Liz Weber is a registered dietitian at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. Today’s “On the Menu” segment features the latest and most popular food trends that dietitians and the food industry think you should know about. Every year, dietitians and food experts from around the nation meet at the Food and Nutrition Conference Expo sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (FNCE) to discuss the latest in research and the most popular new products in the food and health industry.
The major themes from this year's annual meeting included products to improve gut health, protein in different shapes and sizes, healthy and convenient meals, new types of noodles, and snacks healthier than we've ever seen them before. Let's talk about new products to expect on grocery store shelves this year.
1. Low-FODMAP Foods: New food products are targeting individuals following a low-FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols-types of short chain carbohydrates) diet. These products include pasta sauce, protein bars, salsa, and drinks. The FODMAP diet has been used as treatment to help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. There are even new apps and a certified low-FODMAP foods stamp underway.
2. Shots of Fermentation: Farmhouse Culture, a California-based company introduces their bottled probiotic drinks "Gut Shots" to promote better gut flora. These bottled drinks are made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables. Flavors included garlic dill pickle, ginger beet, smoked jalapeno, and kimchi.
3. Meat out, plants in? Blended burgers were one of the top foods featured by The Mushroom Council. This burger comprises half ground beef and half chopped mushrooms to reduce the amount of saturated fat, while still enjoying a tasty burger. However, meatless meals using more beans, legumes, grains, beans, and nuts for protein had a large presence at the expo, making a plant-based diet seem easier and less restrictive.
4. Whole Grains On-the-Go: Whole grains are more convenient than ever-available in portable packs, pouches or cups and many only requiring the addition of hot water. Cucina and Amore is a company that featured "Q" or quinoa cups that require you to simply add hot water to a paper cup to enjoy quinoa. They come in interesting flavors, such as southwestern barbeque and savory garlic mushroom. Best of all… these are ready in five minutes! Ancient grains, such as sorghum and barley are also starting to make a comeback in cooking.
5. The New Noodles: With people looking to cut back on refined sugar wherever possible, new types of pasta are becoming available. Creating your own cauliflower rice and spiralizing vegetable noodles has grown in popularity among food bloggers. Several FNCE exhibitors showcased noodles, such as chickpea penne, green lentil lasagna noodles, edamame and mung bean fettuccine, and black bean spaghetti. These new noodles open up more options for gluten-free individuals and are high in protein and less in carbohydrates.
6. Veggies in all Varieties: With Americans still not getting enough vegetables on a daily basis, companies are finding more and more creative ways to get vegetable servings in. Beet chips, frozen vegetable and fruit blends for smoothies, and veggie fries made with carrots, broccoli, kale, chickpeas, and red pepper were just some of the many different products featured. Salad kits using a variety of vegetables, such as kale, Brussels sprouts and broccoli stalks were on display, as well as a new "superfood" called moringa. Moringa, a leafy green grown from a tree in Haiti, Latin America and Africa, is trying to compete with kale as the new superfood that provides all 9 essential amino acids.
7. Seeds: From pumpkin seeds to sunflower seeds to flax seeds, seeds were featured in multiple nut bars, as well as seed butters. This new push for using seeds may be surpassing nuts this year.