What do I see in my crystal ball? Here are my predictions for The Top 8 Healthy Food Trends for 2016
Eatcleaner.com Founder and Industry Expert, Mareya Ibrahim, The Fit Foodie
From the next ‘It’ Veggie and Superfood to Brinner and Globowls, my report will help you create exciting, ahead-of-the-curve menu offerings to please the pickiest customers.
For the fourth consecutive year, I’m releasing my Top 8 Healthy Food Trends Report for 2016 to help you, our valued school nutrition professionals, get a leg-up on gaining the attention of a new generation of savvy, health conscious consumers - your kids! Their ever-evolving tastebuds are craving new and interesting flavors and the ability to mold them into clean loving eaters is NOW.
In 2015, my predictions included nutrient-dense cold pressed juices, cold brew coffee, convincing meat-less meat and products fueled by cricket powder - which dominated shelf space and menus everywhere, helping food service break through the clutter with unique items that customers want, driving sales and interest.
And now, for the top 8 Healthy Food Trends that you can use in 2016:
1) INSPIRALIZED VEGGIES
How do you get more veggies onto their plates? A secret weapon for the health-conscious cook, spiralizing transforms your favorite vegetables into pasta-like noodles. Delicious raw and crunchy in a salad or cooked and covered with a hot sauce or marinated in a dressing, this technique is sure to grow in popularity in 2016. A spiralizing machine or julienne peeler is relatively inexpensive and works well with squash, cucumber, carrot, beetroot or celeriac – a great, low carb and gluten-free alternative to regular pasta or noodles. By making noodles out of vegetables like zucchini, squash and kohlrabi, you’re imitating foods that families love but replacing them with gluten-free, nutrient dense options. These grain-free noodle substitutions offers brilliant texture without compromising flavor, and can be integrated into a number of dishes, from traditional Italian to Asian, served hot or cold, offering great appeal for different dietary needs. By substituting spiralized veggies for traditional pasta, you can save yourself upwards of 180 calories and roughly 35 carbs in a single serving. Gluten-free is here to stay, so appealing to customers with veggie options is a smart way to go, because it can be marketed as ‘fresh’ pasta. You can also get inspiralized at eatcleaner.com.
2) DIY GLOBOWLS
There is no doubt that the popularity of ethnic foods among U.S. consumers has been skyrocketing over the past few years, and your kids demonstrate that variety of backgrounds. These include fiery and authentic flavors offered by Latin, Asian, African, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. Bowls can be a universal, one dish offering that’s portable and gives consumers a macronutrient-balanced meal. I coined the term ‘Globowls,' a nutrient-packed, internationally influenced and customizable offering that goes beyond chicken, rice and broccoli – will get hot in 2016. By incorporating different combinations of varying ethnic influences, people can make their own global bowl to suit their taste du jour. By offering options such as farro, kamut, millet, couscous, black rice or noodles layered with Southeast Asian, Mediterranean and regional American-influenced proteins and a variety of sauces and toppings set up in a salad bar, kids can come up with endless combinations that keep their interest and keep them coming back for more. Take a trip around the globowl, no passport required.
Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day…so why not indulge in it at night, too? Brinner entitles you to enjoy breakfast for dinner, you the flexibility to serve up their favorite meals more often. From scrambled egg waffle tacos and acai bowls to egg, bacon and spinach ‘muffins’, breakfast foods enjoyed at dinner also allow you to get economical meals to the table, quick.In a recent national survey, nine out of ten Americans say they eat breakfast for dinner, with 56 percent doing so once a month or more often. For families, the trend is even more prevalent as 67 percent of respondents with children in the household say they have breakfast for dinner once a month or more. A variety of factors contribute to the rising popularity of breakfast for dinner, with the main appeal being ease of preparation versus a traditional dinner meal (43 percent). For families especially, it's also "a fun way to break up the monotony of weekly dinner night" cited by 44 percent. Brinner also offers creative ideas for inexpensive, allergy-friendly requirements. Foods like eggs, pancakes and yogurt are a great form of inexpensive protein and fat that appeal to a wide range of dietary allowances, including gluten, dairy and meat-free.
4) MUFFIN-PAN MANIA
As fast food restaurants continue to supersize their meals, it is becoming increasingly important to exercise portion control at home. Preparing food in a muffin tray is a surefire way to scale back super-sized portions, helping to control calorie intake, less restaurant waste and offer an interesting presentation. Mini muffin-sizes servings make for an easily packable lunch both for adults and children alike. You can bake up a batch of almost anything in a muffin pan, from mini meatloaves to lasagna to pizza bites. The same goes for breakfast, and what’s great is, they are easy to freeze, heat and eat so making a double batched portion becomes a snap. By offering an egg muffin filled with shredded veggies, feta and turkey bacon is a great, portable and gluten-free take on the current veggie sandwich that’s been popping up on quick serve restaurant menus everywhere. From breakfast to dessert, these portion-sized finger foods provide just the right amount of food in a way that’s fun to eat for the kiddos.
