The Natural Products Expo East 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland was a great experience. Expo East highlights insights on the latest trends in the natural products industry and offers opportunities to talk directly with many experts. My Top Ten Trends at Expo East post confirmed that vegan and vegetarian foods continue to be a hot category with many foods to check out and sample. Many booths at Expo East offered vegan and vegetarian beverages, food and snack options based on the benefits and trends toward plant-based nutrition.

SaladAs more people research natural products and plant-based nutrition for their beauty, health, and lifestyle many are embracing the health trends of vegan and vegetarian options. I spoke with several representatives at Expo East about their plant-based foods to learn what was driving their decisions and directions. Some of the most popular plant-based products on display utilized: algae, ancient grains, coconuts, cassava, fruits, greens, nuts, plantains, pulses, seaweeds, seeds, and vegetables. Several companies and products deserve honorable mention for their education and support at the conference and warrant further review. Some of my favorite foods at the conference were:

  • Ancient grains like amaranth, buckwheat, chia, farro, kamut, quinoa, and teff were ingredients in many foods I observed and sampled.
  • Beans and peas (legumes) were prevalent in a wide range of products. Pea powder continues to be a dominant major player in many plant-based protein powders.
  • Cassava flour was promoted by several exhibitors in cakes, candy, chips, cookies, and crackers.
  • Coconut flour was also widely used in many food choices and recipes.
  • Kimchi and sauerkrauts were popular fermented foods at Expo East. They originate in many countries and offer a delicious and nutritious way to enhance and preserve food. The main ingredients are typically cabbage and other green veggies that are naturally fermented in salt water with a variety of spices added for flavoring. Hex Ferments and Jacob’s Raw had some amazing raw organic sauerkrauts.
  • Mushrooms were a fairly significant trend at Expo East with many varieties being promoted. My favorites are medicinal mushroom often referred to as immune enhancing superfoods.
  • Peanuts are still a popular food ingredient and are used in many products and protein supplements
  • Plantain flour was another hot new product at Expo East. The Real Coconut booth has some great food choices using both coconut and plantain flour. They serve the gluten, grain, and dairy free market.
  • Soy is a popular food in many countries. Be sure to choose GMO-free of course. Besides Organic Miso, Natto and Tempeh there were many soy powders and tofu at many booths. Tofu can be a healthy choice if it is organic and properly fermented. Unfortunately, most of the soy and tofu in the US is not GMO-free and properly fermented and often contain herbicide residues.
  • Traditional grains like barley, oats, millet, rice, rye, spelt and wheat were very prevalent in many bread, cereal, cookie, cracker and granola products.

Assorted SpicesThere was a big focus at #expoeast on vegan and vegetarian natural products. It is also very evident with many books, restaurants, and websites dedicated a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle. Be sure to read and research the ingredients label before buying them because not all products are created equal. It can be challenging to determine how healthy, natural and organic the ingredients on labels are so be sure to do your research. Most of the marketers, suppliers, and vendors promoting their products appear to have high standards and quality sources but remember … it is up to each of us to make informed decisions and determine what products are best for our families.

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