Natural Products Expo East 2014 Recap

by Courtney on September 26, 2014 · 0 comments

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2014 was my second year attending the Natural Products Expo East event, always in search of my new favorite natural products.  Though i was only able to attend the expo for the last day, saturday, I still found several new companies that deserve some special attention.  I’ll be doing more in-depth reviews of these products in coming weeks, but for now I wanted to give a small recap of the items that really stood out in my opinion.

The very first vendor I encountered Saturday morning was a lovely Father/Daughter team from Ultra Green.  I spoke with the daughter, Zoe about their different products, including a party set of utensils made from corn (which includes utensils, plates, cups and napkins made from sugarcane fiber) as well as their paper products featuring toilet paper, tissues and paper towels made from 100% bamboo fiber.  They are a wonderful small company that is really going to make a difference and not just in this business to make a profit.  I found this to be the case with many vendors, they truly want to make a difference in this industry with their products.

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Green Bee Soda is a company that is not very different from Ultra Green in terms of a small family run business. Owner Chris Kinkade informed me of this when I stopped by his booth to try some of his honey sweetened soda from his own bee-hives.  It is a fact that I do not like soda, especially not mainstream brand soda and I’ve even found natural sodas to be too sweet and too carbonated.  However, I was pleasantly surprised how much Green Bee Soda did not taste like what I’ve come to know soda as.  It was light and barely carbonated (not as if it’s gone flat) as well as only a hint of sweetness.  I was able to try the Lemon Sting flavor as well as the Half and Half – which was revealed at the expo for the first time.  Half & Half is Organic Green Tea and Lemon Sting, which happened to be my favorite flavor!  The short ingredient is a bonus too!  No “natural flavors” hiding behind a generalized ingredient.

It was only 9:30am by the time I passed the Blue Marble Ice Cream booth.  If you are offered organic ice cream no matter what time it is you shouldn’t pass it up.  That was the case when Jennie from Blue Marble offered me some Sea Salt Caramel Organic Ice Cream, I of course said yes.  Then proceeded to try several more flavors (Vanilla & Mint Chocolate) and loved each one.  That was certainly because it was so so deliciously creamy without antibiotics, hormones, pesticides or anything artificial.  Blue Marble is even doing great things internationally with work in Rwanda by helping to open the country’s first scoop shop run by the women of Rwanda.

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Popcorn and chips seemed to dominate the food aisles of Expo East this year.  Though many vendors were your average chip, one company’s chips really did stand out for me.  However, one company’s chips really did stand out for me.  Way Better Snacks, has a line ofsprouted corn tortilla chips and pita chips.  Many of which include chips made with many funky ingredients like Black Bean, Sweet Potato or “Punkin Cranberry”.  They were very tasty, light but crunchy chips that would pair well with dip.  They also offer three flavors of “Pita-ahh Chips”, which are even more crunchy as well a soon to be available line of flavored crackers.

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I don’t have much info about this next product, but I was really pleased at the potential for how eco-friendly it could be.  Cooler on the Go is a fold flat cardboard box with a thermal insert to keep your beverages cold and it’s completely reusable.  This product eliminates the need for styrofoam coolers, which usually become one use items since they don’t always hold up to the strength they should.  Cooler on the Go is customizable too!  If you had a family reunion or get together you could make personalized ones.  Unfortunately they don’t sell them on their website, but you can buy a case of them on eBay.  Perhaps you’ll come across a retail vendor that carries them.  If you do please comment below and let us know where you found them, we’re on the look out too.

On my way out of the expo I almost passed up a chance to try Freekheh – Roasted Green Wheat and it’s a good thing I didn’t, it is wonderful.  I have never heard of roasted green wheat before, I found out it has great nutritional value when harvested while still green and absorbs other food flavors just as quinoa does.  It truly reminded me of barely or a food cousin of quinoa that was a bit more dense.  It was combined with many vegetables and a bit of olive oil which made for a flavorful snack that I wish I had more of that day.  You can search for Freekheh at your local food store here.

I also wanted to mention that I visited a lovely company that I met at the NYC Green Festival back in April, Emmy’s.  They are makers of wonderfully soft and chewy macaroons and non-GMO super cereals, Sweet Buckwheat was my favorite!

There are several other companies that I haven’t mentioned above that I will be doing in-depth reviews of their products soon to come, including Molly’s Suds Laundry Powder, Beanfields‘ new flavors of bean chips: Barbecue and Ranch, Primal Pit Paste Deodorant and World Centric wheatstraw fiber bowls and toilet paper.  I enjoyed my day trip to Expo east and met many fantastic vendors.  IMG_4290Many of these vendors, as well as countless others, donated their undistributed samples to local food banks, a great idea for a great cause.  I look forward to reviewing all the products i received over the weekend.  Check back soon to read about some of the other green products I’ve found at this year’s expo.

