The Covid-19 pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of our lives, including our diets.
There has been a shift towards home cooking. We’re getting more creative in the kitchen. Many of us have increased our consumption of unhealthy snacks, sweets and sugary drinks.
So, what does 2022 have in store for you, especially if you’re looking to eat healthy?
Here’s what I think will be some of the biggest healthy food trends in the new year:
water lily seeds
While water lily seeds were new to the Americas, they have been around in India for centuries. Light and fluffy with a texture like a curl of cheese, these lightly flavored pickles are packed with nutrients. Since they are almost tasteless on their own, these seeds are the perfect medium for adding spices—whether sweet or savory. As a good vegan source of essential amino acid protein, it’s also gluten-free and packed with vitamins—and it’s waist-friendly with about 100 calories for a large handful.
eat meat eater
As the battle of plant-based versus animal-eating continues to rage, it is becoming increasingly clear that like most parts of nature, the best diet may be somewhere in between! That’s why more and more people are looking for balance by getting back to eating like “carnivores” – that humans were designed to be. As omnivores, we are physically able to digest both plant and animal proteins well – and this diversity supports optimal health.
The incorporation of foods from both the animal and plant worlds is the basis of what is known as “flexible” eating – but the balance is up to you. A concept associated with this field has now entered: “reductive eating,” meaning a deliberate shift toward plant-based eating, but still including animal products.
Besides the continued interest in plant foods (particularly meat substitutes), mushrooms have become very popular. Mushrooms of all kinds have a meat-like texture and taste, and can be used as an authentic alternative to meat – think grilled portobello mushrooms instead of burgers on toast. The umami flavor pervades the mushrooms, making them tasty and delicious on their own, or as part of soups, stews, or even bacon!
Southeast Asian flavors
While Asian cuisine encompasses all of the many regional regions, traditional flavors from Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Singapore, and the Philippines, are gaining a stronger grip on everyday eating. Several widely used basic ingredients include jasmine rice, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, chili peppers, dried onions, and soy proteins (tofu and tempeh). Food is often steamed, boiled or fried.
The uniqueness of Southeast Asian flavors revolves around the combinations that create complex flavors. Think citrus and basil, or lime and coriander. More exotic signature ingredients – such as tamarind and lemongrass – are readily available in most supermarkets.
It’s a healthy way to cook and eat that requires just a few new ingredients to replenish your daily meals.
Immune booster ingredients
Our immune system is the foundation of good health, and there are several ways to strengthen it. One is a trip to your local supermarket. While food supports a healthy immune system as part of a healthy lifestyle – any positive effect is the result of long-term eating patterns. This is what puts “life” in a lifestyle! And these benefits come from real food – there are no nutritional shortcuts that can only support healthy eating, not replace it. Whether eaten as a standalone unit or used in a recipe, here are some of the best foods to mix and match that support a healthy immune system:
- Berries (fresh, frozen, or dried)
- Fermented foods (yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut)
- Spices (ginger, turmeric, cinnamon)
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cabbage)
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds)
- Citrus fruits (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kiwi)
Canned, canned or freshly made alcohol-free alternatives are growing in popularity and availability. With a complex flavour, and some taste similar to classic cocktails – they’re a great choice for those looking for something more than a seltzer and a smoothie drizzle. With people reducing or eliminating alcohol altogether, these creative alternatives create a relaxing option whether you’re in a restaurant, bar, or at home.
Simple food preparation
With soaring food prices and supply chain issues affecting supermarkets across the country, home cooking will shift to a more streamlined and downsized approach. Recipes will be simplified with limited key ingredients sourced locally. Fresh, prepared foods will shine easily, with optimal nutritional content and visual appeal, and extend to healthy versions of comfort foods (think macaroni or chicken)
Madeline Fernstrom is the health editor for NBC News. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.