What’s good to eat this year? Food trend forecasters predict a veritable cornucopia of edibles in appetizing flavors and colors that pack enough nutritive power to keep you in robust health all year. Here are a few that might surprise you.
Savory Ice Creams and Yogurts
If plain vanilla bores you, you’re in luck. Dairy producers will be offering yogurts and ice creams in flavors that sound more like dinner than dessert, according to Michael Whiteman of Baum & Whiteman food consultancy.
Yogurt producers like Blue Hill Farms are blending veggies like sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes and beets, sweetened with honey or maple syrup, into their single-serve yogurts. Meanwhile, Chobani has packaged savory mix-ins along with fruit yogurts, to create such flavors as Mango Sriracha and Chipotle Pineapple. Taking their cue from trendy restaurants, ice cream makers like Coolhaus and Magnolia are concocting rich flavors, such as balsamic fig & mascarpone, avocado and purple yam. In the face of these choices, salted caramel sounds positively trite!
Seaweed? It’s true. According to the Specialty Food Association, this “long-overlooked” vegetable will be hot this year, in part because of its sustainability. To boot, seaweed is an antioxidant (read, disease-fighting) powerhouse that also boasts iodine and fiber. Snack-size sheets of roasted seaweed, once the province of health food stores alone, have already made it onto mainstream grocer’s shelves. In the year to come, look for more varieties, such as powdered dulse to sprinkle onto foods, kombu, for cooking beans, soups and stews, and nori, to prep sushi or crumble onto food. Seaweed will even be used to flavor and add nutrients to chips and popcorn.
You might know sauerkraut as the drab, vinegared cabbage that’s about as exciting as dry toast. Think again. Today’s sauerkrauts are raw and live-cultured. Look for them in the refrigerator case, in gleaming jars containing not only red and green cabbage, but also veggies like beets, carrots and daikon radish. Fermented “by hand,” or in small batches, these products may be flavored with dill, garlic or ginger.
“The health benefits of fermented foods are seeing increasing awareness among Western consumers,” according to trend tracking firm Innova Market Insights. Fermentation results in ample amounts of probiotics and enzymes that help support digestion.
Fermented condiment Kimchi, a traditional staple in Korean households, has also been amped up for U.S. consumers. You’ll find refrigerated versions of traditional kimchi, alongside variations that include sea vegetables and such herbs as sage and rosemary. Salt-free varieties are also available. Kefir, a fermented milk drink in the Russian tradition, can be found in the dairy case both plain, and in fruit flavors like strawberry and mango.
Beef jerky may not be new to you, but this year, expect to find jerky made of everything from turkey to salmon to buffalo meat! Often the butt of late-night show jokes, jerky is actually packed with protein and relatively low in sugar. According to Whiteman, it’s another part of the trend toward savory vs. sweet foods. Look for flavor elements like chipotle, basil, ginger and teriyaki. Expect to find jerky made from organic or grass-fed meat that may also be free of nitrites.
No, they’re not new in their original state. But the food industry is sneaking vegetables into foods where you might not expect to find them. In addition to smoothies and ice creams, you’ll spy veggies on the ingredient lists of pastas, quick breads and even loose and bagged teas! The move toward plant-based nutrition has taken hold, according to the Specialty Food Association, and vegetables will be a mainstay. (At some award-winning restaurants, veggies are the main course, and meats are served as sides!) In the grocery snack aisle, in addition to potatoes and exotic root vegetables like taro and yucca, look for roasted, salted or spiced chickpeas, fava beans, even navy and pinto beans to hold their own as plant-based options.