ecoRDN got off to a bumpy start this year as we headed from Pittsburgh to Baltimore for Natural Products Expo East. Greyhound “lost” our bus. No, we didn’t know that was a thing either. So, we were rerouted to a later bus with a layover in Harrisburg, which put us 3 hours behind schedule. We arrived too late for badge pick up and totally missed the Harvest Festival. However, the long bus ride did give us opportunity to thoroughly search the Happy Cow website to find our dinner spot. We chose Sticky Rice in Fells Point due to their many vegan options and the close proximity to our Air-bnb. Plus, it was still open at 8:30pm on a Wednesday. We chose the Dirty Vegan and the Mock Chicken Szechaun, both amazing! After a good nights sleep we were ready to pick up our badges and hit the expo floor!

Natural Products Expo East 2016 saw ecoRDN traverse the foodscape over two days. This year, 2017, we covered the entire expo in only one, which totaled over 6 miles of walking (and eating, and eating, and eating…)

We set out to highlight all things plant-based, vegan, meat & dairy free then report our findings back to you, the ethical mindful consumer. Here are our 10 top picks in no particular order, as they are all equally awesome.

  1. Vegan Rob’s

A new global snack food focused on nutrition and compassion.

Loaded with flavor, Vegan Rob’s snacks showcase a clean taste with unique combinations such as Wild Mushroom Kettle Chips, Asparagus Chips, Brussel Sprout Puffs, and the brand new soon to be released Beet Puffs! Kombucha was big this year at the expo but Rob’s Kombuchabar was the only bar containing dried SCOBY! Many more amazing flavors, try them all! Love yourself, love these snacks!

 

2. No Evil Foods

Protein For All. In Plants We Trust.

Winner of Nexty Award, Best New Packaging Innovation (Comrade Cluck). No Evil Foods came correct with a mic drop array of stupendous pant-based proteins from their piquant fennel Italian Sausage to the biting hit of the spicy Chorizo. Deliciousness, forever.

 

3. Nuttin Ordinary

100% Plant Based Products

Oil-free fermented cashew cheese, oh hell yeah! Somewhere between goat cheese and ricotta, this plant-based cheese is the bee’s knees. You will not believe your mouth after you try their ravioli. Guaranteed to pull the wool over any omnivore’s eyes. Plant-based goodness based in New Hampshire!

 

4. Ithaca Hummus 

“We would never think of using the same processing techniques as other brands (like freezing or heat pasteurization) and we never use preservatives or concentrated flavorings (like lemon juice) in any of our recipes. “

Cold-crafted hummus? It was only like eating hummus for the first time. The truest, cleanest flavors did a mesmerizing dance upon the palate. If you love hummus you need to search for this product. A foodie work of art! Located mainly in the Northeast.

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5. Oatly

WOW NO COW!

A sign in neon lights marked the entrance to the hot products pavilion this year. Later when we found the Oatly booth we were able to connect the dots.  As more and more plant-based milks hit the market it becomes increasingly more difficult to pick a favorite. This one stands out because of the nut-free base, making it a perfect pick for those with nut allergies. The company is Swedish but you can use the “oatfinder” on their website to locate Oatly in a cafe near you.

 

6. Fronana 

We went bananas for this nice cream!

That’s right! A banana based ice cream hits the market from a company on a mission to show the world that dessert can be healthy AND delicious! They are based out of Dayton, with distribution in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Currently they have 5 flavors: Wildberry Whirl, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Rich Dark Chocolate, Mango Pineapple and Fro Mocha. They are all vegan and gluten-free too!

 

7. Alpha Foods – Alpha Burritos

Alpha Foods believes in a future in which people are no longer reliant on animal proteins for sustenance. Breakthroughs in meatless alternatives are bringing us closer to that reality, and Alpha Foods is at the forefront of this healthier, more sustainable movement. We are committed to cultivating a comprehensive line of plant-based options that will change the way the world thinks about food.”

We sampled. Then we sampled again. It was a sampling frenzy. We could have used an intervention, but screw it. those burritos are FANTASTIC! Chik’n Fajita, Philly Sandwich, Mexicali and Pizza. Eat them all!

 

8. Revive Kombucha

Culture Driven, Craft Kombucha. A Family Owned Brewery.

Sustainable, Ethical, Vegan & Awesome! Superb, eye-catching labels adorn the greatest tasting kombucha we’ve had the fortune of sampling and there were many this year. Big props go out to Revive for using reusable shot glasses for sampling. The waste at these expos gets ridiculous, thus Revive are legit heroes! Go find it and drink it!

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9. Wholesome Organic DelishFish & NEW Cinnamon Bears

Gelatin-free and organic soft candies. Wholesome’s BRAND NEW cinnamon bears are perfectly balanced with a sweet and natural cinnamon bite that make for a wonderful sweet snack safe for vegans! And who doesn’t love soft, luscious candy fish? Jerks, that’s who!

 

10. Manitoba Harvest Whole Hemp Seeds 

Hemp hearts are amazing but whole hemp seeds are even moreso. Kudos to Manitoba Harvest for offering the whole organic seed. Less is sometimes more but in cases like this more is better! With less processing the consumer foodie can get down to their fiber rich whole food roots, getting all the benefit of these super seeds and more! Hooray!!!

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Choosing only ten products to highlight was quite the task when there were so many great companies and products. We just want to give some honorable mentions to some of the  others before we go…

Revolution Gelato One of our top picks last year in the category of plant-based ice cream and we are still impressed. Even more because this year they used REAL spoons for their samples! Thank you for being low waste heroes!

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Miyoko’s Kitchen Best of cheese 2016 and still on top! We really wanted to highlight all new companies this year but Miyoko’s kitchen deserves mention for the whole new line of pub cheeses, cream cheeses, Mozz and cheese wheel!

 

Milkadamia A macadamia nut based milk and another pick from last year. These lattes were not only beautiful but also delicious!

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That wraps up our foodie adventure at Natural Products Expo East 2017.

As always, thanks for reading and eat well!

For a mouthwatering archive of foodie pics and all things nutritionally awesome, follow us on Instagram and Twitter!

©2017 ecoRDN 💚

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