New Foods to pack in your travel bag in 2014
By Kathy Chin Leong
What are your taste buds going to explore in 2014? Expect to see more organic snack products along with on-the-go breakfast treats, clever fruit infused beverages, and gluten-free everything. This year, many purveyors touted the fact they used non-genetically modified ingredients. Next time you are on a road trip, pile up the gourmet goodies to transform your car miles into a food journey that proves just as exciting as the destination.
This was my first Winter Fancy Food Show which was held in Moscone Center in San Francisco. Imagine two huge pavilions devoted to food and beverages for three whole days. Attendees can sample all they want but not allowed to take products outside the show floor. An entire wing was devoted to cheese. Chocolates, olive oils, cupcakes, granolas, yogurts were interspersed along with the packaging vendors and cooking equipment guys. This show featured every type of crumb and bit associated with eating, literally soups to nuts.
A visit to the recent Fancy Food Show yielded much, almost too much to behold. Now in its 39th year, the show hosted 13,000 food exhibitors from all over the United States and internationally. Countries including Uruguay, Israel, South Korea, India, Thailand, Japan, France and more shared their newest cultural savory, sweets, teas, coffees, and soda beverages.
On the home front, California had the biggest showing as a state with some 40 food producers. The coveted A-list that is permitted to go to the event are buyers from retail shops and restaurants, and I jockeyed for samples of gourmet beef over rice along with some 18,500 attendees.
Here's what I discovered that will be great for car trips and picnics:
New instant, gluten-free hot oatmeal: Modern Oats, www.modernoats.com , showcased a certified gluten-free line with dried fruit, all individually packed in lidded cup containers for easy consumption. Of great interest was the mango blackberry, dubbed a favorite by one of the marketing staff. And taking us by surprise was the British Columbia, Canada company called Holy Crap Cereal, www.holycrap.ca , which also introduced a gluten-free cup of just-add-hot water cereal. It features a ton of good-for-you ingredients chock full of fiber, and Omega-3 and Omega-6.
Breakfast muesli: Vendors such as Seven Sundays tout minimally processed packaged foods, and at the show, this small firm introduced muesli, stressing that it is not granola since it is made with raw or slightly toasted ingredients and only sundried fruit. See www.sevensundays.com to learn more about this high-fiber product that can be eaten cold or hot.
Hand-crafted granola: We loved the packaging that this comes in- a colorful Velcro lunch bag that can be used over and over. This product by Gypsy Crunch out of Portland makes a line of granola that is hand-made The one we fell in love with was Brazilian Bombshell with Brazil nuts, flax seed, dried figs, and gluten-free oats. It is also branded as non-GMO and all natural. Granola such as this is 260 calories per half cup serving. Don't scarf it all down at once. See www.gypsycrunch.com .
Instant coffees: While not a new concept, vendors are constantly adding to the flavor profile and making instant coffees close in quality to their brewed cousins. Korean company Jay One Foods, based in Paramount, Calif., introduced its premium Arabica coffee with creamer and sugar all in a single packet. And Caffe Borsa introduced a Columbian coffee that is brewed and drips directly into a paper cup. A coffee packet with paper ears locks over the edges of a cup and hot water is poured through it for a fresh jolt of java. See www.caffeborsa.com .
Raw snack foods: The trend in flax seed is almost as popular as the trend in kale. Here we found Freeland Foods with a line called Go Raw, www.goraw.com , out of Mountain View, Calif. and considers its goods the "healthiest snack in the world," Freeland sells a packaged snacks, and the one that caught our eye was the Flax Snax, a savory cracker-like thing with sprouted organic flax seeds, sprouted organic sesame seeds, and organic tomato powder. It is gluten free, wheat free, and nut free and all hand made. And in another booth, Two Moms in the Raw, a boutique vendor of healthy energy bars, introduced super fiber seed and nut bars "in the raw." Their products are also vegan, soy free, organic and gluten free. See www.twomomsintheraw.com . We found yet another raw snack food from Wonderfully Raw in the guise of Lemon Pie Coco-roons, a gluten free and dairy free cookie. The cookies have no eggs and are sweetened by maple syrup and feature raw almond flour and cold-pressed coconut oil. See www.mycocoroons.com .
