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From Fairy Floss to Bunny Brushes, Jack N’ Jill’s whimsical offerings give discerning parents a range of all-natural toothpaste, teething gels, and more that leave the sketchy preservatives out.
As Regional Sales Manager Stephanie Fisher informed us, the Australian-Based (Melbourne) natural toothpaste maker got their start way back in 1949, and began selling in the US in 2011.
Since then, the selection has expanded considerably, including toothbrushes made from non-GMO corn (yes, corn!), a full suite of flavored toothpastes (strawberry, blueberry, bubblegum, and several others), teething gel, floss, and more.
The toothpastes are formulated with organic flavoring and are free of sugar as well as fluoride.
They’re also safe to swallow, and the addition of xylitol and calendula helps to prevent tooth decay without the artificial additives.
We can’t say we “tasted” it, but on paper, Jack N’ Jill is seriously outdoing other toothpaste brands.
Taking a pragmatic approach to the daily nutritional needs of babies, toddlers, and adults, Brainiac is targeting key nutrients that most of us just aren’t getting—lutein, DHA, omega-3s, and more.
Of course, if you eat salmon, brussel sprouts, and walnuts every day, then we stand corrected, but otherwise, Brainiac’s Gummies, Brain Butters (lol), and Applesauce Squeezers can help you hit these nutritional goals more consistently and easily.
Beyond the products themselves, we appreciate how Brainiac used feedback from their audience to shape their product line, as Head of Marketing Tina White and co-founder Mark Brooks explained.
Babies become toddlers, and parents want in on the action at some point, which is how the gummies and brain butters were inspired.
Throughout each product line, we see a consistent emphasis on serving up these developmentally crucial fats and other key nutrients with clean and honest formulations.
Thanks for the peek under the hood, Brainiac Foods!
Back in the early 90s, a group of Ayurvedic and naturopathic physicians moved from India to the U.S., disappointed to realize they couldn’t find any of the same high-quality herbs they were used to.
As Jared Paulson, VP of Ruved, told us, this led the Sodhi brothers to fill this gap, founding Ruved in order to offer herbal supplements in their naturopathic clinic in the Pacific Northwest and provide the wisdom of ancient Ayurvedic medicine for a Western audience.
Now, Ruved grows all of their own Certified Organic herbs in the pristine foothills of the Himalayas, with products including ashwagandha for stress and mood support, liver cleanse formulas, curcumin, adrenal support, and more.
Three Farm Daughters
They were sans two-thirds of the “daughter team” due to impeccably timed baby arrivals (early congrats to both sisters!), but that didn’t stop North-Dakota-based Three Farm Daughters from serving up their high-fiber pasta at Expo West 2023.
The premise is even simpler than it sounds: each pasta they sell is a clean, two-ingredient version (wheat flour and semolina) of the wheat-based pasta we all love, but with significantly higher fiber.
Thanks to the wheat they use, each serving contains 9 grams of fiber, which is more than double most standard pastas.
The Threefarm Daughters selection covers several crowd pleasers, including cavatappi, penne, elbow noodles, and rotini, and it’s all going to cook up al dente, they told us (that’s fiber for ya).
Sure enough, the firm and tasty samples confirmed this claim, and we’ll get back to you on Mollie and Paul’s promise of non-soggy leftovers.
With their name inspired by the Japanese word zenbu, meaning “whole,” the gluten-free and delicious pasta products at ZENB will definitely make you want to eat your peas.
And they exemplify the meaning of zenbu, using just one simple whole-food ingredient—100% yellow peas.
Unlike many other gluten-free pastas, this one tastes exactly like the real thing—and packs 17g of protein and 11g of fiber per serving.
In addition to their classic bags of pasta in five shapes, ZENB also offers pasta sauce, infused olive oil, and microwaveable Pasta Agile Bowls in tasty flavors ranging from vegetable Thai curry to Mexican street corn.
Three Spirit Drinks: The NA Drink That Lets You Choose Your Mood
It’s safe to say that non-alcoholic drinks are having a moment—and Three Spirit is no exception.
With over ten awards for flavor and function, Three Spirit blends adaptogens, nootropics, herbs, distillates, and ferments—including lion’s mane, cacao, guayasa, and more—to create these unique flavor profiles.
