How long does it take to digest 1000 new product samples? Well, from our experience at ecoRDN it takes more than the two days allotted in Baltimore for the 2016 Natural Products Expo East. This was ecoRDN’s first Expo East experience and it was enlightening, inspiring, motivating and at times overwhelming!

For those of you that never heard of the Natural Products Expo East, it is an annual conference and expo for natural and organic brands to showcase new products and tell their unique stories. The event is not open to the public, to register you must be a retailer, health practitioner, distributor, manufacturer, supplier or some other such business person. Apparently this year’s expo, the 31st annual, was the largest ever with over 1,450 brands, 28,000 attendees and 450 first-time exhibitors. So many new exhibitors they had to expand to the 3rd and 4th floors of the Baltimore Convention Center where the “Hot Products” were located. There is also a Natural Products Expo West each year in Anaheim, CA which is twice as big as its little sister on the east! Each year New Hope Network, the producer of the Natural Products Expo East and West, puts together the Nexty Awards, which highlight the best new products in 20 different categories.

As a dietitian and chef focusing on plant-based and vegan products we thought we should do the same. So here is our best picks list from this year’s show!

Best of Hummus

Hummus has been a vegan favorite FOREVER so how can you make a great thing even better?

Stuff it in a pod like these guys did! The Modern Pod Co. makes a “pierogi ” type pod filled with hummus. Available in these three flavors-smoky chipotle, zesty lemon and sriracha lime. They are pre-baked in a chewy multigrain crust then frozen. You simply heat and eat! They were all delicious but our favorite was the smoky chipotle!

Do a bean swap! Why limit yourself to all chick pea hummus when Yumami’s got you covered with spreads utilizing other pulses including black beans, edamame, adzuki and lentils! Need a chip to go with that? No problem, grab a Go-Dip snack paired with Popped Nori Chips!

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Is sweet more your thing? Try the dessert hummus made by Delighted By. They offer brownie batter, snickerdoodle, orange dreamsicle and vanilla bean. Be mindful while you dip or you might eat the whole tub in one sitting!

Best of Ice Cream

Revolution Gelato was seriously one of the best cashew based ice creams yet! Though purchasing options are limited and the product is pricey to order online, but if you are in Georgia or find them elsewhere try them out. Personal fave was the Cardamom Kiss!

Best of Sweet

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Favorite sweet snack from one sweet tooth to another goes to Pure Genius for their brownies and blondies made with beans! All products are also gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, kosher (certified by the Orthodox Union), and soon-to-be verified non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project!

Best of Snack

Hippeas are savory snacks made with chick peas! These little power houses provide 4g protein and 3g fiber for each 1 oz. snack bag. They come in 6 different flavors-pepper power, sriracha sunshine, happenin’ hickory, far out fajita, maple haze and vegan white cheddar. Oh and their motto…GIVE PEAS A CHANCE!

Best of Milk

Ripple milk made from the humble yellow pea offers up 8g plant-based protein per serving! It is nut, soy, lactose and gluten-free so can be had by many, even those with allergies and sensitivities.

Milkadamia has less of the protein power but delivers in the flavor category. It is made from the macadamia nut as the name suggests and is another great dairy-free alternative!

Best of Savory

The Jackfruit Company offers products that are whole food plant-based, sustainable, made with Jackfruit and are a spot-on replacement for pulled pork! A great meat alternative without the soy and wheat filler. Though low on protein so add some beans or such on the side, boom!

Best of Cheese

Miyoko’s Kitchen is a Nexty Award Winner! And one of our personal favorites too! ecoRDN was fortunate enough to sit in on a food demo by Miyoko at Vegetarian Summerfest 2016 as she was promoting her new book, The Homemade  Vegan Pantry! Miyoko’s Kitchen perfects cultured nut products and also recently added a European style cultured vegan butter.  Also Miyoko has her own farm sanctuary! She is amazing!

Kite Hill crafts almond-based delicacies in the form of yogurts, spreads and raviolis. Their products are pricey but if you taste them you will no why. There is no skimping on the flavors. Loved the truffle, dill and chive spread! Damn!

Best of Yogurt


Forager Project made this list for their cashew-based yogurt. It is super creamy, delicious and not overly sweet like most non-dairy yogurts. Though you may also want to look at their other products including tortilla chips, juices and nut-milk shakes. Not easy to find yet, but keep your eye on this brand!

Best of Burger

Veggie burgers are often the only options for vegans out in the non-vegan restaurant world so we have tried many varieties. These are two of the best…

GoodSeed uses hemp and chia seeds in all their burgers and some other exotic ingredients such as wild-crafted seaweeds and black garlic. They have four  blends: Curried Sweet Potato, Wild Mushroom & Cauliflower, All American and Spicy Italian.

Foodies offers burgers made from some unique ingredients like cashew, artichokes and wheat gluten. They are all vegan, no preservatives, no MSG and non-GMO. The gourmet griller is super high in protein with 24g per burger! They also do ciders, which we somehow missed at the expo.

Phew, thats a lot of cool products to mull over and still does not even skim the surface of all the products tasted and tested!  There were so many more worthy of mention but alas there is only so much time…

If you have seen or sampled any of those mentioned above please give us a shout in the comments section below! We would love to hear what you think!

As always thanks for reading and eat well!!!

©2016 ecoRDN

Check out our wily posts and gob-smacked foodie pics over at Instagram & Twitter!

 

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