The American Dietetic Association just wrapped its annual meeting in San Diego last week, and while there was certainly some controversy about America’s food and nutrition experts being sponsored by Big Food it was also incredibly refreshing and encouraging to see many companies who are committed to producing sustainable, nourishing foods sharing their message with RDs. There were lots of great ones, but here are my 5 Green Stars of FNCE. For the record, I am not personally connected in any way to any of these products- I just love ‘em. 1. Cat Cora’s Olive Snack Packs
I LOVE these! While we can’t all be lucky enough to pull up a chair to legendary chef Cat Cora’s kitchen table, this is the next best thing. Finally, real food snacking on the go has been made super delicious, super easy. These resealable packs are ingenious-they don’t leak in your purse or your bag-I love the pitted lemon and oregano olives, as they’re brimming with real olive flavor, not just a salt bomb that so many olives are these days. Sun ripened, with no artificial anything, made with ingredients found in your kitchen: olives, extra virgin olive oil, herbs and salt. Cora partnered with sustainable food pioneer Gaea (with carbon footprinting on the package), making it a lean and green superfood on the go for moms, execs, athletes even kids.
Truth be told, they had me at hello. If you haven’t already heard of it, get ready for a new “ancient grain” to hit store shelves near you: einkorn pasta. I got a fascinating anthropology lesson - seriously. First discovered on a perfectly preserved man who lived during the Bronze Age, einkhorn was brought back to mainstream eating by Italian researchers-and is now cultivated on small organic farms in Italy-einkhorn is unique because it has never been hybridized, making it one of the most simple (chromosomally speaking) wheats out there. Rich in B vitamins, protein and trace minerals, with an ORAC score of 1200 (compared to durum wheat at 600), it’s a supergrain that has a wonderful nutty taste and is the perfect way to pump up your favorite pasta recipe. And they get a green star for sustainable packaging.
Sugar is a problem; we know Americans eat far too much of it, (an average of 22 tsp a day) and traditional cane sugar comes with a high environmental price tag as well. That’s why I’m so sweet on this new fantastic find. First introduced to me by my favorite qualitarian RD Ashley Koff, Sweet Tree is made from 100% organic crystallized coconut palm nectar, has a lower glycemic index (only 35) than table sugar (68), HCFS (62), or honey (55), and contains many trace nutrients like potassium. An easy, greener swap for your kitchen, it can be used ounce for ounce in your favorite recipes instead of cane sugar, and imparts a deliciously rich, almost caramel flavor to my coffee in the morning. Parent company Big Tree Farms has done outstanding work in sustainability: showing that “health, people and planet” can all coexist deliciously.
What I loved most at FNCE this year is how many companies are finally showing us that YES, snacking can be super clean, 1 ingredient foods like they’re found in nature-and still be fun, easy and delicious in the process. Crispy Greens is a shining example. I love the crispy Asian pear, mango and cantaloupe flavors-talk about a delicious wake up for your tastebuds! And a refreshing step beyond first generation “healthy snacks” like oily banana chips. Perfect for the purse, the high chair, the boardroom, the gym bag, and all of life in between. Green star, ladies.
5. Tera’s Whey
Simple ingredients, ethically sources to support small, Wisconsin farms. A green factory that touches the planet lightly. Traceability that goes al the way back to the cow or goat. Now tell me, what’s not to love? Given all the highly fortified, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup options I saw on the FNCE floor, Tera’s Whey was a breath of fresh air. For those who thrive on a morning whey shake or like that added boost of protein, Terra’s Whey is a lean, green, and clean option. Other bonuses: They offer organic cow and goat milk options, and offer versions that are unsweetened, or sweetened with low-glycemic stevia.
Did you see anything else at FNCE generating some lean and green buzz? I'd love to hear about it! Want more snacks to wean you from the vending machine? Shine has an amazing list of lean and green superfoods that I love.
Written with assistance from Lindsey Toth, MS, RD