If you love to seriously geek out about upcoming trends in wellness, and you always want to be the first to try the latest healthy foods, the place to go is the Natural Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim, California. Thousands of exhibitors from independent to major brands converge to show off what’s new in everything from supplements to body products, tea, vegan cheese, paleo meals, energy drinks, and more. We were there (natch); here are the highlights.
Many trends we saw this year advanced ones from last year, such as plant protein, turmeric, probiotics, collagen and adaptogens. Pea protein showed up in everything from bars to baking mixes and drinks, while chickpea protein continued to pop up in pastas and snacks, plus a new granola and even milk (see below). We saw hemp seeds in protein powders, bars, snacks, sweets and milk.
There’s no shortage of protein bars; many are date based and therefore high in sugar. Paleo and grain-free foods are on the rise, with lots of grain-free granolas, chips and crackers, along with paleo protein bars, sweets and grass-fed meat products. Some companies have taken the Instagram super-trend of overnight oats and made easy DIY kits or readymade overnight oats to grab on the go. Like jeans, coffee will never go out of style, it simply changes form; cold brew is currently the most popular. We saw cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) in more food and body products, touted for its healing and calming properties without the high that comes from marijuana compound THC.
10 Food + Drink Favorites
It’s a tough job walking around at a wellness conference sampling and evaluating foods, but we did just that to bring you some of our favorites (you’re welcome).
Bottled water is convenient, but if its environmental implications fill you with guilt, here’s a solution. After seeing so much plastic at the beach, then-11-year-old actor and recording artist Jaden Smith was inspired to create bottled water that didn’t use plastic. Jaden went to his dad, actor Will Smith, and together they created JUST. “Our family motto is, ‘Improve lives,’” Smith told Clean Plates. Each reusable bottle of purified spring water is made of responsibly sourced paper and sugar cane. The water is sourced from Glen Falls, a struggling New York community JUST is attempting to help revive by investing time and money there. The company’s new line of infused spring waters—Jaden calls them “bottled spa waters” (lemon, tangerine, and apple cinnamon) —are made with the distilled essence of organic fruits and herbs, not sugar or ambiguous “natural flavors.”
$1.99 to $2.99 per 16.9-oz. bottle, Amazon
We love this company’s cauliflower-based pizza crusts already; now they’ve added new mixes that you can sub cup-for-cup with traditional flour for pie crusts, chicken breading, baked goods and more. The original mix is vegan (but contains cane sugar); the new paleo mix (available in April on Amazon) is a healthy combo of dried cauliflower and almond, tapioca, arrowroot and cassava flours, plus eggs.
Cauli-Flour by Caulipower original mix, $8.99 for a 12-oz. bag, Amazon
3. Yofiit Chickpea Milk
Non-dairy milks continue to trend but many are low in protein, contain stabilizers and other additives, and/or don’t taste great. This new mild-tasting alternative, made from chickpeas, pea protein and flaxseed oil, has 10 grams of protein per cup and no sweeteners or gums. The texture is smooth and slightly thinner than most almond milks. We especially liked the cinnamon flavor.
$6 to $7 for a 32-oz. container, Amazon (available in April)
4. Birch Benders Paleo Frozen Waffles
We already keep their just-add-water pancake mixes handy, and now we’ll be stocking these grain-free waffles in our freezer, too. Made with cassava, coconut and almond flours, with a hint of sweetness from monk fruit, this spin on a classic is really satisfying and super-easy for busy mornings, since you just toss them in the toaster. Birch Benders’ new paleo banana pancake mix gets honorable mention for tasting like fluffy banana bread minus all the sugar.
$3.99 for a box of 6 waffles, at stores nationwide at the end of March (including Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Lucky and Central Market)
5. Primal Kitchen Egg-Free Mayo and Paleo Garlic Aioli
This brand is beloved for upgrading the ingredients in jarred mayo (hello, avocado oil). Now vegans can join the party with these egg-free versions, sure to please both the plant-based and primal crowds. The garlic aioli isn’t egg-free, but it’s crazy delicious; you’ll want to spread it on everything.
Both $9.99 for a 12-oz. jar, at Whole Foods in June
Sausage is a tasty option for those who prefer a savory breakfast, but it can be challenging to find brands free of all less-desirable ingredients. Not anymore: Hip Chick Farms’ organic chicken patties are free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. Choose from three flavors—chicken and apple, chicken and sweet potato hash, and chicken and maple.
$5.99 for a box of 10 patties, at supermarkets (including Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, QFC, Shaw’s and others)
Protein bars are convenient, but it isn’t always easy to find the flavor or level of sweetness that you want. Enter Creation Nation, which offers no-bake mixes with nutritious ingredients that let you control the sweetener and flavor. Each package has three easy recipe options on the back, or you can get creative and add your own touches, such as juice, milk, nut butter, mashed fruit or coconut oil. The company’s newest protein bar mix, based on the classic peanut butter and jelly combo, is vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO, with several organic ingredients like peanut powder and flaxseed meal. The mix makes 8 bars with 5 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein each—more if you add nut butter—or 24 protein balls.
On sale now at ProteinBarMix.com for $14.99 per bag and end of March at Amazon, Thrive Market or Whole Foods Market.
These organic rich gelatos are made with raw cashews, maple syrup, and spices, without gluten, soy or stabilizers, so you can treat yourself and still feel good afterward. Their main flavors include Naked Vanilla and Naked Chocolate, Coffee Cream Dream with organic fair-trade cold brew coffee, and Chai & I, a beautifully spiced rooibos chai gelato we are still dreaming about. Vixen Kitchen also works in a seasonal pumpkin pie flavor, and the company is working on gluten-free cookies & cream, salted whiskey caramel, gluten-free cookie dough and chocolate-dipped bars.
$12.99 per pint, at HealthyGoodness.com
Juice is ok, but how about a functional drink with 14 grams of slow-brewed herbs per bottle? Goldthread’s 10 functional flavors include Turmeric Radiance, Green Minerals (including nettle, alfalfa, and rosehips) and Schisandra Supreme (schisandra is an adrenal-fatigue-fighting adaptogenic berry). Each 12-ounce bottle has 6 grams of sugar from monkfruit and maple syrup, but these tonics don’t have the cloying sweetness of so many drinks on store shelves.
$3.99 for a 12-oz. bottle, at natural-foods markets
10. Kite Hill Plain Unsweetened Vegan Greek-Style Yogurt and Drinkable Yogurt
You may already know Kite Hill’s luscious almond-based cheeses like ricotta and cream cheese. Now get ready to add yogurt to the mix. The company’s plain unsweetened Greek-style almond yogurt has the essential tartness and rich thickness of dairy Greek yogurt, 11 grams of protein per serving and the perfect flavor and texture to top with fruit, nuts or healthy granola. Kite Hill’s newest creation—drinkable almond yogurt—is perfect for when you’re on the go. The unsweetened plain is tangy like traditional yogurt and would also make a good smoothie addition.
Greek-style yogurt: $1.99 per 5.3-oz. cup, at Whole Foods
Drinkable yogurt: Expected in stores this summer