Sound like a fantasy? It’s not. The International Fancy Food Show is quite possibly the most titillating event in New York City and its takes place annually at the Javitz Center. Attending this delightful, gastronomic affair—which is truly a feast for the senses—is something I eagerly anticipate. My friend Julie and I haven’t missed a show in nearly 20 years and I consider it a culinary, and physical, badge of honor that I have completed this event in my third trimester of pregnancy three times. (With the advent of the fit bit, I saw that we walked/grazed an astounding 5.2 miles in this year’s show.)
Over the years, Julie and I have attempted to bring other friends to the show but no one seems to have the stamina necessary to keep up with our impressive taste testing. We are no-nonsense food samplers and take our coverage of the 180,000 products (everything from soup to nuts, literally) displayed by 2,400 exhibitors from over 50 countries and regions very seriously. Sorry but we are professionals eaters and can’t risk being slowed down by novices.
Every year, we spot different culinary trends. Salsa was the star of the late nineties; the early 2000's saw the popcorn craze take off. Flavored water has been front and center in the last few years and this year we noticed numerous low-sugar products that are perfect for, you guessed it, diabetes!
Being recently diagnosed with prediabetes, I was especially pleased to see the large variety of low-carb, high- protein snacks, condiments and desserts which are often the most challenging to incorporate into our diets and still keep sugar consumption in check.
What follows is my review of a few of my favorite low-sugar products I discovered this year. I hope you get a chance to try them and if you do, I’d love to hear what you think. Send me your comments, below.
Snacking is the toughest for me. If I had my druthers I would eat pita chips and cheese in between meals but, alas, I cannot. Because my sugar levels are elevated due to my prediabetes, I have been depending on nuts but too many nuts aren’t great for digestion and they are high in calories.
Enter Lupini Beans! Chochos, as lupini beans are called in Spanish, are a very common snack in Spain but they have recently arrived in attractive packaging in the U.S. under the brand Brami. Lupini beans have more protein per calorie of any plant on earth. They are packed with nutrition and have 13 grams of protein vs 7.5 grams of pinto beans per serving and 35% more fiber than oats. The company makes six flavors and my favorite is the Chili Lime. Try them in lieu of soy edamame beans or other edamame products.
Another product that I fell in love with was a new dairy product from the Chaat Company. It looks like an ordinary yogurt container with a separate serving of granola attached. But this yogurt has an unexpected twist—it’s savory and Indian spiced with dried chick peas—instead of sweetened granola, on top. What a surprisingly tasty snack with a lot less sugar. The product is not widely available yet but if you want to check it out, you can buy directly from the website.
Life without condiments is, well, like a kitchen without a spice drawer—boring. To me, condiments are an essential ingredient and absolutely necessary to jazz up your whole grains, make salads more satisfying and proteins more palatable. Ketchup, like most condiments, typically contains high fructose corn syrup or sugar as one of the first ingredients. Since many people add unwanted sugar to their diets in the form of sauces, what better product for the sugar conscious than a diabetic-friendly sauce?!
Enter jensenskitchen.com. Jensen’s traditional—sautéed peppers and onions—is fab and their sriracha is really flavorful, too. The best part…NO added sugar, just 2 grams of carbohydrates per 2 tablespoons and only 95mg of sodium. The sauce is kettle cooked for extra flavor and can also be used as a marinade or sauce. This product is also not widely available but you can order it directly from the company’s website online.
Now for the best part…dessert!
For many people with sugar or insulin challenges, trying to keep the sugar low doesn’t mean we have to completely eliminate it, just reduce it. One of the most difficult parts of staying on a low sugar plan is the feeling of deprivation which can lead to a sugar binge, especially at the end of the day when we may be longing for a sweet treat.
There are a number of dessert products that are making an effort to appeal to the low sugar audience but they just did not make my taste or texture cut at the Food Show. An exception, however, was the Pure Genius Brownie. Oh my goodness, what a treat! No feeling of deprivation whatsoever!
The beauty of these brownies is that they have a brownie like texture but their first ingredient is chick peas and the whole brownie is made up of 40% chick peas! They have 24 grams of carbs and make up 18% of our daily fiber with 4 grams of fiber. There are 11 grams of sugar in them which is not as low as I would like but they are so filling and delicious that they can be cut in half, each half as one serving. Compared to 16 grams of sugar and 1 gram of fiber in a typical brownie mix brownie, I’ll take one of these. VERY satisfying!
Chocolate is always plentiful at the show but the sugar content is extremely high, especially with filled chocolates of which I am a huge fan.
CocoaPlanet’s founder started the company because she wanted her mother who had diabetes to be able to enjoy chocolate without the sugar spike. She succeeded by creating Pearls of Flavor, an innovation she patented.
The “pearls” are small, pearl-sized droplets of filling which provide flavor but greatly reduce the sugar content. The filling in regular filled chocolates contains 60-80% sugar. These decadent pearls have just 15% sugar and are arguably just as yummy. Each serving has only 100 calories, and 9 grams carbohydrates.
The chocolates were not only delicious but beautiful and would make a great gift for anyone watching her sugar intake. Order directly from the website if they are not sold in your area.
All in all, I was pretty pleased with the multitude of low-sugar products as it appears there is a real shift in consciousness about the need to make healthy foods more accessible to the public. I look forward to seeing what 2017 will bring. If you go, look for Julie and me grazing our way through the building, and catch us if you can. I dare you!