Last year everyone jumped on the matcha train and eagerly substituted cauliflower for rice and pizza dough, but you probably want to know what foods will be all the rage this year. As a clinical nutritionist, it's my job to keep tabs on which healthy foods I think we are going to be seeing and eating. Scroll through to check out the nutrient-rich foods making their debuts at restaurants and grocery stores near you.
1. Plant-Based Meats
Companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger are using 100 percent plant-based products to engineer patties, sausages and chicken strips that look and taste like meat. The meat-free burgers are so realistic that they actually bleed — from beet juice. For the vegan or vegetarian who gets grossed out by the site of blood and meat, this is not the trend for you. If, however, you love your burgers but want to reduce your carbon footprint or simply want to reduce your risk of lifestyle-related diseases like heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, then get these "burgers" and "brats" in your rotation ASAP.
According to the Beyond Meat website, its burger patties and sausages are made of pea protein and other plant-based ingredients, such as expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, yeast extract and cellulose (fiber) from bamboo. The Impossible Burger is made from wheat, potatoes, coconut oil and heme. Heme, more commonly found in animal muscle, is the secret ingredient that makes these burgers taste like meat. However, the heme used in this product is genetically engineered from yeast and, therefore, a vegan source.
2. Golden Milk
Also known as turmeric lattes, these delicious drinks are popping up on menus and Instagram accounts everywhere, and it's not hard to see why. Curcumin, the potent ingredient in turmeric that gives the spice its yellow-orange color, contains high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has been used in many studies to treat a wide array of diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and many forms of cancer.
To make a turmeric latte or Golden Milk latte at home, simply combine 8 ounces of heated almond or coconut milk with 1 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ginger and a pinch of black pepper. That last ingredient may seem strange, but black pepper helps boost your body's absorption of curcumin.
3. Tigernut Flour
Almond flour and coconut flour were so 2017. The new gluten-free, Paleo-friendly flour to have on your radar is tigernut flour. Tigernut is actually a small root vegetable and not a nut at all. It can be eaten raw, roasted, boiled or ground into a flour and used for baked goods like cookies and cakes and even added to veggie burgers. Both tigernuts and tigernut flour have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor profile.
Tigernuts are loaded with resistant starch fiber, which helps provide prebiotics (the precursors to probiotics) and helps slow down blood sugar spikes. They are also low in calories compared to other nuts and nut flours. A one-ounce serving of raw tigernuts (the equivalent of about 50 chickpeas) contains 120 calories and 10 grams of fiber (that's a lot of fiber). For a healthier digestive system and a dose of minerals like magnesium and iron, substitute this flour for regular flour at a one-to-one ratio in your next baked goods recipe.
4. Cannabis-Infused Foods
Move over, homemade pot brownies. A more sophisticated way of consuming cannabis is on the rise. The new wave of cannabis-infused foods (for those 21 years of age and older) clearly displays the dosage of active ingredients. From cookies and high-end chocolates to drinks and condiments, they are popping up in all different forms. The caveat: Availability depends on the state you live in.
Edibles contain two distinct cannabis compounds, THC and CBD, in different quantities depending on the product. THC is the compound in cannabis that gives you the euphoric high, whereas CBD does not have the psychoactive side effects. If you're looking for something to treat sore muscles, inflammation or chronic pain, look for an edible containing higher quantities of CBD.
Microdosing, the practice of ingesting small, regular quantities of cannabis, is all the rage because it lets you have control of just how much or how little THC or CBD you want to ingest, which in turn gives you more control over the effects you will feel. Look out for the following trusted cannabis-infused food brands that may be coming to a dispensary near you: Kiva Petra Mints, Dixie Elixers, Mr. Moxey's Mints and Simply Pure.
5. Pea Milk
Plant-based milks are on the rise, which is great news for cows and people who avoid dairy because of intolerances, allergies and health or ethical reasons. Almond, coconut, rice, soy, oat and hemp are now fairly common nondairy options, but there is a new milk alternative hitting the market: pea milk.
