Feeling inspired in Anaheim
By Molly Zimnoch
If you love all things natural and great food, I highly recommend that you attend Expo West at least once in your life. Not only will it test you to see how many samples you can collect and carry in a weekend, it will inspire and excite every facet of your being. Rather than go on a drawn-out diatribe about my love for this trade show, I thought I’d do you all a favor and just list my favorite moments. [caption id="attachment_27539" align="alignright" width="300"] Hannah Kearney and myself at Expo West 2014[/caption] I had the awesome pleasure of meeting Hannah Kearney at the Chobani booth! Still buzzing from her bronze medal win at the Winter Olympics in Sochi for freestyle moguls, Kearney was kind enough to take a picture with me and shared her bronze medal from Sochi and her gold medal from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. In addition to sharing my love of Chobani, Kearney and I are both knitters and have rescued dogs! She joins my list of potential (and unrealistic) list of celebrity BFF’s. At Expo West 2013, I was introduced to Dave’s Killer Bread and its delightful founder, Dave Dahl and awesome crew. In addition to having an inspiring story of redemption and making good when given a second chance, Dave’s Killer Bread makes awesome bread. DKB's 21 Whole Grains and Seeds loaf was even awarded the prestigious Best of West: Press Award at this year's show! It's USDA certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Vegan, 100% whole grain and absolutely delicious. My personal favorite is their Blues Bread. It makes the best Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich I have ever had, and I’ve eaten more than my fair share of PB&J’s in this life. When I stopped by their booth to say hello and catch up, the team was kind enough to make me a fresh PB&J on their Blues Bread, using my other favorite, Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter. (More on them below…) Thank you to the whole DKB team for giving me the sandwich and strength needed to see another day of Expo West. Speaking of fuel, this blog would not be complete without mention of the many ready-to-drink coffee beverages I consumed on the show floor. With so much to see (and taste!) waiting on the enormous line for Starbucks was not an option. Vita Coco’s Mocha Coco Café, Califia Farm’s Salted Caramel Iced Coffee with Almondmilk, High Brew’s cold-brew Mexican Vanilla coffee and Blue Bottle’s New Orleans Iced Coffee all deserve credit for getting me through the weekend. (If this were an awards show, the orchestra would have started playing me out.) If you’ve never experienced the Justin’s brand and its various nut butters and candies, you’re seriously missing out. But honestly, I think you only need one reason to give Justin’s a try and that’s their peanut butter cups. In addition to being the recipient of the 2013 Best of West: Press Award, it’s a better-for-you, USDA Organic, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance Certified peanut butter cup. You’re basically helping save the world by eating Justin’s peanut butter cups. Are you against saving the world? Are you? Okay, we’ve covered Greek yogurt, PB&J’s and iced coffee. That just leaves popcorn, AKA the final section in Molly’s food pyramid. Angie Bastian, founder and president of Angie’s Artisan Treats, is hands-down, one of the nicest people I get to interact with in this job. That just makes inhaling her awesome Boomchickapop popcorn flavors even easier. At this year’s show, the Angie’s team was hard to miss in all their “Radiant Orchid” glory. Everyone was decked-out in light purple hues in honor of their new Boomchickapop Sweet and Salty popcorn and its distinctive purple bag. Even the guys were rocking purple Converse sneakers! If this wasn’t enough fun, Angie’s also launched their “Grow Some Boom” campaign at the show. The company will be giving away packets of non-GMO, organic popcorn seeds throughout April in hopes of educating consumers about the importance of sustainable growing practices and giving families an activity they can all enjoy. It’s a program that I will be sure to share with my entire clan. Hmmm… It looks like I failed in my efforts to be concise. Oh well! I hope you’ve gotten a sense of just how great Expo West is. The show is packed with invaluable opportunities for networking and inspiration. Clearly, I have yet to come down from the excitement!