What We Saw and Ate at Expo West 2015
Gluten-Free Living spent last Friday and Saturday at Natural Products Expo West in sunny Anaheim, California. Our goal? Discover new trends, seek out the best new companies and find the very best gluten-free products for our readers.
Since Expo West isn’t open to the public, it’s our job to be our readers’ eyes and ears on the ground. From Udi’s new rye bread to kombucha to cricket flour, here’s a taste of what we saw and ate at Expo.
New product launches
Several companies were launching new products at Expo, including gluten-free versions of popular childhood favorite Lance sandwich crackers.
We also got a first look at Udi’s new gluten-free rye bread and Canyon Bakehouse’s new line of gluten-free bagels.
Schar was serving their new gluten-free croissants fresh out of the oven along with piping-hot cups of coffee. We found the croissants’ buttery, crispy outer crust impressive, with exactly the right amount of richness: any more and it would have been too indulgent, any less and it wouldn’t have been a croissant. Don’t expect the same experience you’d find in Paris—Schar’s version does lack the airy, ultrathin flaky layers that mark a gluten-containing croissant—but the end result is truly commendable, especially when served straight from the oven.
Pizza and pancake takeover
We couldn’t move 10 feet at Expo without running into either a gluten-free pizza or a pancake. These two products both had a strong gluten-free showing at Expo, and we ended up sampling multigrain pancakes, sweet potato pancakes, pancakes from a box and pancakes from a pouch as well as frozen pizzas, flatbread pizzas and bagel pizzas.
One standout was Batter World, which sells ready-made batter in resealable pouches. The batter is purchased frozen; once thawed, it keeps in the refrigerator for about a week. We think the ready-to-cook batter is perfect for getting kids in the kitchen, and the handy pour spout would make creating shaped pancakes a breeze. Be careful when shopping, however: Only one variety is gluten-free.
Bob’s Red Mill brings bevy of new products—and a band
Of all the companies at Expo, no one put a smile on our face quite like Bob’s Red Mill. In addition to bringing a wealth of new products, Bob himself brought a big band to Expo and paraded around the convention center. After spending a few hours packed in a convention center with 60,000+ other attendees, dancing around with Bob’s band was a welcome respite from thrown elbows and long lines for the restroom.
On the food front, we’re most excited about Bob’s new coconut sugar. An official from the company that we spoke to said the sugar “tasted like butterscotch,” with no recognizable coconut flavor. We’re betting the sugar would taste amazing in a chewy, crispy-edged cookie, and we’re planning to buy a bag and start experimenting.
The company also brought their new gluten-free baking flour to Expo, which the company said can be used as a straight substitute for all-purpose flour in recipes. Though it’s not ideal for bread recipes, it’s reportedly good for cakes, cookies, and other baked goods. We haven’t started experimenting with the new flour yet; if you have, let us know your experiences in the comments.
Beverages gone wild
When you attend Expo West, you talk. A lot. And you eat. A lot. And you walk around in the hot California sun. A lot.
So hydration can be an issue—but not this year, thanks to all the beverage offerings at the show.
By the end of the show, we had sampled kombucha, cherry juice, ginger beer, gac fruit juice tea, cold-brew coffee, watermelon water, matcha green tea, kefir, drinking vinegar and six different flavors of coconut water. In the upcoming months, we expect to see the beverage case at our local grocery and convenience stores make room for alternative beverage options.
Healthy, filling, protein-packed beans are making their way into an increasing number of products. Although we’ve seen our fair share of bean-based crackers and dips, Expo West brought a massive wave of new bean products. Mediterranean Snacks launched their new Bean Stalk snack line at the expo, while Love Grown Foods showed off their new bean-based cereal.
One standout that we saw (but didn’t taste, unfortunately) was Tolerant’s line of bean-based pasta. We’re betting the black bean pasta in particular would make for a stunning bowl of pasta.
Jiminy cricket flour
The most unusual product we tried at Expo West? Exo protein bars made from cricket flour. They may not be for everyone, but hey, crickets are gluten-free…
That’s not the end of our coverage of Expo West: Be sure to come back tomorrow to see our picks for our top 10 favorite gluten-free products.