The most important healthy food trends | US news

The National Restaurant Association Show recently returned to Chicago after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The world fair was packed with new food and beverage, equipment, packaging, and technology for the restaurant industry, including kitchen robots and automatic beverage machines.

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Among the 1,800 exhibitors filling the cavernous halls, here are some health-focused food trends.

Veggie burger celebrates vegetables

Almost every aisle featured exhibitors sample meatless burgers, including the juggernaut of the vegan burger category: Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. New vegetarian chicken and pork alternatives were also introduced. But one of my favorite vegan burgers didn’t try to imitate meat. Instead, let the cut veggie Vedge shine. These vegan burgers are made primarily with artichoke, fortified with spinach, pea protein, and quinoa. In addition to the delicious burger chops, vegetarian meatballs, sausages and crumbs were also served.

vegetarian seafood

The category of plants expands in the sea. A range of new seafood alternatives were offered for sampling at the fair, including vegan shrimp, tuna, fish sticks, crab cakes, and salmon burgers. Finless Foods has sampled new vegan tuna from its sushi category for poke bowls and spicy tuna rolls. Designed to be eaten raw, the tuna alternative is made with nine different plant ingredients, including winter melon, a mild-tasting oblong fruit associated with cucumbers.

A company called Mind Blown Plant-Based Seafood Co. I sampled a surprisingly good vegetarian scallop made with konjac, a root vegetable grown in parts of Asia. This family-owned Chesapeake Bay company with a background in the real seafood industry also serves coconut shrimp and crab cakes.

Alcohol-free drinks

The post-COVID audience is increasingly focused on their health, and the sober curiosity movement is growing. Companies are responding with more non-alcoholic beverages including alcohol-free spirits, non-alcoholic beer, and non-alcoholic wine. Restaurants are trying to lure non-drinkers with new options, including alcohol-free cocktails that have the same appeal as handcrafted cocktails created by mixologists.

Some of the many products on show included Blind Tiger’s free spirit packaged cocktails, named after the term for Prohibition-era partying, and non-alcoholic beers in various styles including IPA, Golden Ale, and Winter Ale from Gruvi and Athletic Brewing Company.

Tropical fruits and island kitchen

Travel restrictions related to the pandemic have created a desire to travel through food, especially delightful island cuisine, including foods from Hawaii and the Caribbean. If you cannot make the trip on your own, experiencing a taste of the tropics is the next best thing.

The craving for a taste of the tropics is one of the reasons why tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, acai, pitaya, and dragon fruit are trending. Drinks, smoothies and bowls of juice made from tropical fruits were frequent sights on the show floor. The Del Monte company once offered frozen pineapple spears for on-the-go snacks. One of the acai caf├ęs highlighted in the show was a chain called Rollin ‘n Bowlin’, which was started by entrepreneurial college students and spreads on campuses across the country.

Better comfort foods for you

I’ve discovered many different examples of America’s favorite foods replenished with a healthy twist. I particularly enjoyed the salmon hot dog from a company in Norway called Kvaroy Arctic. Now with greater availability in the United States, these salmon hot dogs are reimagining basic American nostalgia with sustainably raised salmon that’s packed with heart-healthy omega-3s per serving.

Ice cream has been another food that has been frequently converted into healthier versions, including Ripple’s new dairy-free service, which won one of the Food and Beverage Awards at the 2022 show.

reduced sugar

Cutting back on sugar consistently tops the list of changes people say they want to make to be healthier. Many of the drinks and frozen desserts on the show floor do not contain any added sugar. Other exhibitors have touted natural sweeteners, including pure maple syrup and honey.

While sweetness was once in the spotlight, it has turned into a supporting role as people shy away from very sweet flavors. Sweet flavors are now being balanced out with other flavors, especially spicy, or what is referred to as “swais”. One leading example of the mild trend is Mike’s Hot Honey, a chili-infused honey. Hot Honey was originally created by Mike Kurtz, who tells me he grew up in a Brooklyn pizzeria where he worked.

A new sugar substitute called Zusto was revealed at the show and was one of the winners of this year’s Food and Beverage Awards. Sourced from Belgium, the sweetener claims to have 75% fewer calories than regular sugar, which has a similar taste and texture to sugar. The product contains a mixture of dietary fiber, including polydextrose, corn and chicory, as well as sucralose, steviol glycosides and other sweeteners.

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