News & Tidbits + Expo West

Exciting things are in the works here at MPH.

Stay tuned for extensive reviews of Newman’s Own Organics, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Sunshine Burger, and more. Though I will fully disclose a preexisting belief that I believe these are all fantastic companies, I promise to be (constructively) honest when it comes to their products in my reviews.

***

There have been many interesting things going on in the natural products/food and environmental worlds lately:

1. Earth Hour. This growingly-popular ‘green’ event will tonight (3/27) at 8:30-9:30 p.m. local time, worldwide. They explain: “On Earth Hour hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour. The movement symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in this fight, protecting our future and that of future generations.”

2. The Natural Products Expo West, (“Expo West” to those in the ‘biz), the world’s largest natural products trade expo, took place on March 12-14, 2010 in Anaheim, CA. This year’s show set record attendance, drawing 56,000 people. This giant, closed-to-the-public industry-insider event is where companies traditionally announce plans for or release new products, lines, flavors, and packaging designs. For example, it is where Lärabar unveiled their Peanut Butter & Jelly and Fruit Tart flavors last year. Many exciting announcements were made at this year’s Expo West, some of which are highlighted here Twenty New Dairy-Free Foods: 2010 Expo West and Beyond (Go Dairy Free, 2010). (See my summary below).

(Credit: Natural Products Expo on Facebook)

Though I did not attend, to review some of the most exciting announcements:

(Packaging Digest, 2010)

Turtle Mountain’s So Delicious is adding an organic-coconut-water sorbet line (a VegNews Best of Show winner); Rudi’s Organic Bakery is getting a packaging makeover and launching Rudi’s Gluten Free Bakery (to be available July 2010); Honest Tea introduced six new beverage varieties, adding Maqui Berry Grapefruit — (Maqui has intense antioxidant activity) — and Apple Jasmine to its Kombucha line, as well as Maqui Berry Mate, Half-Tea & Half-Lemonade, Honest Kids Berry Berry Good Lemonade, and Honest Kids Super Fruit Punch;

Hemp Bliss announced their launching the “only certified organic hempmilk”; Van’s announced their “8 Whole Grains” and “Lite” waffle lines; Tofurkey introduced their vegan frozen pizza line; Pure Bar is getting a packaging makeover; ReVita Pop introduced their 3.6-mg vitamin B-12 lollipop; and perhaps most exciting of all, Daiya is finally taking its previously food-service-available-only “cheese” (soy-free and vegan) shreds retail.

(PR Web, 2010)

That’s a lot of schmoozing, tasting, and selling.

(Credits: Natural Products Expo on Facebook)

I am excited to try Daiya products, which are already used in the Amy’s Kitchen soy-free Gluten-Free Macaroni and Non-Dairy Cheeze as “DAIYATM VEGAN CHEDDAR-TYPE CHEEZE (PURIFIED WATER, TAPIOCA AND/OR ARROWROOT FLOUR, EXPELLER PRESSED HIGH OLEIC SAFFLOWER OIL, COCONUT OIL, PEA PROTEIN, SALT, YEAST, VEGETABLE GLYCERIN, NATURAL FLAVORS, XANTHAN GUM, RICE EXTRACT, ENZYMES [NO ANIMAL RENNET OR ANIMAL ENZYMES], BACTERIAL CULTURES, CITRIC ACID, ANNATTO).” Their food contains no cholesterol, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, or common allergens, previously won the VegNews 2009 Product of the Year award, and was also a VegNews Best of Show winner. The pictures on Daiya’s Facebook fan page look phenomenal — reportedly, it is delicious and actually melts.

(Credit: Fan photo from Daiya Vegan Cheese Facebook page)

Mmm.

I don’t know about you, but I am so tired of seeing soy “cheese” — enough is enough with soy. And “rice” cheese, yadda yadda. I’ve never used them because these things often have shady ingredients like fake colors, carrageenan, etc., and zero protein. Bring it on, Daiya. Any notable experiences with vegan “cheese”?

3. Earlier this month, Kraft announced that it will be reducing sodium in its North American foods by about 10% within the next two years (Reuters, 2010). This is, clearly, a positive thing, but some believe it doesn’t go far enough. What do you think?

