Perhaps to make up for the poor night of sleep, the sun was out in Nashville and most of the previous day’s rain dried. Fought my way into a shower, dressed, coffee drank, then off to Music City Center. No time for breakfast, banking on some good samples at the expo to keep me nourished and sharp for the educational sessions.


Johnny and I taking “selfies” at the social media hub!

As I entered the expo I noticed some of the regular big boys-Chobani, PepsiCo, Con Agra, Coca-Cola? that’s right NO Coca-Cola this year! Unfortunately it was not the Academy that broke up with Coke (as they should have) but rather Coca-Cola decided to end it’s financial sponsorship after dropping ~$118 million since 2010 on research and health/ fitness programs.

I passed the giants and made my way to the back searching for some new blood. Plant-based blood that is! Here is a list of a few of my 2015 favorites:


Hail Merry LLC-delicious desserts and snacks created and manufactured in Dallas, Texas that are non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan and kosher certified. I never tried their products before but immediately fell in love after the first bite. As a vegan it is generally the desserts that are most difficult to find and what I crave most when out and about. Check the store locator on their website to see if they are available in a store near you. My personal favorite was the chocolate raw almond butter tart!



Navitas-organic, GMO-free, nutrient dense foods such as acai, cacao, camu, chia, cashew and coconut. As a consultant I generally do not promote super foods per say as they tend to be hard to find and expensive… but if you can afford it and can find it these products are a nice treat. Tip: I often find Navitas at Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and Home Goods stores at a sweet discount. This years hits were the Good Mood Mocha Smoothie (link to recipe below) and the cacao lip balm.



Peanut Butter & Co.-showcased their new line of powdered peanut butters called Mighty Nut. Love this company based in NYC, with its own sandwich shop and about 13 different flavors of peanut butter including one savory, The Heat is On and a seasonal, Pumpkin Spice! All their products are kosher, gluten-free and vegan (except for The Bee’s Knees which is vegetarian) as it contains honey. Mighty Nut powdered peanut butter comes in four different flavors, original, chocolate, vanilla and flax & chia. It can be rehydrated and used as a spread or dip, or as an ingredient in baking, cooking or smoothies. The perk is for those watching their fat and calories as most of the fat has been removed, leaving protein and fiber in the process.



Good Greens-my pick for best protein bar. Made in Cleveland Ohio with real fruits, veggies and soy proteins. Each bar contains about 10-12 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. I tried at least 5 of the many flavors (I counted 11) and all I can say is rich and delicious!



Wink Frozen Desserts-created out of necessity for ice cream by a guy named Gabe with both Celiac disease and a dairy allergy. The base is 100% non-GMO Pea Protein Isolate, a protein derived from peas by milling and dehydrating the pea until a protein-rich flour is formed. Other ingredients include vegetable glycerin sourced from palm tree oil, organic agave inulin (fiber), organic tapioca flour and xanthan gum for thickening, monk fruit and organic stevia for zero-calorie sweetening, guar gun, baking soda, and organic cocoa powder and cinnamon. This company is located in Stamford, CT. Check store locator on their website or you can even buy a pint or 9 on-line!


VRG Dinner

One of my favorite events happening during the conference each year is the VRG dinner. The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) is a non-profit organization in Baltimore, MD, dedicated to educating the public, health professionals, food services, businesses, educators, students, vegans, and vegetarians on vegetarianism and the interrelated issues of health, nutrition, ecology, ethics, and world hunger. They have been around since 1982. In addition they publish books and the Vegetarian Journal, a magazine for those interested in Vegetarian Health, Ecology, and Ethics. The VRG is also one of the exhibitors at FNCE. This year’s dinner was at Sitar Indian Cuisine. Though they are not an all vegan or even vegetarian restaurant, they provided our group with a lovely vegan buffet. It included samosas, papadums, salad, naan, basmati rice, chutney, yellow dal, Chana Masala (chick peas) and Bhindi Masala (okra). Mouth watering right now just thinking about it! We lucked out and got a table with Vegan Vee, an all vegan and gluten-free bakery in Nashville, TN. The other attendees included doctors, dietitians, and an 18 year-old intern of the VRG. I have now attended three of these dinners and they have become one of the most educational and inspirational parts of the conference and the main reason I attend. Can’t wait to see what the VRG has in store next year when FNCE returns to Boston, MA!

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© 2015 ecoRDN


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