I have bruised shoulders and sore legs after hauling around Expo West 2016 samples all weekend, but I discovered some really amazing products that I can enjoy with the people I love most. I’m a lazy cook with a fiancé who can’t eat anything with added sugar. So purchasing quick meals or even a variety of road trip snacks can be really tiresome, as some form of added sugar seems to be in everything. When I asked vendors if there was added sugar in their products, I was surprised by how many people had to pick up their own products and do a label search. However, I did find some really awesome quick meal and snack options that are going to be safe for both my man and I.
WILD ZORA – I’m really excited about the delicious flavors and simple ingredients in Wild Zora. A meat based protein bar that is thin like a fruit leather, it’s perfect for our road trip and hiking adventures. I’ve had other meat based protein bars and was turned off by its tart flavor and less than desirable texture. Wild Zora isn’t as dry as a jerky, but it captures its essence in full bodied flavorful bars. Also, they only use a touch of apricots and dates to sweeten the bars – that’s a sweetener I can get behind!
SOUPERB – A no-brainer pour, heat, and serve dish; Souperb caught my eye with their soup flavors, butternut squash with cumin, carrot pistachio & tarragon, and curry cauliflower. Usually when I see vegetarian ready-to-eat soups the flavor profile ends at the vegetable. But these soups were vibrant and delicious. They also had no added sugar and half the sodium content of normal soups.
SAUCES N’ LOVE – One of the most frustrating items to buy when you’re shopping for a “no sugar” person is pasta sauce. Pasta should be one of the easiest dishes for the home cook, but my sauce options are incredibly few and far between. As tomatoes are acidic, many brands cut the acid with sugar. Sauces ‘N Love decided that’s lame, let’s just use better tomatoes. The sauce was well seasoned and I could taste the quality. I’m so excited that my pasta sauce option went from one type, to 10 different kinds made by Sauces ‘N Love.
I was also on the hunt for great vegan foods that satisfy the omnivore palate. My sister has been vegan for a little over a year, and is still navigating the grocery store trying to find replacements for her previous favorite foods. As vegan dairy and meat replacements can be expensive, it gets frustrating spending a lot on something that ends up tasting gross. So, I wanted to be the taste tester for her and pass on the good finds.
KITE HILL – A vegan almond based cheese that is to die for! I can’t believe it’s not dairy. I tried the chive dip and the brie. The brie has a dull bitter aftertaste but it’s far from weird, and if you are a funky cheese fan it’s really not that bad. The chive dip on the other hand is a dead ringer replacement for any cream cheese based party dip. Bonus, no cows were disturbed in the process of this cheese. I will be buying this for family gathering moving forward.
NADA MOO – When I sampled Nada Moo I decided to veer away from safe flavors like vanilla and chocolate. Instead I decided that if I was going to sample a vegan ice cream, I was going to really see what they are made of and went for Pistachio. Oh holy ice cream angels, Nada Moo is a game changer. I’ve had vegan ice cream before, but this coconut milk based ice cream was on par with Talenti. As I have acne, it’s nice to know when I decide to have dairy free weeks I can totally indulge in Nada Moo.
VEGETARIAN PLUS – At first I sampled Vegetarian Plus’ Vegan Black Pepper Steak, which wasn’t offensive, but nothing to necessarily write home about. Then again I don’t really care for black pepper steak to begin with. I was ready to move on till I spotted the Vegan Lamb Vindaloo. Indian food is one of my favorite styles of food and I know my sister loves it too. A lot of Indian food is vegetarian, but not necessarily vegan as it’s made with ghee. So I decided to try the vindaloo and wow! It’s delicious. The meat substitute’s texture is pleasant and the vindaloo sauce with spicy and sweet. I’m genuinely excited about what is coming from Vegetarian Plus and will definitely be trying more.
If you’re still with me I have a few honorable mentions from Expo West.
FISHPEOPLE: The Fishpeople soups looked amazing and I was able to take home a Smoked Oyster and Bourbon soup to try. Also, I’m really excited about the trackable aspect of Fishpeople’s soup pouches, as you’re able to see where all the ingredients in the pouch came from. It reminds me of an episode of Portlandia, but then I really like to take my meal-times as a moment of reflecting on the whole chain of events that took place to enjoy a yummy dish. I also talked to the CEO of Fishpeople, who was genuinely interested in my hunt for sugarless quick meals and informed me they are coming out with a new product line that won’t have any added sugar.
BELICIOUS: Lindsay wrote about Belicious as an Expo West find last year and now I’m a fan too. The pouches are convenient and filled with nutrient dense goodness. Since I’m the girl that will constantly forget to eat, I’m definitely going to make sure to have these on hand so I don’t succumb to a drive through diet between substantial meals.
BALANCED GURU: I love the Balanced Guru, they are such an adorable vegan friendly beauty brand. I was able to sample a few of their energy mist that aid in chakra alignment and I’m in love. I want them all. The energy mists are made with essential oils and the crisp clean scents awaken the sense to an aromatherapy experience.
There is so much to see and experience at Expo West and I hope my pain is your gain! If you have any product recommendations for my specific needs, I’d love to know about them in the comments below.