Whereas everybody wants to live healthier and longer and look the best they can while doing so, walking the walk is always a lot tougher than talking the talk.

This is why the Nation likes to check out large-scale expositions like the annual Expo Manger Sante et Vivre Vert or Health Food and Green Living show, to check out the latest tricks of the trade when it comes to making your body and your environment both leaner and greener. With hundreds of new foods to taste, cooking demonstrations to take in and product demonstrations to ponder over, now in its 15th edition, the show gave us more than food for thought.

Like any year, the new and emerging trends in nutrition were evident throughout the show room at the three-day event hosted at Montreal’s Palais de Congrès from March 16-18. This year “super foods” were the big buzz words as the whole concept of eating smarter by opting for foods with lower calories but higher nutritive value seemed to be everywhere.

Other things that seemed to be riding the nutrition trend, coconut products like coconut sugar, and thick-and-creamy Greek yoghurt were like superstars of the event with all sorts of varieties with just about every bell and whistle available.

Upon entering this year’s event, the first thing that we (editor-in-chief Will Nicholls and I) came upon that we enjoyed was Fruit & Fruit brand all-natural granola bars. We sampled the coconut-&-raisin, apple-&-berries and the mango-&-pineapple varieties and thought that all three were great and would make a great snack on the go. This product was ideal as it was without nuts or gluten for those with allergies, had a lovely, vibrant taste, was whole grain and made without any additional sugars so it was just a fun and healthy product to enjoy. For more info: www.fruit&fruit.ca

Next up we encountered something else we also saw a lot of this year: fruit snacks in a squeezable package. This one was Buddy Fruits, a 100% blended fruit snack that is designed with happy-smiley, kid-friendly packaging, ideal for little people to take along to school or out to play. Based in France and produced in Belgium, this product was sweet and treat-like without any sugar and so we would recommend it.

Buddy Fruits also had little fruit snack Pure Fruit Bites as well as a milk-based smoothie. Though we didn’t get the chance to try them, we were intrigued, perhaps enough to purchase them in the future to feed small children. For more info: www.buddyfruits.com

Also in the squeezable fruit category, we came across Go Go Squeeze Applesauce on the go. Also from France, it is an all-natural apple puree that comes in four different flavours: apple, apple-peach, apple-strawberry and apple-banana. We tried the apple variety and it was… appley. It is applesauce in a squeezy pack so it is ideal for kids or those that just really like squeezable packaging. For more info: www.gogosqueez.co.

Looking for foods with more consistency, we wandered over to the Raincoast Crisps cracker table. Ultra-hard and crunchy, this fruit-nut-and-seed-filled cracker is the trendiest cracker on the market right now. And, despite the fact that they often retail for upwards of $7 a box, they are actually selling like hotcakes in Montreal because of their aromatic flavours and powerful crunch. With flavours like rosemary, raisin, pecan, cranberry hazelnut or salty date and almond, there is nothing that can compare to this crispy-crunchy-nutty delight – definitely worth the seven bucks if you can spare it. For more info: lesleystowe.com/raincoastcrisps/about/

Still feeling the desire for something crunchy, we discovered GROK, a low-carb crunchy cheese treat from Italy. Made from Grana Padano cheese, GROK is essentially a baked-cheese bite that is crispy, crunchy and totally satisfying. What we liked about it is that it was a lot of fun to eat and incredibly tasty while not being fried. Also, it is made without any preservatives and doesn’t need any refrigeration. We would recommend this product and even bought a bag to take home and enjoy that night… it lasted about an hour after we got home.

If you are looking to perk up your salads with an Asian flavour but aren’t sure about how to wing your own vinaigrette, we sampled some delightfully new salad dressings by San-J that really had a zing to them. San-J’s three new salad dressings are all tamari-based (a premium Japanese soy sauce) and came in three varieties: sesame, ginger and peanut. Savoury and exotic, we sampled them on carrots and raw baby spinach and thought all three were great. For more info: www.san-j.com.

Next up we sampled Divine Harvest fruit spreads and were simply enchanted by them. A local Quebec product, these premium jam-like fruit spreads are the ultimate sugar-free jam replacement as they are all-natural, made from organic fruit and taste fabulous. In multiple berry and citrus fruit flavours, these spreads were not only fruity but very sweet and with a hint of tartness. The product also has chia seeds added to it for extra texture and added nutrition with Omega 3 oils. Ideal for anyone watching their weight or their blood sugar, we loved this product. For more info: www.divineharvest.ca

While the show had all kinds of soy drinks and fruity concoctions for just about any ailment, what we liked in particular was Fruit d’Or’s cranberry- and blueberry-based juice blends.

