By Alison Ashton
Turning 30 is a big deal, whether you’re a person or an event, and it was certainly cause for celebration last month at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California. Its monster size–1,700-plus exhibitors and 56,000 attendees–was a reflection of how all things organic and natural have moved into mainstream. I revisited some of our faves from the Fancy Food Show and discovered new goodies you’ll want to look for too:
Environment and flavor come together in Lotus Foods’ new SRI–One Seed Revolution rices. The company worked with Cornell University to introduce the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Indonesia, Madagascar, and Cambodia, which allows farmers to use up to 90% less seed and half as much water than conventional rice while boosting yields up to 100%–with no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Varieties include Indonesian Volcano Rice (a nutrient-dense blend of brown and red rice), Madagascar Pink Rice (an endangered type that was preserved by one farmer), and Cambodian Mekong Flower Rice (prized for its floral fragrance). The rice is currently sold in 11-pound bulk bags ($31.79) and will be available in 15-ounce packages in the fall.
Gluten-free grows up
Expo aisles were chockablock with gluten-free everything, from cookies and crackers to pizza crust. Some still have all the appeal of a hockey puck, but many compare favorably with their traditional counterparts for texture and flavor. One winner was King Arthur Flour Company’s new line of gluten-free baking mixes for bread, cookies, brownies, cakes, muffins, and pizza crust ($6.95 each). The gluten-free chocolate cake was rich and moist with a light, tender crumb. Since gluten’s not a problem for me, I was also pleased to see King Arthur now offers unbleached cake flour ($4.50 for 2 pounds), which would work beautifully with our Chocolate Angel Food Cake.
Salty flavor, less sodium
NutraSalt Low-Sodium Salt ($3.99) hails from the Red Sea and Dead Sea. It’s 66% lower in sodium than conventional table or sea salt yet high in heart-healthy potassium, with an intensely salty taste. Since going to culinary school last year, I’ve been using a heavy hand with salt in my cooking. Now I can use this salt without sacrificing flavor.
Now that you’ve made a habit of toting reusable grocery bags to the store, the next step is to focus on produce bags. Several companies make reusable produce bags, but I like the ones from 3B Bags ($7.50 for a three-bag set) made of a breathable mesh that’s fine enough to accommodate bulk-bin items, too. If you still use plastic trash bags and the occasional zip-top bag in the kitchen, look for Green Genius’s biodegradable bags; they’re priced competitively with national brands.
A longtime editor, writer, and recipe developer, Alison Ashton is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef and the Editorial Director for Nourish Network. She has worked as a features editor for a national wire service and as senior food editor for a top food magazine. Her work has appeared in Cooking Light, Vegetarian Times, and Natural Health as well as on her blog, Eat Cheap, Eat Well, Eat Up.