If you were in Chicago last week, it’s highly likely you saw mass amounts of folks walking around with name tags and ribbons around their necks. Those were the almost 13,000 of my dietitian colleagues who attended the annual Food & Nutrition Conference Expo (aka our beloved FNCE) in celebration of 100 years of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. While the educational sessions are great, my main reasons for attending are to connect with colleagues, network, and check out the up & coming food trends. If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve already gotten a sneak peak of some of my FNCE 2017 finds. And if you don’t, now is as good a time as ever to start following along. For my couples out there who want to be on top of the food and nutrition trends, here are what you’ll be seeing more of in stores over the next few months.
Milking a Love for Nuts
In an effort to meet consumer demands for more non-dairy options, the nut and plant-based milk options have truly exploded in the past year. Many newcomers are entering the market, while other brands are expanding their offerings to include cheeses, coffee creamers, and yogurts.
Califia Farms had quite the display of their almond and coconut milk containing products, which includes cold brew and new coffee creamers. The pumpkin spiced almond coffee creamer was quite a hit! Especially when I tried it in coffee at 3pm after a very long morning – totally hit the spot!
Another newcomer to the non-dairy world is Elmhurst 1925, which I first tried a few weeks ago when I found it in my local supermarket. Their claim to fame is that their products are made from “milked nuts”, which allows for a greater nut content in their milks, ultimately resulting in a higher protein content versus other nut-based non-dairy sources. A cup of Elmust 1925 milked nut non-dairy contains 3-5g protein, compared to 1-2g traditionally found in almond or coconut milk. Unique offerings include milked walnut and hazelnuts, in addition to traditional almond and cashew. And for those with nut allergies, an oatmeal-based milk is also available.
I also got a sneak peak of a new nut-based yogurt that I don’t think I can share here just yet, but I will say this: for a non-dairy yogurt it’s probably one of the best consistencies I’ve ever had. Hope to be able to share more on the blog soon. But as always, to be in the know about trends, make sure to follow my Instagram.
While the consumer market has definitely created the demand and increased opportunities for more players in the non-dairy sandbox, keep in mind that good old-fashioned cow’s milk still contains adequate protein, calcium, and vitamin D to meet our body’s needs. AND nutrients found in dairy are in readily absorbable forms compared to the calcium and vitamin D added to nut milks later on in processing. If you have an allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk protein, then consider exporing the non-dairy options. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is nothing “bad” about dairy and research continues to show that it is part of a healthy lifestyle. Check out more info about dairy and bust some common milk myths.
Grab & Go Meals
I always address in my corporate wellness talks that planning and preparation go a long way in our busy daily lifestyles. While meal prepping is definitely a key and cost-effective first step, sometimes we just need a few shortcuts in our lives. Instead of grabbing a snack bar or yogurt and calling that breakfast, consider these more satisfying options to have instead or alongside your favorite morning options.
For breakfast, brands like Kodiak Cakes and FlapJacked have weekend and weekday breakfast options covered. When you’re in a rush, pop a high fiber/high protein waffle into the toaster and top with a high protein topping like nut butter, cottage cheese, or skyr-style yogurt along with fruit. For weekdays, invest in a variety of these awesome flapjacks to go or muffin in a cup options. Keep a few at work as well for mornings you may be rushed or forget.
Breakfast and snacks are also coming in convenient squeeze pouches for quick morning options. Munk Pack has oatmeal with fruit and seeds that provides 3-4g fiber and 2g protein. Not that I’m an advocate for eating while driving, but this is certainly a safer and less messy option to enjoy while stopped at a red light or in traffic. Purchase Munk Pack
Ready to go smoothies are another option that was featured. Daily Harvest is a subscription-based smoothies service. These cups contain everything you need and are cut, frozen, and ready to go right into the blender along with your favorite smoothie liquid of choice. Be warned: a serving size is actually ½ the cup, which means if you’re just dumping the whole container into a blender with your liquid of choice, you could actually be consuming twice as much as what you may have intended.
Meal prepping those main meals is definitely important, but don’t forget about side dishes. For nights where you may not have time to purchase, wash, prep, and cook veggies, brands like EatSmart come to your rescue. EatSmart recently launched Side Dish Kits, include simply prepped veggies, seasoning, and simple instructions to easily get veggies on the table during the busy week days. And for lunch make sure to grab a few of these convenient Salad Shake Ups to keep at home and at work for salad made simple.
