the co-owner and two of my favorite servers were there, too! One of them was kind enough to give me a hot sample of BBQ Chicken-free Chicken and it was so good.

Living Harvest's Tempt hemp milk products were hard to resist, so I sampled the Mint Chip and Chocolate Fudge ice creams and a couple flavors of hemp milk.

I saw and sampled so much more (leave a comment if you have questions about something I didn't highlight) and missed so much, as well. For example, I sadly missed most of the raw food booths, the VegNews booth, and the VBites booth (check out the Quarrygirl post for some of what I missed). Next year, I definitely want to go for at least two full days so I can see everything!


quarrygirl said...

OMG it looks like i missed a bunch of stuff too! i wish i would have gotten to try xan, lightlife, and sjaaks. they all sound wonderful.

i think we have learned that next year, we need to go for more than one day. :)

it was so nice to see you at the expo, even if it was super brief.

thanks for the link!

radioactivegan said...

what a haul! i'm so jealous :\

Tami said...

What an amazing wrap-up! Thanks so much for showing us all what's to come. Exciting stuff in the vegan world.

Good to know it's Day-uh. I've heard it several ways.

Anonymous said...

My oh my how I wish I could have been there. It would be a little like walking through paradise. So much deliciousness, no!

Unknown said...

Hi, it's Jennifer from Living Harvest. Thanks for the kind words about our products!

Hannah said...

Ah, I'm just dying of envy! I've seen such incredible reports come from this event, I wish like crazy I could have been there...!

Helen said...

What an awesome post! I almost feel like I was there. I cannot wait to try the new So Delicious coconut water sorbet. Hibiscus sounds heavenly! And I'll certainly be on the lookout for chocolate-covered vegan marshmallows and those Xan Confections Strawberry Saintly Sin chocolates. Talk about vegan nirvana!

Ricki said...

I can see why you were a little overwhelmed. . . kid in candy store, for sure! Everything looks a-may-zing. I've been dying to try the coconut milk beverages, too--and those chocolates!! Feeling faint. . . ! ;)

trina said...

Candy Factory, indeed! And I didn't know about those eco-planet vegan cheese crackers - going to research - sounds like an essential preschool snack. Thanks!

Jenn Shagrin said...

Ahh you went to the expo, too? So jealous. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. It was much funnier after the fact.
Sending love your way :)

VeganLisa said...

Wow...that was an amazing, jealousy inducing round-up. I know most of the products will never make it to Canada but I enjoyed reading your impressions. I will just have to plan future vacations and road trips accordingly.

Penny said...

wow, men dressed in day-uh outfits-aiyee! (just learned it was pronounced that way also).