Plus, Three Spirit lets you choose your mood—yep, you can choose from uplifting drinks like the caffeinated Livener, a wind-down Nightcap (that won’t cause you to miss out on your REM sleep), or the Social Elixir to elevate your mood.
We also sampled their non-boozy wines, loving the pink bubbly Spark and the crisp white wine alternative, Sharp—and don’t worry, they are much better than the other NA wines that just taste like grape juice.
As we spoke with Megan at Expo West, we learned more about her goal—to create modern, high-performing, organic skincare and makeup that benefits both the consumer and the planet.
And having accumulated the knowledge of five generations of medical herbalists, Megan knows a thing or two—including being the only beauty company in the world using CO2 extraction, a technology that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to pull phytochemicals gently from a plant and preserve all its goodness.
Be sure to check out some of their best-selling products, like the honeysuckle and turmeric Good Oil, the sea buckthorn and rosehips Daily Rituals moisturizer, and the Vitamin Sea serum made with New Zealand native red seaweed and black fern.
On the second floor of the Vital Proteins booth (it’s a thing), registered dietician and Director of Education Jenn Randazzo gave us an illuminating breakdown of the company and their suite of industry-leading collagen products.
Vital Proteins was founded in 2013, and wasted little time building on their flagship product – unflavored collagen peptide powder – with a selection of flavors (lemon, chocolate, and more), capsules, beauty (collagen) products, and much more.
“One of the things I love about the product itself is how easy it is to use,” Jenn told us, citing the odorless, flavorless flagship product that can be mixed into any beverage, anytime.
As a dietician, she knows that difficult-to-use products, however nutritious they may be, are more often than not going to end up marooned in an obscure corner of the pantry.
Collagen is also highly sustainable, Jenn explained, as it is a byproduct of the meat industry that would otherwise be wasted.
Still, flavored or otherwise, powder isn’t for everyone, which is why Vital Proteins also offers sleep, beauty, apple cider vinegar, and other collagen gummies – not to mention the bars.
Not soon to be unseated, we can confirm as of this year’s Expo West that Vital Proteins is continuing to drive the quality standard up within the collagen category.
Teeccino: Herbal Coffee, Dreamed Up
True story: The idea of Teeccinno—down to the name—came to award-winning tea designer Caroline MacDougall in a dream way back in 1993.
While the dream gave her the vision of creating coffee-like brews from roasted herbs, she still had to execute it—and it worked, as Teeccinno is now the number one brand of coffee alternatives.
With over 35 organic, gluten-free blends of roasted herbal teas—with tasty flavors like Maca Chocolate and Hazelnut Chicory—Teeccino is the answer for people who love the taste of coffee but can’t handle the acidity or caffeine.
And with options including both tea bags and traditional “grounds,” you can make Teecinno products in a drip coffee maker, filter cone, French press, espresso machine, or even in refillable Keurig cups.
Hu Kitchen: Getting Back to Human with Paleo Chocolate
Brought to life by family members Jordan Brown, Jason Karp, and Jessica Karp in 2012, Hu Kitchen is known for their delicious chocolate bars.
But as we heard from Skyler Britto, VP of Sales, Hu actually had their start as a paleo comfort food restaurant in New York.
Some of their most-loved products—by our team and the rest of the world—include their no-sugar-added chocolate chips, the cashew butter dark chocolate bars, and the almond butter milk chocolate bars.
Plus, they’ve recently delved into the snack category, including their chocolate-covered almonds and cashews (AKA “Hunks”) and savory grain-free crackers.
Can’t wait to see what these passionate humans come up with next!
White Leaf Provisions
Quickly rising to the top of the most transparent baby (and toddler) food brands we’ve encountered, White Leaf Provisions goes way beyond quippy label claims when it comes to backing up their quality and environmentally conscious approach.
As co-founder (and French-trained chef) Keith Rowe explained, Whiteleaf sources the ingredients in their Baby Food pouches and apple sauces from organic and biodynamic farms.
After regaling us with a brief overview of the brand, Keith explained White Leaf Provisions’ Demeter USA certification, which keeps brands beholden to high standards of biodynamic farming, processing, labeling, and more.
Whiteleaf Provisions apple sauces have zero added sugar, and, like their organic biodynamic pouches, 100% clean ingredients.
If you’re looking for the least-messed-with option in the realm of baby food, Whiteleaf Provisions makes a strong case.
Showcasing some of their organic meltable puffs and clean-label-certified bars, the Yumi booth was a colorful display of clean baby and toddler food options.
