I tried hundreds of samples at a health foods tradeshow. Here are the four that stood out.
This every year in September, hundreds of food manufacturers big and small come together in the Toronto convention center to pitch their newest products. Although it’s called the Canadian Health Food Association, most of the products are candies, sweets or some type of sugar.
This year there were lots of trends, which you can read about in my previous post here. But after trying literally hundreds of different products, only a few really stood out from the crowd. Not always for being good, but still… they stood out.
I guess it’s not surprising that there are seeds inside the rocky hard shell of an apricot pit, but I had before considered them, much less thought about eating one. The apricot seeds looked small and smooth with a slightly soft brown color. They had been dried and had a nice crunch initial crunch when biting down on one. The inside of the seed was softer and extremely bitter. The flavor is shocking. It punches you with a bitter taste that just about knocks your socks off. It fades just as quickly as it hits, only to be replaced by an intense amaretto flavor that manages to hide a slightly sweet taste that your mind races to seek out. It left me wondering if I actually liked it, and in want of a tall glass of water.
Epic Chicken Bar
Our American neighbors have been enjoying Epic bars for years, but for Canadians, it’s novel and new. Epic is currently launching their meaty jerky bars this autumn in Canada. They have a new flavor, which is a chicken jerky bar. It doesn’t sound very enticing, in fact, it sounds like a hunk of overcooked, dried chicken. They jazzed it up with some BBQ sesame spices, giving this bar some major flavor and making it crave-worthy.
Epic is not only rocking it in flavor but as a company, they support regenerative farming practices and are leading the industry towards going beyond grass-fed or pasture raised meats. Regenerative farming focused on improving the lives of the animals, the farmer and the health of the land for the long term. It’s a concept that has been around for a while but is gaining traction from the efforts of companies such as Epic.
The tradeshow was filled with nut and seed based snacks. This one stood out in the ocean of plant-based protein snacks because it didn’t rely on dates, rice syrup or cane sugar for its sweetener. It’s subtle sweetness comes from bananas. And that made it taste like homemade banana bread. If banana bread could be a crunchy cluster that is… The banana flavor tastes like a real banana and nothing like those sugary yellow bananas in Runts candies. The crunchy clusters also have roasted nuts, giving a bit of balance to the banana flavor along with some flashbacks to your childhood school bake sales.
Tiger Nuts Ice Cream
It took some convincing for me to try this one. The sales person practically had to beg me. And I am so glad they did. Because I never would have believed that tiger nuts could be made into delicious ice cream.
My hesitation to try this ice cream came from my experience from eating tiger nuts whole. It was an experience that I did not enjoy. Tiger nuts are often touted as the new healthy almond. They may be healthy, but they are not nearly as delicious as a simple plain almond. They taste flavorless, without a good crunch of a roasted nut, or the richness of a raw cashew.
But apparently, they make great nut-based ice cream. Tiger nut ice cream, or frozen dessert, is incredibly creamy without being heavy. It has a surprisingly rich creamy texture that lingers like an expensive slow churned ice cream. Delighted, I also tried the low sugar options and again was impressed by the lack of unpleasant aftertastes of stevia and alcohol sweeteners. The tiger nut ice cream is something that you won’t believe until you try it.