Some food trends fade faster than you can say "goji berry", but others have real staying power and can add dimension to our diets for the long haul.
Here are several healthy foods worth paying attention to - you'll be seeing more of them in 2016, but they also have what it takes to stick around.
Search #matcha on Instagram and you get nearly a million posts, from muffins and ice cream to smoothies and lattes, all bearing the vibrant grassy hue of the Japanese tea.
Matcha is made from green tea leaves, which are ground into a powder, then whisked into a liquid such as water or milk and served as a beverage or added to foods. With matcha you consume the whole tea leaf, whereas with regular green tea the leaves are steeped in water and then discarded.
Matcha is extremely rich in catechins, the active compounds found in green tea that are known to have beneficial health properties, and it adds a stunning colour to all it touches. It hasn't been studied well enough to confirm that it is significantly better for you than other types of green tea, and it's not magic - adding it to cakes and macaroons doesn't make those foods healthy - but it is an easy, appealing and different way to get healthy green tea into your life.
Keep in mind that it does contain caffeine: cup for cup about half as much as a brewed coffee and twice that of black tea. Next time you grab a latte at your local coffeehouse, try making it a matcha. But, as with any latte, get it unsweetened (or just lightly sweetened), and go for low-fat milk to keep it in the healthy zone.
Seeds, in general, are nothing new, but the varieties on the market and the ways we are using them have exploded. In addition to the longtime favourites - sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds - flax came on the scene, and now there are chia and hemp, too. (More on hemp in a minute.)
Seeds are prominently featured in new formulations of energy bars, crackers, cereals and granola; they are available ground into flours and mixed into smoothies; you can buy packages of roasted watermelon seeds (which are delicious!); and more cooks are roasting the seeds from their butternut squash instead of throwing them away.
Seeds are part of almost any eating plan, from vegan to paleo. They are gluten-free, and many people with nut allergies can use them to substitute for nuts in recipes. Plus, they are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with healthy fat, fibre, essential minerals and protein. Seeds may be small in size, but they are a big deal this year and probably beyond.
The hemp seed is bursting with Omega-6 and Omega-3, essential fatty acids that have heart health and anti inflammatory benefits. Hemp seeds are nutty in flavor and breathe life into salads, desserts, yogurts, cereals, and breads. Hemp seeds can be turned into butter, milk, protein powder, finishing oil, and soap.
Sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage, naturally contains these valuable probiotics, but the heating process that makes it shelf-stable destroys them and impacts the kraut's taste and texture. Enter unpasteurised or raw kraut now found in the refrigerated section in most grocery stores from small-batch local producers and quality national players. They are brimming with healthy probiotics and have a snappy texture and bright, tart flavour that open your eyes to how good kraut can be.
Don't just use it on hot dogs and sausages; kraut is delicious with any roasted meat or poultry, alongside roasted potatoes or piled on a grilled cheese or turkey sandwich.
This ancient grain has been a key ingredient in Africa for centuries, and it's gaining popularity across the world. The same qualities that have made it such a long-standing staple also make it ideal for modern times: It is a naturally drought-tolerant grain that is gluten-free, nutrient-rich and incredibly versatile.
Not only can you use it in salads and pilafs, you can also pop the whole grain the same way you pop corn! Sorghum flour also makes a good gluten-free flour substitute in many recipes. So make room on your shelf next to the quinoa for this up-and-comer.
- The Washington Post