All Posts In Trends

Is Sweet Potato Toast the New Avocado Toast?

by in Food News, Have You Tried, Trends, February 5, 2017

Thanks to the social mediasphere, sweet potato toast has emerged as one of the biggest food fads of the last several months. The concept of simply toasting a sliced sweet potato intrigued me, so I had to check out what the frenzy is all about. While I wouldn’t say sweet potato toast resembles toasted bread, it is an easy and delicious way to add more vegetables to your day, especially if you love sweet potatoes like I do. Plus, that vibrant color is sure to bring joy to mealtime. Here is what you need to know about sweet potato toast.

Nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes

Beta-carotene, the nutrient that the body converts into vitamin A, reigns as the nutritional crown jewel of sweet potatoes, providing more than 230% of the daily value in just one small tater. For the sake of this post, I’m using one small, 60-gram sweet potato, which is closest to the weight of a slice of bread that weighs in at 43 grams.

What’s better for you: sweet potato toast or whole-wheat toast?

Sweet potatoes count as a vegetable, and whole-wheat toast provides you with a serving of whole grains. Therefore, we’re not comparing apples to apples. Your body benefits from both whole grains and vegetables, since they provide different ranges of nutrients. Read more

What You Should Know About Hydroponic Vegetables

by in Food News, Trends, January 27, 2017

Soil seems so essential to our concept of vegetables that those grown hydroponically – that is, in water rather than soil – may seem confusing. Even futuristic. But hydroponic crop farming is in fact here now. In the last five years, the hydroponic crop farming industry has shown an annual growth of 4.5 percent, according to the U.S. market research firm IBISWorld, and new companies are projected to continue to expand over the next five years.

Hydroponic farms produce high yields in a small area. Often grown indoors – in warehouses or greenhouses and in artificial light instead of sunlight – they are protected from extreme weather. Hydroponically grown vegetables, which are fed by nutrient solutions in the water, may be just as nutritious as field-grown vegetables and, depending on the solutions they’re fertilized with, can help meet the rising demand for organic produce.

Curious to learn more about hydroponic vegetables, we asked Rebecca Elbaum, MPH, RD, CDN, a clinical dietician in New York City who has worked with hydroponic farms, particularly small, rooftop gardens, to fill us in on some of the basics:

 

What, exactly, are hydroponic vegetables?

Hydroponic literally means “water-grow or survive,” so basically hydroponic vegetables are those that survive, and likely thrive, in water. Hydroponic vegetables are grown in a closed system in which their roots are submerged in water. This water is fortified or “spiked” with nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. In conventional farming, natural soil contains vitamins, minerals and trace elements that water does not, so hydroponic farmers need to add those nutrients into the water. Conventional farming also uses the natural light of the sun, which helps vegetables develop their nutrients.  Hydroponic farming mimics sunlight through greenhouses.  Read more

Vermouth Is New Again

by in Food News, Product Reviews, Trends, January 22, 2017

If you ever snuck a swig from that dusty bottle of vermouth in your grandfather’s liquor cabinet, you may have decided vermouth is not for you. But it’s time to give vermouth another taste. Not only is the herbaceous cocktail ingredient totally on-trend, but the low alcohol-by-volume (ABV) of vermouth makes it a low-calorie sipper to help keep your healthy new resolutions.

A fortified wine (yes, it’s a wine,) vermouth begins as red or white wine, that is then fortified with brandy. Up to 40 botanicals are also added to make each brand a unique cocktail-in-a-bottle. Botanical aromatics range from cinnamon, cardamom and anise to grapefruit floral and rhubarb.

‘Vermouth’ comes from the German word Wermut, meaning wormwood, and was originally created for its medicinal properties. Bitter, aromatic wormwood remains a signature ingredient in most vermouths, however subtle. Sipping a vermouth aperitif or digestive is popular way to enjoy it. Of course, it’s also essential in the Negroni and the gin martini – shaken, not stirred!

There are three basic categories of vermouth:

Dry
Along with the sub-category of extra-dry, dry vermouths begin as white wine and are not sweet. They often contain flavors of fresh green herbs, fennel, nutmeg, bitter orange, lemon, grapefruit and light floral. A popular brand is Noilly Prat Original Dry.

Sweet Blanc
These vermouths also originate as white wines and have a touch more sweetness than dry, however, they are not sweet sippers. Blancs are aromatized with tart apple, citrus, stone fruit blossom, elderflower, thyme and toasted butter. Look for Dolin Blanc.

