Healthfully Ever After

10 Best New Natural Products: Expo East 2014

Food Design, Northern VA, Lovely LinksCarlene ThomasComment

You may have seen my tweets and Instagram photos from Expo East 2014 in Baltimore last week. Every year I spend the day finding the best new 'natural' products for you all and my clients. With hundreds of new products and companies there's a lot to see. There are lots of horrible products with fake marketing claims (ugh the diet products squash my soul). There are lots of good products with bad marketing and worse packaging. But most of all what I noticed this year is there was lots of junk food. was mostly junk food masquerading as health food. Thirty kinds of popcorn. Fifty kinds of seaweed or lentil chip. And by that evening, all I wanted was a big salad. 

Having breakfast in the press room that morning, I met a man and a woman from London. This was their first time in the US and they were covering the show for a publication and representing a food client. Needless to say I pretty much grilled them on what they thought of the products and food in the US thus far. They had two big themes in what they told me:

1. That they could not believe that the US allowed such false marketing in the products since the UK has much stricter marketing guidelines. and

2. That it was so hard to eat healthy here! There were virtually no veggies at restaurants, the portions were huge, there was no fast healthy food. 

See where this is going? This conversation was pretty much the highlight of my day. I was enthralled. We talked about food and health values and lifestyles and I felt like they so acutely understood what I believed in and practice. It was the first time in a long time I didn't feel crazy for knowing that eating a high quality delicious home made slice of white bread with real butter goes hand in hand with having to work hard in a restaurant to mix and match to find healthy options and mostly just eating at home. Thankfully there are places coming around that do provide that healthy option out that even these wonderful UK citizens mentioned: Pret a Manger for one and more commonly known ones here like Sweetgreen. Amen.

So onto the show. Much of what I'm going to mention food wise is 'treat food'. Just because it has raw or vegan or natural slapped on the label, it does not mean it's okay to just graze on this all day. These are fun foods that need to be pared with lunch of a balanced salad with a protein. And when it comes to the lifestyle products, I'm just basically in love with them all over. The nail polish...I can't even cover it in one post.

1. Laughing Giraffe Organics: Curry Cashew Snakarola- This isn't something I would have grabbed on the shelf. I love curry. I love cashews... but it's one of those things you can't trust unless you try it first. Luckily this is crack. Sprinkle over greens as confetti or stow it in your purse for snacks. And yes, this is raw, vegan, organic, gluten free and paleo friendly. More importantly it just tastes good.

2. Snap Pea Crisps- OMG. These are one of my all time favorite snacks. If you're craving chips, these baked veggies are delicious but still a treat. The company is now releasing a lentil version as well! 

3. Veggie Fries- I love french fries and pizza, but I know how to work them into the big picture of my health. Typically in our house we do fries over salad. I am in love with the broccoli blend fries and am curious about the chickpea blend fries! For one cup serving it's 150 calories.

4. Two Moms in the Raw Green Tea Truffles - I'm not a proponent of the raw food diet, but I can seriously appreciate when a product tastes good. Made with only a few ingredients including super foods sprouted and soaked almonds and matcha tea powder, if you need a sweet treat, grab these! You'll also get about 3 grams of fiber in a serving so you'll feel a little more full and satisfied. These are awesome, but their packaging needs some help (Help me, help you by making the label actually readable head on!). 

5. Chosen Foods Chia Slims and Meta Powder : I love chia. I don't care that it's a new buzz word almost in the kale category. I love it as a dessert. I love it in smoothies. And now I can have it on the go. The Chia Slims in flavors like detox are really gimmicky and trying to appeal to the typical dieter (Seriously? "It's just like the master cleanse but with chia!". No freaking thanks.) but I appreciate the way they make it easy to incorporate on the go. Sprinkle it in a beverage or on salad en route for a fiber boost. The Meta powder on the other hand also adds fiber and prebiotics (what helps probiotics grow in your system for digestive health) and is something totally new.  

6. Mushroom Matrix Powder-  Grown in CA, these organic mushroom powder blends are so, so cool. They're a smart way to get naturally occurring vitamins and minerals and even a dose of vitamin D! By using different kinds of mushroom varieties, they create blends for different benefits. 

7. Smári Icelandic Organic Yogurt: I am all about the Greek yogurt, but I've been finding that some of my favorite brands are changing their formulations. It's getting harder and harder to find true strained, thick yogurt now that it's mainstream.  Smári uses four cups of milk to create one cup of yogurt. Unlike most plain 0% varieties I eat, it's way less bitter meaning you have less of a need to add excess fruit, honey or whatever to sweeten. Each cup has 20 grams of protein. Heck yes. 