Frozen treats: For parents who worry that popsicles are too sugary, meet the next pop star! Deebee's introduced its Tea Pops, a popsicle made of tea in flavors such as cherry berry, iced tea, coconut groove, mango tango, and more. Now, it is an interesting treat since it is purely frozen iced tea, and you will probably miss the sweetness associated with traditional popsicles. However, give it a try. I'm sure it is refreshing on a hot, hot day. The product was created by a mom whose son does not eat sugar. After experimenting at home, she and her husband, both in the medical field, found that tea is a healthy treat. Voila! See www.specialteafood.com .
Jerky: Vendors galore touted their varieties of jerkys - turkey, pork, and beef. Brandt Beef Jerky, www.brandtjerky.com , emphasized that its product comes from its own family ranch of steer. Hence, the steer are raised in a natural environment and fed high quality grasses with no pesticides or chemicals or manmade products in southern California. The result is a snack that is all natural with no hormones, no gluten, no nitrates or MSG or artificial preservatives. The flavors of its 1.5 ounce and 3-ounced bags come in mesquite, orange teriyaki, jalapeno, cracked pepper, and seasonal flavors. A clever artisan vendor called Field Trip introduced its version of all natural beef jerky. The company sells jerky that is seasoned with natural ingredients and nixes the artificial preservatives and nitrates. See www.fieldtripjerky.com .
Organic and iced tea bags: Tea never goes out of style, and this year we found a few new twists. Numi Organics introduced savory teas. Titles such as broccoli cilantro, beet cabbage, and tomato mint are not soups, but almost like unsalted broths. They still contain green or black tea leaves, and are perfect for a cold day or when you want an unsalted savory beverage. See www.numitea.com. Meanwhile, Talbott Teas, www.talbottteas.com , broke all the rules and introduced a slew of flavored "boutique" teas with exotic names: blissful blueberry, chocolate strawberry temptation, green tea indulgence, and more. This is now its luxe line and even the sexy black packaging says "a cup of couture" on the front. And good ol' Twinings of London introduced a line of cold brewed iced teabags. The English Classic is created by simply dipping the bag into cold water so consumers don't need to wait for the hot tea to cool off. See www.twiningsusa.com . And Japanese vendor Shigimoto America introduced Drip Tea, a package of loose leaf tea that you open with paper ears and suspend above a cup. You pour hot water through the cup for a steeped tea that is supposed to offer the perfect brew.
Organic candy bars for adults: Gourmet candy bars? Heck yeah! Bixby Bar introduced its line of craft chocolate packaged in handheld 1.5 ounce sizes with flavors in milk chocolate and dark chocolate. The bing cherry, chipotle pepper peanut is one bar where you can taste every flavor in sequence. The dark chocolate fleur de sel, black currant, hazelnut is the stuff of bragging rights. See www.bixbyco.com . At the show, Endangered Species unveiled new chocolate bars to an eager audience. These 3 ounce bars include flavors such as blueberry vanilla crème filled dark chocolate, and sea salt and lime crème filled dark chocolate. Both product are certified gluten-free and non-GMO.
Bottled low-cal waters: Almond water from Victoria's Kitchen says it has a hint of sweetness, and eight ounces only has 50 calories. This glass bottled line of almond waters come in different flavors including its coconut flavor which adds a nice mix. See www.drinkvictoriaskitchen.com . We also found Purity Organic's coconut water in a single serving box. Here the company offers a line of flavors, and this one I have is the organic mango which means there's organic mango puree in the beverage at 50 calories per 8.5 ounce serving.
Sweeteners: Koochikoo introduced a line of No Sugar cookies sweetened with monk fruit, an Asian fruit. According to the packaging, the monk fruit extract is 200 times sweeter than sugar and has zero calories. At the show, the company introduced its Cheerful Chocolatey Chip cookie which got rave reviews. See koochikoo.net . Also at the show was Pyure, a company selling organic stevia made of organic agave inulin and organic Reb A (stevia extract). See www.pyuresweet.com .
Nutritious beverages: Nu Smoothie made its debut in a juice box. Containing 100 percent juice and all natural, this can a solid alternative to sugared box drinks for the kids. Made in France, the box comes with its own straw and comes in a bounty of flavors including mango orange passion with no additives.
Portable wine: Ever go on a picnic and wanted to bring a bottle of wine, but you were afraid it would shatter? Stack wines comes in a literal stack of four clear plastic wine cups, each sealed with wine inside. The packaging is excellent and the wine in red or wine is perfect for a picnic or to go meal. See www.shaw-ross.com .
We will be back to cover this show next year. Until then, this writer has to go on a diet!
For details, see www.specialtyfood.com .