Ever dreamt of browsing the racks of a grocery store and being able to just pull whatever you like off the shelf to try? I have, and therefore I was supremely stoked to get an invite to Grocery Showcase West 2014. Livin’ the dream!
Grocery Showcase West is an annual trade show held by the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers at the Vancouver Convention Center downtown. It is HUGE! It ran April 6th to 7th and even though we visited on both days we still didn’t get a chance to sample everything. GSW is not open to the public so Wendy and I felt very fortunate to get a media invite. That means we can share with you our top 10 picks for the best new grocery products of the year with our…
Top 10 Grocery Items 2014
Some of the following products are already on store shelves and some are coming soon. All are highly recommended.
#1: SEVA Maple Water
SEVA Maple Water could just be “the next big thing”. We all know what a big splash coconut water made in the healthy drink market, right? Well imagine a cleaner, lighter version with 46+ nutrients and 100% Canadian content and you have yourself a winner, folks! Roughly half the sugar and one-third of the carbs and calories of coconut water, too. The taste is very refreshing (it is after all 97% water) with a hint of maple flavour.
Hard to believe, but see that water-like substance above? That’s what 100% pure maple sap looks like. According to SEVA, we’ve all been conditioned by an unrealistic ad campaign that ran back in the ’80s-’90s showing sap dripping from maple trees. In reality it gushes out in a watery geyser. Maple syrup is the treated product; maple sap is the eminently drinkable raw form. Why so long getting SEVA Maple Water to market if it’s been there all along? The answer is that SEVA Maple Water has been in development for 7 years, mainly due to issues with getting it into a carton that has a reasonable shelf life.
#2: Preferisco Tartufo Salami | Truffle Salami
Bosa Foods are selling one of the tastier pieces of charcuterie I’ve had the pleasure of wrapping my tongue around. Their Preferisco Tartufo Salami has a strong earthy flavour—they were definitely generous with the truffles here—but not so strong as to overpower the taste of the meat. Texture is chewy and not too dry. Preferisco Truffle Salami is a deliciously gourmet addition to any charcuterie plate.
#3: Frozen Coconut
Ice cream for everyone! You won’t find any gluten, dairy, peanuts, nuts, or soy in Frozen Coconut‘s products. You will however find fair-trade, organic, raw coconut milk with 100% raw agave syrup.
What blew us away with this one—besides the taste of the tropics it provides—is that there’s no dairy. We had to double check the ingredients because we swore we could taste it in Frozen Coconut’s creamy goodness. But nope, vegan friendly all the way!
Despite the tropical taste this one is made right here in Kelowna, so buy local and support this very worthy product. We thought that Classic Coconut was the best bet out of the flavours we tried at Grocery Showcase West. Wendy also liked Lemon Meringue.
#4: Splendor Garden Organic Spices and Herbs
Splendor Garden just created something that will save us all a lot of hassle around the house. Ditch the roll of masking tape because each of Splendor Garden’s gluten-free and certified organic spice pouches come with a sticker on the back to affix to your spice jar. This little addition was enough to garner them a spot on our Top 10 Grocery Items 2014 list. Wendy and I designed and printed our own labels for our spice jars, but in the future I foresee us saving a lot of time and effort thanks to Splendor Garden. They also sell their own little spice containers.
#5: Del Monte World Lime, Mint and Aloe Coconut Water
Several companies have tried—and failed—to mix coconut water with various juices. That includes some of the manufacturers at Grocery Showcase West 2014, and I would be remiss not to include Del Monte in that list. However, Del Monte World finally got it right with this offering. Natural lime, mint, and aloe all make perfect additions to coconut water. Nothing overpowering; just pure, refreshing, healthy summertime goodness. It’s a perfect swap-out for sugary lemonade that your kids will love. Plus at 18g of sugar per serving, health-wise it’s a good compromise between plain coconut water and fruit juice.
#6: Philippine Brand Mango Chocolate
Just to show that there’s no hard feelings towards the Filipino food community after the jabs I took at much of their national cuisine last week, one of my highlights of GSW 2014 was the “Sweet Memories of Cebu” brought on by Philippine Brand‘s chocolate coated dried mango. In fact I was so excited to try these that I couldn’t resist eating a couple before we could even get a photo hehe. Mango+chocolate=<33
#7: LB Emporium Gourmet Spices
With these Premium Seasoning Blends from Langley’s LB Emporium the smell alone is enough to recommend them. My nose chose Hot Daddy as the pick of the litter. I made a burger with it as a test and I would best describe the result as a mix of zesty and spicy. It definitely added a welcome tongue-tingling zing to my burger. I can’t wait to try adding it to my favourite chili recipe (recipe coming soon!). We also love the bold graphic design of their packaging, plus they’re gluten-free!
#8: Bertolli Olive Oil Sprays
We used to buy our EVOO spray from Costco, but since they seem to have discontinued it we have had difficulty finding an olive oil spray that doesn’t include soy products or propellants. Good on Bertolli for bringing one back to the market. The only propellant they use is pressurized air, and the only ingredients are olive oil. Bertolli 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil spray is just that, and while the 100% Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil contains some refined olive oil along with the EVOO, it’s still just olive oils.
#9: Olizio Organic Camelina Oil
This was our first time trying oil made from camelina sativa, which you may also know as wild flax. Olizio Organic Camelina Oil is packed with a naturally perfect 2:1 ratio of Omega-3:6, with 5g of Omega-3 per tablespoon. Plus it tastes great, imparting natural earthy and nutty flavour to your foods. It has a high smoke-point of 473 degrees so it’s a healthy substitute for canola oil and the likes in high temperature cooking. Camelina oil will definitely be making an appearance in health conscious kitchens everywhere, and I predict it will stay the course. (It has a shelf life of two years!)
#10: Cool Runnings Hot Sauce
The push to go spicier was very visible at this year’s Grocery Showcase West. According to the marketing material this is because of increased ethnic purchasing power driving taste trends towards the spicy side. While I’m not ethnic, this suits me just fine. I had a great time sampling products like Get Sauced‘s Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce, Dr Oetker’s Casa di Mama Inferno (“The spiciest pizza on the market!”), and various Habanero infused cheeses.
The products that stood out the most though were from Toronto’s Cool Runnings sauce line. We sampled many flavours, and all were delicious and heat-intensive. Our faves were the classic Jerk Barbecue Sauce and their sugar-free Complete Herbs (with Cilantro) Sauce. Cool Runnings’ Jerk Barbecue Sauce will definitely be my go-to BBQ sauce this summer, and the Complete Herbs Sauce seems very versatile so Wendy and I plan to incorporate it into many different dishes.
So that’s it for our Top 10 Grocery Products 2014. See ya in my dreams (and hopefully next year) Grocery Showcase West! We’ll be back again to research 2015’s Top 10 Grocery Products.