Top Ten Vegan Finds at Expo East 2017!

Top 10 Expo East 2017

Back in March, we gave you our top finds from Natural Products Expo West 2017. There were so many good things, that we had to come up with a second list! 6 months later, we were back on the hunt in Baltimore for Natural Products Expo East 2017 to see what new was coming our way later this year into early 2018!       Read more

Our Top Ten Vegan Finds at Expo West 2017

top 10 expo west featured

Another year, and now Natural Products Expo West 2017 in the books! 

Natural Products Expo West (or Expo West) is held in Anaheim, CA. It is one of, if not, the biggest trade shows in the natural products industry. It features a healthy mix of products and services across a variety of industries from healthcare to retail. What’s even better is that there is a solid growing number of vegan products to explore! Read more

Just Some of Our Vegan Faves at Natural Products Expo West 2016

expo west vegan faves 2016

expo west 2016 sign

We’ve just come back from a lovely 4 days in California. What brought us there? Well, it was Natural Products Expo West, of course! Being that it was our second year attending, we were excited to see all the NEW that was in store, compared to last year and its East Coast counterpart

Riding down from LA with our friends Dan Hanley of The Gay Vegans and Tess Challis, we got an early start on the trade show fun! While we were there for 2 days, we saw and tasted A LOT! Even though the trade show as 3 days, there was NO WAY a single person could see everything!

Between the Anaheim Convention Center, the Arena, the Hilton and the Marriot on site, exhibitors, retailers, industry pros and press came in droves to experience new products, new technology and new trends in the natural products (food, health, home, pets and more). In fact, it was just announced that over 77,000 were in attendance! 

While we tried our best to narrow this down to a Top 10, we just couldn’t do it this year. So, we’re giving you a “sample” of what we saw with more to come in future blog posts! In alphabetical order, let’s begin!    

color-kitchen--expo-west-2016

Color Kitchen Food Coloring 

For those of you who like to bake, Color Kitchen may just be the answer for your food coloring/dyeing needs! Their food coloring and dyes are bold and vibrant! They offer plant-based colors, starting with a base pack of pink, blue and yellow. They also create seasonal packs like their Easter dyes and holiday sets. Super excited to play around with this soon!

daiya-dressing-expo-west-2016daiya-pepperoni-pizza-expo-west-2016

Daiya Dressings & Pizza

Daiya had one of the biggest booths at the show, presenting their entire line. However, just about everyone we knew was excited for the new creamy, shelf-stable dressings line of Ranch, Caesar and Bleu Cheese! If memory serves us correctly, these were pretty spot on what we recall from our pre-vegan days. So much so that Carlo was too scared to try the Bleu Cheese, because he didn’t like that flavor way back then. Carmella loved them all, especially the Bleu Cheese.

Daiya introduced two new pizzas: Pepperoni and Spinach Mushroom. Like their other varieties, the pizzas were gluten-free! However, what really got us was that pepperoni, which we learned Daiya makes themselves, unlike the Beyond Meat crumbles on the Supreme. So, will Daiya put the pepperoni on the market? We’d love to see that happen!

dandies-peppermint-marshmallow-expo-west-2016

Dandies Peppermint Marshmallows

Always a favorite of ours, Dandies is really branching out. Last year, we saw their first foray into seasonal products with Pumpkin Spice. This holiday season look out for Peppermint! We’re really excited for these, because Carm’s been wanting to do holiday chocolate bark and fun treat gifts that include marshmallows. Not to mention, peppermint hot cocoa will be even better this year!

follow-your-heart-bread-expo-west-2016

Follow Your Heart Gluten-Free Bread & Tortillas

Yes, we know that it’s all about the Vegan Egg for folks right now. However, what’s really changing up the game for us is Follow Your Heart’s gluten-free breads and tortillas are going NATIONAL! For us outside of California, we can now enjoy one of the most deliciously hearty gluten-free breads around. And there are now wraps too!! 

Breakfast burritos, anyone?

gardein-breakfast-pockets-expo-west-2016

Gardein Breakfast Scramble Pockets

Speaking of breakfast, Gardein debuted their “coming soon” Breakfast Scramble Pockets, which were AHHHHMAZING! If we had to dream of the perfect handheld breakfast item, it would be this. The pockets are a wonderful vegan collaboration with Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Egg and Daiya cheese! Wow!

