You probably already know how to eat healthy: plenty of vegetables, not too many processed foods, blah blah blah BORING. Why can't eating healthy be more fun? Surely there's a magic elixir, an innovative way to drink water, or a vital piece of a plant you had previously ignored, lying in wait to make you follow through on your resolution to eat healthier. Right?
This is the perpetual promise of superfoods, that vague group of foods that aren't just exceptionally good for you, but exceptionally popular. Each year seems to bring a new batch to your local health-food store and juice bar, and 2017 is no different; here are some of the latest superfood trends you'll be seeing much more of in the months ahead.
Bulletproof coffee -- that trend where people put butter in their coffee -- may be soooo 2016, but the ingredient that makes it powerful is definitely here to stay. MCT oil, named for the medium-chain triglycerides it contains, is supposed to help boost brain function, making it easier to focus during the long work day ahead.
It may also help burn more energy than other long-chain triglyceride fats, which means it could help you lose weight. Expect to see more of this potent stuff in places other than coffee -- think smoothies, salad dressings, and even desserts.
Next-generation meat alternatives
You'd think that vegans would try to avoid even the appearance of a butcher shop, but the beauty of food innovation in 2017 is that the two don't have to be mutually exclusive. Master chefs are coming up with insanely authentic-tasting creations from plants and other vegan-friendly ingredients that taste just like smoked meat, BBQ, and juicy hamburgers. Gone are the days of vague veggie patties thrown together with loose carrots, mushrooms, and soy.
Take the Impossible Burger, for example -- a genius combination of wheat, potatoes, and other vegan-friendly ingredients, made to taste, feel, and even bleed like a traditional hamburger. The Impossible Burger isn't the only new-generation meat alternative: Vegan butcher restaurants have also been popping up.
The Herbivorous Butcher opened in Minneapolis in 2016 thanks to a guy named Kale (naturally), and there's another Brooklyn eatery called Monks set to open in early 2017. As more people become aware of the dietary and environmental implications of eating meat, be sure to see much more of this trend in the coming year. This is not your mother's Tofurkey. That's probably gone bad by now.
If you remember from your elementary-school science class, chlorophyll (more like BORE-ophyll) is vital for photosynthesis, and the stuff that makes leaves and plants green. While leafy greens like spinach, kale, wheatgrass, and their ilk have their own set of health benefits unrelated to chlorophyll, the plant energy driver has been found to decrease food intake in overweight women, can help with weight loss, and can even act as an internal deodorizer. Yum!
Juice bars have been isolating the stuff and bottling it to sell in droves in the form of chlorophyll water. You can also find it in capsules, or as a liquid by itself to add to anything your heart desires. Expect to see more of it in the year ahead.
Purple isn't just for cabbage anymore, and the classic edict to "eat your greens" doesn't apply to an increasingly popular crop of purple veggies, including purple kale, carrots, asparagus, and cauliflower.
Not only do purple veggies deviate from their traditional (and boring) counterparts in color; they also contain anthocyanins, the antioxidants found in blueberries which gives them their rich color. Anthocyanins aren't just good for your health, they're great for Instagram, which is probably why you'll see them at farmers markets more frequently in 2017.
Flour alternatives have been commonplace for a few years now, especially since gluten still strikes terror into the hearts of the masses. But almond and coconut flour are about to be replaced with other gluten-free alternative flours, such as tigernut flour.
Made from a small tuber with a badass name, this flour is rich in fiber, calcium, and iron. It's also relatively neutral, slightly nutty, in flavor, which makes it preferable to wheat alternatives like chickpea flour. Since it grows like a weed, it also has advantages over almond flour, which requires a huge amount of water and resources to grow, as reflected in the price. Expect to see it more plentiful on your grocery store shelves, and incorporated into dishes that are usually made with regular flour.
Sacha inchi nuts
Another nut with a badass name! Maybe this will be the defining characteristic of 2017: nuts with cool names.
If you're sick of the same old almonds and cashews, sacha inchi, or Inca peanuts, are some of the best nuts available; Keri Glassman, registered dietitian and celebrity nutritionist, says they just might be the next big superfood trend. They're packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and with 9g of protein per ounce, you'll start to see the seeds and powder show up more as a form of plant-based protein. You can get them at Trader Joe's, and if that's not a sign sacha inchi's on the cusp of going mainstream, nothing is.
There's a reason plant breeders invented seedless watermelons, and it wasn't to ruin the lives of competitive watermelon seed spitters. But as it turns out, these little black seeds are packed with protein.
So much so, in fact, that a company decided to use them as the primary source of protein in its new line of bars. Go Raw's GROW bars have around 15g of protein per serving (nothing to scoff at!), all from the discarded part of a fruit. You'll find familiar flavors so that you don't feel like you're eating pressed watermelon seeds -- Dark Chocolate, Mint Chocolate, Zesty Lemon, and Cinnamon Spice are your options. Don't be surprised if other companies and juice bars follow this lead and start using watermelon seeds as a hot new ingredient.
Classic fermented staples like kombucha, kimchee, and sauerkraut are about to be joined by a new crop of fermented veggies. You can ferment pretty much anything, so keep an eye out for tangy, tart versions of cauliflower, beets, and carrots. The Farmhouse Culture brand sells a line of fermented vegetables (curry cauliflower and ginger beets sound particularly delicious) so you can get your fix without getting sick of plain old cabbage. With such a focus on gut bacteria, don't be surprised if more variations of fermented produce start popping up.
Savory granola bars
Fruit- and nut-flavored granola bars have been around since the first health-food store opened and have frankly become rather boring. We get it -- cranberries and almonds are delicious together, especially when drizzled with honey.
Enter spicy and savory flavors, like jalapeño, mustard, and roasted peppers. Expect to see more varieties available in the months ahead, with bar giant (it's a thing, seriously) Kashi getting ahead of the game by offering its own line of savory bars. Some of the bold favors included are Basil, White Bean & Olive Oil and Quinoa, Corn & Roasted Pepper.
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