The natural foods industry is bursting with new products. One of my favorite parts of this job is getting to travel to natural products shows to taste them all. I love meeting the manufacturers and hearing how their product came to be. Their excitement is palpable and contagious.
We are always on the search for innovative products that are completely new to the marketplace, reimagine childhood favorites with clean ingredients, or are made from whole and fiber-full foods. There seems to be no limit to how an ingredient can be used, as evidenced by that mighty vegetable cauliflower that continues to show its versatility, making every product show an adventure.
It was difficult to create this list because there are so many outstanding contenders. But when it came down to it, these are the top five products that will consistently appear on our shopping list:
1. Against the Grain Gourmet’s Veggie Vegan Pizza goes in a new direction for the brand. Not only is the crust free of cheese, a departure from its signature cheese-filled dough, but it is also topped with dairy-free cheese sauce developed in house. The company decided to make a dairy-free cheddar cheese sauce over using any shredded cheeses currently available. It made this move to control the ingredient list and because it was unable to find a product that lives up to its high standards for taste. The abundant fire-roasted veggies bake up crunchy and blend nicely with the creamy cheese sauce on a chewy crust that bakes to a gorgeous golden brown.
2. Even carnivores are lining up to buy the new line of plant-based sausages from Beyond Meat. Why? Because they taste even better than a traditional meat sausage. And they sizzle when cooking, just like a traditional sausage. Available in bratwurst, sweet Italian and hot Italian, each sausage uses peas along with fava and rice proteins as its base. Of course, they are lower in fat than traditional sausage and free of hormones, nitrites, nitrates and soy, and all their ingredients are non-GMO. An extra bonus is they are easier to digest than meat, so they don’t leave you feeling too full or bloated.
3. Setting a new standard for healthy, Mikey’s pizza pockets have turned portable snacking into a hot and delicious reality. Available in five flavors and made with good-for-you (and pronounceable) ingredients, each box contains two pockets filled with meat or vegetables wrapped in a Paleo crust. As with all of Mikey’s products, they are grain free, dairy free, soy free and certified Paleo friendly. The cauliflower curry with butternut squash and spinach and the sausage and peppers pockets are calling my name.
4. The new puff pastry dough from Schär is insane. Each box contains two rolls of premade dough with baking paper, making it easy to roll out and manipulate. It bakes up golden brown with tall flaky layers that have that great tug and pull, like wheat-y pastries. The sky’s the limit when using the dough because it works with sweet and savory creations. Unfortunately, it is having a hard time finding a home in the freezer set of grocery stores, so until it lands at a store near you, order it online.
5. Gluten-free and vegan food company Bobo’s has launched a healthy take on vegan pop tarts called Toast’r Pastries. Made with a dough that bakes up nice and crusty, each pastry is filled with all-natural fruit fillings, such as strawberry jam and blueberry lemon poppyseed, or nut-butter fillings of chocolate peanut butter and chocolate almond butter. Known for its oat bars, Bobo’s has taken a childhood favorite and turned it into a better-for-you breakfast treat using whole and natural ingredients. What a great way to start the morning!