Best Gluten Free Foods from Expo East 2014

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Fueled by the rise in celiac disease (which affects an estimated 1 in 133 people), non-celiac gluten sensitivity (which might actually be due to FODMAPs) and media attention surrounding gluten, the gluten free market is growing faster than other segments within the food industry. If you are gung-ho on gluten free, here are my favorite finds (based on taste and nutrition – except for the desserts of course) from Natural Products Expo East. If you aren’t sure if you should be gluten free, read this post.

Pastas & Wraps

High protein pastas? There are plenty on the market now though some are easier to find than others. All of the ones below aren’t just gluten free but also made with beans, peas or lentils making them high in fiber as well.

I fell in love with Explore Asian bean pastas a few years ago at Expo East. And I’m thrilled this pasta is now on store shelves (click here for a store locator). I sampled the edamame bean pasta tossed with Kirkland brand pesto sauce (talk about an easy meal) at their booth this year and it was delicious! Check out their website for a store locator – I’ve seen it at Costco and a few other stores near me.

High protein pastas made from beans.
High protein pastas made from beans.

Banza chickpea pasta is brand new and only available online right now. And though I didn’t get to try it (they didn’t have samples out), I’m intrigued by it’s higher fiber (which means lower “net carbs” for those who look for this) and higher protein content.

Banza Chickpea Pasta
Banza Chickpea Pasta

Tolerant Foods makes a gluten free, non GMO, organic legume pasta.  Each serving of their Red Lentil or Black Bean pasta has 21 – 23 grams of protein and 13 – 15 grams of fiber.

Tolerant Black Bean and Red Lentil Pastas
Tolerant Black Bean and Red Lentil Pastas

In addition to pastas, Paleo followers who miss their wraps will love this new coconut wrap. Gluten free, Paleo diet friendly and if you love coconut you’ll really like The Pure Wraps.

Pure Wraps - Coconut Wraps
Pure Wraps – Coconut Wraps

Breakfast

My favorite cereal from the show is Attune Foods Ewehorn Buckwheat and Hemp.Buckwheat is actually a vegetable and this cereal is not only very tasty (especially if you like the taste of hearty whole grains) but also very filling thanks to its high fiber content. Buckwheat is actually a vegetable and this cereal is not only very tasty (especially if you like the taste of hearty whole grains) but also very filling thanks to its high fiber content.

Also try The Toasted Oat Granola. I almost walked right by this booth in the new products section (because there are so many granolas on the market) but this one is different – it’s chewy. I absolutely love this because it stands out among different granolas on the market today and provides an option for adults who have had problems with their teeth and have been told to avoid hard foods like granola and nuts.

The Toasted Oat chewy granola
The Toasted Oat chewy granola

Another great breakfast option – FlapJacked. Sure you could make your own high protein pancakes but, if you don’t have time, check out FlapJacked. Just add water, mix, pour into a pan sprayed with non-stick spray or lightly coated with oil and flip once the sides start to cook (this is important! Flip them too soon and they will be very flat).

Dessert 

If you are a chip lover, check out Simply 7 Snacks Quinoa chips. High in protein and fiber and their sour cream and dill is better than any similar flavored potato chip on the market today.

I fell in love with roasted chickpeas last winter. I love crunch and salt and these are the perfect substitution for potato chips (seriously, they taste great when you add spices – I make them by brushing them with olive oil and sprinkling garlic salt on top). However, if you don’t want to good, Saffron Road has flavored chickpeas that will make your taste buds dance with delight.

On the sweet side, Nothin’ But Granola – I can’t even describe how good this is. I walked by and grabbed a bite, stopped in my tracks and went back for more. It comes in soft bars or bites.

I’m a fan of both Immaculate Baking Company and Betty Crocker’s gluten free mixes but, XO Baking Company is on an entirely different level. Those are the best boxed mix gluten free cookies I have ever tried. In fact, they were so good they beat out any non-gluten free mixes I’ve tried too. The founder of XO Baking Company, Lindsey Deitsch, has a neat story as well. She’s been baking ever since she was a child and once diagnosed with celiac disease she set out to make better tasting baked goods. Lindsey has a degree in Public Health and is a chef as well. All gluten free bakeries and restaurants need to buy these in bulk – your customers will thank you.

