Last week, I had the great opportunity to attend Expo East, a natural products showcase at the Boston Convention Center. The convention center is a truly huge space, and for this show, it was packed with thousands of booths offering natural health and beauty products, vitamin supplements, and natural foods. Guess what area I focused on?
I loved getting the chance to talk to producers and hear why they were passionate about their products. There was a strong showing of vendors from New England, and I especially enjoyed talking with them - many of them were clearly very excited to be presenting to the more than 26,000 attendees.
Some of my favorites:
White Mountain Kettle Corn makes quite possibly the best Kettle Corn I've ever had. It was very well balanced between sweet and salty. I find that kettle corn is often too sweet, but this product had plenty of salt too. Plus, it's local (not too far from Manchester, NH) and a terribly addictive snack. I loved talking to White Mountain's president, the charming Priscilla Dube, who told me how the company began as a retirement project for her and her husband. What a delicious retirement!
Putney Pasta's booth was much like it's packaging - bright, vibrant, and inviting. When I think of frozen ravioli, I think of the rather bland ones I ate as a kid, but these have changed my perception of frozen ravioli. The pasta was not too dense, and the fillings were bursting with flavor. They were also sampling their new skillet meals (complete with meat and sauce), and while I've ragged on some frozen meals before, these were delicious and tasted homemade. Considering how hectic my life can be sometimes, I think these would be great to keep on hand. Plus, it's another (fairly) local company, from Brattleboro, VT.
Baji's offers Indian-inspired convenience food. Their papadums come in four flavors (cilantro, mango chutney, yogurt dill, and tandoori). Flavors like these are hard to find in snack foods, and these crispy little snacks really fill a void in the market. Their microwaveable rice meals offer a quick, filling, and healthy meal (with real veggies!) in no time - I'll definitely be giving these a try on my days when I have about 10 minutes for lunch. Plus, Baji's was the most local of my favs - they're in Sudbury, MA!
Sunbutter is a terrific alternative to peanut butter (for those who can't have pb or want something a little different). The texture is great, not at all grainy like some pb-alternatives can be. If you're paying enough attention, the flavor is definitely sunflower seeds, but not so much that it's distracting. I enjoyed this product a lot, and while it's not going to replace peanut butter for me, it would be a great option for changing things up every once in a while.
Harvard Common Press was on hand showing off some of their cookbook selection (their other focus is on parenting books). They have tons of beautiful and creative cookbooks for kitchen inspiration. I was actually in the bookstore just a couple of days ago and saw their Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies - it's a great concept and is well-executed, and knowing my passion for cookies (especially at Christmas time), I'm sure this one will end up on my shelf sometime soon.
There were also quite a few companies offering a different kind of dried fruit - crispy! I really enjoyed Bare Fruit, Danielle Snacks, Crispy Green, and Just Tomatoes. Sometimes I crave something crunchy and the only things on hand are not the most healthy choices. But crispy fruit (and veggies, in the case of Danielle and Just Tomatoes) are a fantastic alternative that sates the urge for crispiness while providing good-for-you food. (Plus, Danielle is also another local company!)