Outdoor Retailer Summer Market '05 Trends: Food, drinks and energy snacks

If you're going to be active, then you gotta eat. At this year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market show there were plenty of munchies and drinks to be had. Here is a select summary of food, drinks and energy snacks that found their way into our mouths.

If you're going to be active, then you gotta eat. And folks at any Outdoor Retailer show have proven they do like to sample and nibble. Even at the Open Air Demo on the beach there were plenty of munchies and drinks to be had. The girls in the low-rise, high-rise camo skirts swinging their hips around with hula hoops -- if you didn't know -- were actually promoting a new drink called Bomba. No, they weren't just there as eye candy, but still….

What follows is a very select summary of product that found its way into our mouths, so if you're not mentioned, we were either too hyped up on caffeine to see you, we didn't think your product was tasty, or we were just plain clueless -- you pick one. With that in mind, here's our take on trends and new products for food, drinks and energy snacks:

Alpsnack -- Although not new, the bars are made from unprocessed hemp nuts (no, not THAT kind), almonds and fruits and have an utterly appealing and chewy flavor and texture (MSRP, about $2.50). Available in five flavors, the bars are gluten-free so they're gentle on the digestive system and free of animal products, including dairy so they're vegan friendly. Two flavors made with chocolate and espresso are certified organic and fair trade.www.alpsnack.com

Backpacker's Pantry -- Backpacker's Pantry introduced four new entrees, including one made with cold water. Sweet and sour chicken, paella with saffron rice and chicken, and no-cook stroganoff with turkey round out the hot dinner items. But as a side dish or a meal in itself, the company now offers a cold pasta salad with vegetables. Add cold water, and 20 minutes later it's ready to eat. A nice alternative to meals that require boiling water at the very least, this new item provides nourishment when sparking up a stove is inconvenient or impossible. www.backpackerspantry.com

Bomba -- The Bomba reps told us that this slightly carbonated, sweet liquid is the largest selling sports drink in Mexico, but that its comes from Austria. Well, the things you learn… Bottles will retail for $2 and actually allow themselves to be called by color: Yellow (crème soda like), Blue (blueberry … sort of), Black (we didn't taste it and we don't want to know) and Red (grapefruit). www.bomba-usa.com

Cache Lake
-- Cache Lake gives new meaning to homegrown goodness with rib-sticking entrees that remind you of dishes your mother used to make. With items like "really tasty dumplings" and "fryin' pan biscuits 'n gravy," you'll swear you can hear the dinner bell a ringin'. Seems the owners must have gotten an oversupply of sweet potatoes since the introductions at the show seemed to have that theme. And boy, were they good! Sweet potato fryin' pan bread, sweet potato corn bread, curried sweet potato latke, and quick and tasty cheesy sweet potatoes (in either pie spice flavor or cinnamon). The beauty is that you just add regular water, wait a few minutes and give a stir to make either a meal or side dish that tastes like real food. What the menu may lack in nouvelle sophistication and exotic international mystique, it more than makes up for in yummy nummies.www.cachelake.com

Clif Bar -- Amazing how the smallest of new items can create such a buzz on the huge OR floor, but that was the case with Bloks introduced by Clif. They are "organic electrolyte chews" with three equal to one gel packet. The company was taking orders and didn't have enough to keep sample-happy ("ooo, yum") passers-by happy. Also new and at retail just this summer are organic fruit and nut bars (MSRP, $1.80-$2) in four flavors from the more decadent dark chocolate and walnut to the likely much healthier cranberry, apricot and walnut. All were too good to pass by. www.clifbar.com

-- Although it laid out sample packets of its "Gulp 'n Go" energy gel, we were told the name is changing -- gee, it took them this long to figure out the current one only caused giggles? The gel was actually introduced three years ago, but not many knew it existed. An events director admitted the company hadn't done a good promotion job, so stay tuned for a better one. The vanilla flavor wasn't bad. www.cytosport.com