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Chameleon Organic Cold-Brew Vanilla Coffee

by Andrew on September 24, 2014 · 0 comments

 

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This past weekend, at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, I had the opportunity to pick up some cold brewed coffee from Chameleon.  I was given several samples as I was making my way towards the exit.  At the time I didn’t have a chance to speak with the vendor about what made their product unique.

I awoke this morning in need of a good pick-me-up coffee, something to start my morning right.  Fumbling in my bag of ‘goodies’ from the show, I grabbed the first coffee I could get my hands on: Chameleon Cold-Brew Vanilla Coffee.  The package said to keep the glass bottle refrigerated, which I had not, but it was still cold so I decided to give it a try.  Ingredient wise I liked what I saw: organic coffee beans (fair trade, of course,) organic cane sugar, and natural flavors, all in filtered water.  No chemicals, preservatives, or things I couldn’t pronounce.  Chameleon uses simple products to produce an outstanding coffee.

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I usually drink my coffee with milk and sugar; this particular drink required neither.   It tasted fairly bold, though a bit watered down, as if it had been iced coffee that had melted a bit.  This did not bother me at all.  The gentle hint of vanilla was not as overpowering as other brands I had tried before, yet provided the gentle sweetness the coffee needed.  As promised on the bottle, this coffee from Chameleon was indeed “low-acid” as it did not produce that odd almost metallic taste that regular coffee leaves in your mouth.

I’d say that my first experience with Chameleon cold-brew coffee was a positive one, and I look forward to trying the other products they provided to me at the show.

 

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Our Guide to Backyard Composting

by Courtney on September 19, 2014 · 0 comments

 

 

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With the end of summer here I wanted to share some tips on backyard composting for the fall and winter that will surely benefit your garden come next year’s spring.

For those of you who have heard of composting but aren’t quite sure what it is and why you should do it check out below:

  • Composting is a controlled natural decomposition organic material, including items such as leaves, grass clippings, prunings, fruit and vegetable scraps.
  • Composting saves you money by reducing your need to purchase commercial fertilizers and soil amendments.
  • Composting benefits your yard and garden by improving soil health and fertility.  It also helps the environment by recycling organic material and extending the life of landfills.

Composting Basics:

  • There are four simple ingredients required for composting; greens (50%), browns (50%), water and air.  Mixing the proper amounts of each ingredient are very important.
  • Greens include any grass clippings, green leaves, fresh prunings, fruits and vegetable scraps.  However, you should not add any meat or dairy to the compost pile.
  • Browns consist of dry, wood material such as dead leaves, wood chips, twigs, sawdust and paper.  They are the best for decomposition when shredded or chopped to prevent a chunky pile.
  • Water helps to keep a moist pile
  • Air is essential to a sweet smelling composting pile.  It helps to turn your pile once or twice a week.

Using Finished Compost:

  • Top dress your planters by spreading compost to a depth of 3 inches around the base of plants and shrubberies as you would spread mulch.
  • For lawns, screen compost over the surface of the lawn to the depth of 1/2 inch.
  • I’ll have some tips next week about troubleshooting issues with your compost pile, check back then too!

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Caldrea Blackcurrant Mint Candle

by Andrew on September 17, 2014 · 0 comments

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When I was first presented a candle to review made by Caldrea, I was unsure what made a candle “eco-friendly.”  Why would this candle be better for the environment than other candles?  Well many scented hours later, with a bit of research, I have my answer.

The Caldrea candle I was asked to review is labeled “Blackcurrant Mint”, a scent I’m not all that familiar with.  The smell was a fruity, clean smell with a hint of grapefruit.  I tried to use the Caldrea candle often to get a feel for how well it worked.  The blackcurrant candle melted evenly and cleanly, without me having to clean soot off the glass.  I would trim the wick when cool to limit the flame size.  This was just done with my fingers, no scissors necessary.) Unfortunately I did not keep track of the exact amount of hours the Caldrea candle was actually burning, but letting it burn a few hours a day has let me enjoy this candle for several months. My room finally didn’t smell like a man’s bedroom.  However, I did learn that if the candle was left burning for too long the smell would get a bit too intense.  By limiting the burn time, I was able extend the life of the candle.

What makes this candle eligible for a Leafygreen review?  Well first off the wick is made with a cotton and paper core.     Second, the wax is made from a sustainable vegetable wax.  This lowers the impact on our environment by not using resources that, in other non eco-friendly candles, quite literally go up in smoke.  As an added bonus, the packaging also tells me that there was no animal testing used when choosing the various ingredients.

All in all I was pleased with the performance of this eco-friendly candle by Caldrea.  Though strong if used constantly, small doses kept my room scented pleasantly like “Blackcurrant Mint” and kept my earth-friendly conscious clear.