Both of these product types (bars and puffs) are made with an assortment of superfood veggies, no added sugar, and plenty of organic ingredients – the Strawberry Basil Baby Snacks have a dozen, for example.
As Senior Vice President of Brand Caitlin Choate explained to our team, these retail-only selections complement the direct-to-consumer side which is dedicated to a baby food jar selection divided into 7 stages.
Each stage gradually progresses budding palates through more advanced flavors and textures, starting from something like a simple apricot puree (stage 1) and ending with butternut squash bites (stage 7).
As they “age up” their catalog to the toddler years and beyond, Yumi sticks to their staunch standards of ingredient quality and safety.
Thanks for sharing, Caitlin and team!
Bonafide Provisions: A Better Kind of Broth
The first inklings of what would become Bonafide Provisions began in 2006 when founder Sharon Brown learned about the traditional healing powers of broth to help her son, who was suffering from chronic sinus, ear, and respiratory infections.
But this is no standard broth you’ll find in cans on the grocery store shelf—Bonafide Provisions is all high-quality bone broth made from Certified Organic animal bones and vegetables.
Bonafide Provisions is one of the only bone broths you’ll find in the freezer, as freezing right after they make the broth in small batches helps retain the broth’s nutrients.
At their booth at Expo West, we learned more about the new line of shelf-stable cooking broths—we were even challenged to a taste test with “the other guys”—and we have no doubt that Bonafide has the cleanest-ingredient, best-tasting cooking broths out there.
Ethical Bean: Coffee, Done Better
Ethical Bean’s story started in 1999 when co-founders Kim and Lloyd were in Guatemala awaiting the adoption of their daughter.
But in addition to that life-changing event, they were also shocked to learn how unfairly coffee farmers were paid.
And they made it their mission to change that, starting Ethical Bean in 2003 as a way to provide 100% fairtrade certified and organic beans that are good for both the people and the planet.
Not only does Ethical Bean live up to their ethical name, but they also provide delicious, fresh, and seasonal blends in a rainbow of different roasts—plus, each bag carries a unique QR code to let you follow your beans from crop to cup.
Taking advantage of a high-fiber, natural sugar alternative called yacon root to stand in for sugar, Rowdy Bars offer a low-glycemic prebiotic bar that does what others can’t.
Rowdy founder Kellie Lee, who was motivated by lived experience (digestive/metabolic issues) to create a nutritionally balanced prebiotic bar, likened the yacon root to an apple or watermelon.
Also rich in protein, the inulin (an indigestible fiber) in the yacon root acts as a prebiotic, feeding those billions of bacteria that make up your intestinal microbiome for improved digestion and much more.
Each Rowdy Bar is loaded with clean ingredients like chicory root fiber, grass-fed bovine collagen, almond butter, and more, and they contribute plenty of fiber (around 8g) and protein (around 13g) alongside the prebiotic content.
Thanks for the spiel, Rowdy crew—and the bars!
REBBL: Rebels With a Cause
With a vast array of functional beverages, including protein shakes, super herb elixirs, and caffeinated-plus-adaptogenic drinks, REBBL is not only delicious but is also making an impact in the world.
Notably, REBBL has donated over $2 million to the organization Not For Sale, which supports regions of the world vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking.
As we spoke with Marketing Director Billy Garner, we learned that REBBL’s drinks are all free of dairy, soy, and refined sugars—and full of beneficial ingredients like ashwagandha, reishi, maca, turmeric, matcha, and MCT oils.
P.S.—in case you’re wondering, REBBL stands for Roots, Extracts, Berries, Botanicals, and Love (aww!).
As Consumer Educator Nicola Anderson filled us in on the product selection, formulation rationale and more, we noticed the samples didn’t taste like every other plant-based protein (or really, just any protein) shake – they actually had rich and unique flavors.
We attribute this to the real plant ingredients (e.g., peanuts and flax seeds), and stevia doesn’t hurt either, though Vega offers some no-stevia options as well.
Speaking of, Vega Protein has Daily Nutrition, Sports Nutrition, and Functional Wellness lines, all of which use plant-based formulations with (especially in the Functional Wellness line) prebiotics, protein, omega-3s, and more.
If you’re looking for plant-based, gluten-free shakes to cover a broad range of nutritional needs without tasting like chalk, Vega Protein delivers plenty of tasty options.