Sweet Rosso/Red
With beginnings as red wine, these sweeter bottles contain rich aromas of cola, cinnamon, prune, spice, licorice and vanilla toffee. Martini & Rossi’s Rosso is popular.

Read more

What to Know About Functional Beverages

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, Trends, January 18, 2017

Ever since the juice bar craze, we’ve come to expect more from what we drink. Here’s a closer look at three popular functional beverage options, and the evidence behind their health claims.

 

Drinking Vinegar

While adding apple cider vinegar to your diet won’t cure cancer or the flu, it may be a secret weapon in keeping blood sugar levels under control. Unlike the more outrageous claims made by proponents of apple cider vinegar, there is enough evidence that consuming it may decrease the risk of diabetes and insulin resistance. The high acetic acid content in vinegar inhibits the enzymes that help you digest carbohydrates, thereby producing a smaller blood sugar response after eating. As an added benefit, this undigested starch becomes food for the good bacteria in your gut, acting as a prebiotic that supports overall digestion and a healthier immune system. While there seems to be a big push in using apple cider vinegar, any vinegar will get the job done. Acetic acid, the carbohydrate-inhibiting ingredient, is present in all vinegars, so feel free to use whatever one you enjoy best. Additionally, you don’t have to drink the vinegar to get the benefits — eating your favorite salad with a vinegar-based dressing will work just as well. Read more

Trend Alert: Pea Protein

by in Food and Nutrition Experts, Food News, Trends, January 2, 2017

Proteins derived from plants are getting more recognition as many folks strive to have a more plant-based diet. At the forefront of this trend is protein from legumes like peas. Find out if the newfound popularity is worth the hype.

 

Peas As a Protein Source

One cup of raw green peas contains 8 grams of protein. Yellow or green split peas are also often used for pea-based products; this dried version contains 48 grams in the same 1 cup portion. Depending on the product, you might find either of these options added so check ingredient lists for clarification.

The type of protein found in peas is different than animal derived sources. As with most plant-based foods, some amino acids are missing, but peas do contain three important muscle building “branched chain” amino acids, leulcine, isoleucine and valine.

Pea protein powder has become a popular additive in snack foods and bars. Extracting the protein from food to powder does require some processing so the nutrient profile will differ slightly from the whole food version. Pea protein does have an advantage compared to some other popular protein supplements (like whey or casein) as it contains more hunger fighting fiber.

Read more

Trend Alert: Foods with Moringa

by in Food News, Trends, December 4, 2016

Commonly seen as a supplement, moringa (botanical name: moringa oleifera) is now being added to foods. Find out where you can find these foods, and whether they’re worth the money.

About Moringa

Moringa is a plant native to the sub-Himalayan areas of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The plant can withstand both terrible drought and also mild frost, which means it can grow in a wide variety of areas throughout the world. You could consider it a “super plant” because it can withstand such harsh weather conditions.

The Nutrition

The entire plant, including the leaves, bark, flowers, fruit, seeds and root, contains a plethora of nutrients, which is why moringa has become such a popular supplement.  The leaves, which can be eaten fresh or dried, contain minerals like calcium, zinc, potassium, magnesium, iron and copper. The plant also contains vitamin A, numerous B vitamins, and vitamins C, D and E, along with protein and healthy fat. The plant also provides numerous plant chemicals that help fight and prevent disease, such as flavonoids and saponins.

Although advocates claim that moringa can help conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, a 2012 review paper published in Frontiers in Pharmacology determined that there isn’t enough scientific research and data to show how much moringa is safe to take and what the side effects of consuming it are. Read more

8 Healthy Food Trends to Look For in 2017

by in Food News, Trends, November 13, 2016

This year’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo took place in Boston, where I got a firsthand view of the latest foods that you’ll be seeing at your local market. Here’s the inside scoop on eight of these trends.

Pea Protein
The hottest trend in protein comes from pea powder. Bob’s Red Mill sells Pea Protein Powder to add to smoothies, shakes and baked goods. It contains 21 grams of protein per serving and is gluten-free. Earth Balance has also released a Protein Peanut Blend, which is a combo of peanuts and pea protein. It provides 180 calories and 9 grams of protein per 2 tablespoon serving.

