While promoting nutrition and food messages via blogging and social media for the past several years, we’ve seen several food and diet trends come and go. From practical (two thumbs up to the kale craze) to the down right crazy (hello, Bulletproof coffee), we try to keep abreast of which popular foods actually may fit into a healthful lifestyle and which trends we hope don’t stick around.
Here are five current culinary trends you should know about so you can share them with clients—and to include in your own kitchen:
1. Cloud Bread: Cloud bread is like a protein-rich, puffy pita pocket made of eggs, cream of tartar, and cream cheese or cottage cheese. The recipe—known as “oopsie bread” a decade ago—has once again gained popularity thanks to its short ingredient list and appeal to high-protein, low-carb, gluten-free, and ketogenic diets. The meringuelike discs rise as a result of cream of tartar beaten into egg whites, which strengthens air bubbles and helps the whites hold shape and structure. It can be flavored with all types of herbs, spices, and seeds.
Our take: While cloud bread doesn’t exactly resemble or taste like traditional wheat bread, it can be a nutrient-rich snack since it provides high-quality protein, vitamin D, and choline. Serena liked the cottage cheese version instead of cream cheese and seasoned with cinnamon. Any trend that motivates people to get into the kitchen to cook is a good thing in our books.
2. Golden Milk: Also known as turmeric milk, this ancient medicinal hot beverage is becoming more mainstream due to an increased popularity of Indian flavors and antioxidant-rich spices. Turmeric is known for its vibrant golden orange color, earthy flavor, and nutrient profile. Initial studies have suggested that curcumin—turmeric’s active antioxidant compound—acts as an anti-inflammatory, which may help reduce arthritis pain, ease stomach discomfort, or possibly lower risk for atherosclerosis. Typically, you can make golden milk by steeping turmeric, other spices (like cinnamon and ginger) in cow’s milk, almond milk, or coconut milk. Sometimes a sweetener, like honey, also is added.
Our take: It’s not a bad idea to add some extra antioxidant power to your diet by way of turmeric milk, as it also provides additional protein, calcium, and vitamin D when using dairy. Try this Golden Milk recipe via Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD.
3. Aquafaba: The liquid that’s left after draining a can of chickpeas or other beans recently has been termed aquafaba, which is loosely translated from Latin as water and beans. This vegan egg replacer apparently was discovered in 2014 by Frenchman Joël Roessel and in 2015 by American software engineer Goose Wohlt.
Food bloggers and home cooks are using it as a vegan substitute for eggs in quick breads, muffins, and other baked goods. And when the “bean juice” is whipped using an electric beater, it produces a frothy and surprisingly sturdy whip, which can be swapped in for beaten egg whites (bonus: it’s also safe to eat uncooked.) Using aquafaba is also on trend because it decreases food waste by saving a nutritious liquid that’s usually tossed down the drain. Those nutrients include some protein and trace minerals but also sodium.
Our take: The first time Serena drained aquafaba from canned black beans and whipped it up with a pinch of cream of tartar, she was amazed by the frothy results. She mixed equal weights of aquafaba and melted dark chocolate to make dark chocolate mousse (taste-tested and approved by her four kids.) For a meringuelike dessert, try this Aquafaba Very Berry Pavlova recipe via Gretchen Brown, RD.
4. Matcha: This greyish-green powder is pulverized green tea leaves. And because the actual tea leaves are consumed, a cup of matcha tea contains more polyphenols and the active amino acid L-theanine than a regular cup of green tea since the tea bag is steeped and removed.
When matcha is consumed, tea drinkers say they feel more alert and relaxed at the same time; some researchers have found that L-theanine may be partially responsible for this effect. Caffeine content of matcha usually is around 35 to 60 mg per teaspoon; less than coffee, which has about 90 to 140 mg per typical 8- to 16-oz cup.
Our take: Matcha also may contain lead, so limit consumption to one cup per day. Good-quality matcha is worth searching for; buy from a reputable company, and avoid drink mixes with added sugar. Serena enjoys this Perfect Peach Matcha Milkshake as an afternoon pick-me-up since it contains less caffeine than a coffee version.
5. Cricket Foods: Protein-rich foods continue to be in the spotlight, and one of the more offbeat trends in this area (for Westerners at least) is edible insects, especially crickets. For centuries, crickets have been an important source of nutrition in African, Asian, and Latin American cultures. Complete sources of protein, crickets provide all nine essential amino acids along with several nutrients including calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B12. It’s important to note that people with shellfish allergies also may be allergic to crickets since they’re also arthropods.
Sold mainly online, there’s a growing market of edible cricket products including flours, protein powder, baking mixes, snack chips, cookies, and protein bars, which are often promoted as high-protein and gluten-free options.
So what do crickets taste like? Many describe whole crickets as having a nutty, popcornlike flavor. As for cricket flour, the Chirps chips Deanna tried tasted more like corn and pea flour also found in the product vs anything unpleasant or unusual.
Our take: Edible crickets have the potential to become a more mainstream and environmentally friendly protein source, as they use little water and emit negligible greenhouse gasses compared with raising animal protein. But keep in mind that the cricket snacking products are a more “watered down” version of the ground flours and meals when it comes to their nutrient profiles.
** Have your patients asked you about any of these trends? Are you currently using any of these foods in your kitchen? What other trendy ingredients are you hearing about these days?
— Serena Ball, MS, RD, is a food writer and co-owner of Teaspoon Communications, a food-focused nutrition communications group of culinary-minded registered dietitian nutritionists. She blogs about delicious recipes and timesaving kitchen hacks at TeaspoonOfSpice.com.
— Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD, is co-owner of Teaspoon Communications, a food-focused nutrition communications group of culinary-minded registered dietitian nutritionists. She also blogs at Teaspoon of Spice, with her business partner, Serena Ball, sharing healthy recipes, delicious photography, kitchen hacks and even mishaps in the kitchen.