The Republic of Tea: Enriching Lives, One Sip at a Time
Since 1992, The Republic of Tea has scoured the world for the best-tasting tea leaves—and they are sure to source them in the most socially and environmentally responsible ways.
The Republic of Tea now has over 350 premium teas, including tea bags, loose-leaf, bottled iced teas, and compostable tea capsules.
As Kristina Tucker, Minster of Commerce and Enlightenment at the Republic of Tea—yep, that’s a real and amazing title!—told us, their line of Theo & Thea teas (including Bananas Foster, Mint Chip Creme, and Caramel Coconut) are “dessert reimagined” to satiate a sweet tooth.
Sourced from China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, the Republic of Tea is a member of The Ethical Tea Partnership, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of tea workers, farmers, and their environment.
Thanks for sharing with us, Kristina and the rest of the Tea team!
Ritual Zero Proof
Eager to see if they’ve concocted any new NA spirits since our last encounter at Expo East, we were happy to sip samples while Ritual Zero Proof Retail Marketing Manager Bri Makaric filled us in.
Indeed, an aperitif is on the way, Bri informed us, to go alongside the rum, smoky tequila, gin, and other alternatives offered by the innovative NA spirit brand.
Besides nixing the alcohol, Ritual also trounces your average libation in the calorie department, as their spirits have very few or even no calories and non-GMO ingredients.
And while credit is due to the on-site bartenders for the quality of our particular samples (a very tasty, spicy margarita), we vouch for the delicious tequila at the heart of the recipe.
ALOHA: Plant-Based Protein, the Aloha Way
ALOHA aims to leave the world better than they found it—starting with their high-impact line of plant-based protein bars, shakes, and powders.
With tasty protein bar flavors like Lemon Cashew, Peanut Butter Cup, and their limited edition Kona Bar—made with Hawai’i-grown ingredients like Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, and Ponova™ oil from Pongamia trees in O’ahu’s North Shore—these bars definitely have a lot of aloha in them.
BTW, you won’t find any gluten, dairy, eggs, GMOs, soy, stevia, or artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors in these bars.
Plus, they’re Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified, a Certified B Corp, and on the way to becoming Climate Neutral this year—kudos!
Quantum Energy Square
We gotta hand it to Quantum Energy Square’s “Chief Amazement Officer” Dave Cynkin—he’s got a point about this whole caffeine paradigm shift.
What we mean by that is, as Dave explained, the societal shift away from coffee + breakfast to coffee for breakfast does indeed make things a little “spikier” on the energy front, and that’s not cool.
By tempering your daily infusion of caffeine with food, you can level out the energy boost of the caffeine for a longer boost without the crash.
This is where Quantum Energy Squares come in—they’re caffeinated, plant-based, gluten-free bars that provide enough substance as a whole food source to complement the caffeine content.
They’re made with fruits, nuts, seeds, and other whole foods with zero artificial additives—and the Caramel Almond Sea Salt was delicious!
Bar U Eat
Plant-based… wrappers? Is this getting out of hand?
Perhaps if they were meant for eating, but Bar-U-Eat wrappers are made with plant-based materials (from FSC Certified forests) as a means of achieving BPI certification, meaning the wrappers themselves are compostable.
The granola bars we sampled were an apt reflection of this commitment to high-quality, plant-based ingredients—they even had “recognizable anatomy” (did we make it weird?). Well, you can actually see the nuts, berries, and seeds—you get the point.
And best of all, they weren’t super dry and/or a jaw workout, but refreshingly chewy and filled with non-chalky flavor.
The Original flavor is our recommendation for first-timers, and thanks to the complete lack of preservatives and artificial flavors you don’t need to sweat sketchy ingredients.
Food is for physical wellness, and pharmaceutical products are for mental health conditions—that’s where most of us land when it comes to nutrition psychiatry.
Nutrition is understandably not priority one in the chaotic moments immediately following a traumatic brain injury (TBI), but as soon as the patient is stable, nutrition therapy shares center stage with other key tenets of TBI rehabilitation.
Normally, we’re content to bounce around new and/or controversial theories on nutritional concepts all day, but every so often, we have the luxury of seeing in black and white.
This may seem like a fun-killing exercise at first, but we’re not interested in coddling or pandering to our readers, so let’s get the harsh reality out of the way: most of us haven’t earned the right to binge on vacation.