We heard that Dan from The Gay Vegans couldn’t get enough of these and had like 5 samples in a sitting! YUP! That’s how good they were. 

hail-merry-nut-hummus-expo-west-2016hail-merry-miracle-tarts--expo-west-2016

Hail Merry Nut Hummus & Reduce Sugar Miracle Tarts

Hail Merry is tops with us! Their Miracle Tarts and Macaroons (now Merry Bites) have become staples in our home in the past couple of years. We know that anything they put out would be delicious, but did they throw us for a loop at Expo! 

The company has started a cashew-based Nut Hummus line! They debuted two flavors: Green Chile and Roasted Red Pepper. Both were smooth, creamy and tasted like its garbanzo bean cousin! The Roasted Red Pepper was one we would eat with a spoon, while the Green Chile would be great as an avocado alternative on nachos or even soup. 

In addition to the hummus, Hail Merry is launching a reduced sugar line for the Miracle Tarts, starting with Strawberry Rhubard, Blueberry Acai and Sweet Potato. Sampling all three, it didn’t taste like sugar was missing. They were full of flavor with the right amount of sweetness. They were all good, but that Sweet Potato…give that to us all day, everyday!

hodo-soy-sesame-yuba-noodles-expo-west-2016

Hodo Soy Sesame Yuba Noodles

Hodo Soy is the maker of the Sofritas (yes, THOSE at Chipotle). What this company does with soy in making their tofu and yuba products is nothing short of amazing. Stopping by their booth was such a highlight in seeing what’s new. It looks like they’re moving into flavored products. The WOW was the Sesame Yuba Noodles. Not salty with the right touch of sweetness and nuttiness, Carm couldn’t stop sampling. 

We recently learned that Costco on the West Coast is starting to carry their products. Oh please come out East…PLEASE!

i-heart-keenwah-expo-west-2016

I Heart Keenwah Quinoa Puffs

We heard about I Heart Keenwah from a Facebook group, seeing a photo of their chocolate-covered puffs. At Expo, we learned they do sweet and savory quinoa snacks! All, but their cheddar puffs, are vegan. 

Their Chocolate Puffs come in Dark Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter. Both are equally good and addictive! Good thing we stopped ourselves to talk to the owners! 

Their quinoa clusters taste like sesame candy, which we both grew up loving as kids. Their savory puffs in Herbes de Provence were our fave of that lot, but the Sea Salt Truffle and Sweet Chili were yum.

Based in NYC, I Heart Keenwah is planning to hit up some major convenient stores soon! V Marks the Shop needs to get in on this! 

Note: The company is working to veganize the cheddar puffs!! 

limation-limeade-expo-west-2016

Limation Limeade Beverages

Let me tell you about Limation! First of all, the company is based in NYC (Harlem). Second of all, this is a woman-owned business! Charmaine DaCosta is doing her thing to grow her business and make her delicious limeade available across our city, state and country! So, it was a pleasure to meet her and try her delicious flavors in 2 lines: One being shelf-stable (up to 18 months) and one being refrigerated. With flavors from lavender to watermelon, they’re really refreshing. 

Oh and one more thing, if you shop FreshDirect, you can have Limation’s refrigerated limeade flavors delivered to you!

little-secrets-salted-peanut--expo-west-2016

Little Secrets Dark Chocolate Candies

How long have you been dreaming of a vegan M&M candy to hit the market? Well, friends, that day is come, thanks to Little Secrets! 

Four of Little Secrets varieties are unintentionally vegan (not certified):

  • Salted Peanut Dark Chocolate (yes, that says PEANUT)
  • Dark Chocolate Rich & Creamy
  • Dark Chocolate Raspberry 
  • Dark Chocolate Peppermint (This is a seasonal flavor)

Yes, they use confectioner’s glaze for the coating, BUT it’s made from carnauba wax, not shellac, making it plant-based. 

They do note allergens and possible cross-contamination (similar to other brands, like Justin’s). However, these are the closest we’ve gotten to the real candy-coated chocolate treat. 

These candies are starting to pop up on Amazon and other retailers! 

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Miyoko’s Kitchen European Style Cultured VeganButter

If you don’t know about the awesomeness that is Miyoko’s Kitchen, then let this be your formal introduction. This VeganButter just won the Nexty Award for Special Diet Food at Expo West. It was really everything you could ask for in butter, in general! It’s non-GMO, palm oil-free, rich, creamy and “smooth like butta…” DUH! It IS butter with a coconut oil base with a great blend of safflower/sunflower oil, cashews, sea salt and cultures. 

Now, while we rave about the butter, you need to also get your hands on Miyoko’s cheese. Hell, get the whole line from Buffalo-style Mozzarella to the Smoked Farmhouse…and whatever specialty flavors she carries. They are worth the price and are hands-down FABULOUS! 

