Wednesday, October 14, 2015

11 Favorite Food & Beverage Items from ShiftCon

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If you follow me on instagram, you probably know I attended ShiftCon a few weeks ago because I flooded my instagram with pics from the 3 days I was there learning, connecting and eating! This year we had about 12 bloggers from San Diego make the trip to ShiftCon which was awesome to have more than double the presence we had from last year!

The green and organic movement is in full force and I'm so glad to be apart of it. It was from my baby sign language classes that I became connected to some moms who educated me about organic food and why it is so important (especially for our littlest ones) and I am doing my part to pay it forward and share it here on my blog and in my programs.

In case you don't know what ShiftCon is, here's a short video that sums it up pretty well....

This year I saw many of my favorite brands that I've known and used for years and sampled some new to me items that will become staples in our home for sure.

1. Annie's Homegrown

Before the conference I reached out to Annie's to share the discovery that I had made that there were many products of theirs on the store shelf that no longer had the USDA organic label. Not only did Annie's promptly reply right away, they shared that they have always had some products that are organic and some products that are made with some organic ingredients. This allows them to provide various price points for all consumers and still create a better product. My kids are fans of their bunny crackers and mac & cheese. My personal favorite item (but it's hard to choose) is probably their Organic Peace Pasta & Parmesan macaroni & cheese and it's available at Thrive Market.

Look at all the varieties of mac & cheese I came home with!

2. Stonyfield 

When I was a new mom a friend of mine recommended to buy only the Yo Baby yogurt products for Amberly. So I did. I fell in love with this brand. They've been so kind in supporting some of the events I put on for moms and babies too. But I love them even more after meeting them in person. They are a super creative yogurt brand that is on a mission to educate about organic foods. My kids request this brand specifically when I go to the store.

3. Love Child Organics

I talked with Leah, the co-founder of this child centered brand at great length while at the Expo and I'm glad I did because I learned something valuable. Not all organic food is 100% organic. To meet the USDA organic seal guidelines a product has to be 95% organic. Well, Love Child is 100% organic and they are unwavering in their values. I was sent home with some sample pouches which are designed for kids primarily between 6 months and 6 years old and got the 2 thumbs up at home.

Love Child Organics has me falling in love with their no synthetic ingredients promise.

4. Bitsy's Brainfood

A brand that wants to make eating healthy fun for kids? Absolutely! And they're not trying to trick kids into it either. The goal is to educate kids about eating healthy. And from my experience, this approach really works. Amberly spouts off stuff all the time and it's things I've taught her over the past few years that we've been on this green health journey. So I have proof it is sinking in! I loved the activity ideas that they showcased in their suite at ShiftCon and even won a Target giftcard when I completed my passport and spun the prize wheel. I will be borrowing some ideas from their hospitality suite when I help organize classroom parties for my son's 1st grade class.

Bitsy's Brainfood makes learning to eat healthy fun! Eat, Play. Learn.

5. Leaf & Love Organics

A lemonade box with zero sugar and only 5 calories, sweetened with organic stevia. I know parents are torn between giving their kids juice because of the sugar content and I was pleased to find that a couple of moms paired up and created something to conquer that problem. I sampled their delicious lemonade twice, cuz I have a thing for lemonade and so do my kids! My understanding is they plan to expand to more than lemonade and I look forward to seeing what they have on the horizon.

Follow Leaf and Love to support the work of these awesome moms!

6. Nature's Path Organic

Last year I fell in love with their Love Crunch and started buying their Envirokids Crispy Rice Bars for the kids as special snacks when we're on the road. My kids love them and ask for them whenever they see them on the store shelves. My favorite item currently is their Pumpkin Flax Granola. It's especially good to top off a healthy parfait snack. I just saw that they have  Pumpkin 'n Spice Granola Bars which I can't believe I haven't tried yet! Don't worry, I'll fix that straight away with my next Thrive Market order!

Nature's Path Organic is perfect for on the go healthy snacking.

7. Made in Nature

One of our snack breaks was sponsored by Made in Nature and I discovered a new favorite snack... Figgy Pops! I'm really head over heals for these things and think I made it a point to go by and sample them 5 or 6 times. The Figgy Pops are their latest development but their other popular products are the varied flavors of toasted coconut chips. I have yet to try all the flavors to pick a favorite but I'll have to remedy that really soon!

When you try the Made in Nature Figgy Pops, tell me you don't feel the same way.

8. Chosen Foods

Last year they sent these delightful surprise boxes to our homes post conference and I immediately fell in love with their avocado oil. This year they had a booth and I got to meet the people behind the twitter account!  They've just come out with a delicious new avocado oil mayo and I'm hooked. When I get their newsletter email it reminds me to check out their vast archive of healthy recipes. I'm just starting to experiment with Quinoa so this one is on my breakfast bucket list. I'm really hoping their product line will be available via Thrive Market soon since that's where I will be buying a lot of my pantry items now.

If you have yet to try Chosen Foods, it is a MUST!

9.  Nutiva

They did it again with their amazing popcorn snack.... lured me over to their table. We are already big fans of their coconut oil and all the amazing health benefits that accompany it. Since their coconut oil is not found on the shelves of my local Costco anymore I am glad I can find it via Thrive Market and still get a great price! We used their organic shelled hempseed in our smoothies all the time. One of my favorite smoothies of all time has a secret ingredient - coconut oil! Nutiva is another brand that has amazing recipes highlighted on their website for inspiration, I get so hungry just looking at it.

Nutiva has a Real Food Manifesto to help us all lead healthier lives.

10. Dave's Killer Bread

At the conference check in table we got to select a loaf of bread.... which seemed a little bit odd to me, I'll be honest. But, I went with it. I grabbed the variety that looked familiar from Costco and didn't have a chance to try it until I got home. We were out of cereal one morning and I crossed my fingers that Dave's Killer Bread in the toaster would disguise the "healthy" taste my kids have complained about with other breads. Well, the kids were eating their toast before I was and told me it was the best bread ever and that we have to buy it again. It turns out that they are not just about making killer bread. They're about giving people second chances. That's a whole lot of goodness to take in and I think we'll be "lifers" to support their cause and because it's just that good.

Organic and made with a cause - Dave's Killer Bread totally rocks!

11. Fork in the Road

Another one of our snacks was provided by Fork in the Road. I got to sample 3 different types of sausage and boy were they good! So of course I went back for more. Their products have no antibiotics or added hormones which is really important to me when feeding my kids. They have this cool tool on their website that allows you to trace your food back to the community of farmers who raised it. Talk about transparency and accountability in our food system! I'm looking forward to trying their breakfast sausage next.

Fork in the Road practices sustainable farming and supports family farms.

Here are a few of my key take aways from this year's conference:

We all have a voice and we can share little nuggets of information with our neighbor, with our facebook community, with our co-workers and our blogging friends and make a difference in cleaning up the food system. But perhaps our biggest voice comes directly from the purchases we make each and every day. Every time we put down the big brand and instead select the NON-GMO and organic products we are promoting health by shifting profits in the right direction. I still have a long way to go, but celebrate each of the changes our family has made so far. I may not be the greenest, but at this conference it doesn't matter, all shades of green are welcome and embraced.

I am excited to continue on our green journey or what I might be calling our SHIFT journey as it is really about making one small change or shift at a time.

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