Snack Sensations from Expo West
We’re finally back from the 2022 Natural Products Expo West. It was our first time back since 2019, and we had a blast! It was an inspiring and educational three-day event with seminars on topics from plant-based eating to sustainable food packaging and wall to wall exhibitors sharing their innovative snacks. Curious about what we saw (and tasted)? We’ve got you covered with some of the biggest snack sensations from the show:
Modern Takes on Ancient Grains
Because ancient grains tend to be less processed and packed with more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than widespread grains like wheat, rice, and corn, they’re showing up in more and more snack items. We sampled cinnamon dusted chips made of amaranth and sorghum, as well as savory rosemary-garlic crackers made of fonio. Teff tortilla chips were present, and they held up just as well as their corn counterparts when piled high with salsa. Looking for a heartier snack? We tried a few variations of muesli overnight oats with antioxidant blends for your brain and belly!
It didn’t take any pier-pressure for us to take a deep dive into the world of sea snacks. Although the idea of nautical nibbles might have you envisioning slippery ribbons of olive-green seaweed, many of the snacks we tried were not only delicious but included ingredients that were grown using regenerative ocean farming. We tried sweet and savory kelp chips in flavors like cranberry and everything bagel, as well as rosemary maple kelp jerky. Other maritime morsels included blue raspberry spirulina gummies, roasted sea salt algae, and chili lime nori.
Natural Products Expo is one of the largest natural, organic, and healthy products events in the world, but this doesn’t mean the aisles are devoid of sweets. Even the pickiest dessert lover could find something to satisfy their sweet tooth! We tried some rich and creamy functional chocolate. Vegan, soy-free, and all organic, these sweet treats were loaded with pumpkin seeds, sorghum, brown rice, dates, and hemp protein. We also tried a spoonful or two of functional cookie dough. Low in sugar, and with added beneficial ingredients like zinc and elderberry, as well as Vitamin C, Ashwagandha, and Maca, this protein-packed snack was quite versatile.
While breakfast is typically considered mealtime (not snack time) we did see quite a few exhibitors in an unofficial category of their own: breakfast bites. Think, the-first-meal-of-the-day-nutritional-necessities meets the convenience, size, and portability of a mid-day snack. First up? Spoonable and squeezeable smoothies. Coming in at just under 4 oz, with only 6 ingredients (all of which are plant based), these cute cups pack a big flavor punch. Plus, they come ready to eat, no blender necessary. Another on-the-go breakfast options was functional oatmeal. As easy as just adding hot water before heading out the door to work, these 2oz oatmeals boasted flavors like toasted black sesame, sweet Osmanthus, red bean, and taro bubble tea.
Yes, we ate a spoon (and a fork too, actually). Without getting into philosophical debate about whether edible flatware count as snacks, we did snack on some! Made of corn, chickpea, and brown rice, and available in flavors like chocolate and oregano chili, we tried both umami utensils and sweet sporks. For those who prefer to sip their post-meeting snacks in the form of smoothies or protein shakes, we tried edible straws too. With options like lime, strawberry, ginger, apple, cinnamon, these crunchy cylinders held up in iced beverages without competing with the drink’s flavors. Both options do double duty. They help reduce plastic pollution and can keep you snacking on-the-go without having to worry about whether your reusable spoon or take out cutlery set is still in that bottom junk drawer of your work desk!
We had fantastic time tasting our way through the 2022 Natural Products Expo West! Whether you’re new to natural bites or a veteran vegan snacker, what sensational snacks are you excited for?