Food Trends to Watch in 2017

By Katherine Brooking, MS, RD

The new year is just around the corner, so it’s time to usher in the latest food trends that will soon hit restaurants and grocery store shelves. With more of us paying attention to the environment and our health, food manufacturers are responding by offering more innovative, plant-forward foods that are better for people and the planet. Get ready for seaweed, algae, fungi and other plant-based edibles that will delight your taste buds in 2017.

Here’s a sneak peek at the healthy trendsetters:

Seaweed

Tired of kale? Seaweed is here to help … and dazzle your palate with rich flavors and nutrients. Seaweed is low in calories and fat and provides several essential nutrients including vitamins A and C, B vitamins, fiber, iron, iodine, zinc and magnesium. A fixture in Asian cuisine for centuries, seaweed has been growing in popularity in the U.S. and is now poised to be the next trendy superfood. In fact, some estimates project that seaweed will surpass kale-based snacks in 2017.

Wondering how to infuse seaweed into your diet? This new year, ditch the greasy potato chips and opt instead for a tasty seaweed snack. Annie Chun’s Organic Roasted Nori Snacks have 25 to 30 calories per serving compared to 150 to 160 calories in most fried chips. As a bonus, preliminary research suggests compounds in seaweed may even quell hunger.

Blended Burgers

A good burger is always on trend, but with more emphasis on healthier, sustainable eating, top chefs are reinventing the burger to be more eco-friendly … and delicious!

The James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project calls for chefs across the country to blend at least 25% fresh chopped mushrooms into a burger patty. Blended burgers combine finely chopped mushrooms with meat, creating a burger that’s tastier, healthier, and more sustainable than all-meat burgers. So far, the blended burger has been adopted by some of nation’s most creative and adventurous chefs and the food service industry, according to Kristopher Moon, vice president of the James Beard Foundation. In addition to restaurants, many leading universities and public schools offer blended burgers on their menus too.

Algae

To create a healthier and greener food system, innovative companies have developed plant-based protein and fats to replace resource-intensive dairy and meat ingredients. Nutrient-rich algae, made from a resource-efficient fermentation process, is the hot new plant-based ingredient that is being used to replace animal-based ingredients. For instance, TerraVia’s lipid-rich whole algae, which is high in beneficial monounsaturated fat and low in saturated fat, can replace eggs, cream, and butter in baked goods, sauces, dressings, and ice cream without affecting the taste or texture. Algae-based foods are now in every aisle of the supermarket — from baked goods and snacks to salad dressings and smoothies.

Pasta

After years of slipping sales during the height of the low-carb craze, pasta is back on the plate in 2017 – and it’s better than ever. Based on Google data search trends, more consumers are buying, preparing, or ordering pasta in all its forms, including rigatoni, tortellini, penne, fusilli, and linguine. Pasta can be a healthy and earth-friendly choice because it’s a key component of the Mediterranean diet, which is considered the gold standard for healthy eating, and it has a small environmental footprint. Since pasta is made from semolina, a protein-packed wheat variety, a 200-calorie cup of cooked pasta has 6 grams of protein and a low glycemic index to help keep you fuller, longer.