What New Food is in Your Food?

By Lisa Andrews Med RD LD


Food trends come and go. One year, kale is the latest food in the culinary spotlight, being added to smoothies, salads and sold as chips. The next, avocados are America’s sweetheart. While both of these super foods are still in style and highly sought after, a few other ingredients and trends are making their way to your local grocery. Here’s a review of the top 5 latest food trends to look out for.

1. Pea protein- Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about their health and the health of the environment, which is a good thing. As we move away from animal-based products, plant-based proteins remain popular. Pea protein, made from yellow peas, may be found in anything from supplemental protein powders and drinks to snack bars. Protein from peas is easily digested and provides 9 essential amino acids, but the content of methionine + cysteine is too low to be considered a “complete protein”. This is a great protein to consider for those on vegan diets or have issues tolerating whey or soy protein. 1

2. Non-dairy, “milk”- while milk may be a controversial term, the FDA determined in 2019 that non-dairy “milks” may be called milk according to the first amendment. For a long time, soymilk held the spotlight in the non-dairy category, but then came rice and almond milk. Now, you can find coconut milk, pea protein and more recently oat milk. Each milk varies nutritionally. While almond and rice milk are low in protein and calories, they are fortified to provide the same (or sometimes more) calcium and vitamin D. Coconut milk tends to be higher fat and calorie content while oat milk has the benefit of soluble fiber. Pea protein-based milks, such as Ripple, are another alternative for consumers that is vegan and higher in protein than nut-based milk. 2

3. Burgers + veggies - we wrote about plant-based burgers last year including the Beyond Beef Burger and the Impossible Burger and they’re not going away any time soon. Beyond Beef is pea-protein patty while Impossible is derived from soy and potato. Another vegan option is the pea-protein based Awesome burger by Sweet Earth. This one is a little higher in protein than Beyond Beef and the Impossible Burger. In addition to all the plant-based burgers, consumers will be seeking the latest burger blends such as beef and mushroom from Applegate meats. It’s an effort to “keep the beef” with a little less guilt.

4. Savory bean-based snacks- from Sriracha seasoned chickpeas to flavored fava beans, beans are taking the snack aisles by storm. What a brilliant concept! When beans are roasted or toasted, they develop an irresistible crunchy texture. Flavor them with savory spices such as BBQ, sea salt or wasabi, and people will forget their kettle chips and Cheetos. The benefits of beans include low fat content, soluble fiber and plant-based protein. The companies have clever names to boot including Fava licious, Peatos (to rival Cheetos), Bada Bean, Bada Boom and the Good Bean. Don’t forget to include mung beans in this list. These tiny beans are also making their debut in the snack category. Crunchsters are one brand with multiple flavors such as BBQ and balsamic vinegar. 3

5. Healthy and not so healthy desserts. Carob, often dubbed a vegan copycat of chocolate that was popular in the 80’s, is making a comeback. As consumers seek out lower fat, lower sugar options for snacks, carob is sneaking back into the market. The Mediterranean pod with the same name is roasted, then ground into a powder and frequently used as a sweetener. Food trend experts believe carob will be added to other baked goods with chocolate or used in shakes, coffee drinks or other desserts. Other healthier dessert options include non-dairy “ice cream” made with bananas. Higher protein options such as Halo Top are remaining popular. A not-so healthy trend is alcohol infused ice cream with flavors such as bourbon vanilla and coffee bourbon. Be sure to hide these cartons from the kids. 4