I recently had the privilege of attending an educational and experiential nutrition conference in London. The following information was obtained at that conference in a session sponsored by the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. My accommodations and travel for the event were partially provided by the gracious support of all the event’s sponsors. I was not asked to write this post and was not compensated for my time.
You can’t be a food blogger and not feel at least a little obligated to pause at the New Year and consider what’s on trend in the food world, can you?
I mean, let’s be honest… some blogger, somewhere decided to turn kale leaves into chips and the rest of us having been playing catch up for years.
I recently had the opportunity to hear one of THE best speakers (and most entertaining) ever do a deep dive on what’s hot right now in food trends. Julian Mellentin is the Founder of New Nutrition Business in London. He led an insightful and engaging discussion about not only what makes a trend versus a fad, but also what’s on trend right now. Here’s some of what he shared and how I think it influences us as food bloggers:
Natural and Naturally Healthy Foods -- Try as we may as dietitians, you can’t force people to eat foods they’re not connected to. People increasingly wants foods they believe are “naturally” good for them (think nuts and berries)...
...or products made from these ingredients (like Larabar, made from nuts and berries).
So what does this mean for food bloggers? Many consumers are willing to accept a bit of “Healthy High Calorie” because they believe naturally healthy beats lower calories (think avocados and nuts). But the key to meeting the needs of your audience with any naturally functional food is to make convenience a priority (i.e. keep that recipe simple.)
This trend toward “natural” also means that we have to stay current on what the food industry is doing to meet these consumer demands. Case in point — in the “that’s news to me” category I learned General Mills is already removing artificial flavors and colors from their cereals. (The updated no-artificial-color Trix shown here)
Plant Based Foods — It’s probably no surprise to many of you that plant based foods are constantly gaining momentum, but to hear that mainstream plant-based eating is on the upswing is exciting!
So what does this mean for food bloggers? Note that I didn’t necessarily say “vegan” or “vegetarian.” While both eating patterns certainly can be a healthy choice, many modern day eaters are “food explorers” and don’t need a label for their diet. They simple want to eat more plant-rich meals and that’s where we as food bloggers have a unique role.
Plant based eating can be delicious, but only with the right culinary approach. Think about unique ways you can incorporate a diverse array of plant-based foods in dishes you might not expect. I had the chance to try these new cinnamon-spiced beet chips by Rhythm Superfoods and immediately thought “these would be great over oatmeal!” Beets and Oatmeal. You heard it here first, friends.
Digital Revolution Drives Beliefs — If you’re reading this blog, I bet this feels like a “duh” moment. We’re bloggers and blog readers. We get digital. But it’s important to know that while we may have been reading blogs every day for years, many people are just now adopting a digital approach to information consumption. As a dietitian, what I find most interesting about this trend is that people are abandoning traditional models of weight loss support (think Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc.) and instead, seeking self-guided information online. In fact, the idea of “weight management“ as a whole is dying and is instead being replaced with “weight wellness” — a nice balance of both pleasure and restraint.
So what does this mean for the food blogger? A “healthy” blog doesn’t have to be exclusive to “low calorie” recipes. Helping readers frame the approach to healthy eating that includes moments of splurge fits with how they’re living their lives. It truly is about balance.
Protein — I don’t think this will come as a surprise to most of us. We shop in supermarkets and see what products are now claiming “protein” in every way they can. But what I found interesting is that people are willing to try protein in ways that maybe I wouldn’t have initially expected. And “who” these people are is just as interesting. Take for example Epic bars whose primary audience are young women. Bye bye bagel and hello bison bar?
So what does this mean for the food blogger? Give people more of what they’re looking for and in a creative recipe they can get excited about! Protein is more than just a chicken breast on a plate at dinner. Help your readers identify protein-rich breakfast, lunch and snacks ideas, since most experts (and one particular researcher that I’ll discuss in a later post) say we typically fall short on protein.
A Different Dairy Case — I recall a point in my life where I ate fat free cheese, fat free yogurt and drank fat free milk. Do you? While the most recent set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans still encourage low-fat dairy, the consumer is increasingly focused on dairy’s “naturally healthy” package of nutrients no matter the fat level. They’re also exploring a reduction in sweetness to their palate. Yogurts are increasingly being offered in less sweet and sometimes savory forms and quite often, in a fuller fat variety. A savory yogurt parfait was unheard of five years ago, but now it's a quick and easy lunch option.
So what does this mean for the food blogger? Creating tasty recipes that consumers will love has never been easier! There are few dietitians who would advocate for copious amounts of high calorie foods, but the freedom to create recipes knowing that the consumer is accepting of more fat and less sugar (at least with yogurt) is exciting.
While I’m only offering my top 5 favorite food trends discussed on site at the event, there is one other topic that was highlighted as a key trend for 2016 — Digestive Wellness. I’m saving that for another post, though (see my Probiotic Packed Bircher Oatmeal for a preview of the topic).
Tell me — as a food blogger, do these trends reflect what you’re seeing with your readers? As a food blog reader, do these trends reflect your views?
Want to know what's up with the latest #2016foodtrends? Check out this post on @healthyaperture to find out! Tweet this
Tex Mex Savory Yogurt Parfait
- 1/4 cup drained chili beans
- 2 tablespoons cottage cheese
- 1/4 cup drained canned tomatoes and chiles
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup California ripe olives, sliced in half
- Layer all ingredients in a jar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- May be served cold or at room temperature. Serve with tortilla chips, if desired.