The numbers are in and Natural Products Expo West (Expo West) at the Anaheim Convention Center in California was a resounding success. The event brought together more than 67,000 industry members, 2,600 exhibiting companies and the most first-time exhibitors (635) in the event’s history. There is definitely a shift towards cleaner eating (organic, non-GMO, etc.) and diet trends, like gluten free, are in full product swing.
According to Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO), of the 390 companies that promoted gluten-free options at Expo West, 70% were certified gluten free through their program. This is an impressive statistic and one that I see increasing. Companies that are dedicated to providing safe, gluten-free products should be going that extra mile and certifying them.
After walking miles and miles and eating way too much on the quest to discover new gluten-free products, here are my top 20 favorites in alphabetical order. I also decided to indicate whether these companies use a 3rd party company for certification, or if not, how they guarantee their products meet the < 20 parts per million of gluten FDA requirement.
- Amy's Kitchen - their new Breakfast Sandwich is filled with a layer of slightly sweet meatless sausage, a layer of egg, topped with a tomato-type condiment and surrounded by two of their Sandwich Rounds. I love that it is portable and that the bread was nice and soft. The sandwich is flavorful and quite filling and I can eat it while driving to work, so bonus for me. No 3rd Party Certification; Internal lab tests for gluten
- Beanfields - added Ranch to their line of Bean and Rice Chips and they taste like the real thing. Oh, how I have miss Cool Ranch Doritos, but not anymore. They are corn-free too. GFCO Certified
- Cookies con Amore - these Italian gluten-free cookies are definitely made with love and a whole lot of talent. I don't think I can pick just one favorite, but the Raspberry Linzer and the Polentine are at the top of the list. They look beautiful, taste homemade, and I am drooling just thinking about them! GFCO Certified
- Cup 4 Cup - must have heard my pleas for dairy-free mixes because their two new mixes, Yellow Cake Mix and All-Purpose Flour, are dairy-free and non-GMO. CSA Certified
- Glutino Foods - has reformulated their White Sandwich, Multigrain, Cinnamon Raisin, and Seeded breads and color me impressed. They are light and soft with a nice crust and a slightly nutty flavor. Between me and Jojo, we went through the two loaves in four days. These breads worked well straight out of the bag, toasted, and for French toast. GFCO Certified
- Kind Snacks - introduced a line of savory bars that are low glycemic and full of flavor. I have really gotten tired of bars over the years, so I thank Kind for renewing my enthusiasm with these five new flavors: Hickory Smoked, Honey Mustard, Honey Smoked BBQ, Thai Sweet Chili, and Jalapeno. No 3rd Party Certification; External lab tests for gluten
- Kinnikinnick Foods - introduced a vanilla wafer that looks and tastes like the one from my gluten-y youth. I can't wait to use them to make banana pudding. They should be out and on store shelves in May. No 3rd Party Certification; Internal lab tests for gluten
- JJ's Sweets - Chocolate covered sea salt cocomels are a divine treat for anyone, even if dairy is your friend. These treats come to two a package and one is more than enough to soothe that chocolate beast is all of us. They are vegan, organic, and kosher. No 3rd Party Certification; Dedicated Facility
- Mary's Gone Crackers - launched their healthy graham crackers in two flavors: Classic and Chocolate. These soy free and vegan graham crackers have all of the great molasses flavor I remember from my youth, but they go the extra yard and contain nutritious ingredients: coconut flour, sweet potato powder, mesquite powder, amaranth flour, quinoa flakes, and the list goes on. There is a little extra crunch from the chia seeds, and while they are a little thin, they aren't too crunchy likes others on store shelves. The company also launched their new logo and packaging refresh. GFCO Certified
- Mr. Cheese O's - launched a line of cheese snacks made with real cheese, quinoa, and ancient grains. These snacks pack a serious cheese punch and they come in four flavors: Original, Cheddar, Tuscan Herb, and Sweet Chili. The Tuscan Herb is my favorite and I can see using them as croutons, crunching them up and using them as breading, and the list goes on. No 3rd Party Certification; Dedicated Facility
- Mr. Dewie's - their vegan ice cream is made with cashews and it is a creamy delight. I bonded with the Caramel Almond Crunch and now I have to wait until it makes its way over to the East coast. No 3rd Party Certification; Dedicated Facility
- Nature's Path - has added two new flavors to their EnviroKidz line: Cinnamon Jungle Munch and Chocolate Choco Chimps. They also introduced two new flavors of Mesa Sunrise that contain EnviroKidz cereals: Crunchy Honey and Crunchy Cinnamon. I am a big fan of their cereals, so I can't wait to add them to our lineup. All of these cereals are available for purchase direct from their website. GFCO Certified
- Pamela's Products - their new line of Figgies & Jammies were everything I thought they would be and more. These gluten-free fig bars come in: Mission Fig, Strawberry & Fig, Raspberry & Fig, and Blueberry & Fig. The figgy filling is made without artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, and the berry flavor comes through. GFCO Certified
- Oh YES! - makers of gluten-free pizza fortified with fruits and vegetables. Each of their crispy pizzas contains more than five servings of vegetables and fruits, but you wouldn't know it. A lot of the veggies are in the sauce, so it tastes like tangy roasted veggies. They also offer a vegan version made with Daiya Cheese. CSA Certified
- Pasta Mia - their roasted vegetables ravioli with olive oil garlic sauce was divine. While the edges of the ravioli were a little tough, the middle was soft (not gummy) and loaded with veggies blended with cheese and flavorful spices. GFCO Certified
- Schar - they have achieved cracker perfection with their Entertainment Crackers that tastes just like a 'ritz'. They are buttery, salty, and they have a great crunch. They are dairy free, but they contain soy and corn. I am going to try to make Tagalongs by making a peanut butter sandwich and dipping it in dairy-free chocolate. No 3rd Party Certification; Dedicated Facility
- Surf Sweets - their Choco Chews are oh so chocolaty and chewy without any dairy. Another great product from an innovative company looking to make candy available to the kid inside all of us. No 3rd Party Certification; Dedicated Facility
- Udi's Gluten Free - introduced a line of frozen entrees and their Broccoli & Kale Lasagna was just fantastic and loaded with creamy sauce. GFCO Certified
- Vermont Smoke and Cure - those gluten-free guys from Vermont have won a place in my heart with their Uncured Natural Summer Sausage. It is such a quality product and one that I hope will appear on a store shelf near me very soon.They also make great Real Sticks that are full of flavor. All of their products are gluten, dairy, soy, MSG, artificial flavor, artificial color, and preservative free. No 3rd Party Certification; Dedicated Facility
- Zaza Raw - sampled out their line of raw desserts that were smooth and creamy with a nice crust. These desserts are also soy free and they are loaded with flavor. The pumpkin cheesecake was my favorite and their list of healthful ingredients is impressive. CSA Certified
Of course now we have to wait for these products to make it to the East coast, which usually takes until May/June/July.
What looks good to you?