There’s a spotlight on healthier habits this year and you can expect to see restaurants and supermarkets offering quinoa, different berries, kale, almonds and other foods that consumers identify with healthy living. The top 5 trends that the Almond Board of California has identified include:
- Snack to it. It’s no surprise Americans are snacking more often; the difference now is a focus on more sophisticated snacks, with global flavors and more natural ingredients. Instead of yesterday’s cheese puffs and potato chips, today consumers are more likely to be snacking on colorful vegetable chips, or a trail mix with popcorn and almonds and dried cranberries. In fact, popcorn is taking center stage. Hailed as “the snack of 2013” by brand strategy firm Sterling-Rice Group, you can expect to see this whole-grain star in sweet and savory ice creams, entrée garnishes and portable snack mixes. I guess that is taking a simple grain snack to a whole new level as an ingredient!!
- No meat? No wheat? No worries. Restaurants and chefs are increasingly accommodating to diners with special dietary restrictions, and if they’re smart and savvy, they welcome substitutions on the menu. From flexitarians to gluten-freers, diners need not fear sharing any diet or food allergy needs upon ordering. According to a new Dutch study, consumers are embracing fewer meat days, as they become more invested in their health.
- Veggies gone chic. While we’ve seen locally-sourced produce sprout up on menus everywhere, vegetables are no longer resigned to just a side dish. Expect to see foods such as roasted cauliflower filets and zucchini ribbon noodles as entrée items. And greens are going mainstream: Versatile beet greens, chard and seaweed are making their way into baked breads and packaged snacks as color and flavor enhancers. I always say that if you're trying to reduce use of creamy and salty condiments, roasted, grilled or sauteed vegetables can bump up taste, while providing fiber and healthy nutrients.
- Tangy in a good way. Have you sampled an artisanal vinegar yet? More foodies are experimenting with fermenting and pickling, inviting a world of sour and tart flavors onto our palates. Those seeking flavor beyond sweet and salty can look forward to more pickled vegetables, fermented juices and varietal vinegars. Pickled relish, chopped pickles, saurkraut and chutney are low calorie additions that can boost taste in sandwiches and salads.
- Spotlight on simple food. Simply put, real food tastes good. Consumers are seeking food with ingredients they can pronounce, and they want to know where their food comes from. This back-to-the-basics approach emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods, which can mean healthier options for consumers. This can be an incentive to take some basic cooking classes or to simply go online and search for simple, wholesome recipes that use few ingredients so an easy-to-prepare family meal can become a regular habit. Remember that experiementing with fresh and dried herbs is an easy way to boost taste in simply prepared dishes.
Want to snack smart? Remember that a snack is a "bridge between meals." It's purpose is to take the edge off of hunger that is beginning to develop, and to also provide a boost to mental and physical energy levels. You perform better when your blood sugar is stable, and a snack between meals can easily address that. Choose from lean, healthy proteins, or combine a fruit with a small serving of protein and hover around 100-150 calories, depending on your overall daily calorie allotment. A handful of about 23 almonds offers a calorie-conscious snack offering protein, healthy fats, fiber and a range of nutrients. Looking for a new twist on a tapenade? Try this dried tomato almond tapenade from the Almond Board. Just remember to use a few tablespoons as an accompaniment to vegetables or baked crackers. The portion size offered in the recipe is a bit large and calorie heavy, despite the healthy ingredients!!
Published On: January 24, 2013