Food Finds at Fnce
Wondering what’s new (or at least new to me) on the health and nutrition scene? Each year I attend the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics conference and report back on my discoveries. Thousands of registered dietitians gather to network, attend lectures on the latest research, learn about new tools in the field, and spend time in the expo hall where food manufacturers show off their wares. Here’s what stood out for me:
Definitely swiping this charming snack idea from the folks at the Grapes from California booth: little parchment cones of frozen red, green, and black grapes. What a perfect idea for a party, school event, post-soccer game, or otherwise., right?
Proof that interest in organics continues to rise, Libby’s, the tried and true brand of canned pumpkin, is now selling an organic version. It’s in test markets at the moment, so if you stumble upon it in your neck of the woods, go make yourself an organic pie.
The kind people at KIND snacks were sampling their latest line of bars: Strong & Kind. It’s a savory/sweet bar with flavors like Hickory Smoked, Thai Sweet Chili, and Roasted Jalapeno. The bars are more generous in size, with more protein and bump in calories than their original ones, but the added sugar remains at just over a teaspoon. Tasty too, especially if your tastebuds favor savory over sweet.
My favorite discovery at FNCE was the launch of Food Scores, an enormously useful online resource from the Environmental Working Group. These are the same people who publish the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen. Food Scores, which also offers an app, rates more than 80,000 foods, giving them a number rating based on how nourishing each one is. The scores take into consideration nutrition, how processed it is, and how the ingredients stack up. You can check it out here.
Sunsweet gets the most clever booth award . It was a “cycle for your supper” situation whereby they hooked a blender up to a staionary bike. Give it a turn and whirl a smoothie (sweetened with prunes, of course) while learning about the latest research linking prunes to bone health. You’ll find their tasty Chai Prune Smoothie here.
My current favorite brand of sweetened yogurt is Siggis, since they use a fraction of the added sugar of other brands in their thick and creamy yogurt. This Pumpkin Spice flavor is a seasonal favorite that is so popular, they plan to keep it stocked year-round.
Up4 was a brand of probiotics at the expo hall, which I’ve had on the brain ever since attending a presentation on the potential role of gut bacteria on weight. We’ve long known about the importance of a healthy gut for immunity (hence all the talk about eating probiotic-rich foods). This particular lecture however, focused on how gut bacteria may play a role in metabolism, regulation of body weight, and the potential for probiotics as a tool for weight management. It’s early days yet in the research, but fascinating. My takeaway? Keep eating your Siggis and other “good”-bacteria rich foods.
The Bare Naked brand, known for their esxcellent baked apple chips, were front and center with these coconut chips. They were sampling a few flavors, including Sweet Heat and Show Me The Honey, all super delicious and highly addictive. They’re also high in fat and sweetened with sugar, so I might be eating these more as a “finishing touch” to a snack than the main event.
I had a nice visit with the Bob’s Red Mill folks who are sporting jazzy new packaging, as well as a couple of new products: almond flour made with whole almonds (not blanched) and Orca Beans, a small black and white heirloom bean I’m jonesing to try.
McCormick spices had a big booth at the expo showing off their enormous line of spices. They also shared some interesting research on how using herbs and spices in your cooking can lead to greater satsifaction when eating low fat foods and can contribute to sodium reduction. The bottom line: I see only an upside to pulling out the spice drawer.
These guys had a presence at the expo, which is always a welcome alternative to soft drinks. La Croix has become the “soda” of our house.
Beans and legumes were big this year. including these Better Bean products, which I’ve eyed in the market, but have never bought. Now I will, especially this Three Sisters Chili, which is miles tastier than anything I’ve found inside of a can. I’m planning to try it over roasted sweet potatoes when I don’t have time for my homemade version.
In the processed snack food catefory, I’m always impressed with what the folks from Beanitos manage to put into a bag of salty snacks. I’ve reported in the past about their tortilla chips; now they’re onto chees puffs. It’s hard to believe that the first two ingredients are beans and rice, with nothing remotely mysterious besides. A big step up from Cheetos.
Saving the best for last, this was my favorite new packaged food discovery: a line of spreads by a company called Other Bean Hummus. Each one features a different vegetable, bean, or legume, is expertly seasoned, and plainly delicious. Standouts were the Spicy Red Lentil and Zesty Sriracha Carrot. I also like that their Better for You Hummus, which is made with Greek yogurt, is half the fat and one-third of the calories of traditional hummus. Look for it.
Have you tried any of these products? What’d you think?