Natural Products Expo East breezed into Boston this past week, and Kara, Molli and I all headed over to see what’s new in the world of whole grains. We enjoyed the opportunity to say hello to many of the companies that have worked with us for years as staunch supporters of whole grains, while meeting many new faces. Today’s blog will feature some of the interesting new products we found.

Frozen (IQF) grains. Individually quick frozen grains sit in your freezer, all cooked and ready for you to toss a handful into your soup or salad – or add a few cups to some sautéed onions and peppers for a quick side dish. Stahlbush Island Farms’ soon-to-be-introduced line will include IQF wheat, triticale, spelt, Kamut®, brown rice, and wild rice, along with some IQF rice-and-beans combos. What a great idea. (Cindy)

Popghum. A few weeks ago in this blog, we mentioned that you could pop sorghum just like popcorn. Turns out someone is already capitalizing on that idea, with organic popped sorghum called Popghum. It’s like little mini popcorn, only better because there are no hulls to get stuck in your teeth. (Cindy)

OneBuns.  Our friends at Ozery’s stocked their display with OneBuns, delicious whole grain sandwich thins that look and taste lighter than you might think.  In addition to the sandwich rounds, they also had OneBuns for hot dogs!  Whole grain and about 100 calories each, the OneBun hot dog buns look sturdy enough to hold up to gyro fixings or falafels, and it’s hard not to smile with a package of six grinning up at you. (Kara)

Sprouted Grains. We’re seeing more and more sprouted grains in the market, including companies making sprouted grain products like Alvarado Street (longtime maker of sprouted grain breads) and Shiloh Farms (sprouted grain pretzels, noodles, and breads). Shiloh Farms also sells sprouted flours, and now we’re starting to see the actual grains themselves sold in sprouted form, such as the sprouted quinoa and germinated brown rice from truRoots. Why sprouted? Sprouting makes some nutrients more bio-available and easier to digest, and can also cut cooking time. The sprouted brown rice takes only about 25-30 minutes to cook. (Cindy)

Mega Corn.  Most of us have seen, if not actually eaten, a type of dried corn kernel snack that was so dehydrated you feared for your fillings, not to mention chock full of every preservative you can imagine.  Finally, there’s a healthy and natural alternative.  Inka Corn is delicious, not at all as painfully crunchy as its conventional counterpart, with just enough salt to make you happy.  The corn used in these snacks is a specific breed of corn called Cusco’s Giant Corn, which earns its name thanks to the abnormally large kernels it produces, each about the size and shape of a quarter.  Even more fascinating, this breed of corn will only grow in one particular valley in Cusco, Peru at an altitude of 9,186 feet over sea level; it refuses to grow anywhere else, even in a valley just over a neighboring ridge. (Kara)

Quinoa with a Cause. We wrote recently about soaring demand for “ancient grains” like quinoa, and referenced an article in FoodNavigator that said that Bolivian farmers were now able to demand higher prices and make a better living thanks to interest in Quinoa. One company at Expo East, La Yapa Organic, has taken this to the next step, by donating 10% of their profits to help support education for children in quinoa-growing areas of the Bolivian Highlands. (Another cool thing about La Yapa is that they sell not only quinoa grain, but flakes, puffs, and pasta.) So eat your quinoa, and help some kid go to school. (Cindy)

Philanthropic Nutrition Bars.  Normally I’m not one for meal replacement bars, but wrap one in enough flashy packaging and I’ll stop and pick it up just to see what all the glitter is about.  Low and behold, when I turned the PureFit Nutrition Bar over to read what made it so pure, I found the logo for my favorite animal rescue organization smiling back at me from the wrapper.  Not only are PureFit bars gluten-free and vegan, but they support Best Friends Animal Society, the largest no-kill animal refuge in the U.S. — and the organization I volunteered with after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.  Now that’s a bar even I can get behind! (Kara)

Liquid Whole Grains. I’ve been watching for Odwalla’s new Wholly Grain! smoothie blend to hit my local stores, without success. Finally, at Expo East, I got the chance to try this beverage, in Tropical Medley flavor. It tastes like… a tropical medley smoothie should taste, with mango, pineapple, orange, and banana notes. Not grainy – just refreshing. The brown rice puree is In there, contributing 16g of whole grain, but doing so in the background, in a helpful friendly way. (Cindy)


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