Healthier Vending Machines
PepsiCo showcased its new innovative vending machine at the conference. Hello Goodness (pictured above) is a temperature-controlled vending machine that offers healthier on-the-go snack foods like Smartfood Delight Popcorn, Sabra Ready-to-Eat Hummus Cups and Quaker Real Medley Bars. On the machine is a touchscreen that allows customers to find product nutrition info, food and beverage pairing suggestions, and an Apple Pay option. Several thousand of these machines have been placed in select health care, recreational, transportation, governmental, workplace and educational facilities.

FODMAP Foods
The FODMAP diet trend, though created for those with irritable bowel syndrome, has grown in mainstream popularity. Fody is a company that has created FODMAP-approved products, including marinara sauce, salsa and BBQ sauce. Read more

The New World of Yogurt

by in Food News, Trends, October 18, 2016

You’ve probably noticed that the dairy section at your local grocery store is brimming with more choices than ever before, especially when it comes to the yogurt aisle. There have never been so many ways to enjoy this cultured dairy product, including drinks that allow you to sip them when you’re on the go and savory formulas showcasing in-season produce. Here’s a tour of the new and delicious world of yogurt.

Savory
Similar to dips, there’s a new craze surrounding cups of savory yogurts that can be eaten as a snack. Instead of fruit and sweeteners, these yogurts are adorned with an array of veggies, herbs and spices. Blue Hill Yogurt (pictured above) in New York has pioneered this savory sensation, offering flavors like Tomato, Beet, Butternut Squash and Parsnip.

Drinkables
More and more brands are offering bottles of less spoonable yogurt for on-the-go enjoyment. New York state-based Ronnybrook makes a drinkable yogurt without the use of stabilizers or emulsifiers and offers a variety of flavors, including Blackberry, Mango and Low-Fat Honey Vanilla.

Icelandic
Skyr is an incredibly thick and creamy cultured dairy product made in traditional Icelandic fashion. Like the more familiar Greek yogurt, Skyr is strained, yielding a lower water content, but it tastes less tangy than its counterpart from Greece. One of the most-popular brands on the scene is Siggi’s, which is high in protein and is made with less added sugar than many other sweetened yogurts. Read more

Have You Tried: Coffee Flour?

by in Food News, Trends, September 21, 2016

The hottest new trend in coffee couldn’t be farther from a cup of joe. It’s overflowing with nutrients, is gluten-free and helps to reduce food waste. Should you get your hands on some coffee flour?

What Is Coffee Flour?
Coffee flour is derived from the byproducts of coffee production. Coffee beans are encased within a small fruit. Once the beans are removed, the remaining fruit is typically discarded as waste. But now, this fruit pulp is getting salvaged, dried and ground into flour. Recommended uses include baking as well as incorporation into soups, sauces and beverages.

Coffee flour does not possess a strong coffee flavor but does have similarly deep and earthy characteristics. There is a floral undertone that resembles tea more than coffee. It also has a little bit of caffeine; according to Marx Pantry, each tablespoon of coffee flour contains roughly the same amount of caffeine as a third a cup of black coffee (they sell coffee flour for $9/pound).

Healthy Attributes
A small amount of coffee flour contains a huge amount of nutrients. One tablespoon holds almost 10 percent of the daily recommended amount of potassium and nearly 13 percent of daily iron. This plant-based flour is also gluten-free and an excellent source of fiber. Similar to coffee, coffee flour is also rich in cell-protecting antioxidants. Read more

Everything’s Coming Up Algae

by in Food News, Trends, September 20, 2016

Certain kinds of algae are already commonplace in our diets. For example, your sushi rolls and musubi are wrapped in seaweed (a marine algae), the food additive carrageenan is derived from seaweed, and algae-derived Omega-3s are used in supplements for those who shun fish oil. But this humble sea plant suddenly seems poised for its superfood moment. “Algae is earth’s original superfood,” says Mark Brooks, senior vice president of food ingredients at TerraVia, makers of Thrive algae oil. “Before kale, chia, acai and quinoa, there was algae.”

There are plenty of good reasons to eat more algae, in terms of both nutrition and sustainability. On the sustainability front, algae, which can grow up to 30 times faster than corn, doesn’t require a lot of space to produce. “Algae doesn’t require fertile soil, fossil fuels, inorganic fertilizers or pesticides in order to grow,” says Mark R. Edwards, an agribusiness professor emeritus at Arizona State University. “Algae can deliver superior nutrition without pollution or waste.” Read more

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