The Top 8 Healthy Food Trends for 2016 From Celebrity Chef & Industry Expert, Mareya Ibrahim, The Fit Foodie
From the next ‘It’ Veggie and Superfood to Brinner and Globowls, the Fit Foodie’s 2016 Healthy Food trend report helps businesses create exciting, ahead-of-the-curve menu and product offerings to drive profit and new customers
For the fourth consecutive year, award-winning food safety entrepreneur, natural products industry veteran and chef, Mareya Ibrahim, aka The Fit Foodie has released her Top 8 Healthy Food Trends Report for 2016 to help food professionals get a leg-up on gaining the attention of a new generation of savvy, health conscious consumers.
In 2015, her predictions that included nutrient-dense cold pressed juices, cold brew coffee, convincing meat-less meat and products fueled by cricket powder dominated shelf space and menus everywhere, helping entrepreneurs break through the clutter with unique items that customers want, driving sales and interest.
And now, for the Top 8 Healthy Food Trends to look for 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,” comments Ibrahim. 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.
“Sometimes referred to as ‘zoodles,’ mommy bloggers have been working with spiralized veggies for a long time, but you’ll start to see them become more mainstream on menus and incorporated into deli salad dishes because of their endless versatility,” adds Ibrahim.
Take Inspiralized.com for example. This is a one-stop shop for everything spiralized. The founder, Ali Maffucci, launched this platform out of a pure passion for eating healthy and helping others. 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 there is no sign of it slowing down in 2016. Evolving American palates take their dining cues from fiery and authentic flavors offered by Latin, Asian, African and Indian cuisines, and seek variety from all sources, including restaurants and processed foods.
Bowls can be a universal, one dish offering that’s portable and gives consumers a macronutrient-balanced meal. Chef Mareya predicts 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 or noodles layered with Southeast Asian, Mediterranean and regional American-influenced proteins and a variety of sauces and toppings, consumers can come up with endless combinations that keep their interest and keep them coming back to your establishment for more. As people travel the world and open up their culinary horizons, chefs and restaurateurs can have a lot of fun with more of a global point of view on their cuisine,” emphasizes Ibrahim.”
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, giving food service professionals and home chefs the flexibility to serve up their favorite meals more often. From fluffy egg omelets to crepes and yogurt parfaits, 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 elevating breakfast options with a wider variety of savory ingredients that can really drive profits. “Eggs are a great form of inexpensive protein and fat, and offer endless menu options. You can add in crab or smoked salmon and enjoy it with a glass of white wine for dinner, or you can offer savory zucchini crepes with a light ricotta filling and topped with a roasted tomato sauce for a new take on an Italian specialty. The margin on breakfast can be really significant and has been driving industry growth for many restaurants,” notes Ibrahim.
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.
“The home chef can bake up a batch of mini meatloaves on Sunday, and instantly have a week’s worth of calorie-controlled lunches. 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,” comments Ibrahim. “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. Just pop them into a muffin pan liner and you’re off to work with your coffee, tea or juice.”
From breakfast to dessert, these portion-sized finger foods provide just the right amount of food, available at the tip of your fingers. So grab a muffin pan and indulge in anything for a guilt-free, perfectly proportioned bite – without creating a muffin top.
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 Bakehouse 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.
“Way Better Snacks is guided by the simple premise to make products that people can feel good about eating and sharing with others. This is done by sourcing high-quality ingredients and sprouting as many of them as possible. Sprouting seeds, beans and grains like flaxseed, quinoa, black beans, brown rice, and broccoli, chia and daikon radish seeds increases their nutrients and improves nutritional absorption. In essence, sprouting unlocks all the “good” that is inherent in seeds, beans and grains and brings them to life, nutritionally speaking, which is why Way Better Snacks added them to our great-tasting snacks,” noted Jim Breen, CEO & Founder.
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 consumers. 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. At Angelic, we use nothing but pure, non-GMO ingredients to craft our baked goods. This combined with our unique sprouted process gives us a taste and nutrition score that cannot be beat, and that is something we are really proud of,” commented Jenny Marino, CEO & President, Angelic Bakehouse.
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, energy and, well, boom chicka wa wa… enhancing sexual desire.
“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,” adds Ibrahim. “Since it has a bit of added ‘enhancement’ benefit, it would make for a fun Valentine’s Day focused menu or offering to help get people in the mood.”
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,” remarks Ibrahim.
Farm Stand Fresh Foods™ is a newly appointed marketing and distributing company based in Southern California who is launching Kohlrabi in the US and Canada. Farm Stand Fresh Foods™ Founder, President and CEO, Chris Lindley shares, ““Consumers in the US and Canada are about to discover kohlrabi, a versatile veggie. It’s so refreshing and has a delicious mild vegetable taste with a texture similar to jicama or radish. We’ll be offering fresh-cut Farm Stand Fresh Foods kohlrabi in a variety of prepared forms so consumers can spend less time cutting and more time enjoying this delicious and nutrient-dense veggie. 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, Chef Mareya anticipates 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. Chef Mareya’s 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,” notes Ibrahim. “It’s like healthy cookie dough!”
Now that’s a powerball you can bank on.
With her lasting experience in the natural products industry that spans over 20 years and a lengthy resume, including founder of EatCleaner.com, Chef Mareya’s crystal ball predictions for 2016 are sure to be spot-on and help other entrepreneurs and food professionals thrive with an ever-demanding, health conscious audience.