I always love observing the trends, diets and new foods that pop up each year, and 2017 is full of them. As the popularity of whole food, plant-based and non-GMO diets grows, the food trends seem to grow even more creative and fun! Below I’m including some of the easy ones that can be thrown into meals and snacks for some healthy variety and spice in your healthy eating routine:
- Alternative Pasta/Spiralized Veggies: I cannot say enough about this trend, my personal favorite. Not only do these veggies help reduce your consumption of processed flours and carbohydrates, they also boost vitamin and mineral intake. Not to mention that they’re easy on the wallet, at about $2.99 for a 4-serving portion pre-made! Zucchini, squash, carrot and beet noodles are some of the most common. Kids typically prefer zucchini and squash because of their mild flavor. Combine with tomato sauce, parmesan, pesto or salt and pepper for a nutritious main dish or side
- Cauliflower Rice: Similarly to spiralized veggies, cauli-rice is a great way to cut out white rice and replace with more veggies. And it’s as simple as shopping in your grocery store’s frozen section! For about $3 per bag, use cauli-rice to boost your child’s veggie intake, replace refined carbohydrates, and boost fiber intake as a side dish or base for Asian dishes
- Authentic Ethnic Cuisine: Replace your MSG-laden Chinese takeout with healthy homemade Asian cuisine, plus a fun night of cooking for the whole family! A growing trend in 2015 and 2016 was homemade Indian, Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European and South American cuisines. Interest in homemade, authentic cuisine is showing that it’s here to stay. Nutritionally speaking, making food at home cuts out excess salt, additives, oils and sugars, while boosting whole food and nutrient consumption. And you and your children can seize a great opportunity to build valuable healthy cooking skills and catch a glimpse into a culture different from our own
- Buddha Bowls: You might be asking what these are! Relatively new to the food scene, Buddha bowls are healthy, hearty dishes full of greens, roasted veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds and various dressings. A Buddha bowl can be vegan, vegetarian, or simply whole food-rich. They’re easy to assemble, and they provide each of your family members a chance to personalize their meal. The ingredients can also be prepped ahead of time and warmed up before assembly for a healthy, on-the-go option
- Turmeric: Known for its potent antioxidant capacity, turmeric can fight inflammation, boost brain function, reduce risk of brain disease, reduce risk of heart disease, aid in workout recovery, and perhaps even help prevent cancer! This bright orange spice adds heat and flavor to savory and sweet dishes alike. I love to rub it on meat, poultry, fish and veggies before steaming, roasting, sauteeing or grilling. A practically calorie-free nutritional boost!
- Sorghum: This grain has been gaining some popularity in the past few years, particularly as gluten free and whole food-based diets become more common. Rich in B vitamins, magnesium, iron, copper, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, protein, and fiber, this African grain (technically a grass!) is a perfect substitute for rice and pasta, and it complements vegan, vegetarian and whole food diets well. And prep is simple! Sorghum cooks similarly to rice
- Flexitarian Diets: Don’t eat red meat? Have you cut out dairy recently? Sticking to fish and eggs for your protein? Flexitarian diets are becoming popular as our food options grow in variety. With the rise of food allergy and sensitivity testing, greater variety in our food choices has become easier and more tailored to specific needs or preferences. Flexitarian diets arose from the principles that support vegetarian and vegan lifestyles: cutting consumption of animal foods and increasing intake of plant foods. However, common food allergens, like wheat, gluten, or dairy, may prevent someone from adopting a full vegan diet. Flexitarian plans allow for flexibility while still promoting a greater consumption of plant foods
- Veggie Chips: Move over, potatoes! Zucchini, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, and yucca are grabbing the nutritional spotlight this year. The benefits with this swap seem pretty obvious: greater nutrient and veggie variety, increased fiber intake, reduced consumption of refined carbohydrates and trans fats, and potentially an increased intake of healthy fats from better frying oils, like coconut and olive
While some food and diet trends last only a few months, these healthy food and lifestyle choices seem to be here to stay! Try adding one or two to your healthy eating routine for a boost in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants!