Natural mothers, rejoice! At the recent Expo West, there was an explosion of delectable and nutritious foods coming to market at a health store near you. I decided to pick out my favorites and share them with you here.
Best Cheese Substitute: Teese Vegan Cheese. My main “beef” with most vegan and soy cheeses is that they don’t melt very well. Rather, they become somewhat hard and lumpy after heating, and I really don’t like that. In contrast, Teese vegan cheese melts extremely well – I tasted the one that is good for nacho sauce, and it was delish. It has a noticeably thinner consistency than, say, Velveeta, but I’m not going to complain. After all, they’re vegan!
Best Sugar Substitute: Perfecta. I’m excited about this new zero-calorie sweetener coming to market (hopefully it makes it to market!). Developed from the Chinese Luo Han Guo (or Monk Fruit), Perfecta has 4x the sweetness of sugar, but is of course, sugar-free. What’s nice about it, in my opinion, is that the burst of sweetness is short-lived, and it doesn’t leave a nasty aftertaste in your mouth, a la the likes of Equal or Splenda. It’s likely that Perfecta may not go straight to market, however, because the company which markets it, Amax NutraSource, is looking to get it directly incorporated into the product development efforts at natural foods companies. But who knows? It may one day show up alongside those other famous brands in our sugar trays someday…one can only hope.
Best Breakfast: Good Food Made Simple. This booth was staffed by four Dads who believe just because frozen foods can be convenient doesn’t mean they should come with additives, fillers, or chemical preservatives. They offer yummy breakfast burritos, egg patties, and oatmeals in boxes with ingredients in plain English – right on the front of the packaging. In particular, I loved the Eggs, Cheese, & Potato breakfast burrito…I’d eat this any day, every day, and also feel good about feeding it to my husband and child.
Best Snack: Way Better Sprouted Chips. Finally: nutritious, sprouted, and great-tasting tortilla chips! A simple concept, really, but executed so well. Way Better Snacks uses sprouting to make seeds, grains, and beans more digestible and their nutrients more available to the human body. They actually have a very informative page about the benefits of sprouting, which I read with a combination of unabashed interest and embarrassed ignorance.
What isn’t well known is, without exception, [seeds, grains, and beans] are all difficult to digest and their nutrients are poorly absorbed. Every seed, grain and bean has natural enzyme inhibitors and barriers like phytic acid, lectins, tannins and others which are designed specifically to interfere with digestion and absorption.
These, however, were the sentences that stuck with me the most. I mean, who knew?
This means the seed can be eaten, pass through the body and still grow into a plant. This is nature’s way of ensuring animals, birds and humans distribute seeds.
Best Beans: Better Bean. There is a lot that I like about the Better Bean Company. That the beans come in a refrigerate-able tub, rather than a can. That this makes them easy and convenient to use – they’re basically ready-to-heat. That there are no preservatives, additives, colors, or artificial flavors. And most importantly, that they taste AWESOME. I usually don’t like beans. I only eat them because I’m vegetarian, and there’s not much choice (granted, I’m a lousy cook in the kitchen). But the moment I bit into my first mouthful of “uncanny refried black beans,” I was in love, and I promise that you will be, too. Can’t wait until these arrive in my local health foods store!
Best Gas-Free Ice Cream: Clemmy’s. I’ve made no secret of my lactose intolerance; rather, it’s been quite the opposite. I’ve quite freely spouted to the world what happens when I do eat dairy, and it ain’t pretty. But, I also love ice cream, and this love combined with my lack of ability to eat it (without consequences) means I have to wait until my husband goes on a business trip in order to indulge. However, along came Clemmy’s, a lactose-free AND sugar-free ice cream, and it’s surprisingly good. I’m not kidding – the Toasted Almond flavor I tried was creamy, rich, and altogether satisfying. It would be nice if my local Whole Foods carried this for me…I may just have to go down and talk to them about that!