The future of food looks good.
At least if the foods on display at the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2016 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) foreshadowed what up-and-coming foods we might see in grocery stores soon.
Digestive health was arguably the most talked about theme at the annual conference, featuring a plethora of fermented and probiotic-studded products and education sessions about microbiomes and influencing the gut-brain highway. If that doesn’t speak to how big of a trend digestive health was, look no further than the “Healthy Gut Pavilion”, which consumed the exhibit floor.
And boy, were there new foods galore. Natural and organic selections highlighting sustainability, protein (in the form of bars, shakes – and even water), sugar substitutes, meal replacement snacks, and the list goes on.
Which foods, or food trends stole the show? Here are four of the more intriguing food trends on display from FNCE:
Is low-FODMAP the new gluten-free?
A handful of low-FODMAP – which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols – like salsa, pasta sauce, and protein bars & drinks were acknowledged. These short-chain carbs are difficult for the body to absorb, so the lower the content, similar to what’s found in these foods, is ideal.
Similar to gluten-free foods being a necessity for celiac disease patients, low-FODMAP products are a part of the treatments for irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive conditions. And again like gluten-free goods, you can now find this low-FODMAP certified stamp on a growing number of food products.
Farmhouse Culture from California turned heads (and maybe a few stomachs) with their ‘Gut Shots’ or bottled probiotic drinks. These specialty drinks are made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables, including a peculiar palate of smoked jalapeno, garlic dill pickle, ginger beet and kimchi.
Certainly an acquired taste, probiotic drinks have been around for a little while now – but nothing that comes in these savoury flavours. This could be another way to enjoy these unique flavours in a drink medium. To each their own!
Good news, meat lovers: plant-forward meals were a hit at FNCE!
No really, it is good news. The Mushroom Council, for example, proved eating more plants doesn’t mean fully chopping out meat from your diet. Their ‘blended burger’ swapped in finely chopped mushrooms for some, but not all, the ground patty meat. It lowered the calories & fat of a traditional all-meat burger, while keeping that burger experience whole.
So even if you want to have a plant-heavy diet, you don’t need to exchange meat for substitutes like soy-based items. Many plant-forward products, while healthy and ‘green’, didn’t push the vegetarian motif like most vegetarian-inspired dishes you see today.
There are two typical approaches people have towards pasta: they either love it, or are always on the look out for a way to cut back on the refined grains.
The flexible food was at the forefront at FNCE, with several exhibitors promoting ‘new and improved’ noodles. Amongst the more interesting pasta adaptations featured were chickpea penne, green lentil lasagna noodles, edamame & mung bean fettuccine, and black bean spaghetti.
Perhaps the oddest noodle came from Miracle Noodles, who created shirataki pasta, comprised of a soluble fiber extracted from the root of a Japanese plant. The pasta is so loaded with water that it’s called the ‘zero-calorie noodle’. The only issue is, is that it might be too clean and pure – the noodle is void of any nutrients, too (besides the fiber, of course).