Enduroshot -- Enduroshot brings fast energy replenishment in a well-balanced concentration of nutritional supplements your body needs just before or during intense physical activity. In three flavors, Enduroshot offers up four electrolytes, seven B vitamins, Taurine (an amino acid stimulant), caffeine and inositol (an ingredient in cell membranes that helps to metabolize fat, we're told). Sold in 2.2-ounce bottles, Enduroshot is sugar free so you don't crash and very low in carbohydrates.www.enduroshot.com

Honey Stinger -- Man, protein bars from a honey company? Yes, ma, there is a Santa Claus. Always the skeptics about protein bars, our team found these actually taste good! Must be that infusion of honey (30 percent in each bar). The real beaut of these compared to most protein bars is the lack of trans fats. They are also gluten-free, have 200 calories per bar, and include 20 grams of whey protein. Oh, did we say they actually taste good? The only flavor that'll hit retail this fall will be the Peanut Butta Pro (others are in the works), with a suggested retail of $2. www.honeystinger.com

Humm Foods
-- Humm Foods, makers of LaraBar, has two new flavors this year with the introduction of ginger snap and cocoa mole. While so many meal replacement/energy bars out there are masquerading as "good for you," the company backs up the claim with whole ingredients that are uncooked, unprocessed, add no sugar, and are free of gluten, dairy products and genetically modified organisms. Looking out for the particular dietary limitations of consumers has become an industry standard. So you won't be surprised to hear that LaraBars, like many products in the category, are also vegan. But what struck us most about LaraBar is that Rabbi Hillel Erlanger certifies its products kosher in Colorado. Is that cool or what?www.larabar.com

Mountain House
-- Mountain House really pulled out the stops this year with no fewer than nine new varieties, including pasta primavera, chicken teriyaki with rice and Jamaican-style chicken with rice. Thirty-eight meals contain no trans-fats and 16 have eliminated hydrogenated oils. The company also introduces Stand-up Pouches that rest safely, hands-free, on a flat surface. The new packages are vacuum-sealed so they take up less space and won't expand, even at altitude. And finally Mountain House makes meal preparation even simpler with the Mountain Oven Flameless Heating Kit. The new system uses heat activation pads (like chemical hand warmers) to raise the temperature of water to about 100 degrees in 20 minutes without a stove. www.mountainhouse.com

Nature's Path -- Nature's Path has a new product it calls the Optimum energy bar. In two flavors, the company that features primarily organically grown fruits, nuts and grains offers a vegetarian breakfast meal replacement that is low in sodium and fat but high in fiber. Sweetened with fruit juices, the bar is protein enriched with 7 grams of soy protein per serving. Nature's Path also uses more environmentally friendly soy-based inks in its packaging, and in 2004 reduced its box size by 10 percent, eliminating wasted package space while maintaining portion quantities. www.naturespath.com

Pro Bar -- Well, devout SNEWS® readers will already know that a favorite bar for between-meal snacks and on-the-trail nutrition blends raw nuts and seeds with organic syrups from oats, barley malt and brown rice as well as nut oils, fruit juices, molasses and dried fruit. The newest flavor, whole berry blast, features strawberries and blueberries and a whole lot more. The company also resized its bags and its bars for better packing and packaging. www.theprobar.com

Tea Tech -- Tea Tech gives lovers of green tea a cold brewing option with a new product that delivers flavonoid antioxidants in a refreshing beverage. Antioxidants, which are helpful in preventing degenerative illness and immune system deficiency, have brought drinking green tea to the forefront of the fitness nutrition market. Tea Tech offers two new products in three flavors that make green tea easier than ever to swallow, according to the company. Sugar-free Xtragreen and Instagreen (sweetened with Splenda) can be mixed instantly with hot or cold water to provide 300 milligrams of antioxidants per serving. That's eight times more than most brewed teas. Packaged in a narrow mouthed serving tube, the powered tea mix slips easily into sports bottles on the go. Unsweetened original green tea flavor is available, as well as lemon and raspberry flavors. www.teatech.com