New Products That Make Me Scream In Excitement

This year at Expo West (the largest natural products show in the US) – I found myself spending more time in my hotel room than on the showroom floor. The Kraft petition was going viral and the media was chasing me. It was a double edged sword, because yes, I wanted to get the message out there about how Kraft is exploiting Americans by using products banned overseas in their Mac and Cheese, but I also wanted to support all the growing and wonderful organic companies by sharing their new amazing products with you!

I wish I had a chance to see more. This is only a glimpse of what the show had to offer – I hope you enjoy the recap, new products and things that make me scream in excitement!

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Stress Relief in a Pinch & Spoonk Giveaway

6/24 UPDATE: Congrats to Alex and David for winning the Spoonk acupressure mat. The giveaway is now closed, but if you’d still like a mat, it’s available here on Amazon. This is an affiliate link that helps fund Food Babe operating costs – Thank you for your support in advance!

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At the end of a long day walking around Expo West (The largest natural foods show in the US) last spring, I finally decided to venture into the health/wellness section away from the food. I stopped dead in my tracks, after seeing the excitement happening at the “Spoonk” booth.

Spoonk is an acupressure mat that has over 6,000 points to stimulate your circulation. Circulation is incredibly important in regulating all our body functions. When circulation isn’t good, our energy gets blocked and affects the way we feel and think.

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A lot of people were trying out the Spoonk mats, stepping on them and feeling them – I couldn’t help but want to join in the fun. I wanted to know if benefits listed on their marketing – improved sleep, relaxation, stress relief and easing muscle tension really worked. Being somewhat skeptical at the time, I didn’t think something so simple could be so powerful.

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The Best Brownie Mix On the Market

I am still slowly collecting my thoughts from the trip to Expo West where I witnessed and tasted some of the best organic products on the market. To my surprise there were a few products that totally blew me away…. one of them being a brownie mix… but not your typical brownie mix. I like to make my deserts from scratch now but when there is a pre-made mix with the ingredients I saw and the rich decadent chocolate I tasted, anyone could be swayed and lured back into buying a pre-made baking mix at the drop of a hat.

Let’s first take a look at brownie mixes of the past….

Oh Duncan Hines – How many times did I make you as a kid growing up? COUNTLESS. Checking on the ingredients now makes me cringe… Bleached flour, trans fat, artificial flavors and the worst kind of processed sugar – powdered! All likely genetically modified too.

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After my first trip to San Francisco, California after graduating high school, I discovered the brand Ghirardelli – so I immediately latched on to this brand name when I saw their brownie mix in the grocery store… Ghirardelli is a speciality chocolate maker, so naturally I felt a little special choosing this product over Duncan Hines. (Damn marketing… it will get you every time!) If you check out the ingredients of this mix – you’ll notice it is even worse than Duncan Hines – Sugar is the first ingredient, meaning this product is more sugar than anything else. But then it also has the bleached flour, trans fat and artificial flavor plus preservatives.

Ghirde Fudge Brownie Mix

In my early working years right out of college, I became very “green” in my decision making, learning about my environmental impact in the world and eventually deciding to only buy organic. It’s funny because initially I bought organic to avoid commercial pesticides from being sprayed into the air to prevent them from harming the environment and air we breath… I wasn’t quite aware of what those chemicals were doing to my body. I didn’t make the connection to health until my health started to deteriorate and I had to make a significant change in prioritizing and caring about it more later in life.

Those years during my transition to organic foods – I immediately replaced all of my processed foods with organic ones. One of the first brands I switched to was Dr. Oetker. As you can see from the ingredient list below, this brownie mix is a huge step above the rest.  No pesticides, no gmos, and no chemical processing. But….it still uses the deadly white flour and white sugar combo that I try to avoid when I make desserts. Note: Organic enriched wheat flour = white flour (don’t let them fool you, if they have to add back in the minerals and vitamins, you know they are stripping down the wheat)

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So when I made it downstairs to the area of Expo West where all the less established companies and “new comers” were showcasing their innovative products (this is by far the most fun area of the expo) and saw Living Intentions raw cacao brownie mix made from sprouted flour – I almost lost it…. I immediately picked up the bag and looked at the ingredients first. After my jaw dropped open seeing the quality of product, I tasted the goods and OMG… those little bite size brownies were decadent, delicious, but most importantly outrageously nutritious!

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It’s hard to point out the star ingredient in the list – there are so many.

