A recent Fox News report cited 11 trends that are helping to take health food’s flavor profile “from cardboard to crazy good.”
A recent Fox News report cited these 11 trends that are helping to take health food’s flavor profile “from cardboard to crazy good”:
1. Ancient grains. Those “from the farthest-flung soils” are the ones flying off the shelves the fastest, Fox News reported. “They’re heartier and more versatile than rice, and we love their earthy, toothsome flavors,” it was noted. Bob’s Red Mill, an online grain retailer, reported that in the past three years, sales of ancient grains have soared, Fox News reported and millet, a gluten-free grain, has tripled in sales. Sales of the heirloom wheat kamut have grown more than 10-fold, it was noted.
2. Nut-and-seed butters. Peanut butter still qualifies as another “nearly ancient classic,” Fox News noted— but the peanut’s not the only nut worth crushing. Overall, the nut-and-seed-butter business has boomed 52 percent since 2011, it was reported. Other new-found favorites now crowding the shelves include:
– all-natural coconut butter—one in four new products in the food-and-drink world is coconut-based, Fox News reported, and coconut better is proving to be a popular addition to smoothies, or for melting and drizzling over fresh pineapple and other fruits);
– sea-salted pistachio butter, which can be melted and mixed into frozen yogurt to make great faux pistachio ice cream;
– pumpkin seed butter, a raw, stone-ground butter that is proving to be a great ingredient for next-level pesto or vinaigrette
– almond Brazil butter—“outside of the mixed-nut tin, the Brazil nut hasn’t had an outsized influence,” Fox News said. “But we’re loving its new all-spread-out look.”
3. Flavorful Yogurts. Americans are now spooning 113 percent more yogurt than they did in 2001, Fox News reported, and as part of that upsurge, “our tastes have evolved beyond syrupy fake fruit.” Yogurt “looks less like poorly disguised dessert every day,” it was noted, and some of the most popular current varieties all have 16 grams of sugar or less. They include flavor options such as vanilla cultured coconut milk, sweet potato savory yogurt, plain drinkable yogurt from grass-fed cows, strained pumpkin-and-spice yogurt, greek yogurt with chia and strawberry (“packs the omega-3 equivalent of a serving of salmon, plus 17 grams of protein”), and goat milk yogurt that “tastes like a smooth, mild, truly great goat cheese.”
4. Savory Energy Bars. In the energy bar world, sweet is “so last year,” Fox News reported—41 percent of consumers now want more savory bars that add herbs or other spices and flavors. One particularly bold variety is a roasted jalapeno bar that includes 10 grams of “almond-powered protein” and provides “a perfectly executed sweet-to-savory snack transformation.”
5. Low-Sodium Snacks. Whiles sales of salty snacks have shot up 28 percent since 2008, shoppers’ concerns about getting too much salt continue to grow, Fox News reported—and in fact, label readers check sodium more than any other nutrition fact. In response, these recently introduced snacks with less than 110 mg of sodium have proved to be popular: Boulder Canyon Ancient Grains Sea Salt Snack Chips; RW Garcia Mixt Bag Sweet & Spicy Salsa Tortilla Chips, and Late July Organic SubLime Multigrain Snack Chips (“tinged with lime and speckled with chia seeds, these organic chips add a kick of citrus,” Fox News reported).
6. Popcorn. The “light and minimalist” snack continues to “become a force in the eat-clean world,” Fox News reported. Popcorn sales have jumped 16 percent from 2008 to 2013, and more popcorn innovations happen in the U.S. than anywhere else, it was noted. Popular versions of note include SkinnyPop Original Popcorn, a brand with just three ingredients that grew 274 percent in sales last year alone; Angie’s Boomchickapop Sweet & Spicy Popcorn, a “garlicky flavor fiesta”; and Quinn Popcorn, Cheddar & Chipotle, which allows consumers to trace the ingredients online to the farms where they came from.
7. Wheatless Products. Since 2011, the market for everything wheatless has grown at a rate of 44 percent, reaching sales of $10.5 billion in 2013, Fox News reported. Those numbers stand to skyrocket even further as “whoa-this-actually-tastes-good” innovation continues to come to the gluten-free world. Products that bear out this trend include Banza Chickpea Pasta (“not the first bean-based pasta, but one of the best we’ve tried: al dente in just four minutes, with 13 grams of protein power”); and Cup4Cup Wholesome Gluten-Free Flour (“gluten-free flours usually require some measurement finagling, but you can evenly swap this one into any recipe calling for whole-wheat flour”).
8. Healthy Cookies. The cookie market mostly crumbled after the recession, Fox News reported, but sales of healthy cookies grew twice as fast as standard kinds. Nothin’ But Granola Cookies, gluten-free and full of chocolate, coconut, and espresso, with almonds as the first ingredient, was cited as a good example of the trend.
9. Maple Water. The trend to “naturally functional foods,” where whole foods are packaged in convenient, nothing-added forms, has led to tapping maple water, the springtime sap that comes straight from maple trees. It’s best to drink maple water really cold, it’s noted, to taste the subtle maple flavor even more.
10. Healthy Frozen Ethnic Foods. The ethnic-food sector is expected to grow more than 20 percent over the next 3 years, Fox News reported, and shoppers are asking for more healthy, lower-sodium options in the freezer aisle. The Fox News report cited these examples: Evol Foods Lean & Fit Chicken Tandoori, (“asatisfying 300-calorie take on Indian-style tandoori, with chicken marinated in Greek yogurt and roasted to spicy red perfection”); Tres Latin Foods Black Bean & Sweet Corn Pupusas (“Salvadoran stuffed corn tortillas that are gluten-free and made from organic corn masa”); Saffron Road Chicken Tikka Masala Chapatti Wrap (a “fragrant meal of cream-simmered chicken and basmati rice [that you can hold] in your hand [and] is a protein lover’s lunchtime dream”).
11. Peppers. Peppers topped McCormick’s Flavor Forecast report, the spice company’s annual list of predictions, proving that products from crackers to condiments really are getting much spicier, Fox News reported. Even the trendy chipotle is mild by this year’s standards: Tongue-burning peppers like the aji amarillo and habanero are taking its place in snacks both sweet and savory. Examples of new “feverish flavors” that are “setting our hearts and taste buds aflame” include Mary’s Gone Crackers Hot ‘n Spicy Jalapeno Crackers (“the more you crunch, the spicier they get—and spreading with sweet apricot jam is not a sign of weakness”); Hotmaple Smokey Habanero Hot Sauce (“sweet heat is all the rage, perfect for those who want a slap of habanero without the teary-eyed after-burn”); and Ortaggi Red Pepper + Peach Frozen Organic Goodness. (“It’s mild in heat, but this creamy gelatoesque treat is high in deliciousness”).