5) SPROUTED GRAINS
Let’s admit. It’s nearly impossible to deny a bowl of potato chips. Lucky for you, you no longer have to. Sprouted grains are starting to flood the grocery store shelves in an assortment of categories, from tortillas to bread to pizza crusts to chips. Some brands, such as Way Better Snacks and Angelic Bakery have already caught on to this upcoming trend. Sprouted grains provide the optimal level of nutrition, as this process produces higher fiber and micronutrients. Not to mention, individuals avoiding gluten will find that many sprouted grain products are gluten-free to boot. These sprouted grains may also offer a lower glycemic index, as well as less carbohydrates and starch. Importantly, their flavor profiles are often exceptionally good, which is important for your discerning customers. From tortillas to crackers and other foods otherwise known for their ‘empty carbs,’ sprouted grains can promise heightened nutritional value, great taste and decreased guilt. “With the spotlight shining on the food industry brighter than ever, driven by consumer demand for transparency, many are turning to sprouted grain products not only because they are nutritionally superior, but also minimally processed. While sprouted grains are not new, astute shoppers find that they fill a void in their diets left by traditional flour based breads that are typically heavily processed and full of junk.
6) THE NEXT NEW SUPER FOOD: MACA ROOT
Maca. It’s not the sound a parrot makes. Maca is a root native to the Andes Mountains and a member of the radish family. Until recently, has been widely overlooked but this remarkable, vegan super food fueled the Inca culture and was known as the ‘food of the gods’ for improving general health, balancing mood, stamina and energy. We’re seeing maca often combined with chocolate, which makes for a fantastic alternative to semi-sweet chocolate chips in a cookie, for example. It also works beautifully in smoothies, breads and bars as its forms are diverse. Maca is very mild tasting with a subtle earthy flavor, and can bolster nutrient density in a variety of foods from baked goods to soups. Maca root is available in a powder, chips and bar forms. Add maca to your next dish and let it do its magic.
7) THE NEXT ‘IT’ VEGGIE: KOHLRABI
It might have a funny look and name, but this ‘versatile veggie’ will take over the reigns as the next King of veggies, enjoyed raw and cooked, from sticks to tortilla shells, noodles and everything in between. A member of the cabbage family, Kohlrabi, is an even better source of vitamin C than oranges and is also a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Potassium, Vitamin B6, Copper and Manganese. With only 27 calories per 100 g, Kohlrabi has high water content, very low sodium, no cholesterol and a subtle, sweet flavor with a pleasing texture. I adore kohlrabi because it’s got infinite possibilities. I’ve used it in soups, mashes, hashes and served it in crunchy sticks, as a substitute for noodles (koodles) and as a replacement for croutons. My absolute favorite way to enjoy it is slice it thin and use it instead of a corn or flour tortilla, filled with anything from shrimp ceviche to beans and mushrooms. For a restaurateur looking to make a crossover from heavier Mexican offerings, what I call ‘k-tillas’ can be the answer. Kohlrabi can be eaten raw or, just like a potato, easily roasted, steamed, braised, baked, boiled, pureed or mashed – it integrates seamlessly into many different dishes. This is the vegetable taking center stage.”
8) HAVE A BALL
Last but definitely not least, you can expect to see an array of healthful ‘ballin’ goodies in the upcoming year. From snacks to desserts to mealtime, I anticipate a year full of nutrient dense bites in the shape of a bite-sized ball. This follows the portion-sized approach of the muffin pan, where consumers feel they can enjoy what they love in a smaller sized package. My Fit Foodie Bites are the antidote to expensive protein bars. These “Protein Power Balls” contain the perfect balance of good fats, protein and slow burning carbs to help stabilize blood sugar. Instead of a whole bar, a consumer can enjoy one bite before a workout and get just the right amount of energy. My kids can’t get enough of these, and I don’t them indulging. They’re raw food energy, packed with oats, flax, protein powder, unsweetened cocoa, pumpkin and nut butter, without any refined sugar. It’s like healthy cookie dough!
Now that’s a powerball you can bank on.
About Mareya Ibrahim
Mareya Ibrahim is the CEO and Founder of Grow Green Industries, INC.She is also known as The Fit Foodie, a celebrity nutritionist, author and chef and is the founder of EatCleaner.com, the premier lifestyle destination for fit food information. She is the creator of the only macronutrient meal preparation plan called the Eat Cleaner Meal Prep Club and her book "The Clean Eating Handbook" was released in May 2013 and has been touted as the 'go-to' guide for anyone looking to eat cleaner and get leaner. She is a contributor to the NY Times bestseller “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life” by Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Mark Hyman. She is a seasoned TV food personality and her back-page column, "The Fit Foodie", appears in Edible Orange County Magazine. Mareya is also active in the community and was the recipient of the 2013 Women Making a Difference Award presented by California Senator Lou Correa for demonstrating extraordinary dedication and contributions to public health and well being. She is also the winner of the World’s Best Technology Gold Prize, the Disney iParenting Award and was a finalist for Inc. Magazine’s Newpreneur of the Year Award.