Heading out by myself early on a Friday morning I made my way north to the Anaheim Convention Center... home to the 2014 Natural Products Expo West. Little did I know I would be joining some 67,000 of my new closest friends, but this record-breaking event shows the move toward natural and healthy products is not a fad.
With over 2,600 exhibiting companies, the Expo is, needless to say, a bit overwhelming. Luckily I had a bit of research under my belt, and after bumping into Erika, of In Erika's Kitchen, I had a little guidance and a loosely laid plan of action.
Know that if you are not one of the very early birds, you will not be able to park at the Convention Center, but parking is easily found (along with free and plentiful shuttles) at the Angel's Stadium, just a few miles from the Expo event. Attending on a Press Pass, my registration needed to be completed at the Convention Center itself, but other registrants have the ability to get their tickets at the Angel's Parking lot... a line that moved fairly slowly due to only one person working the desk, but a line that was shorter than the mobs we met at the actual event. I can't advise which moved faster, but both were long.
|Some people actually brought wagons!|
Small booths filled with eager faces brought actual contact from the company owners themselves, and the excitement and hope they shared about their products was positively contagious. I spent over an hour perusing this level, chatting along the way and came away with some of my favorite Expo 2014 products, products I hope make it big in the world.
A few tips I will remember for next time:
- Bring a few pens and a small notebook. With so much going on sometimes the information thrown at you can be overwhelming. I took notes on flyers and more in a notebook and also in the notes section on my phone. Helped so much when I came home and tried to sort everything out.
- Bring business cards, I made numerous connections at the Expo.
- Read the exhibitor lists before you arrive and make a list of those you don't want to miss.
- Grab a map of the venue.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes!
- Give yourself lots of time to meander and explore
- Don't grab free things just because they are free... I saw a lady lugging a bag of cat litter then I heard her mention, "I got this for free... and I don't even have a cat!". Why??
- Talk! Get in there and talk to the vendors. I met so many wonderful people with stories I enjoyed and the experience brought faces to the company names.
Liv Life Top 10 Finds at the 2014 Expo West
Bob's Red Mill
Whole GrainsOk... this may not be an actual "new" find as I'm already a big Bob's Red Mill fan, but I met Bob!! Not only did I meet him, but he gave me a personally addressed and signed book and took a photo with me. I'm thinking we are pretty good friends now. He even tweeted me to say he was so glad I came by. Yep, I'm thinking BFF's...
Clean, Lean and Sexy
A tasty snack food line that is not only delicious but isn't loaded with sugar or artificial and unnecessary ingredientsPassing this booth one couldn't help but stop. First, the name, Clean Lean and Sexy, alone caught my eye, then the smiles and personalities of the owner Suzie Carpenter and PR rep Nancy had me chatting in no time. Passionate about her products, Suzie's products are made with real ingredients and will never contain gluten, soy, corn or dairy. As the mom of a daughter with Celiac, she learned quickly how to read an ingredient label and went on to create her own snack products.
"My secret is I'm obsessed. Not only with good food, but with what's in it. When my daughter was diagnosed with Celiac's disease, I had no choice but to become an expert label reader. My Clean, Lean and Sexy snacks are always Gluten Free and made with simple, clean ingredients. That is my pledge to you!"
Featuring an addictive Air Popped Pop Corn, Gluten Free Pretzels, and two whole food natural energy bars (I'm partial to the Coconut Cashew version!), Suzie's foods can be ordered online.
"Olomomo® (pronounced “o-lo-MO-mo”) means "Momo's world" and refers to the nutty adventures of "Momo" the monkey. Olomomo aspires to bring innovation to the nut industry with the most delicious and unusual nuts in the world. Our roasted nuts are a micro-batch, premium, high-energy, amino acid and protein-rich snack designed to taste great with coffee, tea, beer and wine. They're a GREAT premium mouth-watering snack for anyone on the go - athletes, travelers, busy moms and kids. Olomomo Nuts are coming soon to a coffee shop, smoothie shop, grocery store, outdoor sporting goods store near you."
Also catching my eye with the personalities behind the tables, Olomomo Nuts has recently been named one of the Top 10 Natural Brands to Watch in 2014 by New Hope Natural Media. Known for premium flavor profiles and product innovation in the nut and snack industry, I was lucky enough to taste their new product, the Vim Vinegar and Sea Salt Almonds. Blending exotic Japanese umeboshi plum vinegar with just a hint of sea salt, I could have stood around chatting and snacking on their nuts all day.
With products like Mango Chipotle Zinger Almonds and Righteous Cinnamon Cayenne Almonds packaged in snack sized bags, this products is indeed something to go nuts for!
GoodBelly’s delicious organic drinks deliver a powerful daily dose of live and active probiotic cultures of Lactobacillus plantarum299v, a well-studied probiotic strain formulated for daily digestive health.* Refreshingly dairy-free, soy-free and vegan. Simply good to the core.
Super excited about this one. Probiotic Juice Drinks... and always dairy-free. I tasted their juice drinks and also a shot, and I have no doubt that Good Belly will earn a regular spot in our fridge. I have visions of smoothies and blended juices using these products in my future. Stay tuned!
- Always dairy-free, soy-free and vegan.
- Unlike many ‘live and active cultures’ found on the market, GoodBelly’s probiotic strain survives the stomach’s acidic environment in order to reach the rest of the intestinal tract.