The salt-cutting trend is everywhere, with Cambpell Soup Co. and ConAgra Foods, Inc. doing the same, but with a catch: “Amid rising government pressure and consumer concern, food makers are taking a new tack in their long-running effort to sell products with less salt. Instead of offering foods labeled as low salt that few people eat, they are gradually reducing the salt from some of their most popular items—and not making a big fuss about it on the label” (The Wall Street Journal, 2010). Heinz will also be lowering sodium in its main ketchup line starting in summer 2010 (Heinz, 2010).

4. Kraft’s news came one day following PepsiCo‘s announcement that it will “stop the sale of full-sugar soft drinks to primary and secondary schools on a global scale by 2012″ (Reuters, 2010). I read something elsewhere saying that sports drinks like Gatorade will be permitted. This does sound good, though I personally don’t believe that diet (aspartame) sodas are much better. But, clearly, this may help to reduce obesity. Thoughts?

So, let’s get this right: 56,000 people attend a natural products trade show and major companies make huge announcements on a daily basis. Exciting times for health, indeed.

Go Dairy Free. (2010). Twenty new dairy-free foods: 2010 Expo West and beyond. Retrieved here.

H.J. Heinz Company. (2010). Press release. Retrieved here.

Packaging Digest. (2010, March 12). Rudi’s Organic Bakery launches new bread and packaing design. Retrieved here.

PR Web. (2010, March 13). Honest Tea introduces six new beverage varieties at Expo West 2010. Retrieved here.

Reuters. (2010, 17 March). Kraft to cut sodium levels in food products. Retrieved here.

The Wall Street Journal. (2010, January 11.) Food makers quietly cut back on salt. Retrieved here.

Food Makers Quietly Cut Back on Salt

Love Street Living Foods

I’ve got a coupon code for you!

Back story: Since taking advantage of the promotion on Chocolate-Covered Katie weeks ago, I’ve become a big fan of Love Street Living Foods.

“Love Street offers the highest quality, hand-selected raw and organic foods and ingredients from around the world.”

Natural goodies galore: fruit, nuts, Artisana, grains, chocolate…

You bet I tried the 100% Organic Raw Vegan Chocolate Coconut Spread above. Quite honestly, it’s out-of-this-world. After eating it, I just got the urge to smile. Frosting meets nutrition! In fact, I finished the 1-oz. sample so fast, I forgot to take a picture.

Here’s the scoop on this great company, straight from their “About Us” page:

Unique characteristics of Love Street ingredients:

  • All life-giving nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals intact and available as nutrition
  • Free from toxins and carcinogens created when food is cooked
  • 100% unprocessed
  • No animal testing
  • Grown without pesticides and fertilizers
  • Free from contamination by human or industrial waste
  • Processed without ionizing radiation or food additives
  • No genetically modified ingredients

Love Street Living Foods DO NOT contain:

  • refined sugars
  • hydrogenated oils
  • gluten
  • natural flavors
  • MSG (Monosodium glutamate)
  • additives
  • pesticides
  • highly processed ingredients
  • refined flour

Score! I also sampled their 100% Organic Vegan Chocolate with Goji Berries, which is 70% Cacao and gluten-free. It was crisp – almost crunchy – and fantastic. Plus gogis! Unlike any other chocolate I have ever tasted.

(Ate the bar before photo!) File photo:

Lastly, I got to try the 100% Organic Rare Vanilla Powder, which has a rich, full-bodied, warm taste and has been outstanding in my morning oats. If you’re gaga for vanilla extract, this stuff’ll blow you away.

I just put in another order today, and can’t wait to try the fudge:

Best of all, it’s all nutritious. Are you convinced you need to try some yourself?

Good news: you can snag 10% OFF your Love Street order, plus 3 FREE samples of your choosing(!), with the code MastPubHealth until March 12!

This is an awesome deal.

*I purchased these products myself and was not compensated in any way for this content.*

Bora Bora

Well, look what showed up at my doorstep about a month ago: the next best thing to being there!

(Minus one – Paradise Walnut Pistachio that I kindly offered someone else)

As mentioned in my last post, the kind people at Bora Bora foods mailed me a really nice package, including their newly-reformulated bars to try. Honestly – and I’m not “just saying that” – they’re GREAT.

*Pros of Bora Bora bars over other similar bars: USDA organic, OU kosher, certified vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO. Plus, the flavors are UNIQUE.

Though I don’t suffer from any allergies, their being organic is very important to me, as I try not to buy ‘conventional’ items as much as possible (especially when there’s (dried) fruit involved). I also like that they’re vegan and non-GMO. I was going to add that they’re soy-free (as this is also a positive in my eyes — we’re inundated with that stuff), but I don’t see any official statement to that effect, despite not seeing soy on the ingredient lists.

