Bad Girl, Good Business

The 100 Years Club Installment #64: Mushrooms & Menopause

Reading Time: 6 minutes

“I’ll just write about my ‘Top 10 Faves at Natural Products Expo West,’ I told myself as I drove around the massive parking structure near the Anaheim Convention Center, looking for a spot at 7:30AM. (These healthy types love to get up early!)

Although the drive wasn’t quite as long as the trek from AZ to CA, I knew as soon as I entered the show that I was never going to be able to escape with just one bag with 10 samples.

It was massive, and I spent only part of two days there. But I left with overflowing bags of snacks, ingredients, health-related products, beverages, and even more bags.

What does this have to do with aging? 

I focused only on products with natural ingredients and without sugar, gluten, and most dairy. I am convinced that all of those things impact my mood, energy, and perhaps even my longevity.

The Blue Zones even had a booth there with ready-to-eat meals—a far cry from the Swanson’s TV Dinners of our youth.

Even with my food restrictions, here is my haul:

From Morning to Night: Foods, Ingredients, Sauces & Bevs

  1. A splash of marshmallow-flavored Nut Pods creamer starts every morning off right.
  2. Another morning starter is Mush. Ready-to-eat, filling, and healthy.
  3. Craving a bagel for breakfast? Check out Carbonaut.
  4. PB2 Foods has finally developed peanut butter powder without any sugar. It’s great for smoothies and hot cereal.
  5. I swooned over the lemonade from Swoon. Mocktails and healthier beverages abounded.
  6. I’ve been writing about tinned fish for a while. The varieties from Minnow are exotic and delicious, and the founders (former restaurant people) seemed to know their seafood.
  7. We may love red meat but may live longer if we go Choppy! instead. It’s way tastier than competitive alternatives.
  8. Vevan dairy-free cheese comes in a range of forms. Their booth swag was a reusable zipper bag, perfect for small things like business cards (or nuts for snacking). It was one of the least cheesy giveaways ever!
  9.  I sampled almond oil from Fresh Vintage Farms, which was nuttylicious.
  10. Primal Kitchen is one of my go-to brands for dressing and sauces.
  11. Hello! I’m Ugly. That’s the mantra of The Ugly Co, farmers who upcycle fruits. I snagged a bag of their cherries for my magic muffin recipe.
  12. Open sesame! Mighty Sesame tahini, that is. It’s so yummy and versatile. Their sister company, Dorot Gardens, eliminates the need to chop herbs and garlic.
  13. All guac is not created equal. Del Trio comes in four flavors. I like their plain mashed avocado.
  14. The plant-based chicken from Daring is cluckin’ delicious.
  15. Ziba Foods showcased some nutrient-dense alternatives that will be useful when I’m experimenting in the kitchen.
  16. Finally! Protein powder that doesn’t taste like talcum powder! I can’t wait to make my first smoothie with Clean Simple Eats. The company also gave me a can of Clear Protein Prickly Pear juice with 20 grams of protein and a mere 90 calories (and no sugar).

Emptying out my bag each day is like coming back from the adult version of Trick or Treating!

Dips, Chips, and Puffs

  1. Anne’s Toum (a double-dip, because I highlighted it previously and I can’t resist a pun) is versatile and tasty.
  2. Sometimes, you just have to snack. Frankie’s Organic Avocado Oil & Himalayan Salt Puffcorn is a great accompaniment to Netflixing and chilling.
  3. When a woman entrepreneur has a great product AND gets on Shark Tank, that’s extra special. I’ve written about Puffcorn before because it’s worthy of multiple mentions.
  4. The OG of snacking is back! Pirates Booty was a staple of my daughters’ lunch bags. Rob Ehrlich has returned to the original recipe and has debuted Captain Booty. Ahoy!

