The foods we eat can change dramatically over a relatively short span of time. For example, only a few short decades ago, a loaf of white Wonder Bread could be found in the pantry of nearly every American family. Now, eating a slice of Wonder bread within 100 yards of a gym is grounds for ostracization. Foods that used to be insanely popular can quickly be left by the wayside once people learn that a more nutritious option is readily available. As we look ahead to the new year, here are five foods that Americans will be finding on their plates more often.
Amaranth Is the New Big “Ancient Grain”
Quinoa has gone mainstream. No longer just a weird rice with an unpronounceable name, quinoa is now a wildly popular side dish and a frequent replacement for foods like white rice and potatoes. It’s become so popular that it’s even in our Cheerios! Although quinoa deserved its meteoric rise to the top, another “ancient grain” could be coming into the limelight in 2015.
Amaranth was a major food crop of the ancient Aztecs, and it shares many similarities with quinoa. It’s gluten-free. It’s packed with protein and fiber, at 26 and 13 grams per uncooked cup, respectively. And it’s actually higher than quinoa in several vitamins and minerals—notably iron, calcium and magnesium. If you’re sick of quinoa or just looking for a new healthy starch, give amaranth a try this year. It might be the food that helps you crush your New Year’s Resolution of building a better body.
Fermented Foods Smell Funky But Are Super Healthy
I don’t know about you, but to me, “fermented foods” sounds like something you might have to eat on “Fear Factor.” It sounds like something rotten, moldy and disgusting! But the reality is that fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and plain yogurt, have enormous health benefits. Fermented foods refer to foods that have been introduced to bacteria or fungi that alter their taste, texture and healthiness. It’s an ancient preparation and preservation technique that’s making a big comeback.
The fermentation of foods usually lends them a distinctive taste and a pungent smell. The thought of bacteria in your food might make you lose your appetite, but the bacteria in fermented foods is actually good for you. These bacteria are notable for their ability to improve digestive health, and they also boast a bunch of other benefits. In the year ahead, embrace those stinky, flavorful fermented foods and know that you’re doing your body a whole lot of good.
Insect-Based Protein Products Are Here to Stay
Americans are clamoring for protein more than ever. With the rising popularity of the Paleo diet and the growing contempt for carbohydrates, novel protein products are becoming more readily available. High-protein snacks like Greek yogurt have benefited greatly from Americans’ hunger for protein. Insect-based protein products might sound bizarre, but they’re poised to explode in popularity for a variety of reasons.
One, they can pack a significant amount of protein and other nutrients into a small package. Two, they’re more eco-friendly than traditional protein sources such as cattle. Three, they actually taste pretty good. For example, STACK reviewed two cricket-based protein bars earlier this year, and we were pleasantly surprised at their flavor. Insects (such as crickets) can easily be ground into a flour, which makes their culinary uses virtually endless. Look for more people to be getting a protein punch from bugs in the year ahead.
Kalettes—The Nutritious Lovechild of Two Amazing Vegetables
We’ve previously written about the incredible nutritional value of kale and brussels sprouts. Now you can get the benefits of these two amazing vegetables in a single food. Kalettes, a hybrid of kale and brussels sprouts, was created by the British Company Tozer Seeds and launched in the U.S. earlier this year. The taste is described as an enjoyable combination of sweet and nutty, and the nutritional facts are predictably impressive.
High in vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and protein, kalettes could be one of several hybrid veggies that grace your plate this year. Others include broccoflower and broccolini. These new produce combos are the result of cross-breeding—a technique that’s been practiced for thousands of years and one that does not raise any of the issues surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOS). Who said eating your vegetables wasn’t fun?
Go Nuts for Pistachios
Active Americans are no longer reaching for a bag of chips or a candy bar when they get a grumbling stomach in the mid-afternoon. Instead of these poor nutritional choices, many are reaching for smarter snacks—such as nuts. Nuts have risen in popularity because their high protein content, healthy fat content and ability to curb hunger have become more desirable in recent years. Almonds have led the charge, as they’re now the most popular nut in America. Almonds are great—but 2015 is going to be the year of the pistachio. Pistachios are similar to almonds in many ways, with a similar calorie, fat and protein count.
But pistachios have more vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B-6 than almonds, in addition to a higher content of antioxidants. Another big benefit of pistachios is their shelled nature. You have to take the time to un-shell each individual nut, which helps you eat more slowly and control your portion. Compare this to almonds, of which a handful can easily be grabbed and scarfed down rather quickly. If pistachios aren’t yet a part of your diet, make 2015 the year you go green.