November 9, 2020

Superfood Me – Trends Towards Quick and Healthy Portions

The United States is known for its Fast Food. While many enjoy these quick and easy meals, there are also those who fear the long lasting effects that these foods can have on their well-being. Did you know that the United States is also known for starting many other healthy food trends, including clean eating and the gluten-free diet? Which healthy food trends should be embraced in European kitchens this year?

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Burgers, fried chicken, and fries – these Fast Food classics are often brought up when American food is being discussed abroad. Although the United States offers a wide variety of food and beverages, the fatty and fried cliché associated with American cuisine has proven difficult to shake. However, there is another American cliché that comes to life in the U.S. food industry – the innovative, business-oriented and trendsetting approach applied to almost everything. Many food trends are born in the United States, ranging from clean eating and healthy substitutes to paleo or plant based diets.

While popular restaurant chains are expanding their menus and offering healthier options, other foodies are filling the market with a new, more nutritious take on Fast Food. Either way, there are many new trends to be followed and the pool of healthy, quick and easy to make recipes keeps growing. So, what 2020 healthy food trends should not go unnoticed in European kitchens?

 Plant Based and Meat-Plant Blends

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift toward consuming less meat and more plant-based products. Vegetarian and vegan diets are more common, leading to an increase in meat substitutes and a variety of new veggie-friendly meals. Not everyone wants to cut out meat entirely though. Products combining meat and vegetables, known as meat-plant blends, aim to appeal to healthy eaters who like to eat meat, but want to reduce the amount in their meals – and add more veggies while they are at it.

burgers

One of the pioneers of meat-plant products is the burger patty. Beloved burgers can now be consumed in a healthier, more flavorful, and more sustainable way when the patties consist of both animal and plant protein. 

So, what plant protein commonly gets blended into the batch? Pulses! Pulses belong to the legume family and include dry beans, lentils, chickpeas and dry peas. These nutritional powerhouses can be combined and cooked with various meats. A great example is the American Western Blue and Crispy Onion BBQ Burger, which is made with a patty consisting of ground beef and red kidney beans. Meat-plant blends help to keep the flavor and texture of your favorite foods, while reducing meat intake and providing additional nutrients. As the trend continues to grow, innovators in the kitchen are expanding meat-plant blends to a variety of popular products, including chicken nuggets, meatballs, and sausages. 

Beneficial Butter and Spreads

The alternative nut butter trend is spreading far and fast. A wide range of competitors are now in the market with the long-time favorite, peanut butter, including almond butter, walnut butter and macadamia nut butter. Both savory and sweet, alternative butters are attracting attention for their diverse flavors, but also for the many nutritious benefits they provide. Not to mention, how easy it is to prepare a quick and healthy sandwich with these spreads. 

Walnut Butter

A nut butter to look out for, is Walnut Spread. Thanks to their mild flavor, with only a subtle hint of bitterness, California walnuts are ideal for use in spreads. Walnuts are extremely appealing to health-conscious consumers since they are the only tree nut that has a significant amount of the plant-based Omega-3, alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Research has shown that ALA may help maintain heart health and lower cholesterol levels. The nutrient-rich walnut makes for a delicious and diverse spread, whether enjoyed on it’s own or mixed with other flavors such as red pepper or even blue cheese.   

“For industrial use, replacing peanut butter with walnut butter in formulas will enhance their nutritional value and result in new culinary experiences.”

California Walnut Commission

Flour Power

 If you are looking to make something with flour, chances are you will stumble upon a wide variety of flours in the grocery store. Thanks to the low-carb community, innovative flours made from fruit, vegetables or other plant-based foods are becoming more common. Especially for gluten-free diets, flour alternatives are part of any recipe for baked goods.

Pizza

The savory oven favorite, the pizza, can easily be made healthier with the help of alternative flours. Choosing from the wide variety of flours, between lentil and buckwheat or almond and rice, can be overwhelming. A safe and delicious choice for pizza dough is Chickpea Flour. Unlike all-purpose flour, chickpea flour is loaded with nutrients. The mild and nutty flour is high in protein, fibre and micronutrients, while being low in carbohydrates and calories. Not only is chickpea flour healthy and delicious, it is also easy and affordable to make at home. A chickpea flour crust with fresh and green toppings, such as in the Chickpea Pizza with Pistachio Nettle Pesto, is the perfect way to make a guilt-free pizza. 

Super Food Bowls 

By now, the food bowl hype has gone international, receiving an enthusiastic embrace from foodies and fitness experts in Europe. Bowls are all about offering a healthy, comforting and nutritious meal made of a mixture of veggies, protein and grains. Aside from the health aspect, Bowls are a quick and easy to prepare meal due to the short preparation times of most of its components. 

Sweet-Potato-Buddha-Bowls

A classic bowl that can be prepared and cooked within 10 minutes, is the Black Bean Burrito Bowl. Inspired by the ingredients in burritos, this bowl consists of black beans and brown rice at the base and is covered with tomatoes, avocado and other fresh toppings. Another wholesome and beautiful bowl is the Sweetpotato Buddha Bowl. The colorful combinations of sweet potato, kale, freekeh, and lentils makes for a nutritious and fibrous meal. In particular, the vibrant sweet potato provides a naturally sweet flavor that pairs nicely with other savory ingredients. Not to mention, it is made of complex carbohydrates that are released throughout the day for a constant source of energy.

“Research has shown that some of the vitamins and minerals found in sweet potatoes are especially important in athletes’ diets – these include iron and vitamin C.”

North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission

In the United States, these healthy food trends are flourishing with innovative products and new approaches to cooking. While some of these trends have already found their way into the hearts of European foodies, others are still making their way across the pond. One thing is for sure, there has been a change in consumer attitudes, especially regarding the desire for healthier alternatives in their favorite foods.