Every year for the last 20 years or so, I have attended the International Fancy Food Show at the Javitz Center in New York City. If you want to read about my shenanigans with Julie, my foodie partner in crime, check out Grazing My Way Through Manhattan here. If you are interested in reading about my even more productive and enlightening escapades this year with my assistant, Iris, however, read on…
Julie had a vacation planned smack dab in the middle of the show so I requested the attendance of my assistant, Iris, who could help me meander and munch my way through the exciting six football fields size trade show of new and veteran products. No one can do this alone!
Iris was new to the adventure so we trained for the six-hour long sampling of sweet, savory, pungent, spicy, sour products. I explained to her that we would need to build up each others’ confidence starting weeks before the event, telling ourselves that few can actually accomplish this annual feat of literally feeding our faces without pause from 10AM-4PM but that we would do it.
We serious gourmets and gourmands (no judgment here) are a select few who know how to truly pace ourselves so that we don’t leave the show with sore feet and nausea an hour in. We choose function over fashion in footwear (no heels, Birkenstocks), no breakfast before the show (eating anything would be a rookie error), only small sips of water, not big gulps throughout the day to keep room in our stomachs, and the lightest backpack or pocketbook imaginable so we would not be weighed down by unnecessary weight. Iris was up for the challenge of helping me find the healthiest and tastiest products out there for prediabetes and diabetes.
We arrived and were happy to see that the show did not disappoint. So much delicious food. As always, there were new trends and many innovative products as well as some old favorites.
For our low sugar, low-carb diabetes purposes, I was happy to see that, once again, health-focused products are coming out of the production woodwork.
Although I do not yet have diabetes (read my diagnosed with prediabetes story here), I’ve been counseled by my doctor to keep my blood sugar in mind with every food choice I make as controlling the diet is the best way to prevent prediabetes from turning into type 2! So, I'm always on the lookout for foods containing fiber, heart-healthy fats (olive oil, anyone?) and not-too-many of the right kinds of carbs (hint: those that don't come from white and heavily-processed foods).
#1. Mung Bean Noodles. It is so hard to find noodles that actually taste good and that are healthy. I was VERY impressed with Zeroodle Pasta. It is pasta made out of organic mung beans and edamame and has a wonderful texture. It has 188 calories per serving, only 18 grams of total carbohydrates, 15 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar and 21 grams of protein! (Compared with regular pasta these are much healthier numbers.) It is very filling and tasty, too. I would recommend pairing it with vegetables and Hoboken Farms sauce (see below).
#2. No-Sugar Pasta Sauce
There were a lot of pasta sauces this year but the one that always stands out to me is, you guessed it, Hoboken Farms. They use a lot of olive oil in their sauce, so much so that it rises to the top, and absolutely no added sugar. In a half cup of sauce, there are only 70 calories, 4 grams of total carbohydrates and 3 grams of sugar. This sauce truly tastes homemade and I could eat it plain with a spoon.
#3. Tasty Health Bar. A seriously delicious health bar I sampled that just may revolutionize dessert for those concerned about too much sugar is the Neoh bar whose tagline is Fight sugar. Unleash taste. The bar has only 90 calories, 1 gram of sugar, 8 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbs and 2 grams fiber. It does contain some sugar alcohols like Malitol Erythritol and Zylitol so make sure you don't eat too many of these bars in one sitting, as some people experience gastric distress from too much of those additives
#4. Globally-conscious superfood. Ziba brand's Afghan Roasted and Salted Bamyan sweet Baby Apricot Kernels. This item is sustainably sourced, a biodynamic superfood and nutrient dense. One serving has only 130 calories, only 6 grams of carbohydrates and only 2 grams of total sugars. Zika products improve the lives of farmers and Afghan women in a region of Afghanistan where there was previously 95% unemployment and only seasonal work. Now they work all year while providing us with healthy, low carb snacks. What’s better than that?
#5. Dried meats anyone? Jerky of all sorts is clearly a trend and lucky for those of us who need to watch our sugar intake! It is loaded with protein and tastes delicious! My favorite brand was Epic brand BOGO Performance Bars which uses grass-fed meats, has 12 grams of protein in the Venison bar, only 2 grams of carbs and 0 grams of sugar. I really liked the Sriracha chicken flavor which has 15 grams of protein!
#6. Quinoa for Dessert
Quinoa was all over the show as well and a new product I discovered as a tasty snack was Undercover Quinoa which is premium chocolate covering crunchy quinoa. Each serving of the dark chocolate option has only 120 calories, 17 grams of carbs and only 6 grams of sugar.
#7. Crunchy and Unique
Bohana Popped Water Lily Seeds, are no joke. The one I tasted was the wild white cheddar flavor but there are numerous other flavors. Only 120 calories in a 2 oz. bag, 3 grams of plant protein, 18 carbs and 1 gram of sugar. I like this as a novelty item for a host/hostess gift.
#8. Cauliflower Cracker
You'd be surprised at what cauliflower can be turned into. I saw cauliflower "bread" sticks, pretzels and another great snack item was From the Ground Up Cauliflower Crackers. They were not only delicious,but are non-GMO verified and a wonderful alternative to cheese crackers with all those nasty additives. Plus, a they have only 21 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein and only 2 grams of sugar.
#9. Chickpea Power
Staying on the crunchy theme, chickpeas continued their presence at the show and this time I indulged in some chocolate-covered roasted chickpeas by Biena. Each bag has only 100 calories and the fiber from the chickpeas reduces the chocolate decadence guilt since it’s slowing down the sugar spike. A 3/4 ounce serving has only 14 grams of total carbohydrates and 4 grams of total sugars. A special treat when you really just want to eat a pint of ice cream. Eat these instead!
#10. Tea Time
Last but not least, there was a special drink that Iris discovered that the company claims helps with diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels (note: no science back this up). Moringa Tea, made by Miracle Tree can be served hot as an alternative to coffee since it’s mixed with caffeinated green tea or on ice as a refreshing cold beverage on a hot afternoon.
I can’t wait to see what next year’s food show will bring.