Not only were the fruits in these products sustainably developed but the juices were excellent as they were sweet, refreshing and high quality that you could feel it in your bones. The blueberry was fantastic, and tasted like drinking blueberry pie. They also had cranberry-blackberry, cranberry-blueberry-cherry and plain cranberry varieties to sample.

The cranberry-blueberry-cherry has a thickness and tartness that reminiscent of red wine and would make a nice non-alcoholic alternative at a dinner party. For more info: www.fruit-dor.ca

For the purveyor of fine meats, the folks from Boutique des Becs-Fins, a charcutier and fine-meat butcher had their own display of haute gamme meats, sausages and pies.

Becs-Fins’ whole angle is that they sell high-end poultry like duck, partridge, quail, chicken and then other items like rabbit, salmon and trout but made into sausages, tourtiere-type pies, pates, rillettes, terrines, fine charcuteries and gourmet-prepared meals but without chemicals. The end result is delightful locally based products that feature artisanal craftsmanship and an old world heartiness. We tried a few different poultry mousse and pates and were so convinced that we brought home a duck pie that was out of this world. For more info: www.becsfins.com

Moseying along through the jam-packed crowd, I was delighted to see Danone’s Oikos Greek Yoghurt as there are a lot of new Greek yoghurt products on the market these days and so I had been looking for a really good one. The difference between Greek yoghurt and regular yoghurt is that the Greek variety is strained several more times to remove more water so it is very thick, creamy and significantly higher in protein. This is why you will see it at a higher price as more goes into it.

Danone’s new Oikos brand combines very intense tasting fruit with the thick and creamy Greek-style yoghurt to create a product that is rich and bursting with flavour. At 2% milk fat, the product is also very satisfying so you feel like you are getting a big treat but with only 90 calories and a whole whopping amount of calcium. While you would easily eat them for breakfast you could just as easily eat them for desert. For more info: www.danone.ca/

Something else that I was impressed with was Passionbio.ca, an online health-food store for those that don’t live anywhere near one. This online store offers over 3000 organic products with everything from meat to veg to cosmetics and just about everything else under the sun that you can buy organically. For more info: www.passionbio.ca

For those who have been looking for a new alternative to sugar, organic coconut-palm sugar was being showcased as one of the newest “super food” finds. They say that this is the new “smart sugar” because it is a sweetener with actual nutritional value. Unlike your regular sugar, coconut-palm sugar prevents the blood sugar crashes that make you hungry and then cause you to gain weight.

It also has a glycemic index that is significantly lower than white or brown sugar and so it is a better choice for those with diabetes or those who are watching their weight. It is very sweet tasting and so it’s ideal to make your deserts with it, but it is much better for you and would be ideal to bake with or cook with as it has a similar consistency to regular sugar. Organic Coconut Palm Sugar is available in most health-food stores.

If you really want to taste something revolutionary, Stevia was one of our favourite finds as it is the only all-natural sweetener on the market that has zero calories.

Stevia is similar to all of your regular calorie-free sweeteners and is perfect for diabetics because it does not have any impact on the glycemic index and so there is a sweet flavour but that is it. But, unlike aspartame or sucralose or anything else in that category, Stevia is plant-based, made from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant and so it is all-natural and not chemically processed.

Now widely available in health-food stores and some grocery stores, at the show we sampled Stevia made by Now Brand. For more info: www.nowfoods.com/

Something that Will Nicholls thought was well-worth mentioning was Salad Express vegetable mixes. These are pre-washed, pre-mixed salads and mixes that would be used to make anything from a soup to a spaghetti sauce to coleslaw. But what is great about them is that they are a healthy convenience for those who are really on the go. Just add salad dressing and serve, or as the person showcasing them suggested, use them in a wide variety of cooking or baking. It is widely available in grocery stores throughout Quebec. For more info: www.saladexpress.ca

Veering over to the greener living aspect of this show, organic baby products were another common feature at this event as parents often tend to think of the kind of world they will be handing down to their children.

In that vein we decided to try out Nature’s Baby Care corn-based disposable diapers as there are a great deal of “green” type of diapers on the market but none of them ever seem to get very good reviews.

After running through an entire package we have to say that these are actually a great product. While they may not be as cutesy as the average Pampers or Huggies diaper, the corn-based biodegradable and 100% compostable diaper was actually comparable to its not-so-eco-friendly competitors and we did not see any leaks. These diapers are available at most health-food stores and several online distributors.

And with that concludes the best of what we saw at this year’s event. The Expo Manger Sante et Vivre Vert  show happens at Palais de Congrès every year in the middle of March. For more info: www.expomangersante.com.