Expo West Recap/A Lesson In Reading Ingredient Labels / by Alexandra Pullen

Me and my Expo partner in crime, Sophie

Me and my Expo partner in crime, Sophie

All I can do to really describe expo west is say that it was pure insanity. Being lost in a massive convention center is a version of my own person hell, but that was assuaged by the fact that I was surrounded by natural products. Well, mostly natural products. There were actually a few companies that didn't have the best integrity that managed to sneak their way into the mix. Remember, the word "natural" on foods is an unregulated term. That means anyone can slap it on their product to make it seem healthier than it actually is. 

For example, I saw a booth for Natural Bliss Coffee Creamer from Coffee Mate. The ingredients seem fairly harmless at first glance: nonfat milk, heavy cream, sugar, natural flavor. Fairly minimal, which is great. Take a closer look. Sugar? Yuck. Natural Flavor? What does that even mean? Companies add flavorings to make products taste better. They are created in a lab and the formulations are guarded as trade secrets. Pay special attention to the phrase "natural flavorings" since glutamates, animal products or allergens may be the source of natural flavors. I will admit that I've purchased this product before, but it's definitely not a product I would endorse as "healthy" or "natural," even though it may be better than most. I don't think it's necessarily "bad" to drink this product, but it's important to be aware of the ingredients you are putting in your body and not just trust something as "natural" or healthy because you see it at Expo West or Whole Foods.

There were tons of brands that I absolutely ADORED! There were definitely some standouts.  I had to stop by the Cocokind Organic Skincare booth. I'm absolutely OBSESSED with their superfood skincare products. I religiously watch the owner and founder, Priscilla's, Instagram stories. They are super informative about how to use the products as well as general skincare information. Priscilla is the reason why I take my makeup off before getting in the shower (hello--the steam traps the makeup in your pores!! Who knew?!) and my skin has never looked better! I was totally fan-girling and starstruck by meeting such a kickass female business owner that I admire so much!

I also discovered this Kombucha brand, Live Beverages, that has a line that's specifically designed to taste like your favorite sodas. I snagged one of the root beer floats and I see a coconut milk ice cream kombucha root beer float in my very near future!

I had to visit my friends at Perfect Bar. They have two new flavors that I had to scope out for myself. They were of course absolutely delicious! They have a new peanut butter chocolate chip one and a chocolate one. Divine! I tried to convince them to give me a box to take home, but to no avail.

Califia Farms has a new line of organic nut milk! They taste just like homemade straight from the Vitamix! This was one of the first booths I discovered at Expo, which was NOT the move because I ended up lugging around 3 containers of almond milk for the rest of the day...which I fully brought upon myself. 

I finally got to meet the lovely ladies behind Wild Friends Nut Butters! Not gonna lie, I got a little sick at this booth from trying too many samples, but it was worth it. Everything was SO good and apparently I've been deprived my whole life of these delicious creations. I loved the Vanilla Espresso Almond Butter, but my favorite by far was the Sugar Cookie Peanut Butter. Yep, sugar cookie. Peanut butter. I absolutely died. The girls were generous enough to send me home with a jar of my own. Tear of gratitude!

Pascha Chocolate is coming out with rice milk chocolates. They're totally vegan and totally delicious. The white chocolate is INSANE! The others are 46% cacao and they're all free from peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn and carrageenan. Non-GMO, Certified organic, fair-trade, vegan, celiac, kosher. PASCHA is a proud member of 1% For The Planet. They also have a dark chocolate bar with golden berries sprinkled in it which is actual crack. Obsessed!

Dahlicious was another standout. They make dairy as well as almond milk based yogurt and kefir. They are one of the only companies that use the entire almond in their prouduct (ie using the pulp rather than just the "milk" of the almond). This keeps the integrity of the nutritional profile of the whole nut, giving it more protein and fiber than most almond milk products. I'm not a yogurt girl, but the yogurt is actually amazing and tastes a lot different than any non-dairy yogurt I've ever tried. The almond milk kefir tastes delicious and it's great because kefir has so many health benefits, and this way you get all of the probiotics with none of the dairy!

I couldn't handle the madhouse for longer than a couple hours. I honestly didn't know what to expect, but I managed to visit with some of my favorite brands and discover some new ones. I definitely need a year break for next year, but I'm going to be ready with a game plan of attack (and some comfy walking shoes!).