And of course, what would mornings be without coffee? Califia Farms Cold Brew does the work for you to create a low-acid coffee – plus one bottle definitely costs less than a single serving you’d get at a large coffee chain. But my true favorite at-home grab & go coffee are these awesome draft latte cans from La Colombe. When I first met them this past summer at IDEA World/Blogfest, I thought their product was pretty tasty so I made it a point to stop by their booth everyday to get my fix. And I brought home quite a few samples as well. But I knew they truly were a hit in my house when I can’t seem to get my hands on any that I bought because Mr E snaps them up on his way to work or a workout. Unlike other major coffee brand’s bottled lattes, the versions from La Colombe contain no added sugars. The ingredients are simply espresso, frothed milk, and nitrous oxide (yes- gas is an ingredient) that produces the awesome texture that makes you think it just came from a tap. As fun as their cans are to drink from, I recommend pour one out into a pint glass and watch it settle. Super fun and even tastier to enjoy! Purchase La Colombe
Are grab & go items at home the way of the future? See what could be making an appearance in your home soon
3 P’s of FNCE 2017: Protein, Plants, and Probiotics
Protein was definitely one of the labeling eye-candy words that appeared on a lot of the packaging I saw at the Expo. I honestly have a love/hate with how protein gets marketed. On the downside, most people make protein a priority over eating fruits and veggies and assume they need more than they actually do (FYI – take your weight in pounds and multiply by 0.36 that’s how many grams of protein you should have per day). On the flip side, many of my clients tend to have very carb-heavy diets resulting in lack of protein. When we have a protein present at every meal, you will feel more satisfied, less likely to overeat, and slow glucose absorption, which can help maintain a healthy weight (or assist in getting towards that goal). At the FNCE Expo, protein was found everywhere from beverages to pancake mixes to snacks to supplements.
Protein in the form of nut and seed butters have always been one of my favorite go-to toppers. New options from Betsy’s Best and Yumbutter are trying to de-throne some of the reigning market favorites.
And when you can’t decide how to combine protein with a carb at snack time, why not grab a snack that does both? These fun P-nuff Crunch protein puffs combine the airiness of a cheese puff without the gross neon orange fingers as these guys are made from peanuts. Plus, a shout-out to a fellow Jersey-based company! Purchase P-nuff Crunch
If I could capture the faces about 50% of my clients make when I mention cottage cheese as an excellent protein source, I would just do a whole blog post of “ew faces”. BUT a new option from Misha Dairy featuring a German-style of yogurt called Quark could be a cottage cheese hater game changer. If cottage cheese and yogurt had a baby without all the bumps and lumps found in cottage cheese, you’d get Quark containing 17g of protein and 6g carbs per serving. And if you prefer traditional cottage cheese, the Muuna booth was a big hit!
I’ll be doing a separate blog post all about collagen peptides, but if you’re not familiar with this protein supplement yet, hang tight to learn about a protein option you could be missing out on with multiple health benefits. Vital Protein is one option that has collagen options from bovine and marine sources. Purchase Vital Protein
As you saw with the nut milks and veggie options above, plants are no longer playing second fiddle at meals. From traditional to creative protein options, plants truly are ruling! If you haven’t tried Enlightend broad beans or Biena Roasted Chickpeas for a snack yet, you are missing out on a treat!
Last year I discussed how gut health was a major part of FNCE – and this year it continues to grow! When I first went back to school in 2010 and heard of “kefir” for the first time, Lifeway Kefir was the only game in town. And while they have evolved into cups and kids probiotic bites, other players have entered the game. Green Valley Organics offers a cow’s milk kefir, while Redwood Hill Farm has a new goat’s milk kefir version (note that both are lactose-free, as kefir is a low-lactose food because of the probiotics). GoodBelly offers probiotic juices, gut shots, and bars.
FNCE 2017 Wrap-up
Another FNCE is in the books! Make sure to check back to this post, as I’ll be sharing FNCE round-ups from fellow dietitians on this post. Have a post to share? If you have a FNCE 2017 related post, drop a link to your article in the Comments. Here’s other FNCE takeaways from my colleagues:
FNCE – FOOD TRENDS AND CHICAGO! MY TOP 3 TAKEAWAYS – Sarah Pflugradt (salubriousrd.com)
Food & Nutrition Conference (FNCE) 2017 Snappy & Quick Recap – Cathy Lehman (cathyleman.com)