Well, 2020 has certainly been an interesting year, huh? It’s been a revolutionary one when it comes to food and nutrition too. In fact, according to Forbes, over half of Americans care more about the healthfulness of their food and beverage choices this year than in past years. With health top of mind, here's what food trends you’re likely to see in the spotlight in 2021.
(This post is written by Grateful Grazer contributor, Mackenzie Burgess, RDN.)
Now more than ever, people are interested in strengthening their immune system through diet.
The main nutrients to pay attention to when it comes to supporting our immune system are Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and zinc. From wellness shots to immunity drink packets– it’s likely we will continue to see these types of vitamins and minerals added into products.
If you’re eating a balanced diet rich in colorful plant foods, you could already be getting all these different nutrients in adequate amounts. Here are some examples of food sources high in these immune-supporting nutrients.
- Carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash are all rich in beta carotene which gets converted to vitamin A in the body.
- Citrus, red peppers, broccoli, kiwi are packed with vitamin C.
- Vitamin D is primarily found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. Mushrooms are the only type of plant food that contains Vitamin D naturally. Vitamin D may become more of a concern in the colder months with less exposure to the sun. If you think you might not be getting enough, ask your doctor or a dietitian about supplementation.
- Zinc is found in higher amounts in seafood and meat but it can also be found in plant-based sources like seeds, grains, and nutritional yeast.
We’ve moved away from having just three main meals a day. With about 40% of Americans working from home, people have adopted snacks as a part of their daily routine.
Snacks can be a helpful way to stay satisfied between meals and vary our nutrition throughout the day. The snack market is booming with new bars, bites, and crisps.
You can also create your own snacks. Try something as simple as a piece of fruit or as fancy as a homemade hummus and veggie platter. Here are some other easy snack recipes to try.
- Make your own customizable energy bites with add-ins of your choice.
- Skip the store-bought crackers and make your own protein-packed chia seed crackers.
- Mix mashed sweet potatoes and warming spices into wholesome homemade bars.
Plant-Based Foods Past Just Burgers
2020 was the year of the plant-based patty, but now we are moving beyond just burgers. Food companies are creating innovative products like sloppy joes, sausages, and nuggets.
However buyer beware–just because something is plant-based, doesn’t automatically make it healthy. Keep these tips in mind when making your purchase.
- Look for whole food ingredients you can pronounce–these will pack in the most beneficial nutrients.
- If you eat plant-based meats often, you may want to opt for the products that are made from the most simple ingredients and the least sodium and saturated fat.
- If you want to purchase fewer packaged foods, opt for plant-based protein sources like like tofu, edamame, beans, or lentils.
Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) are having their moment in the spotlight. You can find these legumes in everything from pasta to pizza to tortillas.
I love to add them into snacks and meals to pack in satisfying protein and fiber. Just ½ cup of cooked chickpeas provides 8 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. Try these chickpea-inspired recipes.
- Roast cheesy chickpeas in the oven for 30 minutes for a crunchy snack.
- Create an instant chickpea salad lunch by mashing together chickpeas, avocado, and your favorite add-ins.
- Add chickpeas into flavorful Moroccan-spiced veggie burgers.
Eating sustainably is important for a number of reasons. It helps reduce food waste, boosts nutrient-packed plants in our diet, and preserves our planet for future generations.
Companies are starting to focus on ways to decrease food waste by using up the odd parts of ingredients. New creative products are hitting the shelves such as dried fruit peels, upcycled baking flour, and granola bars made from leftover grains.
You can implement this same practice into your cooking by using up produce parts and maximizing leftovers.
- Add any odd bits of vegetables like broccoli stems or chard stems into an easy egg frittata.
- Don’t throw away your watermelon rind! Instead, pickle it for a zero-waste snack.
- Add leftover grains or lentils into sheet pan tofu bowls.
Jerky isn’t just for meat-lovers anymore. You can now find fruit jerkies, vegetable jerkies, and tofu jerkies. These get creative as spicy mushroom jerky, chili mango jerky, and ginger teriyaki banana jerky.
It can get pretty pricey though so you can always make your own at home. Whatever jerky you enjoy, it’s great for a number of reasons.
- A convenient snack for camping, hiking, or a busy day on-the-go.
- Packs in lots of lean protein, helping keep us fuller longer.
- Jerky is brimming with varying essential nutrients. Beef jerky packs in iron, zinc, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. Many fruit and vegetable jerkies contain fiber, vitamin C and potassium. Tofu jerky is rich in iron, calcium, and plant-based protein.
With more grocery shopping and cooking food at home, it can be a tricky time to navigate nutrition. If you are feeling overwhelmed, look to a registered dietitian for advice. Many dietitians even offer virtual nutrition counseling during this time.
What food trends are you excited to see in the New Year?