The Top 10 Healthy Food Trends in 2016

At the Summer Fancy Food Show, coconut, chia, and pumpkin take over the aisles

Updated Jun 29, 2017 @ 12:08 pm

Pickled cauliflower, ginger hemp granola, local maple kefir—these were just a few of the new products that debuted at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City today. More than 2,600 companies in the $120.5 billion specialty food industry showcased their products to the hungry hordes numbering over 25,000 attendees.

It seems companies were as passé as the phrase “fleek,” unless they had the words non- GMO, probiotic, plant-based protein, gluten-free or amino acid plastered somewhere on their packaging. And while Greek yogurt, quinoa, kale, and flavored wraps have been the “it” ingredients of the last few years, we saw significantly less of them this year. What did the Clean Plates team find? The full growth of some once burgeoning ingredients from fad to outright blockbuster trends—many of which you’ve heard about already this year from Clean Plates.

We’ve identified the top 10 major healthy food trends at this year’s Fancy Food Show, and chosen our favorite new products within each. Here’s what you will be eating even more of in 2016 and beyond.

  1. Avocado Spreads: Our favorite fruit (yes, that’s right, fruit) is showing up as the new aioli, a delicately flavored silky mayonnaise that deserves to be slathered on toast just on its own. Two new standouts are Go Avo, which is soy, gluten and artificial- preservative free, and Chosen Foods’ Avocado Oil Mayo, which uses only cage-free eggs.
  2. Bone Broth: We’ve recently boned up on this emerging trend, even though this is an ancient dish, and top chefs like Hearth’s Marco Canora are big advocates of the heady broth. If you don’t want to make one from scratch, try the new organic version from Pacific, which comes in chicken with lemongrass, and turkey with rosemary, sage and thyme. Epic Provisions handcrafts small batches of bone broth, offering turkey, cranberry and sage, as well as sea salt and savory chicken.
  3. Chia: The little seeds that fight above their weight, chia are now ubiquitous thanks to their high Omega 3s, amino acids and protein. No longer just the ingredient in smoothies, you can find them in Word of Chia‘s Strawberry Fruit Spread, made with agave instead of sugar (or you can make your own chia jam). Or enjoy them in Natierra’s Chia Crunch snacks in kale, spinach, mixed berries, and blueberry. Green Mustache‘s Cheddarish crackers are made with chia and kale. And even Bob’s Red Mill new line of Protein Powders is made with chia.
  4. Chickpeas: While we can’t get enough hummus, not as many people eat chickpeas in other forms, until now: Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas come in sea salt, chipotle, wasabi, and Indian spices, while The Good Bean‘s new Bean Chips with sweet potato and quinoa would be great with…hummus.
  5. Coconut: With the amount of coconut stocking the aisles at the Fancy Food Show, we wonder how many more ways coconuts can be used? From coconut water, which is as ubiquitous as, well, water, to coconut aminos, the superfood is now starring as a substitute for granola bars in Creative SnacksCoconut Snacks with chia, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds; it’s also in Native Forest’ Instant Coconut Milk Powder; and in Epicurean Butter’s Cocoa Coconut Butter.
  6. Matcha: You know the famous line from the Brady Bunch: “Matcha, matcha, matcha.” You’ll be saying that when you taste this high antioxidant and amino acid brew from one of these two Japanese companies: Itoen‘s Matcha Love, a cold green tea in flavors like vanilla and ginger; and Aiya’s Matcha Premium Grade tea, which comes in all forms, from powder to leaves.
  7. Milk: Sheep milk? Baaa. Goat milk, we’ve had it (and loved it) for years. Now there are new/old milks to try: From Desert Farms’ camel milk—we loved their kefir and pasteurized versions—which tastes like cow’s milk, to unsweeteed macadamia milk from Milkadamia, sustainably farmed in Australia, to Organic Valley‘s Omega 3-boosted organic cow’s milk.
  8. Old-School Grains and Pulses: From emmer and barley to spelt and buckwheat, these staff and stuff of life, so common thousands of years ago, have made a comeback. You can find them starring in Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat and organic emmer flour from Bluebird Grain Farms, and in RW Garcia‘s Pulse & Ancient Grain Tortilla Chips.
  9. Pumpkin: Move over Starbuck’s pumpkin latte, the orange orb is showing up in ever more versions. Superseedz Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds are crunchy and addictive in a variety of flavors from sea salt and tomato-Italian to spicy. American Spoon Pumpkin Seed Salsa has small chunks of pumpkin seeds in this medium spicy and chunky dip with tomatoes, red bell peppers and chile de arbol. And Gorilly Goods has a great version of trail mix, a pumpkin seed and kale savory snack.
  10. Seaweed: The veggie of the sea has the highest density of vitamins and minerals of any vegetable on the planet, an attribute justly touted by GimMe Roasted Seaweed, which makes it in flavors like sriracha, sea salt and teriyaki. (They also do a line of Seaweed Chips with Brown Rice in those same flavors.) C-Weed Snack‘s new line of Crunch Roasted Seaweed Snacks, paired with almond, coconut and other flavorings, tastes strangely like chocolate bark and is equally satisfying.

Also published on Medium.