- While LP299V® is widely available in Europe, GoodBelly is the only beverage in the United States that offers this probiotic strain.
- And most importantly, GoodBelly promotes healthy digestion.*
The Ultimate scoop for uses in dietary food supplements, culinary, baby formula, and products containing powders, liquids and more. Just Scoop, snap, flip and pour!
Just totally cool... who doesn't need one of these little gadgets? My husband travels and when attempting to pour a serving of protein powder into a water bottle it always makes a mess. This little Scoopie solves the problem.
We understand that to gym goers and competitors in the fitness industry, it's essential that they have simplicity within their everyday routine and contest prep. We saw the difficulty in taking a pre-workout/protein supplement on the go because the scoop that typically is provided in the supplement tub was much larger than the circumference of that of a normal water bottles opening/spout creating a mess. - See more at: http://thescoopie.com/pages/about-us#sthash.wyiJs90o.dpuf
The ULTIMATE scoop for uses in dietary food supplements, culinary, baby formula, & products containing powders, liquids, & MORE! Just scoop, snap, flip & pour! - See more at: http://thescoopie.com/pages/about-us#sthash.wyiJs90o.dpuf"We understand that to gym goers and competitors in the fitness industry, it's essential that they have simplicity within their everyday routine and contest prep. We saw the difficulty in taking a pre-workout/protein supplement on the go because the scoop that typically is provided in the supplement tub was much larger than the circumference of that of a normal water bottles opening/spout creating a mess."
"Around here we do things a little differently. Perfect Foods Bars are delicious, great tasting bars that DON'T have any added chemical preservatives. We start with a delicious, creamy blend of freshly ground peanut butter and almond butter, then add organic honey and nutrient dense whole foods and whole food protein. They taste so good, you won't believe they're so good for you."
Perfect Peanut Butter, Perfect Almond Butter, Perfect Almond Coconut... oh my, yes! I'm pretty picky when it comes to bars, but these flavorful beauties had me hooked with the first taste. I love that the ingredients are all recognizable as "real" food, and I love that there is no refined sugar.
Family owned and operated, Perfect Bars are names as one of the 10 Best Recovery Bars by Runner's Magazine. Found at Whole Foods, Spouts, Jimbos and numerous other stores here in Southern California, these bars have become a regular in our house already. The Perfect Foods Bar - Peanut Butter. THE ORIGINAL, Gluten Free High Protein Bar can also be found on Amazon or ordered on line at PerfectFoodsBar.com.
"A banker by profession, Robert took over the kitchen and six months later, voila! Chef Robert emerged with amazingly tasty and nutritious premium fruit snacks. Robert named the new product Matt’s Munchies after his son, Matthew, who helped develop the unique flavors. With intentions as pure as their products Chef, Matt and Sous Chef Linda (momz) seek to brighten the snacking landscape together with their exciting munchies!"
Fruit snacks have always been a favorite with the kids in our house, however these snacks caught my taste buds by surprise. The Island Mango sample sent me on a momentary trip to the tropics. Filled with mango and a touch of tropical coconut, these fruit snacks are anything but ordinary.
Family owned, this company moved from New York to California in 2009. Found in some Whole Foods as well as Mother's Markets, I'm hoping to find these munchies closer to me soon!
Lavilin Underarm and Foot Deodorants have evolved into effective alternatives to aluminum-based deodorants. Now, because our consumers have asked, Lavilin has developed a full line of deodorants, body lotions, and foot creams based on the original concept of targeting the root causes to solve problems, not just mask them! All the company's products have been developed with an awareness of the three elements – energy, harmony and proper cell development – required to achieve healthy, vital, and fresh skin. All Lavilin products utilize plant extracts and oils to help address odor, dryness, and cracked skin – never containing aluminum or alcohol!
We've been looking for an aluminum-free deodorant that actually works for quite some time. The Lavilin booth took the time to chat with me and their passion for their product has me ready to try. With samples here at home, Liv and I are giving this product a go this week, and so far so good! With products including the deodorants, foot care, skin and body, we're excited to find this line.
All natural, vegan and organic, sweeteners, desserts and toppings
This vegan and organic line of products turned my head, but it was the taste of the Marshmellow Creme (the first, and only, all natural, vegan marshmallow creme) drizzled with a Chocolate Rice Nectar that had me swooning. Bringing a full line of organic rice nectars and fruit sweeteners, Suzanne's Specialties can be found at Whole Foods.
All of our fat-free, gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan sweeteners are made with only the highest quality USDA Organic or All-Natural ingredients. They contain no preservatives, refined sugars, artificial colors or artificial flavors.
We don't over-refine grains to the point where the identity of the plant itself has been removed, because we believe that there is a healthy value in retaining as much of the original color, proteins, residual oils, and micronutrients of the grains as possible. Our products are truly sweetened the way Mother Nature intended.
While I can't find a web site for this company, their PowerBerries were positively fabulous!! The vendor mentioned we should be able to find them in Costco soon. While they weren't in my Costco yesterday, they are indeed something to watch for.
Barnana - With Liv's love of anything banana, these Organic Chewy Banana Bites were a big hit!
Crunchies Natural Snacks - Freeze-Dried and bursting with flavor, both kids loved the pineapple.
Bare Snacks - We all loved the Crunchy Coconut Chips and the Crunchy Cinnamon Apple Chips