NadaMoo That Snickerdoodle Dough

Getting my NadaMoo fix is a challenge on the East Coast! So, I was so glad to see them at Expo West this year…and their 4 new flavors:

  • Pistachio Nut
  • Salted Caramel
  • Chocolate Cherry Fudge Brownie
  • That Snickerdoodle Dough

All were good, but THAT SNICKERDOODLE DOUGH (THOUGH) was AHHHHHMAZING! Good thing they only gave little sample spoons or there would have been a problem! 

Now, we just need to figure out how to get more of that goodness out this way! Hmmm…another note for V Marks the Shop!

Nutiva Hazelnut Spreads & Buttery Coconut Oil

nutiva-hazelnut--expo-west-2016

Two products that wow’d us came from Nutiva! Makers of coconut oils, seeds, snacks, etc., we’re so excited for 2 of their newest products: Hazelnut Spreads & Buttery Coconut Oil. All organic and delicious.

Being suckers for chocolate and hazelnuts, the spreads, in Classic and Dark varieties, tasted just like old school nutella, but better! They’re all organic and smooth (no grit – YES). We’re ready to have a lot of baking/breakfast fun with them!

Now, that Buttery Coconut Oil is going to change the game for at-home movie night (or sneaking popcorn into the theatre). The oil surprisingly doesn’t have a coconut flavor. It really tastes like butter! We also learned it can be used in baking, for sauteed dishes and as a spread, and is free of chemical. YES!

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Sir Kensington’s Fabenaise

You may have heard the news about the first vegan mayo made from aquafaba (chickpea water). Sir Kensington’s, the makers of fine condiments, has surprised the masses with their Fabenaise in TWO flavors: Classic and Chipotle. 

Rich, creamy, mayo-y? YUP! While we debate on which flavor we like more, it’s all good!! We’re looking forward to trying in many of our favorite sandwiches, sauces, dressings, etc. 

BTW, Sir Kensington’s also gets the WIN for serving steak fries at their booth! 

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Upton’s Naturals Burgers

Y’all know we love Upton’s. When we heard they were coming out with a burger, you know we just had to try it! Known for their seitan and jackfruit products, it’s about time they came out with a burger of their own! 

Their burger is a blend of seitan, tofu and eggplant. It’s got a lot of flavor, especially from the eggplant. It’s not greasy. It’s got a great bite and texture. And with some Sir Kensington’s ketchup and Fabenaise, we’ll be happy campers. Just with the ketchup we had with it at Expo, we were so giddy! 

Upton’s has also come out with a Thai Curry Jackfruit, which is really good! It seriously can up my pulled jackfruit sandwich game! But those burgers though! Can we hashtag that? #ThoseUptonsBurgersThough

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Vivoo Italian Raw Chocolate

From Verona, Italia comes Vivoo! Thanks to our friend Dr. Andy Mars of VegKinds.org, we got a “must-see” tip! Being Italians who love chocolate, we were on a mission to find and try…and we succeeded! Vivoo made their U.S. debut at Expo West this year, after successfully launching in Europe. They presented three lines:

  • Energy Fruitbars
  • Energy Fruitbites 
  • Organic Raw Chocolate Bars

All products are made using raw chocolate/cacao nibs and organic, gluten-free ingredients. The fruitbars and bites include superfoods like spirulina and goji berries. Many of their products contain no added sugar, except for some of the chocolate bars which are sweetened with coconut sugar. 

Some raw chocolates have a bland taste or chalky aftertaste. These do that. The fruitbars and bites allowed you taste all of the ingredients. We were really impressed!

There you have it! Our “sample” of vegan faves at Expo West. This is just a small portion of what we found and loved! More to come later down the line!

Is there a type of never before seen vegan product you’d like a company to put out in the market? Tell us in the comments! 

Top 10 Lessons We’ve Learned from Pinky the Squirrel

I work in social services….

Hard work, little pay and “rewarding.” Days can be long and unpredictable. Regardless how our days go, one bright spot is a constant. Everyday, we get a visit from a spry little squirrel who we call “Pinky.”

Around the same times daily, Pinky the Squirrel will come to our window, tap on it and cling to the screen until we make eye contact. Once she makes eye contact, we roll up the window. As we open the container of peanuts that we keep on the sill, she patiently waits until we feed her…by hand! Yep, she’ll take the nuts right out of our hands!

