During my recent trip to Washington, D.C., for the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo™ (FNCE®), I had an opportunity to walk the Expo floor in search of new food trends. After three days zigzagging my way up and down every aisle, my feet were a bit worse for the wear, but my taste buds were pretty happy. I sampled delicious pastas made with lentil and chickpea flour, dairy-free yogurts made with almond milk, veggie-packed soups designed for sipping (cold) on the go, and Sweet PotaTOASTS, a gluten-free, fiber-filled meal hack for traditional toast and pizza. Instead of everything being “free from” (who can forget the fat-free food craze of the ’90s?), many of the foods I sampled were, “full of” fiber, protein, probiotics, and veggies.
Cereal With Benefits
It’s clear that consumers want a morning meal (and snack!) that’s less processed and higher in protein and fiber. They crave value added. When I stopped by the Manitoba Harvest booth, they told me that traditional cereal sales are down but that granola is up. Two new cereals that fit those trends were Hemp Yeah! Granola and Happy Inside.
Hemp Yeah! Granola: Manitoba Harvest’s Hemp Yeah! Granola is made with whole grain oats and hemp seeds. Each serving of the Blueberry variety I tried has 10 g protein and 3 g fiber. The new product line launches in 2019.
Happy Inside: At a Saturday night reception that Kellogg’s sponsored, I tried its new Happy Inside cereal. Designed with digestive wellness in mind, each bowlful contains probiotics, prebiotics, and fiber. Sarah Ludmer, RD, LD, director of nutrition at Kellogg’s, said, “The diversity of plants to support the gut microbiome, and the new emerging research to support [these claims], helped us launch Happy Inside, which features the power of 3 in 1—prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber. A bowl of cereal and milk provides a great breakfast or snack. In fact, recent research shows that nearly 34% of cereal is actually eaten outside of breakfast, primarily in a bowl and with milk.”
It looks like Greek yogurt has some new competition in the dairy aisle. I ran into Amanda Blechman, RD, CDN, senior manager of scientific affairs at Danone North America, who told me, “According to some of the latest research, the plant-based yogurt category is growing at 55%, which looks a lot like the early days of the boom in Greek yogurt. Plant-based yogurt, made from soy, almond, cashew, and/or coconut, provides new added choices and will continue to command more shelf space in the yogurt aisle. Many options are also fortified with vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin D, two nutrients of public health concern in the US.”
Califia Farms: This company’s probiotic, dairy-free, nutmilk drinkable yogurt comes in many varieties including Plain, Mango, Super Berry and strawberry. You’ll find 10 billion live probiotic cultures in each serving, including bifidobacteria, known for their efficacy in digestive and immune health.
Silk Almondmilk Yogurt Alternative: I loved this soy-free, dairy-free yogurt. I tried the Plain variety, and the flavor of almond really came through. Other varieties in Silk’s lineup are Vanilla, Peach, Strawberry, Dark Chocolate Coconut, and Mixed Berry Acai.
Special Shout Out — siggi’s: While not dairy-free, I need to mention siggi’s strained whole-milk yogurt with no added sugars. I tried its Banana & Cinnamon variety, and I didn’t miss the usual sweet, fruity flavor one tiny bit. Sweetened naturally with banana, I’m impressed with siggi’s commitment to tame the American sweet tooth.
A New Kind of Noodle
Grain-free pastas have been around for a few years, but for me, the thing that’s changed the most is the flavor and texture and the interesting blends of beans and legumes.
Tolerant: Billed as “a new generation of pasta that isn’t pasta at all,” Tolerant’s lineup of grain-free pastas is made with legumes, including green lentils, red lentils, and chickpeas.
Modern Table: The three Vegan Mac flavors I tasted—Southwest, White Cheddar Style, and Classic Cheddar Style—were to die for. They tasted like the mac & cheese of my youth, and you’d never know the pasta is made with lentils, rice, and peas. Each serving has 15 to 16 g protein.
Banza: Chickpeas are the star in Banza’s pasta line of fun-shaped noodles, including rigatoni, cavatappi, and wheels. Here’s what’s really impressive: Each 2-oz serving has 14 g protein and 8 g fiber.
