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This year at the Winter Fancy Food Show I was honored to contribute to the Specialty Food Association trendspotting report. It’s a group effort and each person on the panel saw something slightly different. In addition to that collaborative report, here is what made impressed me: 
Pulse pastas
The United Nations has declared 2016 to be the International Year of Pulses and the American Pulse Association, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council and Pulse Canada are promoting the “Pulse Pledge”. While non-wheat pasta has been around for a while, I was amazed at all the pulse pastas and actually how good it tasted. In particular there were three products that stood out. They each had very good texture, much better than the rice and quinoa pastas I’ve tried in the past. 
The two dried pastas I liked best were the organic edamame spaghetti from Explore Cuisine, and the chickpea pasta from Modern Table, which is also available in meal kits. 
The best fresh pasta I had came from RP’s Pasta and at this point is only available regionally. 

Alternative milks
If you’re interested in a plant based diet or have issues with conventional cows milk there are some new options since current popular non-dairy milks can be unsatisfactory. While I do drink dairy milk I have tried the alternatives and have mostly not been impressed. I find the flavor or soy milk and the texture of almond milk very unappealing. Other milks like rice and coconut don’t have much protein. These milks were all new to me:
Dahlicious Lassi is made from Organic Valley grassmilk and very high in probiotics which can make it easier to digest, even for this who are lactose intolerant. It comes in eight divine flavors such as banana masala, and cucumber, mint, lemon.

I liked both the flavor and texture of the macadamia nut milk from Royal Hawaiian Orchards.  Because the macadamia nuts are grown on the Big Island where there is lots of lava the milk has a slight black cast and higher mineral content. It’s not available quite yet, but will be soon.

Leaner Creamer is made from coconut and includes a blend of citrus aurantium extract, hoodie and green tea extract to support weight loss. It’s a dry powder, but dissolves easily in hot or warm liquid. 

Camel milk from Desert Farms is very expensive but might be an option for some. The flavor was mild. Camels raised by the Amish in Missouri! Who knew? 

Whole grains in a cup
Forget about cup a noodles, there are now much healthier whole grain options for eating on the go. 
While I didn’t get to try either of the quinoa cups, I was intrigued by the high protein quinoa in a cup from Cucina & Amore. They have savory toppings mango and jalapeño and artichoke and roasted piquillo pepper and also from Right Foods quinoa salads with lentils and sweet potatoes. 

An interesting and very different product were brown rice cups with unusual fruit and vegetable combinations from RiceBliss, that can be served cold like pudding or hot like porridge. Flavors include pineapple and quinoa (with brown rice base) and pumpkin pie.

While there were a ton of oatmeals, the one that impressed me was steel cut oats in a cup from San Gennaro Foods. And also the launch of savory oatmeal cups with flavors like Indian curry and Jamaican lime from Straw Propeller, launching in February–sorry no photo of those!

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