One of my favorites, was surprisingly, a fermented tofu dish. I am not a big tofu fan, but Rau Om’s Tofu Misozuke is a wonderful meaty tasting spread for crackers. For the vegan palate, it is perfectly acceptable substitute for cheese. Even those carnivores out there, such as myself, can appreciate this tasty treat. The basic concept is that tofu is wrapped in Miso and allowed to ferment for two months. The product can last up to a month once fermented. It is high in sodium, but that is done as a preservation factor. The product is only available in California at this time, but you can purchase it on the website if you are outside their retail area. They also have a couple of other interesting items on their website that were not showcased at the show that are definitely worth checking out!
Another great product that Chef Allison and I were in agreement on were the spinach balls by The Spinach Ball company. They come in original, stuffed with feta, and stuffed with Monterey Jack. They are served with a side of dill dip. They are a very tasty product! Great flavor!
In the beverage category, Crio Bru is definitely a trendsetter. This is the first productof its kind to be manufactured in the US. It is a drink steeped from 100% cocoa beans. The beans are hand selected for minimal bitterness, sun dried, then roasted and milled. The product is 100% responsibly grown and ethically traded. The company uses wind power as the energy source in making Crio Bru. Each cup only has 10 calories, has one of the highest antioxidant amounts by weight, and has been designated Hearty Healthy by the AHA. Add some coconut milk to this delectable drink and you have a low-calorie version of hot chocolate. It is definitely a product to watch!!
Another interesting product is actually a Korean product by O’Jeju. It’s called O’Kimchi and it is a 100% natural Korean fermented Kimchi that has been dried. The package suggests to add it to Ramen, but I can see it being a great snack all on its own! Add it to rice, to broth, etc. Regardless, the whole package has 16 calories.
Annie Chun’s has two flavors of Savory roasted Korean seaweed that it showcased as new products. One is a brown sugar and sea salt product that is slightly sweet. The other flavor is racked pepper and herbs. Each serving has only 10 calories, so it’s a low-calorie, nutrition-packed snack.
Super fruits are making the rounds when it comes to trends, and one of my favorites at the show this year is Baobab. I had a sample of Baobab jam, and the statistics for this product are pretty amazing. According to data, 1g of baobab pulp has 10 times the antioxidant ability of oranges, and 4 times more potassium than bananas. It is a light colored jam, slightly tart. It tastes creamy with a tart citrus taste. A recent newcomer to the market, it has many functional characteristics as well.
In the sweets category are Cocomels, by JJ’s Sweets, the vegan’s answer to the caramel. They are made with coconut milk and are absolutely delicious. They come in 4 naked flavors (original, sea salt, vanilla, and java), and 4 covered in free trade organic chocolate (sea salt, vanilla, espresso, and chai spice). I sampled the naked original and sea salt, and I have to tell you, they were very tasty, with a great creamy coconut overtone.
Veggie Mama is a great entry into the kid’s 6-16 age bracket. Founder Theresa Fraijo started with a desire to feed her kids more vegetables and this is her take on veggie snacks. These are frozen pops made with 100% fruits and vegetables. I tried several flavors and my hands down favorite was the sweet potato pie flavor. It’s made with sweet potato, orange, coconut, vanilla and cinnamon. What a deliciously healthy idea!
And this last little gem is definitely a trend we are seeing in the eco-friendly category: it’s a paper spoon that biodegrades in 3-10 weeks. It would be very handy as a tasting spoon in commercial kitchens as well as a great alternative for frozen treats!
Stay tuned for our blog on the IFT show, where we will showcase some amazing functional ingredients.