A couple weeks ago, I attended the Natural Products Expo, aka Expo West. I look forward to attending every year. This year was no exception.
My goals when attending Expo West were two-fold:
- Find natural or less toxic products for Toddler Spawn: snack foods, regular food, skin stuff
- Meet companies and products made by/owned by women or people of color.
As I walked through the rows of products, one trend continues to perplex me – stuff sweetened with stevia. I know that it is because brands are trying to keep the calorie count low. But stevia tastes like a cat’s butt.
So my third goal was to find products that were delicious and not sweetened by stevia.
Stevia reminds me of that creepy uncle we all have – he’s awkward, says weird stuff and you have to invite him to family parties because he’s family. But inside, you just think, “gross.” Every family has one of these.
Natural Products Expo/West: F You, Stevia – Great Product Finds
Here are some of my favorite products I ran into that did NOT contain stevia and tasted great.
Straight out of the gate from the New Products room, Humm Kombucha was bomb. I am a fan of kombucha and this coconut lime kombucha was amazing. If you don’t like the taste of regular kombucha, try this line. They let me have a bottle and I’ve been hoarding it ever since. Like, yes, I have it in my fridge and refuse to open it until I have a free day to really enjoy it. Hello, my name is Chris Lam and I’m a freak.
High Brew debuted their newest cold brew coffee drinks made with coconut milk. Surprisingly, I liked the caramel pecan the best, and I’m not a caramel fan. You know I love me some cold brew so I hung out at this booth a little longer than usual. Beware – High Brew DOES add stevia to some of their flavors. Stick with the coffee sweetened cane sugar and you won’t gag. My favorites are the Double Espresso and the Black & Bold.
Golo Foods is not only woman-owned, their products are sweetened with chicory root! It is a zero on the glycemic index. I wish I knew about this when I had gestational diabetes. It would have been interesting to see if it really did keep my blood sugar on an even level with my strict diet.
I LOVE this Organic Fuel from Organic Valley. It is not sweetened with stevia and it is a protein milk for post-workouts. I was excited to see that it provides 26 grams of protein! Note it has a higher sugar content at 26 grams, too, but I don’t care. It’s not like I’m guzzling a gallon of this every day. This is truly for those hard workout days – for me, that means weight lifting and running more than three miles. (It should really mean more than five miles, but let’s not kid ourselves on my fitness routines, ok?)
If you don’t need such a hardcore protein milk, they also have a product called Organic Balance. But it is sweetened with… you guessed it – my enemy, stevia.
I normally don’t eat fruity desserts. I think it’s an oxymoron. Fruit isn’t a dessert. It’s a food group. Dessert is a treat! But look here, I have to eat my words because Tasty‘s organic strawberry shortcake sandwich cookies were delish. The booth guy (corporate type) didn’t seem friendly but that didn’t stop me from looking up where I can find these cookies. They’re sweetened with cane sugar and colored with beets. I would not be opposed to treating Toddler Spawn to one of these cookies.
This tiny little bottle will kick your ass. No lie. The two women who manned the KOR Shots booth warned me and I did not heed them. I stand corrected. These are super strength shots of cold pressed juice like ginger or turmeric or baobob. I tried the ginger and the black magic shots. As Keanu Reeves would say, “WHOA.” These shots would be awesome for those days when you’re feeling a cold come on or need a bit of a pick me up and don’t want to drink caffeine.
I had the pleasure of speaking with the owner and founder of Piping Gourmets. I mentioned my friend’s two young kids who are allergic to EVERYTHING. She sent me home with a box of whoopie pies for them to try. Who does that?! That was incredibly generous of her. Even if you’re not allergic to gluten, eggs, dairy or nuts, I highly encourage you to try a Whoopie Pie. They’re damn good.
I dragged Melissa with me on my first day at Expo West and made her double-fist Forto Strong Coffee. I have been bouncing off the walls of my smurf house, thanks to the extreme amount of caffeine in those little containers. I learned my lesson and have watered them down with milk and ice, making them iced coffees instead. Seriously, proceed with caution!
Follow Your Heart‘s oat bread was ah-ma-zing! I grabbed that plate with the breakfast burrito (and their newest item, their vegan egg) and slice of toast and walked away. The bread was so good, I walked back to find out where I could find the bread. YES I DID. I am not vegan but that bread was SO GOOD.
More non-stevia goodies….
There were lots of great products featured at Expo West. These are more of my favorites:
- REBBL drinks – plant-powered drinks that include yerba mate, matcha, maca and coconut milk
- Three Twins Ice Cream – they make cones now!
- Tipu CHAI NOW – I didn’t get to try their chai straight but I did sample their chai cocktails. Yum!
- P-De-Q brazilian bread balls – OH MY GOD. I need these in my freezer every day. So.damn.good.
- Belvoir Elderflower & Rose Lemonade – again. OH MY GOD. I’m not a lemonade person but holy crap. This ish was amazing.
- Farmhouse Culture‘s Kimchi Gut Shot – woooweee! This is basically the juice that you’d drink from that bag of kimchi you get at the Korean supermarket. Farmhouse Culture basically bottled it.
Very quickly, I want to also list out this year’s trends:
- Probiotics in everything – so much kombucha! so much probiotics! so many kraut brands! All good for your gut.
- Speaking of… kombucha! – There were a lot more brands offering kombucha than years past.
- Kid-friendly snacks, sweetened with fruit or cane sugar – that’s coming up in the next post about baby stuff.
- Coffee – These brands have brought their A game. I drank so much coffee that I was zooming up and down the expo floor.
- And in general, lots of liquid. There were a lot of drinks companies – Koa‘s lavender olakino water was super tasty. So was Owl’s Brew‘s teas and Heart of Tea‘s bottled teas and Harmless Harvest‘s coffee coconut water. Not to mention a billion other tea companies serving their hot teas.
Well, there you have it.
If you’re like me and hate stevia, check out all of these products. There was so much to see at Expo West. I’m sure I missed a few hundred products without stevia. If you have a product you like (without stevia), let me know in the comments!!
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