Every year in early March it’s the health foodie tradition to head to the Natural Products Expo West here in Orange County at the Anaheim Convention Center. Over the years the Expo has grown to fill the entire convention center and this year it officially burst the confines of that building from top to bottom with more vendors and events outdoors and at local hotels. There is even a tent event on Thursday, the day before official opening day for new comers to showcase their offerings. Read more about the 71K+ attendees and more at Expo West 2015 The parking situation has worsened and if your listening New Hope, y’all need to figure that out pronto for next year. There’s plenty to taste in real time & more to bring home to savor later. Here’s some of this year’s booty.
Ironically for this clean eater, Expo West is when I eat the most junk food of my entire year. Tortilla chips w/ everything from beans, seeds & flax in them; relatively ‘natural’ cheeto type extrusions that hold their shape like solidified cotton candy; food from every corner of the world and every genre under the sun. I do have my limits though. Can there really be a healthy gummy worm? Seems suspicious.
I limit my tastings to chips, tortillas & savory snacks, world foods, chocolate, juices & of course tea. There’s always something new when it comes to the flavor combinations of tea whether it be loose leaf or bagged. This year the South African bush tea rooibos was all the rage. Its hearty flavor and warm brick red color make for a wonderful caffeine free cup in the afternoon or evening. And along w/ Kamut, one of the ancient grains, rooibos made the list of Time Magazines 50 Healthiest Foods of All Time.
Tea has been well known for centuries as a healthful tonic. All the caffeinated teas have anti oxidant benefits & the natural stimulant from caffeine in manageable doses. From green, black, oolong, pu-erh and white, they are all from the plant camellia sinensis. It’s where the plant is grown & the way the leaves are dried and/or fermented that creates the various flavors we’ve come to love. Even Japanese Kukicha is from this same plant. But as it’s made from the wee stems and not the leaves themselves this tea has virtually no caffeine. The only problem w/ tea is that there are so many varieties each w/ layers of health properties that it’s hard to cup it up all the live long day. Read about how to Cook w/ Tea on the blog for the Ron & Lisa healthy lifestyle website.
Then come the herbal delights. Most any edible substance that can be steeped in hot water to release its flavors can become an herbal tea. I grow lemon verbena and lemon grass for their perfume tang addition to my cups of green & Darjeeling tea. I also keep a jar of tasty & health enhancing spice powder next to my tea pot so that I can boost my nutrition bang in each cup. Mine contains cinnamon, pine bark, reishi mushroom, nopales and cacao. As you research the healing herbs and spices you want to incorporate into your daily drinks, prepare your own stash. Hibiscus and rooibos are good for gently reducing blood pressure. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory. Thistle, burdock, nettle, dandelion & artichoke, all nurture the internal organs such as kidneys, pancreas & liver. I brew my potion by the pot & prefer sipping it at room temperature. Here’s a pot of spiced pu-erh w/ lemon verbena steeping as it cools.
From morning until evening, tea enhances each day. There are a wide variety of teas blended to soothe & relax. Most often containing chamomile, lavender, citrus & flower petals, just brewing a cup prior to retiring in the evening sets the tone for a peaceful nights sleep.
One great adventure in tea tasting at the Natural Products Expo is exploring the subtle differences regions and cultures play in the flavor & blends. There are teas from numerous countries there. Remember when traveling the world to taste teas in around the globe. Tea also makes a superb souvenir. It’s dry, light weight, concentrated, available in many price points and easy to pack. Bring some home and when you brew a cup you’ll find yourself back on vacation. A warm cup of fragrance is the flight of fancy that brings back memories of good times.
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Eat, Live & Party Well
Blog post by Chef Mark Cleveland
Avanti is the longstanding leader in organic, sustainable, local, flavorful cuisine in Orange County, CA.
Meaning 'forward' in Italian, Avanti Natural is a culinary philosophy that integrates the best of traditional European and Asian healthful eating with the latest nutritional information for optimum health.
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At Avanti Natural, we believe that you don't have to sacrifice taste to eat healthy; you can Eat Well & Live Well