A few weeks ago I attended the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco (I was granted a press badge for a free registration). Also, Steve was exhibiting with his company and I had to be in San Diego a few days later anyway so I decided to tag along. More time in sunny California? Yes, please! OK although it wasn’t that sunny, at least I didn’t have to wear a winter jacket and gloves! 55 degrees and partly cloudy never felt so good ;).
Unfortunately, I could only attend the show one day because my back injury flared up while I was in San Fran, causing me to bed-bound for the better half of a day. But turns out one day was just enough for me to spot trends and discover new companies. I’m excited to share some of these trends and brands with ya’ll so you can keep your eyes peeled for them the next time you hit the grocery store.
Top 4 Trends at Winter Fancy Food:
- Sea vegetables are the new kale. It used to be that we could only find seaweed in sushi or salads from our sushi restaurant. However, as chefs and food scientists are discovering the health benefits of seaweed, we’re seeing this ingredient pop up everywhere – in chips, snacks and even desserts. So just how nutritious is this sea veg? It’s high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including vitamins A, B, C, and E, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc, iodine, iron, and manganese. Quite the nutrition profile, eh? It’s no wonder then that animal and in-vitro studies have shown seaweed to have protective effects against inflammation, cancer, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and hypertension and our immune system. They’re also an excellent source of fiber, comparable to the amount of fiber in lentils! I spotted a couple new-to-me seaweed snack brands at FFS that had delicious flavor profiles – Ocean’s Halo and gimMe Snacks. Ocean’s Halo has a savory line with innovative flavors like Korean BBQ and Maui Onion plus a sweet line that combines dark chocolate with seaweed so you can have your chocolate and eat seaweed too! GimMe Snacks offers seaweed chips as well as roasted seaweed snacks in Sea Salt, Teriyaki and Wasabi.
- Meet moringa – the new super green.Have you heard of moringa before? I hadn’t either but when Kuli Kuli reached out to me asking if I wanted to stop by their booth to learn how moringa was the most nutritionally dense geren on the planet, I was intrigued. Wall Street Journal recently named moringa as the #1 next hot trend in food because of its nutrient profile as well as its social narrative. Moringa comes from a small leafy tree found in tropical areas of the world like South Asia, West Africa and South America. Gram per gram, this green has 9x protein of plain yogurt, 10x vitamin A of carrots, 15x potassium of bananas, 17x calcium of milk and 25x iron of spinach (vegetarians, take note!). I had the pleasure of chatting with the founder and CEO, Lisa and her story of how she founded Kuli Kuli is pretty incredible. Serving in the Peace Corps in Niger, she tried moringa after complaining of fatigue on a vegetarian diet of millet and rice. After incorporating moringa in her diet, she had significantly more energy and began to encourage the local villagers to use moringa more in their diet. Lisa founded Kuli Kuli to to help women in West Africa use moringa locally and earn a sustainable livelihood by selling a portion of each harvest to the U.S. So not only can you feel good about the nutrition benefits of moringa, you can feel good about supporting a company that helps to empower women led-farming cooperatives. Kuli Kuli currently sells moringa powder to use in smoothies and oatmeal and superfood bars made with moringa powder.
- There’s a new nut milk in town…and it’s made from macadamias. I tend to use nut-milks in my smoothies and coffee/tea and typically gravitate towards almond or coconut milks. But I discovered at FFS that there’s a new nut milk in town, one that arguably tastes better than some of its counterparts. Milk made from macadamia nuts grown from trees in Eastern Australia. That’s right Milkadamia is bringing macadamia back. I tried samples of their nut-based milks at FFS and was really impressed with the flavor profile – they sell unsweetened, original and latte da barista (ideal for using in lattes and coffee) versions. I was hoping that their milks would have more protein than almond and coconut milks but they’re nutritionals are pretty much on par with the rest. I just realized that they sell this stuff at my local grocery co-op and Wegmans so I will definitely be purchasing soon – you can use the store locator on their website to find out where they’re sold near you.
- Beans are making a comeback.It used to be that beans were just that magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot. But today, beans are sexy. They’re nutrition powerhouses – plant-based proteins that are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. And they’re making an appearance in many of your day-to-day foods like chips and pastas. There were a couple bean-based pasta brands that I visited at FFS and one really stood out in terms of taste and texture – Explore Cuisine. They make bean and pulse pastas, rice noodles, rice pastas and soups. My favorite products that I sampled were the edamame spaghetti and the green lentil lasagne. Plus, the ingredient lists and nutritional profiles are pretty impressive. Want to know what the ingredient list is for the edamame spaghetti? One ingredient: edamame :). And one serving packs in 25 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber! Interested in checking out other bean and pulse-based pasta brands? Try Tolerant Foods too.
There were a number of other products that I tried that are worth mentioning and keeping an eye out for:
Vita Coco has a delicious new organic coconut water, Coco Community, that supports local grower initiatives in Thailand and is made from coconuts exclusively sourced from Ratchaburi, Thailand. Sejoyia is making Brussels sprouts and parsnips into delicious crunchy snacks.Suja has a new line of probiotic-packed drinking vinegars.Siete won over my heart with their family health-inspired story and grain free tortillas and tortilla chips.Little Bird is making some sweet and spicy treats – their dark chocolate fire bark is made with crushed candied jalapeños. Simple Mills has a new tasty organic frosting line made with coconut oil.It was a fun day of sampling, discovering new brands and spotting new trends. I’d love to hear from you now – have you heard of any of these brands before or tried any of these products? What do you think about these new trends?