Also in the package was this awesome mug with the company logo on the back. To my happy surprise, this guy was made in the USA!

This is the Tropical Sesame Cranberry flavor. Look at that! Delicious! Extremely fresh-tasting, gooey-chewy (in a good way), and the tart cranberries really stand out and make your mouth water.

If you like fruit-and-nut/granola bars but hate that they’re often tooth-breakingly hard as rocks, you’ll love these.

This is the Tribal Cinnamon Oatmeal. Again, the flavor was awesome and not at all vague. Funny, because I couldn’t remember the exact name at first and started typing “apple” because there are chunks of dried apple throughout. The cinnamon flavor is bold and this TRULY tastes like a bowl of apple-cinnamon oatmeal (reminded me of those flavored Quaker packets from my childhood). Plus peanuts and raisins for fat, fruit, flavor, and staying power!

Everything came in this cool box. There was also a t-shirt included, which I gave to my mom. Shouldda snapped a pic.

Lastly, these fun tattoos were in the mug!

And, now, for the blog world’s tiniest giveaway ever (since I’m supposed to review the bars, the t-shirt has been claimed, and I’m still considering what to do with the mug): who wants five Bora Bora tattoos?? 😉 Don’t all shout out at once. Link to this post on your blog or tweet about it and leave a comment telling that you did so and I’ll randomly pick a winner (probably among the two readers who might “comepete”)! But, really — who couldn’t use
Polynesian-style tattoos?

If the folks at Bora Bora ever want to offer some bars up for grabs here, I’ll let you know. 😉

More good stuff to come…

Well, I’ve been a truly terrible blogger. And, while that may be, I’ll comfort myself with the idea that it’s better to be a terrible blogger than a terrible student… and, hey, at least I’ve still been commenting. So, there you go!

Even now, in the thick of finals season (graduate school + finals do not = a pleasant combination; trust me), I should really NOT be here right now. But, I have too many great announcements to keep to myself.

1. The amazing people at Crofter’s generously sent me all four of their new Superfruit Spreads to try. Man, do I love these — and the family was too eager to help devour the jars. Each flavor has a tangy, distinct, unique taste that is so much better than the the tired “concord grape,” for example. Maqui, passionfruit, black currants, blueberries, yumberries… —  how else could you amass all this exotic, organic goodness? The only flavor we’ve yet to sample is Asia, and I’m sure it won’t be long. Highly recommended for boosting (kids’) fruit intake.

(If you’re wondering why I’m organic-crazy, check out whatsonmyfood.org — you’ll be scared. You can thank my environmental health class for that unpleasant (but necessary) dose of reality….)

File photo

2. The Bora Bora company is known for great-tasting gluten-free, organic, vegan fruit/nut/seed bars. Mmmm. I have bought them in the past but the company has recently re-deisgned and re-forumlated the bars, introducing many great new flavors I am dying to try! Bora Bora is running a $5 OFF sale on all orders at their new web site — go check it out at: www.boraborafoods.com. Stayed tuned for formal reviews!

3. Click HERE for a coupon good for $1 off Green and Black’s organic chocolate. Yum!

4. Click here for a Pure Bar coupon.

5. Another organic, family company I enjoy, BumbleBar, is offering a sweet holiday sale. Select flavor boxes (15 bars) are now $15. Feel free to take advantage; I did a few weeks ago.

In the meantime (i.e. finals week(s)) until my Bora Bora report (wish I was headed there…), enjoy these pictures from a recent wedding I attended:

Baked salmon and veggies

One of MANY dessert “courses” — think butler-style shot glasses of Jelly Belly, chocolate molten lava brownies, dipped berries, chocolate-covered “cakesickle” pops… plus truffles, nuts, and black-and-white cookies to-go!

‘Til next time.

October Update

Hiatus briefly over! …Briefly. School and midterms are more time-consuming than one’d think. The beat goes on. Just ask a student.

In the meantime:

IMG_1098

Have tried the newest from Crofter’s — my favorite fruit preserves/conserves brand — in the form of their Superfruit Spread, “North America” variety, and it’s a winner.

Tastes like a combination of two of my favorite of their flavors, Blueberry and Four Fruit conserves. Sweet meets tart!