8.  Scotch Naturals Nail Polish: This actually deserves its own post but I am a nail polish junkie. I never have naked nails. Because I have Raynaud's syndrome sometimes naked nails make me look a liiittle corpse like when it's anywhere below 65 outside (blue grey isn't a good look on me). That being said having nail polish on all the time isn't good for my nails and I'm not okay with that. Scotch goes BEYOND the 'three free' that other nail polishes do and are biodegradable, water based formulas that are also solvent free, phalate free...the list goes on and on. Stay tuned for more, but this is a must. 

9. Suja Essentials Juices: If you're not lucky enough to have a fresh pressed juicery in your town, seeking reliable high quality juices in the store is important. While basically all juice companies have a 'cleanse' tab on their website which I am not super into (my caveat is if you are a person who needs a harsh reset in behaviors, 1-2 days is fine but don't rely on this for weight loss...only habit detox),  really like that Suja pays attention to quality and big picture health and environment needs. Their juices are cold pressed and their Essentials like is GMO free and Organic which is pretty important when it comes to LOTS of produce in one serving. Their Mighty Greens from the Essentials line is INSANE and it's nice to see they didn't load it with fruit to cover the greens or say 'eff it' and just make it bitter and awful. It was awesome. My other Suja high five? They address several medical conditions on their FAQ that I constantly see ignored by juice companies!!! So Suja, thanks for paying attention to those on blood thinners and people with diabetes.

10. Tiger Balm: My more athletic siblings have been using Tiger Balm forever, but it's worth a mention if you don't know about. If you need topical pain relief for sore muscles or sprains, check this stuff out as an alternative to popping more pain killers. 

So there we have it! My top ten favorites from the 2014 Expo East show! Let me know if you've tried any of these products before or what you're excited about! 


Jerk Pattypan and Zucchini Squash Chips

Healthy HostessCarlene ThomasComment

Happy Monday! This weekend after heading South for a quarterly state dietetics board meeting I came home to catch up on cleaning out my fridge. EEEP! Let's just say after the husband texted me a picture of a very moldy squash I had some work to do (something's gotta give when you're busy).  Also on my to-do list was to think of a way to use dehydration in food prep for this month's Recipe Redux challenge. Nothing like necessity to spark creativity. 

The great thing about dehydration is that it's a smart way to save summer produce for later. While you can buy dehydrators I'm hesitant to add one more big piece of equipment to my counter. Luckily, a low temperature oven is just as good! So what to dehydrate? My fridge told me I had some squash to jerk zucchini and pattypan chips it was! As you can see from the other Recipe Redux links this month, others definitely had squash to use too! 

zucchini chips 

Jerk Zucchini & Pattypan Chips

/// Ingredients ///

  • zucchini
  • pattypan squash
  • jerk seasoning
  • olive oil

/// Directions /// Pre-heat oven to 225 F. Slice the pattypan squash and jerk to 1/8th inch thickness. This is a great time to break out your mandolin. Toss in a tiny bit of olive oil and shake jerk seasoning to taste over the top. I love, love, love the Penzey's spice line. Their jerk seasoning includes ginger, ancho chili, brown sugar, garlic, paprika, allspice, lemon grass, thyme and nutmeg...also some cumin and cayenne. Place chips to a pan. Bake one hour. Rotate pan to make sure no oil is pooling and making the chips soggy. Bake for another hour. Reduce temperature to lowest setting for another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest on a paper towel until crisp. 

zucchini chips 

Veggie chips are a great way to get a little produce in your diet in a fun way. They're really easy to make if you start early in the day (don't start these late at night!). Happy crunching!

Clean Cocktails: Red Pepper Limeade

Healthy HostessCarlene ThomasComment

Happy Friday! Yesterday I headed to Baltimore, Maryland for Natural Products Expo East for their 2014 show (read my 2013 recap). This massive expo is where I go to spend several hours and see the latest 'healthy' products. The reality is many of the products are health halo junk foods and copy cats of each other. Unfortunately, that really came out this year at Expo East. I did find a few favorites that I'll share next week, but man oh man...all I wanted was some real food for dinner tonight and not packaged health junk food. Meanwhile, today I'm spending a lot of time creating my presentation slides for FNCE in Atlanta for October! It's coming up so fast. 

To celebrate your Friday and the cool things you get to do this weekend, checkout this Red Pepper Limeade  I did for Swooned. Spicy, tart but full of icy, slushie goodness. 

red pepper limeade cocktail 

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