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Woobamboo Bamboo Toothbrush

by Courtney on May 16, 2014 · 1 comment

Recycling what you can is a great practice to get into. But what if the products didn’t need to be recycled because it is sustainable and made from organic matter? So it will eventually breakdown on it’s own, which is even better. Just remove the bristles and toss the handle into your compost pile. As the bristles are plastic they won’t breakdown in your compost. That is what Woobamaboo is great for, biodegradable bamboo handles help to make this toothbrush sustainably organically grown and antimicrobial.

Just like cutting boards which are made from bamboo, this handle is naturally low porous, so that helps with keeping bacteria at bay and away from your mouth. I was happy that this brush acted just as any other toothbrush would, but has an added “green” factor to it, to help the earth at the same time. They only thing that I noticed was that the handle seemed to dry out as I used it. It wasn’t as dark in color and softness as when I first started using it. However I think my hard water is likely the culprit. Perhaps some coconut oil could help hydrate it, but really that is with any bamboo product to keep it oiled. Though the handle being drier than it was out of the package didn’t affect the use of the toothbrush.

These brushes come in soft bristles and kid “sprout” travel sizes too. Medium and super soft bristles are available too, but dentist recommend using the soft uses. Not sure if Woobamboo is for you? Click here to request a sample toothbrush for free and you definitely should. For large orders or companies who request it, they also have custom laser logo engraving available.

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Tortilla chips have always been my choice of snack chip over potato chip, though sweet potato chips have come in a close second as of lately. So I was eager to try Food Should Taste Good’s All Natural Kettle Corn Tortilla Chips. Now don’t make the mistake as I did at first by thinking these chips are kettle cooked, as in extra crunchy thick chips. Instead of what they really are, salty and sweet chips, kettle corn-like kettle popcorn.

With all natural ingredients, all of which are easily pronounceable, including stone ground corn, toasted corn germ, cane sugar and sea salt. Though sugar being nearly the last ingredient, I found that they were very sugary. At least for me, a little sugar goes a long way. Perhaps for me it was just too much. So I thought if there was too much sugar, I could add some saltiness to balance it out more for my taste buds. I decided to turn these chips into my own funky nachos. I melted some monterey jack cheese over them and it helped so much to make them more enjoyable for my taste buds.

If you’re all about sugar and sweetness, by all means add nothing and enjoy. But if you need a little less sugar, try to fancy them up with some toppings or dips. The natural ingredients make for a healthier tortilla chip.

Check out my other review for Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips here.

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Though this soap is not organic, it is all natural and made from 4 simple ingredients. None of which are palm oil. Chandler Farm is big proponent of 100% palm oil free products, as harvesting palm oil threatens now endangered Orangutans in Indonesia. Since the palm oil is harvested usually in unsustainable ways, there is not enough palm fruit for the Orangutans to eat.

What I think is great is that each product is named after an actual Orangutan, each of these animals has been retired from the entertainment industry by Chandler Farm. I got the chance to try out “Popi’s” Pomegranate Soap.

Though the scent wasn’t overpowering , I’m sure I would have classified it as pomegranate. Seeing as how none of the 4 ingredients are products of pomegranate, I suppose using grapefruit and sweet orange oil extracts is how they are creating the scent, meant to smell like pomegranate. I think they should rename it a citrus blend scent instead.

Unlike traditional soaps, which are much more like detergents with their foaming abilities, the foaming of this soap seems to dwindle as you use it. At least that was my experience, used in combination with a washcloth; most of the suds ran out before I was done. No matter how much I created suds. Though we know suds do not equal being clean necessarily, but I did not find it pleasant to end up washing with a wet non-soapy washcloth in the end.

I usually like to slice up artisan soaps since sometimes as a whole they end up becoming too slimy after being in the shower a while. I tried to do that with this soap, but really it made the foaming even more troublesome. So don’t cut this smaller, but do buy this to help the Orangutans. As well as those who may have been exploited in the entertainment industry and those in the wild, who are being forced out of their home by man-made destruction. For a full line of their bath products and other ways you can help the Orangutans, check out their website.

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Agami Superfood Organic Raw Maya Chocolate

May 7, 2014

Chocolate is a great treat and certain kinds can be healthy as far as antioxidants. I’m not too much of a fan of bitter (usually dark) chocolate, I like mine to be sweet. So maybe that is why I’m not a fan whatsoever of this 100% raw organic chocolate from Agami. As a treat to […]

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Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips

May 5, 2014

I was very excited to receive a box of sweet potato chips from Food Should Taste Good (FSTG), as I have been enjoying sweet potatoes as a dinner element much more than white potatoes, so these kettle cooked sweet potato chips are right up my alley. FSTG offers them in original, barbeque, salt and pepper, […]

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