Look forward to trying the other versions soon.

IMG_1125a

Baked a cake for my parents’ anniversary using Dr. Oetker’s Organic Chocolate Cake Mix and their chocolate icing. Jazzed it up with some strawberry slices and Trader Joe’s Mini Vanilla Meringues.

IMG_1151Pretty messy cross-section. This was after the center was decorated with Kashi rice puffs… ha.

IMG_1128

One more, just for kicks. Despite some modifications, each of the carefully-cut 12 slices clocked in around ~320 kcal. It was devoured.

IMG_1106

Have been loving these Kisses Knishes Tofu Knishes! Tasted them in Blueberry (blueberry-muffin-sweet), Spinach (tastes like white pizza), Apple (tastes like sweet noodle puddling), and Chocolate (to die for). Man, now I wish I had one right now. Unfortunately, the store that sells them is closed by the time I get out of class, despite being conveniently located on the route home. 😦

The company is owned by Sunneen, whose delicious pre-made vegan sandwiches, burritos, and mock tuna/chicken salads, etc. are more commonly found at health food stores. Wish this particular item was more widely available.

IMG_1110

These Galaxy Granola “Meteorbites” (70% organic) are great too. They’re cute little pouches of granola bites in assorted satisfying flavors. Pictured: Blueberry Yogurt Flax, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Strawberry Banana Hemp. So far, they’ve only been spotted at Wegmans. Makes a great crunchy snack or oatmeal topping.

IMG_1111

Think that’s about all for now. As an FYI, I’ve just been notified that Gnu Foods (maker of those “Flavor & Fiber” bars) has come out with a few new flavors: Espresso Chip and Lemon Ginger. Someone actually just bought the latter flavor for me to try; so, I’ll let you know about that — and other new bar finds — when we meet again.

Swamped!

Hey guys, sorry for the small hiatus there. Just as a warning, I’m sure that won’t be the last time that happens; school started not too long ago and life has been hectic. Posts will probably be made with the same kind of timing throughout the semester.

IMG_1121

Some MPH program text books.

As there is ever-more reading to be done, this will be brief. I apologize for this having turned into more of a ‘food blog’ of late, but food is easy to photograph — and that’s about all there’s time for these days! I promise we will return to other health discussions as soon as scheduling allows.

IMG_1089Pancakes. Need more be said?

The other day, I finally decided to give Bob’s Red Mill Organic High Fiber Pancake & Waffle Whole Grain Mix a whirl. I had always seen it in stores and wanted to try it, and finally bought it when it happened to be on sale. Though a few minor alterations were made to the suggested recipe, the results were fantastic.

IMG_1104

Very impressive nutritionals, as seen below.

IMG_1103

The pancake recipe on the pack calls for 1 cup of the mix (though a “serving” is 1/3 cup, at 130 calories, dry) + 1 egg + 1 tbsp. oil + 3/4 cup of water. I substituted the egg for an identical serving of Nulaid ReddiEgg Real Egg Product.IMG_1112

While I am not totally thrilled by the ingredients, the list is fairly straightforward and it is certainly far less expensive (at ~$3.50) than, for example, Organic Valley’s Pasteurized Egg Whites — which is great, but runs around $11 per similar small carton. It’s also good if you’d like to cut the cholesterol, but have someone in your family fussy about egg whites — the color is yellow.

IMG_1113

As an experiment, I also added about 2 tablespoons of Nutiva Organic Chocolate HempShake to the last of the batter (1 pancake) before drooping it into the pan. This was the best idea of all. The “chocolate” pancake was a definite hit and wound up being “traded” for!

IMG_1124

One small (supposedly single-serve) packet — also comes in a large canister.

IMG_1123

The added cocoa taste (+ vitamins, minerals, protein, & fiber) from the Hemp Shake product really made more of a difference than one would have thought… the color difference can be seen below. Flavor was subtle and delicious.

IMG_1097

Chocolate-y, hemp goodness. Hungry?

I also added 1/8 tsp. of baking powder out of fear that the pancakes wouldn’t “rise” to proper fluffiness due to the egg substitution. I later realized that baking powder is already in the baking mix, so I’m not sure what, if any, effect this may have had. The bakers out there can advise on that one! Plus bananas, strawberries (seen above), and Trader Joe’s Organic Maple Agave Syrup Blend (which is 170 calories per 1/4 cup versus 210 per 1/4 cup in pure maple syrup, and, at ~$3.00, is also much less expensive than maple syrup) =

IMG_1090Sadly, no ‘chocolate’ pancake on this plate… (bananas hiding on the flip-side).

