Remember when water was just water? Then it was artisanal, but now it is even more than merely sourced- exotic. Along with kombucha, switchel and waters from the ends of the earth, we now have beverages infused with probiotics to strengthen your gut, as well as water with stabilized molecules of hydrogen and oxygen. The gist is that these gases, when added to water, will impart anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. But can it really boost energy and slow the aging process? Provide more mental acuity and help with all of life's stresses?
I support drinking almost any type of water over sugary drinks. However I need to defer to Marion Nestle's opinion that the alleged health benefits these value added waters impart, here. Basically she says, they are simply water.
I do like the probiotic kombucha's and apple-cider vinegar drinks, such as switchel and its bubbly cousin, swizzle. Many are now lowering their sugar content to suit the public's palate. Good news!
With Chickpeatos (roasted snackable chickpeas), Moroccan spice rub cHarissa, and the exceptional Delicious and Sons line of sauces, dips and condiments, foods and flavors of the Mediterranean are everywhere. And because it is such a vast region, this is a treat. These three product lines were standouts in the field.
Watusee Chickpea Crumbs - One ingredient, gluten-free, organic, non-GMO toasted crumbs made from organic chickpeas. I used them on zucchini, but would also coat cheese, chicken, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Novel, healthful and delicious. Season to taste.
cHarissa - This Moroccan spice rub is a mixture of cumin, Spanish paprika, cayenne, garlic and sea salt. Also available mixed with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice as an all-purpose condiment Available in mild and hot, although the mild was intense enough for me!
Delicious and Sons - On European shelves for 9 years, this line is now available on Amazon. EU Organic and USDA Organic, non-GMO, vegetarian, and vegan, as well as gluten free. Citrus-y flavors, herbs like saffron and basil, egg-free aioli, eggplant and artichokes. My fav...the Black Truffle and Mushroom Sauce, but every one is a hit.
Do-It-Yourself and Make-Your-Own Kits
Farm Steady, an off-shoot of Brooklyn Brew Shop and winner of a coveted SOFI award for their DIY Bagel kit, offers up a line of kits for the home food tinkerer. Soft Pretzel and Beer, Kraut, Everything Bagel and Cream Cheese, Mexican OR Italian Fresh Cheese to name a few. What could be more fun on a Sunday morning?
Mama O's Homemade Kimchi Kit - DIY Kimchi was so easy that I did it myself in under 5 minutes at the show, and brought it home in a ziplock bag to ferment in my fridge. And it was awesome! (And I was proud!) This company takes fun (and yummy) to a new level.
Cold-brew tea and coffee kits, such as a fun one from Chameleon also fall into the DIY category. Plop the pre-measured pod into the jar (included) at night, in the morning you have your own cold-brew, ready and waiting.
The moral of the story? Adults want to play with their food.
Xylitol was everywhere at the Food show. In beverages, chocolates, and confections. Everything seemed to be sweetened with the stuff. We've heard the word, but what is it and does it provide any benefit, or should it be avoided? Some of what I discovered surprised me.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol. It is a natural sweetener that can be extracted from any woody fibrous plant, such as birch trees. If you check out xylitol.com, it is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
But there is more to it. I discovered that most xylitol is actually produced from corn cobs that are discarded in China. Although the website says they are non-GMO and pesticide-free, and this makes them organic, I do not trust that information. (Do you?) The company that produces xylitol from birch trees is called Danisco, and is owned by DuPont, the biochemical company. (Big red flag.)
Although there is no known toxicity for humans, in some individuals xylitol can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues.
These negatives are not in the literature. Being touted are the following positives:
- Xylitol has 40% fewer calories and 75% less carbohydrates that table sugar, making it a good choice for diabetics and those trying to lose weight.
- Xylitol does not cause dental caries, on the contrary; it seems to prevent them.
- Studies on xylitol chewing gum have also showed it reduced ear infections in 30-40% of children. This is because it helped eliminate bacteria in the mouth.
I'm suspicious of anything wondrous that becomes pervasive in our food, and I don't like its origins. I also think it's suspicious that now that HGCS has declined, xylitol is on the rise. I avoid it; would prefer to have a bit of organic sugar, honey or agave.
Please note: f you have a dog who likes to eat "people food," you should know that xylitol is toxic to canines! So please read food labels carefully!!
Lots of folks are on dairy-free regimens, but still crave their creamy coffee. There are two great options that trump the old school, chemical powders. Both are almond and coconut-milk based, and soy-free; BetterHalf by Califia and nutpods. These products can be used in coffee or tea, hot or cold, or even as a substitute for cream in cooking. Perfectly packaged for a two-week life span, these products taste different from each other, but both are delicious. Taste test and choose your favorite. (Both available in Original, Vanilla, Hazelnut and Unsweetened).
Cold, Portable Soups
Anybody remember V-8? That's what I first thought of when I saw all the bottled, single-serve soups that were trending at the Food Show. But here's the difference: V-8 contained water as its first ingredient and then reconstituted tomato juice and a blend of other reconstituted vegetables. Not so with these juices!
Most popular brands are Mucho Gazpacho (Tomato, Green and Beet varieties), Tio Gazpacho (8 varieties),
I like that these may take the place of sugar-laden juice drinks. All are fashioned after the classic Spanish gazpacho recipe and I like the healthful ingredients; all have things like tomatoes, beets, peppers, olive oil, greens and the like. Mucho and Tio Gazpachos both have ingredients that are GMO-free, a boon.
What don't I like? They all have approximately 500 mgs. of sodium per serving; some less, but some much more. Some have 9 grams of fat per bottle. I worry that folks will be downing these as snack-like veggies without reading the nutrition facts on the label. If that's not a concern and you drink wisely, my favorite is Mucho Gazpacho, because there is no added water. Delish.
Turmeric Is Definitely Trending
Sprinkled on snack foods such as chips, chickpeas (also trending!) and nuts, in honey, meat rubs and vinegar, and of course, as a flavoring in tea...turmeric is definitely trending. Alone or combined with other botanicals, turmeric has become the crown jewel in the planetary world of food.
I appreciate the fact that food producers now understand that turmeric needs to be combined with black pepper to be absorbed, and have added it to their ingredient list. (This was not always the case). If you like the flavor of this sultry spice, this is your time!
Just A Few Products I Loved
RayZyns - The Wine RayZyn Co. makes raisins from wine grapes that are not your average raisin, taste-wise or health wise. Anti-oxidant rich and with the crunch of a seed (i.e. they are not sourced from Thompson seedless grapes), they are available in Cabernayzyn, Merlayzyn, Chardonayzyn and also Chocolate covered. Developed by a cardiologist, they are wine from the vine.
Life Ice - Bite size, agave sweetened, and with really good ingredients for a truly healthy treat! Eat as many or as few as you like. Freeze and eat, bite-size cubes of ices in berry, citrus, green and chocolate. Great product!