Souping is the New Juicing
If you google “food trends” and 2018, don’t be surprised if “souping” pops up. On the Expo floor, two veggie-packed soups showcased that trend.
ZÜPA NOMA: Intended as a cold soup to slurp and sip when you’re on the go, the flavor combos of these plant-based superfood soups—with varieties such as Cucumber Avocado, Carrot Coconut Lime, and Beet Orange Basil—won my heart. Each bottle has 10 g protein and 5 to 6 g filling fiber. It’s a fun way to drink your veggies.
Well Yes!: From the folks who’ve been souping for what feels like forever, Campbell’s just rolled out Well Yes! grab-and-go snacking soups designed to move the needle on vegetable consumption. Their sipping soup varieties include Tomato & Sweet Basil, Harvest Carrot & Ginger, and Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato.
Janet Helm, MS, RDN, is chief food and nutrition strategist with Weber Shandwick and also happens to be one of my go-to resources for all things relating to food trends. She had this to say about the mega digestive health trend at FNCE®: “The interesting part of this trend is to see how it’s evolved. It used to be just about probiotics or live active cultures, and primarily in dairy foods. Now it’s about nondairy probiotics and combining the probiotics with prebiotics and fiber. Another aspect is low-FODMAP, which is about to go mainstream. Some people are calling it the new gluten-free.”
Lifeway Probugs Organic Kefir: Probugs is a kids’ drink that comes in several varieties, including Sublime Lime, Creamy Orange, Strawnana, and Goo-Berry. You can also get your Probugs frozen. On the Lifeway website, I spotted Probugs Frozen Kefir, pops packed with 10 live, active cultures.
Other probiotic and prebiotic foods on the Expo floor that I had an opportunity to sample were Truth Bar with prebiotics and probiotics and GoodBelly Probiotics Infused Probiotic Beverage (the Orange Pineapple Basil was refreshing).
There were more low-FODMAP foods in the Expo than I’d ever seen before, including Enjoy Life’s protein bites, cookies, and bars; Rachel Pauls’ Happy Bars and Happy Jerky; FODY’s Low FODMAP Gut Friendly ketchup, spices, marinara, and salad dressings; Lo-Fo Pantry’s low-FODMAP bread flour, baking mix, all-purpose flour, and bread flour with seeds; and Prego’s Italian Sauce Sensitive Recipe with no onions or garlic.
Snacks Beyond Bars
While I spotted plenty of healthful snack bars in the Expo hall, protein-powered snack solutions and some interesting snack hacks appeared to edge them out.
Stonyfield and Eggland’s Best: These companies are going out of the box with convenient snack packs. Be on the lookout for Stonyfield Organic Snack Pack Yogurt & Graham Crackers and Eggland’s Best Hard-Cooked Egg, Olives & Feta and Hard-Cooked Egg, Salame & Provolone.
Starkist: Tuna and salmon in pouches aren’t new, but now Starkist is putting poultry in pouches, too. Its new Chicken Creations line comes in varieties including Buffalo Style, Ginger Soy, Chicken Salad, and Zesty Lemon Pepper and provides 9 to 10 g protein per tear-and-go pouch.
Sweet PotaTOASTS: From the company that introduced CAULIPOWER cauliflower pizza crusts and baking mixes, these are the ultimate snack hack. No need to make your own sweet potato toasts. Instead, these roasted and frozen toasts can be heated up and served with an array of toppings. For a pizza snack hack, top with pasta sauce and shredded cheese or heat and serve with smashed avocado for a nourishing and trendy avocado toast.
— Liz Weiss, MS, RDN, is a mom of two with a specialty in family nutrition. She’s the voice behind the family food podcast Liz’s Healthy Table, and the blog and website by the same name. Liz has written several cookbooks including No Whine with Dinner: 150 Healthy Kid-Tested Recipes From the Meal Makeover Moms, The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers: Improving the Way Your Family Eats, One Meal at a Time!, and the playful new coloring book series Color, Cook, Eat!. Liz hosts the Meal Makeovers video series for CNN Accent Health, which runs in doctor’s offices nationwide.