Just Desserts

  1. Craving pudding? Simply Delish makes a dairy-free/sugar-free variation.
  2. Want to bake your own after-dinner treats? Use Detox Desserts ingredients.
  3. Never a huge yogurt fan, I discovered Cocojune.  Add protein powder and some nuts or gluten-free cereal for crunch, and it’s the next best thing to full-fat ice cream (and way healthier).
  4. Want a date? Check out Joolies.
  5. I’m not gonna lie. I used to love raw cookie dough. Doughy is leaning into that dirty little secret with a healthy alternative. And yes, you can bake it, too.
  6. Just looking at the packaging of Kejoy brings me joy.
  7. Summer will be here soon, and these frozen all-fruit pops from Hundy are a great alternative to sugar-packed alternatives (and will make us feel like kids again).


  1. NATPAT showcased a wide range of sticker patches made with essential oils designed to ward off mosquitos, stop itching, facilitate sleep, and change moods. They’re mostly targeted at kids, but I still love stickers too!
  2. Brain food? That’s what Mindright was sampling. Although some of their products contained sugar, a few didn’t. And I really liked the people behind the brand.
  3. When you’re running around and craving something sweet, head to the Munk Pack.
  4. Let’s hear it for the girls! Women’s health is (finally) having a moment!
    • Menowell products are filled with great healthy ingredients to keep us focused, high-energy, and symptom-free.
    • Mixhers are hormone-friendly drinkable supplements.
    • Tea Botanics makes a range of products for menopause symptoms.
  5. And what’s this about mushrooms? They were EVERYWHERE: steaks, supplements, beverages, snacks, candies. So many fungi, so little time. Sorry, I didn’t have the time (or taste) to critique them this year. I’ll be on the lookout for a mushroom-only expo!

Some notable people and other stars of the event?

  1. Sidari Artisan Brands helps SMB entrepreneurs reach larger markets.
  2. Sprouts is where I shop, and now my new hero brand. They had a booth on the show floor where entrepreneurs could “pitch” their products to dedicated “foragers.”
  3. Madelyn Gamble Hadley of Madly Hadley was dressed to match her coconut bacon packaging. Booth “costumes” have been around for a while, but Hadley’s was especially eye-catching and elegant (and her faux bacon was pretty awesome, too).
  4. The Gluten Intolerance Group was not only tolerable, but they were super-educational.
  5. You need a moment of peace when you’re at a gargantuan show. That’s why the h
  6. and treatment from Mitten Nail Studio was a welcome respite.
  7. Guinness doesn’t yet have a product to sample, but it pulled off this cute publicity stunt — a bag of carefully guarded jerky) that generated lots of selfies from passersby (like yours truly). He’s not a real cop, BTW…he’s the product manager’s husband. I don’t know how healthy that product is, but they get 4 stars for marketing!
  8. Rue is a company that helps start-up brands get exposure via everyday consumer moments and events.
  9. Special occasions can now be more sustainable with elegant bags from Waste Free Celebrations.  This New Zealand company is coming to the U.S. soon and has the potential to make wrapping paper a ghost of Christmas past! The range of prints is versatile for every celebratory moment. (I was gifted a hot pink sample, and I hope it gets regifted back to me when I give it away!)
  10. Perhaps my favorite gift of the show (even though I try not to play favorites) is my “anti-Stanley” cup from Silipint. It’s oh-so-groovy, has a matching straw, and is dishwasher safe.

So, although I walked away with more than 40+ product samples, ideas, new connections, and sore feet, I took solace in knowing that maybe some of them will help me hydrate more, think and feel better, and leave a healthier planet for generations to come.

I also learned that my days at HUGE trade shows may be coming to an end. I’m looking forward to some of the smaller curated events I’ll visit this spring and summer and one I’ll be chairing and organizing myself this fall!

Please watch this space next week for my musings on the value of “gatherings” and how they can slow aging.

(Ironically, my first blog in 2007 was about the power of trade shows and events. They may have morphed over the years, but they are definitely here to stay!)




Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *