My yearly visit to the ExpoWest event or as I call it the never ending mostly healthy food fest, did not disappoint. I attended a press breakfast before the Expo floor opened, and experienced the latest in frozen healthy, tasty, well priced meals from LYFE Kitchen. If you haven’t heard of this company, its offerings are probably coming to a supermarket near you within the year. The lifestyle brand started with a restaurant in Palo Alto, California in 2011, and a retail product line that aims to offer recipes that champion “taste, nutrition and convenience.” Oprah’s chef, slimmed down Art Smith, is at the helm of their second restaurant in Culver City, CA, and LYFE ambassadors include actress Jennifer Garner ,and Olympic swimmer Janet Evans. What do the two women have in common? They are moms who want healthy, yummy, convenient food for their families, when they don’t have the time to prepare it themselves. The frozen food meals (all under 500 calories) we got to try at the press breakfast included:
- Steel-Cut Oatmeal with quinoa & mixed fruit (vegan)
- Farmer's Market Frittata with mushrooms, goat cheese & sweet potato hash (vegetarian, gluten-friendly)
- Oat Bran & Ricotta Pancakes with cinnamon, apples & maple glaze (vegetarian)
- Southwest Breakfast Wrap with masa corn crepe & black beans (vegetarian)
- Spinach Ricotta w/ Mushroom & Egg on a hearty-flaxseed crust with a touch of honey (vegetarian)
- Apple Cinnamon with Apricot Ricotta on a hearty-flaxseed crust with a touch of honey (vegetarian)
- Strawberry with Blueberry Ricotta on a hearty-flaxseed crust with a touch of honey (vegetarian)
They were all good, some even rated “uber-good,” and the company is currently applying for non GMO rating on all its ingredients. Most are sourced using eco-friendly practices that promote sustainability, and many come from local farmers. The company prides itself on minimal processing and liberal use of spices and herbs for flavoring. You can find LYFE foods at a store near you.
Trends at the Expo
Most nutrition bar companies had new products and pea protein is the protein source in 4 new Lara Bars that have between 210 and 240 calories and 10 grams of protein per bar.
Frozen Greek yogurt bars are the new rage, with most under 100 calories and Ciao Bella Adonia and Yasso are two companies that offer incredibly delicious low calorie frozen pops. These fruit flavored frozen yogurt bars are rolling out nationally at major markets.
Chia is now available in Kale chip snacks by Alive and Radiant and Rhythm brands, in nutrition bars, in nut butters like Barney Butter 4 new flavors, and even in a new product called Chia Pod that markets itself as a breakfast, lunch or pre-workout snack, made with fruit, coconut milk and chia. These Chia Pods will be rolling out this year, once the Australian company gets clearance here in the US.
Grains like quinoa and freekah were at the Expo, mostly showcased as side dishes, though Qrunch offers four different quinoa burgers – I like the nutritionals and taste of the Original Recipe. It has about 3.5 grams of saturated fat from coconut oil, so keep that in mind. Guiltless Gourmet’s veggie burger is a good choice because it has taste, zero grams of saturated fat, low sodium and chopped rather than pureed vegetables. The company also offers healthier chips.
Nuts, flax and seeds were a big show, and two of my favorites were Flackers flax seed crackers, high in omega-3 fatty acids, high in fiber, and low in sodium, created by a physician. Flavors like rosemary, dill, sun ripened tomato and basil and cinnamon and currants did not disappoint. Super Seed Clusters from the same brand, offers a flax, chia and sunflower seeds snack in convenient stand up pouches – just remember that one ounce is a serving size (ranges 120- 150 calories per serving). Choose from sweet and smokey BBQ, cinnamon and currant, onion/garlic and sea salt/pepper.
Remember that foods and snacks lucky enough to claim a "health halo" still need to be assessed for "portion size, calories per serving, ingredients, as well as fat, sodium, and sugar levels.
Amy Hendel is a health professional, journalist, author and host of Food Rescue, Simple Smoothies and What’s for Lunch? Author of Fat Families, Thin Families and The 4 Habits of Healthy Families, she tweets health headlines daily #HealthGal1103. Catch her guest appearances on Marie! on Hallmark and other local and national news and talk shows.
Published On: March 17, 2013