Imagine a place where all of the new (and yet-to-be-discovered) Paleo products line the walls, from floor to ceiling. And imagine being able to sample everything and get limitless boxes of free Paleo products. This hypothetical situation exists, and I was there to experience it: the 2015 National Products Expo East. From September 16 to 19, I was given the amazing opportunity to attend this expo on behalf of Paleo Magazine.
Although, admittedly, wearing a press pass and a Paleo Magazine t-shirt to an event like this is a bit like painting a bull’s eye on your chest (for the hungry product vendors and manufacturers), there was nonetheless an amazing atmosphere of health and community. As the word “Paleo” continues to expand into the collective American and international consciousness, so do the product offerings and ideas.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same. For example, I had the pleasure of speaking with Eileen Forte from Paleo Simplified, who has been a part of the Paleo community for nearly four years now. She reminisced with me about how much things have changed—and yet how the food really hasn’t. Her chocolate coconut almond bars are delicious, and a Paleo treat to behold. Be sure to check them out.
The next business owner I had the pleasure of speaking with at the expo was Jason Wright, the co-founder and chief executive of Wilde Brands. Just recently launched, Wilde Brands boasts four different grass-fed beef bars, all of which are delicious and hold up well during travel. (I should know; I took home four boxes.) If you’re looking to support a new small business, definitely visit their website (and tell them I sent you!).
The next standout business I came across was LOLIWARE. Inventors of an ingenious biodegradable/edible cup, LOLIWARE cares deeply about the environment and resource sustainability. Imagine hosting a party and not having to clean up any empty cups at the end of the night. Pretty convenient, right? With LOLIWARE’s product, this dream can become a reality. And on top of that, the cups are flavored—meaning you can enjoy a chocolate Paleo treat in an edible vanilla cup. Look for them on ABC’s Shark Tank soon.
Next, I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the co-founders of Sapp, makers of organic birch tree water. Sapp is a dream come true for those looking for an alternative to coconut water, as their product contains 75 percent less sugar, along with a heaping serving of minerals. On top of that—and what really matters—is that Sapp tastes delicious. I was expecting something so low in sugar, and with the word “water” in the name, to not taste like much at all. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. Sapp’s birch tree water tastes like a crisp, refreshing spring day. I can’t recommend this product enough.
If you’re always looking for Paleo-friendly ice cream and coming up short, you need to take a short journey to the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream website. Using grass-fed, whole-fat milk and cream, it doesn’t get much purer than this. If you’re going to eat ice cream, you might as well get the best stuff you can. Jeni’s is it. If you’re looking for flavor recommendations, be sure to go with Salty Caramel—it’s a widespread favorite.
Some new products were seen this year, as well. Making a national debut at the expo, hot on the heels of their appearance on Good Morning America, were the handcrafted snacks by Paleo Scavenger. These treats are made with only nuts, coconut oil, honey and berries, and they’re great for traveling. Though the word “granola” may conjure up grains and “made in a lab” health bars, Paleo Scavenger differs from this stereotype. By keeping things simple and Paleo—but leaving in the great taste—the Paleo Scavenger team has come up with treats that are great for long hikes or plane rides. Eat up!
If ice cream and granola wouldn’t be enough to satisfy you, the Eating Evolved booth surely would have done the trick. A Paleo-friendly dark chocolate is hard to come by, but look no further. Eating Evolved’s dark chocolate tastes incredible, and will leave you craving more. And if that isn’t enough, try their Coconut Butter Cups. You’ll truly think you’ve died and gone to heaven. And you can even grab some of their Paleo-friendly baking chocolate or cacao nibs! Yum!
Another great Paleo treat was exhibited by Paleo Passion Foods. Their nutrition-packed Paleo Passion Pop is filled with fruit, kale, chia seeds, flax seeds, spinach and green tea. If you want a cool treat after a warm day, this is your product. Made without GMOs, gluten or dairy, these treats won’t leave you feeling guilty—only satisfied.
RxBar is another Paleo-friendly product that was exhibited at the expo. Possibly the single best option for those looking for protein on the go, RxBar has developed a solid reputation for quality and good sourcing of ingredients. Having been Whole30 approved for almost two years now, these bars come in a variety of flavors and varieties. Whether you’re in the mood for Blueberry, Apple Cinnamon, Coffee Chocolate or Chocolate Sea Salt, RxBar has you covered.
Against the Grain Gourmet was another popular selection this year, as they debuted their Lebanese-style gluten-free pitas, single-serve flatbread pizzas and pizza wraps. Their accompanying cookbook Against the Grain is also full of delicious gluten-free recipes. When her teenage son was diagnosed with celiac disease, founder Nancy Cain decided to figure out a way to replicate some of their previous family favorites into gluten-free dishes. A must-grab for those of us who still miss old-fashioned pizza from time to time!
Primal Pit Paste is a different sort of Paleo product. If you’re worried about putting parabens and aluminum in your body, this natural deodorant has you covered. Equally importantly, this deodorant contains no GMOs, no ingredients grown with chemicals, no phthalates and no synthetic fragrances. And if you like Paleo-friendly ingredients like coconut oil and olive oil, this is definitely the deodorant for you.
If you’re looking for some Paleo-friendly chips, look no further than Dang Foods and their toasted coconut chips. With a little bit of cane sugar and salt as the only additional ingredients, these chips are simple and delicious. All of the Dang Foods products are also free of genetically modified organisms. With their new, delicious flavor (Savory Bacon), these chips can make any meal a special occasion, and provide that “crunch” that sometimes goes missing when adopting a Paleo diet.
If you love caffeine but are worried about the environment, another interesting product seen at the expo this year was OneCoffee. Aiming to be the most sustainable single-serve coffee in the world, OneCoffee is a unique take on the timeless art of the brewed breakfast treat. Using organic and Fair Trade ingredients, OneCoffee comes in five varieties and is compatible with K-Cup coffee makers. A nice innovation for a crowded market.
If you’re looking for simplicity and taste, another product seen at the expo this year will be just for you: Nutty Goodness Fruit Bites. Made with nuts, dates and a variety of other Paleo-friendly ingredients, these fruit bites are great to travel with, and pack a nice antioxidant punch. Similar ingredient-wise to something you could make yourself at home, but conveniently already made for you, these fruit bites are a great way to stay Paleo—in even the toughest of circumstances.
So there you have it—a small glimpse into the 2015 Natural Products Expo East. It was an amazing and memorable experience, packed with lots of Paleo goodness and vendors. Be on the lookout for these awesome Paleo products over the next 12 months, and be sure to share them with your friends! For more information on the expo, visit www.ExpoEast.com.