These sat rather (satisfyingly) heavy in the stomach; not light and airy, as to go right through you. So, great satiety factor there — no suprise: look at the ingredient list! Next: need to purchase a waffle iron and try ’em that way?

Any other great baking mix products out there? There are so many unique ones on the market today, especially a growing number for the gluten-free crowd. Baking with pumpkin and cottage cheese is also popular nowadays. What are your quick  go-to mixes and baking aids? Tip: a small, non-stick rubber spatula was key for these.

Some of MPH text books

Some of MPH text books

Hot Cereal Product All-Stars

Like most good health blogs, Mastering Public Health fully supports the frequent eating of oats. This one’s actually a mix of oat bran and rolled oats, and they syrup-y looking glisten is actually from drizzles of a Celestial Seasonings flavorful decaffeinated raspberry tea.

IMG_1048a

Here are a few other “secret” ingredients you can add to your oats in a snap to add satisfying textures and flavors:

IMG_1054

True North, which is actually a Frito-Lay company, is a brand that has recently landed on the scene with a line of great “100% Natural” products. Though we know the term “natural” is sadly not regulated, the simple ingredient list of this particular “Pecan Almond Peanut Clusters” product speaks for itself: “Peanuts, Almonds, Brown Rice Syrup, Pecans, Organic Sugar, and Sea Salt.”

IMG_1055Here’s what they actually look like —

IMG_1053

I take one cluster (which is surprisingly jam-packed with tasty bits) and break it up over my oats. After the bowl is microwaved, they’re crunchy and toasted, giving the bowl a great sweet-and-salty punch with the benefit of healthful and satiating monounsaturated fats.

For more sweetness and fruity flavor, adding a spoon of fruit butter like Eden Organic Apple Butter Spread is also a fast and easy idea.

IMG_1063

Of course, no bowl of hot cereal would be complete without the easiest and tastiest addition: ground cinnamon. Spices contain tons of helpful antioxidants, and cinnamon is a superstar among them, as well as a fabulous, unexpected source of fiber. For a more fall taste (and greater variety of spices) McCormick’s “Apple Pie Spice” makes a great addition, too, but be careful — it’s not “sweet,” as the name ‘apple pie’ might mistakenly conjure.

IMG_1052a

For a junkier, but delicious addition, reach for some Trader Joe’s low-calorie, marshmallow-y meringues. The medium-sized chocolate ones are great for this, but these teeny-tiny vanilla ones work, too… especially when they’re sold out of chocolate… *grumbles.*

IMG_1061

As a rule, a bowl of hot cereal is never complete without including not only a bit of mashed banana, but chocolate. Specifically, cocoa. Mmm. My go-to product is Nutiva Chocolate Hemp Shake (nutrition facts/ingredients: Organic hemp protein, superfood chocolate blend (organic FairTrade Certified chocolate, organic ramon nuts, organic guar gum, inulin from chicory root, organic mesquite pods), organic Fair Trade Certified evaporated cane juice, organic chocolate flavor), which provides 12g fiber and 7g protein per serving. Less fancily, an equally-chocolate-y serving of *unsweetened* cocoa powder (like Ghirardelli’s or Chatfield’s) will do. For extra benefits, Amazing Grass Green Superfood Chocolate Drink Powder — which tastes heavenly and includes wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa, spinach, acai, flax seed, green tea, among others yielding a plethora of vitamins and minerals — is a must.

Wholesome Sweeteners brand Organic Zero, a zero-calorie erythriol product, is superior for sugar-free sweetening. It’s pricey, at $11/box of packets in the New York area, but it’s truly invaluable.

IMG_1011

All these things, with a Bob’s Red Mill base — a favorite combination is Organic High Fiber Hot Cereal with Flaxseed + Organic Quick Cooking Rolled Oats = your morning set off on the right foot. Add fresh fruit for an even better bowl. Of course, there are endless product possibilities for toppings and mix-ins, including pumpkin, agave, nut butters, fruit conserves, etc., which help make hot cereal palatable to even the fussiest. It all depends on what one’s in the mood for.

So: thick or thin? Scorching or lukewarm? Microwave or stove? What are some of your specific favorite obscure add-ins? Any new finds to report?

Hearty appetite!