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Best in Show: Favorite Food Finds From the Winter Fancy Food Show

You guys already know that Lori Rice of Fake Food Free is one of our fave bloggers — and that she makes amazing recipes, like these Chocolate Peanut Truffles. But being that awesome foodie that she is, Lori also keeps up with all the all-natural food trends. Read on for her new favorite finds from the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Fran!
A New Year brings opportunities for new eats! The Winter Fancy Food Show comes to San Francisco every January and presents the perfect opportunity for food exploration. I love it when I get to engage with people who feel so passionately about a food they make that they turn it into a business. I’m in awe of the hard work it takes to do this and I am inspired by their stories. Give me a minimally processed food that tastes great and has a good story behind it, and you will win me over forever.
You might remember the post I shared with FBE last year. Well, I’m back again and sharing my absolute favorite finds from the show!
Hang on a minute and hold the sriracha because this year the goods range from an awesome hot sauce that uses a 30-year-old family recipe to pasta made from one gluten-free ingredient. Of course, health is all about balance, so I also found a decadent sweet treat that will rock your flavor world …

1. Tolerant Pasta

Confession: I knew about this pasta before I found it at the show, but I had put off giving it a try. Now, I have no idea why! I don’t eat a grain-free diet, but we do limit grains during the week, especially when we aren’t training for a race. If you avoid pasta due to dietary restrictions or simply want to up your protein intake, you are going to love this stuff.
Tolerant is pasta made from one ingredient: beans or lentils. It has more than 20 grams of protein per serving and is certified in just about every buzzword out there — gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, vegan and kosher.
I know what you are thinking. But how does it taste? They were kind enough to give me a box of the red lentil penne to try and both my husband and I were impressed. The texture is pretty spot on to traditional pasta and the flavor is almost a little peppery, which goes great with a marinara. They let me know that the black bean does taste like black beans, but to be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to tell with the red lentil. I picked up a box of black bean rotini at Whole Foods this week, and I can’t wait to try it!

2. Crown Maple Syrup

I’m big on using natural sweeteners in my cooking, which for me includes honey, mascavo sugar, coconut sugar and maple syrup. The first thing that drew me to this maple syrup is the bottle. Isn’t it gorgeous? And believe me, what’s inside most certainly matches the elegance of the package.
Crown Maple Syrup is a certified-organic and estate-produced in Dutchess County New York. In addition to trying all the grades, I had a nice talk with the representatives at the booth. You can visit the estate, so if you are in the mood to see how maple syrup is made, definitely check it out. I can think of no better reason for a road trip!
The options are endless for how I use maple syrup — oatmeal, baked goods, shakes, salad dressings, and a cocktail or two never hurts. The best part is that the flavor of such a high-quality syrup is so deep and intense that you don’t have to load down your foods with excess sugar to enjoy it.

3. Formosa Hot Sauce

Condiments were big at the show this year, and I am a sucker for hot sauce. Formosa has a super cool story, and it happens to be produced just a few miles away from where I live. Talk about local! It’s made from a 30-year-old recipe that started in a village in Mexico. The sauce is vegan, gluten-free and uses no preservatives. The ingredients are simple: just water, tomatillos, peppers, vinegar, vegetable oil, salt and spices. It’s hard to choose between the Original, Habanero and the Chipotle. All add such great heat with a rich and complex flavor. It’s perfect for topping my favorite breakfast of sautéed greens with fried eggs!

4. Cosmos Creations Puffed Corn

Okay, so I said hold the sriracha, but I meant when it comes to hot sauce, not this snack! I grew up eating cheese and corn puffs. You know, the ones with the neon orange powder. Having these within easy reach during every visit was my grandmother’s way of loving me with food. I’m not so into that snack anymore for obvious reasons, which is why I’m happy there are companies making something similar with much less processing and fewer additives. We’re always looking for something fun and portable that isn’t awful for us when we take road trips, and this puffed corn is perfect. It’s made from corn meal that has been extruded and baked. And their new flavor this year? Sriracha! I’m also a big fan of the Crushed Sea Salt and Vinegar with Black Pepper.

5. King of Pop Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper Kettle Corn Handcrafted Gourmet Popcorn

I grabbed this sample bag at the show without paying much attention to the label. I saw the sea salt and cracked pepper and thought it would be a great flavor for a quick snack. Boy, was I in for a surprise. Get this. It’s Kettle Corn … with salt and pepper! If you are a big sweet and salty fan like I am, you will love this. King of Pop uses non-GMO corn and no added preservatives. There are five ingredients in this snack: popcorn, canola oil, sugar, sea salt and pepper. Nice and simple.

6. Tillen Farms Cherries

I have some super exciting news! I’ve finally found jarred cherries that DO NOT contain high fructose corn syrup! It has been a long search, so I was thrilled to stumble upon Tillen Farms products. They make four varieties without preservatives, red dyes, artificial flavors or corn syrup, using cherries produced in the Pacific Northwest. Now we can happily garnish our cocktails or healthy treats with a cherry or two that isn’t loaded with junk. An added bonus, 5 percent of all sales of their Tickled Pink Maraschino Cherries is donated to fund breast cancer research.

7. Choctál Ice Cream

I mentioned that I’m a firm believer that health is all about balance, right? Well, I like to balance with ice cream. And when I do, it’s the real deal. All natural, no fillers, full-fat, real sugar and all. It’s so much better for me to have some of the real thing — something that truly satisfies — than put a patch over the craving with a substitute.
Choctál might be the coolest ice cream I’ve come across for several reasons. Their ice creams are single-origin. This means that each variety of ice cream is made from a single variety of indigenous cacao or vanilla and harvested from a single region. The folks at Choctál work directly with their suppliers, insisting on sustainable practices. I really relate to the philosophy of this company.
So there are eight flavors total: four chocolate and four vanilla. I know what you are thinking, plain old chocolate and vanilla? Prepare to be blown away. If you want a true experience, I highly encourage you to do what I was able to do — try all the varieties, or at least all the vanillas and all the chocolates at one tasting. I had no idea that vanilla beans or cacao beans could be so diverse in flavor. It’s amazing.
The current favorite flavor in our house right now is the Mexican Vanilla. The jury is still out on chocolate. It’s all too good. Take a look at the flavor descriptions on the site before you taste. You’ll find that they are spot on. The next time you are up for a treat, this ice cream will far exceed your expectations.
Which find from the Winter Fancy Food Show most interests you? —Lori Rice

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!