XO Baking Company - gluten free & amazing taste!
XO Baking Company – gluten free & amazing taste!

Food & Nutrition Trend Setters – the Latest & Greatest from Expo East 2012

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Natural Products  Expo East and West showcase the latest and greatest in natural, organic and healthy products. Here is a review of the trends I saw as well as some of my show favorites:

  • Coconut – this flavor trend is still growing and can be found in several different beverages, confectionaries, packaged foods and dairy products (yogurt, frozen yogurt, coconut milk).
  • Lentils – lentils are hot and I tasted several lentil crackers, chips, pasta, ready to eat meals, and breads made from lentil flour and/or lentils. Lentil flour increases the protein and fiber content of gluten free foods providing products with a better nutrition profile.
  • Gluten free
  • Non GMO
  • Chocolate and cocoa
  • Probiotics naturally found and added to yogurt, “shots”, frozen yogurt and confectionaries.

A few of my favorite finds:

Rob’s Really Good Coconut Zero

Rob’s Really Good Zero is indeed really good! It is sweetened naturally with erythritol and monk fruit extract. No calories, tastes great. I was hooked on the coconut and coconut pineapple flavors at Expo East.

Mediterranean Snack Foods Rosemary Lentil Crackers

There were several lentil chips and crackers and all of the ones I tried had a good taste profile and the texture of a typical non-gluten free cracker. Mediterranean Snack Foods Lentil Rosemary Herb are so good you might not want to share them with a dip or spread.

Explore Asian Cuisine Black Bean Spaghetti, Organic Mung Bean Fettuchini and Organic Soybean Spaghetti are the best tasting high protein pasta products I have ever had. In fact, I prefer the taste and texture of Explore Asian Cuisine pastas (I tried all three) over all white American pasta. And they take just 6-8 minutes to make. My quick prep lunch today was black bean pasta, sauteed yellow bell peppers and fresh Parmesan cheese. I love it when a protein-rich, veggie meal is quick and easy to make.

My colleague Elizabeth Jarrard, RD introduced me to this Vega Sport Natural Performance Based Protein . If you are looking for a vegan protein, look no further. This one contains 26 grams of protein and it has over 5 grams of added BCAAs (smart move!), glutamine and digestive enzymes. I was thrilled to find a performance-based natural, vegan product that is so well formulated. Thank you Elizabeth for taking so much time to speak with me!

Purely Elizabeth granola

Since I don’t live in Phoenix I can’t pick up La Grande Orange’s outstanding homemade granola on a regular basis (if you are visiting Phoenix, schedule a trip to this store, you won’t be disappointed). And….just when I thought my granola fix would go unmet, the people I work with at KIND Snacks introduced me to KIND Healthy Grains as soon as it hit the marketplace (their Oat & Honey Clusters with Toasted Coconut is my favorite but, I adore coconut). And, after this past weekend I have another favorite that doesn’t require a trip to Phoenix (though of course I won’t turn down a trip there) – Purely Elizabeth Original Ancient Grain Granola. Once you taste it and check out the nutrition facts panel you’ll realize why it has been featured in several magazines including Women’s Health Magazine’s 125 Best Packaged Food for Women. And, the beauty of Expo East and West is that you can talk to the person behind the food, beverage or natural product and hear their story. Like all of the other people I met, Elizabeth was an absolute delight to speak with and passionate about tasty, nutritious natural foods.

Wow Baking Ginger Molasses cookies

And of course if you want a sweet gluten-free treat, try Wow Ginger MolassesGlow gluten free cookies Udi’s Gluten Free or Glutino. All of these brands carry baked goods that will make you forget all about your grandma’s freshly baked cookies. Even if you don’t eat gluten free, you will want to try these!

On the beauty side, fragrance is a hot topic because one fragrance could contain a number of ingredients including ingredients people are sensitive to.  If you want to follow everything natural in beauty products, follow Jessica Rubino. And on that note, it would be nice to see “natural” and “artificial” flavors include a list of ingredients as well.