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By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra: I’m going to start off with the one I thought I’d hate: plantain chips. I only like plantains when they’re disguised in a fruit smoothie, so I was practicing my “be open-minded before you make any assumptions” attitude when I accepted an offer from Turbana to try their chips. Call me Convert (not Spartacus), as I totally fell in love with 4 of their 6 flavors: chili, lime, chili & lime, and garlic (the other 2 are natural – too banana-y for me, and sweet – I’m not much for sweet). I like to read labels, so it matters to me that the Turbana chips have 30% less fat than ‘tater chips, no trans fat or cholesterol, and are free of preservatives, additives and gluten. I strongly encourage you to try these, even if you’ve been wounded in love with previous plantain chips.
Another kind I tried and liked was the Plentils line of lentil chips by Enjoy Life. Sounds weird, right? I mean, lentils!!? Again, you’ll be surprised. Dill & sour cream, garlic & parmesan, margherita pizza, and sea salt (this last one I haven’t yet tried). My younger son used to have some food allergies, so I am happy to see what’s NOT in these: wheat, soy, tree nuts, egg, peanuts, shellfish, dairy or fish. Okay, if fish were in these chips, that would be seriously nasty. Although….I do love kroepoek (shrimp chips).
I’ll turn this over to Kymberly, but first a little link love to our previous post about LesserEvil krinkle sticks and popcorn.
Kymberly: I admit it — I hear the siren call of crunchy snacks, but I don’t like the guilt and lethargy that go with fried junk food, aka “your usual chip.” When we had the chance to taste test snacky crunchy items that fell into the “somehow unusual and better for you” category it practically felt like we were performing good deeds. One – so you could see all the healthier options, and two – who doesn’t like to eat snacks guilt-free (though not actually calorie-free. Come on, these are healthier options, not magic ones).
Suffice to say that over the last three months I have tried the following:
Daunted by that list? Impressed at my vast array of samples? Let’s cut to the chase – every single one of the snacks above had some redeeming quality. If you are trying to avoid carbs, you’ll find several protein options. You support Non GMO products? Look at all the choices above. Want to avoid potatoes as your chip base? Well hello popcorn, seaweed crisps and chips with beans or lentils, fruit (those plantains my sis mentioned), tubers (think “yams” and “sweet potatoes”) or veggies as the main ingredient. Trying to clear out chemicals? Read the labels of the above products to find your natural happy!
If you digest just one thing from this post – and who can intake just one (get the reference, chip addicts?) – it’s that companies are out there working hard to bring you more flavor and nutritional value with less fat, salt, preservatives, chemicals, and calories.
Final word from Alexandra: If you’re wondering why kale chips aren’t on this list, it’s because we have not yet tried any that were worth the insult they gave our taste buds.
Disclaimer: The only compensation we received for this post was the snacks themselves, no additional funds, bonds, cash, or prizes. Pass the golden dip, will you?
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We figure that makes us insta-experts on trendspotting.
Trend 1: Free the Glutens 2012! If we thought gluten-free was big last year, it appears to be even bigger this year. We bet you or someone you know follows a gluten-free diet. Guess what? No one needs to sacrifice taste, flavor, or variety to eat gluten-free day in and day out. There is a glut of gluten-free good stuff!
Trend 2: Tell the FDA to label food! Look out GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) as the Non-GMO movement is getting organized and making headway. This may be the year you finally get to know what’s in your food. As much as 70% of the processed foods in US supermarkets are genetically modified. None of that is labeled as such. This situation is about to change courtesy of people like you and the quadzillions at the expo who are insisting on labeling! When pesticides are inserted directly into the seed your food comes from, it’s time to pay attention.
Trend 3: Drink Up! High fructose sodas and sugary beverages are soooo yesterday. Coconut water, pro-biotic drinks, dairy-free “milks”, infused and flavored waters, teas, smoothies (yes, with chia and flax), oatmeal based drinks, organic coffees, powders you mix with liquids, shots to give you energy, shots to help you sleep — anything hydrating and healthy is pouring through those pores and out the doors like crazeeee! Liquid gold mine time! We got sloshed trying at least 10 drink samples each day. Glug glug!
The Natural Products Expo West has so much to enjoy that we had to share our heartfelt love with some of the companies and people we adore.
Crazy Woman Water photo credit: Christine McCarthy
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Trend 4 - Consumers are finally scared into caring about what they put into their bodies. And for good reason. if we keep going the way we have been going, we will be renamed Generation Rx. Can we finally get “foodscriptions” instead of prescriptions? We are already looking at a new disease–diabesity. How about looking at labels? Checking online to know where our food comes from and what is in it? Caring about the higher price we pay in medical costs, lost productivity, reduced quality of life when we choose highly processed food over locally grown or organic? Ergo, the natural and organic markets are only going to get bigger and better given increased necessity and awareness. Bandwagon moment people!