The mix uses two different kinds of sugars – coconut palm sugar and dried cane juice crystals.  I bet they used both of these to mimic the taste combination of white sugar and brown sugar that are sometimes commonly used in homemade brownies. The dried cane sugar crystals act like white sugar, even though it is sundried in Ecuador where it is grown in mineral rich soil, naturally brown and unrefined. The coconut palm sugar acts more like a brown sugar coming straight off the sap of a palm tree and dried. If I am baking and need graduated sugar – coconut palm is my choice every time. It’s less processed and doesn’t spike your insulin levels like refined cane sugar does. Dr. Oz recently discussed this phenomena and now it seems it is impossible to find this sugar at the store…

When’s the last time you saw maca root in your brownies?! What’s maca, you ask? Maca is a super nutrient dense whole food from Peru, that is known to increase energy, stamina and help your body’s endocrine system regulate stress hormones. Including this ingredient was another wow factor for me.

The directions even say to make the brownie mix with metabolism boosting coconut oil – Remember why I loooooove coconut oil from my famous Forever Cookies recipe?

If I had to pick one ingredient that would make me purchase this over any other mix on the market – it would be the use of sprouted flour. I’ve never seen this before in any baked goods mix and it really takes the whole realm of baking mixes and desserts to the next level nutritionally speaking.

Sprouted whole grain flour has a ton of health benefits over conventional flours. First it is easier to digest, sprouting can breaks down starches for you so your body doesn’t have to do the work, you actually end up digesting these flours like you would if you ate a vegetable. Secondly, sprouting increases the percentage of available vitamin count of your food – this is particularly important because the mineral content of our soil is lacking in so many ways and we aren’t getting the same nutrition we once did many years ago. And lastly, sprouting increases enzymes and neutralizes phytic acid which is a substance that decreases your absorption of key minerals  like calcium, magnesium, iron, cooper and zinc from the grains you consume.

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So obviously the next question is – where do I get this sent from the heavens fantastically nutritious brownie mix?!!! Well… I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m pretty sure this is one of their new products that will be launching soon.  I’ve reached out to the CEO of Living Intentions who I met at the show and will get back to you shortly on that… until then…My memories of California and Ghirardelli are slowly fading away and being replaced by this San Fran rock star company’s decadent chocolate treats.  When you finally get to taste Living Intentions cacao brownie mix, you truly will be tasting something “special.”

Cheers to the Sweet Life!

Food Babe

Expo West Highlights & Making an Impact

Here’s some highlights of the trip out west so far…. and the first day at Expo West.  I want to show you everything that’s happening here and could write for days about what I have experienced so far!  But a girl’s gotta get to the pool before another long day of exploring new products, meeting companies and idea generation.

Speaking of idea generation, yesterday I met with the CEO of Yoforia, Luke Tashie.  If you’ve been reading my blog – you know that I am super passionate about having the highest level of quality available in foods and hold companies accountable to their marketing.  After writing about some of Yoforia’s questionable advertising and lack of ingredient disclosure, Yoforia positively responded to the attention.  The CEO not only wrote me one, but two personal letters and publicly asked if I would be willing to work with the company to improve their product offering.  Most recently, the company has conducted a course correction by finally changing and clarifying some of the marketing slogans displayed in their stores.

After meeting with Mr. Tashie yesterday, I see a lot of potential for the company and I am becoming convinced they are headed back in the right direction. Mr. Tashie is committed to making his product as clean as possible, but is only a year and half old CEO. And this may be one of the reasons Yoforia isn’t quite there yet. It’s worth noting he is already making groundbreaking partnerships with some notable organic food producers for new products, but still finds certain ingredients cost prohibitive to provide in his stores. For instance, would consumers be willing to pay more to top off their yogurt with organic gummy bears?

With persistence and the right partners and influence with formula makers and distributors, I think it is possible for Yoforia to become one of the first certified organic self serve frozen yogurt franchises.  But will they be willing to take the financial risks? Only time will tell. There are many hurdles in this space and I am up for taking on the challenge and working with Yoforia to help overcome these obstacles.  

Thank you for commenting on the multiple posts about Yoforia and sending your feedback to them directly, because this, as you can see, has made a lasting impact. It’s pretty incredible to think a blog and its readers have the power to influence positive change like this. They’ll be a lot more to come on this topic…Just wait.

On a lighter note, I ordered a juice for breakfast yesterday from room service here at the St. Regis, it was tasty – but not quite the level of quality I am used to. Lots of pulpy foam on the top of the juice.  Today I’m going to try the Laguna Whole Foods and compare… really excited about making a salad there and taking it with me to the Expo.

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I followed the juice with a quick 3 miles on the treadmill and some “made in your hotel room” oatmeal.  It was delicious.
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