The exhibit hall at the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Annual Meeting is a bit like Costco for diabetics. There are food vendors everywhere, and you can spend plenty of time just walking around sampling many of their wares. Of course with so much of D-management revolving around food, it makes sense that diabetes educators would want to know what the latest food options are for their patients.

Actually, the exhibit hall reminded of Costco in many ways. It was filled with every kind of diabetes-related company you could think of, from the pharmaceutical companies and diabetes organizations to skin care and weight management. Plus, there was a hodgepodge of some rather unusual ones, like Gideons International (bibles?) and jewelry vendors (not medical ID jewelery — just pretty earrings and necklaces for the lady CDEs!). Many of the food vendors scattered around the expo were familiar faces, including Yoplait, Kellogg's, and Campbell's (with some yummy yellow tomato soup). Daisy Brand (the makers of the "do-a-dollop" sour cream) were on hand too with their cottage cheese and fruit toppings.

My impression? Some of the foods on display were great. Some were so-so. And others were... well... things we'll keep on the shelf.

That's right, not everything we saw was so appealing. In addition to the shocking High Fructose Corn Syrup booth, we also found ourselves munching happily on Crystal Light's new sugar-free candy — until we realized that 8 little pieces clock in at nearly 30 grams of sugar alcohols! Yipes!

Although I tend to be pretty flexible in my own diet, eating what I want and bolusing accordingly, I'll be the first to admit that healthy, low-carb foods are better for me in the long run. But there's a fine line between being healthy and being tasty! Some stuff just tastes like cardboard... Here's my personal review of some of the foods featured at AADE, weighing nutritional value against the taste-factor:

powerCrunch: I always get a little nervous when it comes to "nutrition" bars, because they tend to be too high in calories and/or carbohydrates for my comfort. And they never taste like what they say on the label. PowerCrunch is a protein bar, but instead of being thick and chewy, it's made with layered wafer bars, which gives it a nice cookie-feel. At 10 grams of carb per bar, they could fit nicely into my morning insulin resistance, and since AADE, I've noshed on a couple for breakfast. They come with 12 grams of fat, which is a little high, but 200 calories and 13 grams of protein means I'm full until lunch. Favorite flavors include: French Vanilla Creme, Peanut Butter Creme, and Peanut Butter Fudge. Mike's a fan of the Cookies & Creme flavor, he says.

PowerCrunch also has their own protein shake mix, but I have to say that I was disappointed with the flavor of the sample. It was supposedly vanilla, but it didn't taste anything but gross! I guess I'm just not a shake girl, but I was really surprised at the difference in taste considering how much I liked their bars.

AllWhite Egg Whites: In my home, eggs at brunch are pretty standard. Eggs are carb-free by nature, but they are hardly cholesterol-free, which can cause trouble for some PWDs. When I came across the AllWhite Egg Booth, I was convinced that their sample was going to be some kind of flavorless clump of fake egg. How wrong I was! With a little salt and pepper, I couldn't tell that my scrambled eggs was made entirely from egg whites, enhanced with vitamins, minerals and a little beta carotene to give it the familiar yellow color. Definitely a new breakfast favorite for me.

Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt and Adonia by Ciao Bella: Frozen yogurt goes Greek! Mike and I stopped by both frozen yogurt booths exhibiting at AADE to see what kind of summer desserts these companies were concocting. Now, I have to say, I prefer the Adonia flavors over Yasso. For me, the taste of Adonia was better and it had a creamier consistency, while Yasso seemed more like a sorbet and the flavors didn't jive with my tastebuds. Mike, on the other hand, liked all of them. Adonia's blueberry and vanilla yogurt bar had 15 grams of carbs and only 75 calories, which is perfect for an ice cream-loving girl like myself. Yasso is stiff competition, nutrition-wise, with 12 grams of carbs and 70 calories. I say, get taste testing! Both of these are available at local retail markets.

Nada Beverages: I nicknamed this the "magic water." Supposedly when combined with a balanced diet and exercise program, Nada provides the following:

  • A safe and effective diet aid that reduces appetite and inhibits fat production
  • Potentiates the action of insulin, essential for protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism
  • Maintains normal cholesterol levels
  • Promotes healthy serotonin levels
  • Reduces body weight 3-times greater than diet & exercise alone

Of course, none of these claims have been verified by the FDA. Regardless of whether or not this "magic water" does any of that stuff, is it any good? Mike and I tried all the flavors and we were pleasantly surprised, although I can't say I would drink Nada over Crystal Light flavors (which don't have sugar alcohols, unlike that company's candies). I had a hard time pointing my finger to what Nada tasted like until the owner, Randy Reeser, suggested "Kool-Aid? A Sno-cone?" Yes! It has a slightly artificial taste to it. If I had to choose, I'd go with Black Cherry, while Mike's pick is the Strawberry Kiwi.

NOW Foods / Better Stevia: Despite my lackluster opinion of Nada beverages, it would be a clear winner in a taste test against Better Stevia flavored water. I tried both flavors, Pomegranate Berry and Acai Lemonade, and I couldn't stand either one. The Acai Lemonade was slightly better (as I told the anxious guy at the booth), but it tasted of neither Acai nor Lemonade. Bummer. I politely took a couple of packets, but I have no idea where they are now.

Gourmet Garden Herbs and Spices: I don't cook (ever) but I know enough about cooking to know that it's sometimes tricky to use up all your fresh ingredients before they go bad. When I stopped by the booth of Gourmet Garden Herbs and Spices, I was mainly focused on their amazing chicken quesadilla samples. As I ate, I listened to the sales pitch of the chef, who explained that bottles of herb and spice pastes were used to flavor the meat instead of using fresh herbs — which you can refrigerate and use over and over. They have a whole host of flavors, including basil, cilantro, garlic and oregano, which you can also use to make dressings and soups. They had a cilantro gazpacho that is dee-lish!

Murray's Cookies: Saving the best for last! OK, saving the most nostalgic for last. I was introduced to Murray's cookies when I was a kid attending JDRF Walks. What's funny is that Murray's Cookies aren't the greatest cookies, but I've always enjoyed their chocolate sandwich cookies. Their other flavors are hit and miss for me, and they definitely have a bit of a diet cookie flavor to them. If I had my pick, I'd eat a regular cookie. They aren't particularly low-in-fat (9 grams per 3 cookie serving), but they have a decently humble 15-20 grams of carbs per serving depending on the flavor, which makes them a pretty good snack or dessert for people looking for something not overly sweet.

So these were some of the noteworthy foods from the exhibit floor. If you give any of these items a try, please leave us a comment and let us know if you agree or disagree!

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