While Greek yogurt, Korean food and locally grown fruits and vegetables were among the top healthy food trends of 2013, 2014 promises to bring a new wave of good-for-you food trends to your plate.
1. Beans: With veganism topping Forbes' list of food trends in 2013, it's no surprise that beans are getting some well-deserved attention. High in fiber, digestible plant protein and healthy carbs, beans are inexpensive and really versatile. You'll see them everywhere—from burgers (even added to non-veg), salads and appetizers to desserts.
2. Chia: The little black chia seed is also a veg-friendly source of protein, fiber, carbs and a high amount of healthy omega fats. On trend to surpass $1 billion in sales by 2020, you'll see chia popping up in cereals, baked goods, fresh smoothies and desserts.
3. Bugs: While I won't personally be joining you for a cricket burger any time soon, bugs in food are on the rise—on purpose. High in protein and low in saturated fats, harvesting insects is more ethical and environmentally friendly than factory farmed meat. Many countries around the world already include a number of insects in their cuisines. Already there are cricket chocolates and energy bars available on the market, but you might also see them as a taco or burrito option, stir-fried with noodles and crisped and sauced like Buffalo wings.
4. Sriracha knock-offs: With the CA factory in temporary shutdown because of the burning clouds of pepper filling the air, you can expect all kinds of competition both in bottles and small restaurant batches. A little hot and spicy does the body good—reducing inflammation, boosting metabolism and warming you up during these frigid months.
5. Artisan-crafted: Local food by way of fruits and vegetables has saturated our healthy plates, and not far behind are locally crafted artisan foods like locally milled flours, fermented products and more.
6. Fewer "natural" items: Don't be misled—there are more organic and healthy foods available than ever, but you won't see as many labeled as "all natural" as you used to. Why? The word "natural" is getting a lot of companies in hot water. Because the term is unregulated, companies claiming their not-so-natural products are actually natural, have landed a bunch of them with class action lawsuits, steep settlements and dissatisfied customers. But be on the lookout for terms just as meaningless like "real", "authentic" or "pure."
7. More non-GMO options: General Mills kicked off this trend for 2014 by announcing its original Cheerios would now be 100 percent GMO-free. As the clock ticks down towards Whole Foods 2018 deadline to label all GMOs sold in its stores, you can expect to see the Non-GMO labels sprouting up a lot more this year.
8. Kale: This leafy green has been filling up healthy plates for years, but it's still just beginning to get mainstream recognition. Along with other leafy greens like chard and collards, you'll see kale crafted into many menus in innovative ways.
9. Paleo: It piqued last year, but now the low-carb Paleo diet trend is really taking off. It's appealing to the gluten-free crowd as well due to its inherent lack of grains. But beware of the hidden saturated fats and factory-farmed meat, eggs and dairy products. You'll want to avoid those unhealthy ingredients.
10. Meat-free: Going fork-to-fork with the animal-heavy Paleo diet is the vegan diet. It snagged Al Gore last year. Beyonce and Jay Z tried it for a few weeks too. But credit an unusual suspect for making it even hotter in 2014: SeaWorld. The Oscar-nominated documentary "Blackfish," which highlights the suffering of captive orcas will help illuminate the many reasons for eliminating animal products from your diet.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
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