Pea milk is extremely beneficial for people who have nut allergies and want to avoid soy. It is also higher in protein than any of the other alternatives, containing eight grams per serving, compared to just one gram in almond milk. The only caveat, as with any milk alternative, is that pea milk typically contains vegetable oils that add to our overall consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, which are already very high in the average American diet. A balanced omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is important for overall health and the prevention of obesity, so don't overdo it on the pea milk.
6. Functional Mushrooms
Reishi, chaga, Cordyceps, shiitake and lion's mane are just some of the functional mushroom species you will be hearing about and seeing more of in your grocery stores. Mushrooms have been used by Asian cultures for centuries for their medicinal properties. And mushrooms are adaptogens, which help the body deal with a wide array of stressors.
Whether as a powder to mix into your own drinks or premixed into teas, hot cocoa and coffees, these are just some of the new shroom products you'll find at your Whole Foods Market or specialty health-food store. But why is there so much buzz about mushrooms in your morning cup of java? Because you are getting a healthy dose of antioxidants to fight free radical damage and prebiotics to help boost digestive system function — all before 10 a.m.
7. Fermented Foods
Cultures throughout the world have been incorporating fermented foods into their diets for centuries, and for good reason. Fermented foods have been through a process called lacto-fermentation in which natural bacteria feed off the sugar and starch in foods. This not only preserves the food but simultaneously creates beneficial bacteria strains, B vitamins and enzymes that help the digestive process. Our gut needs these healthy bacteria strains to keep bad bacteria in check, boost immune function and improve digestion.
More and more research is being done on the connection between our microbiome and our mental health. For example, some studies suggest that probiotics and a healthy gut may help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Stay tuned for more evidence-based research, but, in the meantime, add the following fermented foods to your diet: sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, kefir, kimchi, miso, tempeh and kombucha.
Read more: 7 Signs Your Gut Is Out of Whack
8. Moringa Powder
Powder made from leaves of the moringa tree is becoming the new "superfood" to hit shelves. Moringa oliefera comes from India, Indonesia, Thailand and Africa and has been used medicinally to treat diseases for years. Moringa is a powerhouse of nutrients. It contains iron (which is difficult to find in many plant-based foods), potassium and calcium and phosphorous (great for bone health). It's also a source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids that act as anti-inflammatory agents.
You can find it in mixed superfood powders, such as the Your Super Green Mix, or in a moringa-only powder. Use it to spike your smoothies and matcha lattes or to sprinkle on your oatmeal.
Read more: 10 Ultimate Smoothies For Any Time of Day
9. Bean Chips
If chips are on your shopping list, try swapping your next bag of corn tortilla chips or potato chips for bean chips — the latest in chip research and development. Typically mixed with rice flour, bean chips are higher in protein and fiber than your average corn or potato chip. For that reason, they will fill you up quicker and you'll end up eating less. Beanitos, an already popular brand, contains about five grams of protein per one-ounce serving (about nine chips), compared with the two grams found in potato and corn chips. Beans are also lower on the glycemic index than potatoes and corn and, therefore, take longer to break down into glucose, giving you a steadier wave of energy.
Read more: 9 Better-for-You Potato Chip Swaps
10. Coconut Jerky
Thanks to coconut jerky, vegetarians and vegans will no longer be left out of the jerky-eating fun. With flavors like chili lime or ginger teriyaki, Cocoburg is just one of the brands making savory coconut snacks that are both gluten-free, Paleo-friendly and 100-percent animal free. The jerky is made from the meat of young coconuts, which contains potassium and medium-chain fatty acids (the good kind of fat). It won't taste like meat, but it has the consistency of the jerky you're used to. Pack some in your gym bag or on your next road trip for sustainable energy.
Read more: 16 Snacks That Are OK to Eat at Night
What Do YOU Think?
Have you seen or tried these foods? Let us know which ones you've tried and what you think about them in the comments below!