Clients and coworkers alike love Pinky’s visits! I work with two vegetarians and several omnivores. Pinky’s presence may subtly breed compassion and kindness. We all love when she stops by to say “Hello!” We all shout “Pinky’s here!” Since she’s here all the time, we remark how smart and wily she is: facets of rodents that most people never see.

Carm even has taken to Pinky when she stops by for lunch or drops me off/picks me up at the office. You have seen some of her photos and videos of Pinky on Instagram or Periscope. They’ve become good friends!

As we work with our clients, we’re learning more about compassion for our fellow humans and non-humans alike. Pinky’s teaching us these things.

With that, we’d like to dedicate this special Top 10 list to Pinky the Squirrel! 

Top 10 Lessons We’ve Learned from Pinky the Squirrel

1. A simple hello can make your day all the better!

 

Pinky, always the greeter! #officepet #officesquirrel #squirrel #fortheanimals #friendsnotfood

A video posted by The Food Duo Ⓥ (@thefoodduo) on


2. Make time to enjoy the little things in life!

 

3. Don’t let fear hold you back!  

 

 

Day 68 of #100happydays: Pinky the Squirrel is just hanging around, waiting on snack time. #happy #happiness #100daysofhappiness #officepet A photo posted by The Food Duo Ⓥ (@thefoodduo) on

 

4. Be a good neighbor!

  

5. Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t!  

 

6. Opportunity knocks!

   

7. Climb high to reach new heights!

 

8. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

 

9. Be patient and good things will come!

 

  Dinner with Pinky! #squirrel #officepet #cuteness #peanut #friendsnotfood   A video posted by The Food Duo Ⓥ (@thefoodduo) on

 

10. Friendship extends beyond species!

 

Our Weekly Top 10: The Top Foods For The Opening Week Of Pro Football!

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Once again, the opening week of football season is at our door! With a crazy off-season full of drama like “Deflate-gate,”  brand-new scoring rules that nobody likes or the Cleveland Browns new meh uniforms, the season couldn’t come quick enough. 

via GIPHY

If you’re throwing a party, it’s important to give your guests some memorable vegan yummies, especially if the game ends up sucking or your guests are not actually interested in football. You can also bring some goodies to an omnivore’s party or tailgate to show them how vegan’s throw down. 

source: hngn.com
source: hngn.com

Top 10 Foods For the Opening Week Of Football. As always, the list is in no particular order.  

  1. Loaded Nachos – Who doesn’t love nachos? The beauty of serving this favorite of fan favorites  is that you load them with almost anything; they’re pretty hard to screw up. If you can, splurge for the better quality,  unsalted tortilla chips or make your own! 
source: ilovevegan.com
source: ilovevegan.com

2. Pizza Muffins – There’s something glorious about noshing on those crunchy little pizza pies while watching a bunch of very large men knocking the tar out of each other. Ahhhh, pizza muffins! Watch our classic video below (directed by Martin Scorcese…well, actually directed by my BFF, Hugo.) 

3. Chili – Chili and football are a match made in vegan Valhalla. It doesn’t matter what type of vegan chili you serve up during a game, just serve it! Make sure to have a few types of hot sauces on hand for your more adventurous guests. 

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4. Chik’n Tenders – Whether you make your own or cook up a commercial brand, serving chik’n tenders with your favorite dipping sauce is a must during opening weekend!

source: wilipedia
source: wilipedia

5. Sammiches – Little sandwiches really hit the spot! You can serve traditional heroes, chik’n salad on bagels (as pictured below), or set up a little sammy station where your guests can assemble their own  sub, hoagie or Dagwood! 

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6. Potato Skins – Easy, yummy,  versatile and they look like little footballs. What more can you ask for? 

source: hellyeahitsvegan.com
source: hellyeahitsvegan.com

7. Cookies –  Cookies are also pleasing to your posse and also happen to be  a great “gateway” food for your omnivore friends.  Here’s a recipe for some amazing anginetti (lemon drop cookies)

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8. Mixed Drinks –   Give your blender a workout and whip up some tasty, refreshing libations. Get creative and mix a few with the colors of your favorite team. Although making drinks in the color of the New Orleans Saints might present a challenge. 

source: static.communitytable.parade.com
source: static.communitytable.parade.com

9. Sushi – Vegan sushi is becoming more common & you can find them in many supermarkets or your local sushi restaurant. Of course you can get creative or daring and make weird ones like we once did…we made hot dog sushi.    

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10.  Stromboli –  No Top 10 list opening week of football  would be complete without stromboli! Make sure to pronounce them, STROM-BOWL-EEEEE!

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