5 – Are you a mom? Do you have one? You are HAWT, mamacita in the eyes of the marketers of the food world. Businesses, ads, promotions are all targeting moms since they are the primary shoppers and family “gatekeepers.” Apparently, even when dad shops, he either brings mom’s list or gets what mom would get (or buys what mom will get mad at him for if he forgets to get it. Just sayin’). Sound obvi? Think about the marketing you’ve seen over the years–lots of it was geared towards men, singles, boomers. Manly beer, manly chips, kid-friendly treats, kid foods as entertainment for kid consumers, sexy organics. Not any more. baby… and toddler, and tween, and pre-teen, and teen! The Natural and Organic products industry plans to reach kids and all others through mom: Mom colors, mom text, mom music choices, mom graphics, mom language. Mom rules! Ahem, we all knew that and finally marketers have figured it out too.
6 – Kids, babies, wee ones are also HAWT and the inspiration for many new healthy options just coming to market. Those moms we just mentioned are willing to spend what it takes to give their children the best. Even if we adults do not make great eating choices, we want our children to be safe, healthy, and unrefined. I mean, we want no refined sugars for our little sweeties.
7- Free the glutens! For those of us who live mostly in exercise land, not nutrition land, this might have looked like “free the glutes,” with some new, fun strength training move to achieve tight, toned tushies. Or a modern version of “mooning.” Sounds fun,eh? But this trend is actually about gluten-free everything popping up on grocery shelves and pantries. This huge shift to gluten-free food is projected to grow, grow, grow. Being on a gluten-free diet is apparently “in,” as in “Intestines.” Allergies and reactions to gluten, the protein within grains is big bidness. Who knew? Odds are good that you or someone you know is on a gluten-free diet. Compare that to a decade ago. See what I mean?
8 - Buying AND selling habits will become more and more cause driven. We will make purchasing decisions based on what charity gets a portion of the proceeds, which forest is saved, how few resources are wasted relative to the product, which indigenous peoples are not threatened. Those who value healthy food also value a healthy planet and sustainability. Entrepreneurs and business owners making products for those who care about their bodies also care about the world and all its people. They are creating healthy options because they want to make a difference, not just make a profit. Doesn’t this seem a happy counter to Trend 4? Trendsetters are shopping with values as well as pocketbooks.
9 and 10 – Honestly, I could go on all day making this stuff up and dreaming of a healthy world and a sister who cooks it all for me. But do you really read this far? Doubt it. So I am going to say that trends 9 and 10 are all about less being more. Aaaaannnd … done.
Readers: Do you see yourself in any of the 8 trends we spotted at the recent Natural Products Expo West?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: Veeery interesting, young grassy-hopper. For the record, I am allergic to any kind of running in the morning. Ok, just running. Amazingly I am always symptom-free when power walking. Back to you, Lou: Normally pollen counts are highest in the mornings (check out this MD-reviewed and super readable article, “Exercise Outdoors — Even with Allergies“). So you’d think you’d be sneezing and wheezing and cursing the purty flowers and bucolic buds on that early run. I know I might curse a leetle teeny bit when up and out early, like anything that is :00 dawn-o’clock. But there’s a twist to the story. According to this fine, fine, and poachable article, “although exercising outdoors can increase your contact with pollen, ironically, the extra adrenalin your body produces while you are working out can temporarily dampen the allergic response.” In other words, YES, you can distract your allergy with activity. Make my work easy and just read the darn link, will ‘ya?! The only flaw here is that once you stop, the dampening effect of the adrenalin stops and symptoms come back. So keep running until evening when pollen counts drop or you do. My lawyer says to say “not really.”
Alexandra: I have distracted many, many things over the years with “enough activity” yet have only dealt with grass allergies during soccer games. I sneezed every time the other team scored! Since your allergy symptoms will increase as your running speed increases, you either need to distract your allergies by running slower (aka walking) or get a face mask. It would appear that even isolating yourself on a pollen and mold-free cruise ship wouldn’t necessarily solve your an allergic reaction, although you would suffer in style. Speaking of suffering in style, why don’t you just get a trendy spacesuit? Then you could run anywhere, in any season, any time of day? Just for the record, I have no actual medical degree, and therefore no idea why you are symptom-free during the worst time of the day for inhaling pollen. My fitness theory? You are out-running whatever the wind is blowing into your face. Sadly, this would mean keeping up or even increasing your running speed. This goes so far against my personal motto of “Why run when you can drive?” that I am having an allergic reaction to my own theory. I recommend you walk with Run…DMC that is.
K: On the days you still want to work out but your allergies are acting up, try either swimming or shifting to indoor cardio activities. Wear a flattering outfit so you can distract someone or something.
A: Lou, if you think you’ve got it bad, take a look at this poor little bear cub. He should not forage in the early hours:
Readers with allergies: What tricks do you use to minimize symptoms when you want to exercise but the air says “don’t breathe me now?”
Photo credit: Mike Tually – Creative Commons