The past year has been one of change. Some of it has been unexpected (such as the political upheavals of the Trump presidency and the British vote to withdraw from Europe), while some have seen a continuation of the “return to the future” living approach of the last few decades. The focus of these changes has shown that it’s more important than ever for the individual to make the right choices for themselves and their families. This extends down to choices made in the food we eat. Not only do we need to make the right selections for nutritional purposes but also with the care for our planet in mind.
What we eat and how we care for the environment has become part and parcel of our food selections in 2017.
Some of the trends and lifestyle changes that are likely to be popular during the year include the following:
Reducing sugar intake. Until recently, reducing fats in our diet has been considered the path to good health and weight loss. However recent studies have shown that sugar is the real culprit — particularly refined sugar. Breakthrough films such as Damon Gameau’s That Sugar Film have highlighted the danger of a high sugar diet on a healthy human body. Expect to hear more as the year progresses about this move away from our high Western consumption of sugar.
JERF (Just Eat Real Food). More than just a trendy term, JERF is a call to arms for wholefood fans and those looking to eat a nutritious diet. Food author and journalist Michael Pollan, one of the pioneers of the real food movement, first articulated it in his book In Defense of Food in the opening phrase “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Pollan urged us to eat “real food”, the unrefined, organic food of our grandparents’ era. That which is made naturally, not in a factory. #JERF has now become the rallying cry for people looking to make whole (real) foods the cornerstone of a healthy diet. This may become the term for 2017 for those of us seeking easy and relaxed advice on how to pivot to a healthier diet without restrictive labels such as paleo, vegan and others.
Grain bowls. Looking to add fibre and heaps of nutrients in a flavoursome, easy-to-make recipe? Who isn’t? One of the recipes to look out for in the year ahead is new ways to make grain bowls — a simple mix of healthy, tasty and nourishing foods over a bed of grains in a bowl. What could be simpler, faster and more convenient? Particularly if time is not on your side.
One pan meals. Australians now work longer hours than ever and finding time to put together good healthy and filling meals is a challenge. Healthy ‘throw it all in one pan’ meals, make sense for those who are time-poor and it also saves on energy and washing up! Check out these recipes from Jessica Sepel for some delicious healthy meal ideas.
Urban Food Streets. Buderim’s Urban Food Streets is all about making use of space and connecting community. Using permaculture principles, previously wasted space such as streetscapes and verges are converted to grow productive plants and trees. Buderim Urban Food Street offers inspiration and professional consultation.
Plant tonics and herbal elixirs. Juicing has been with us for a number of decades and the benefits of a diet supplemented by regular nutritious drinks are now well known. However one issue surrounding juices is the amount of sugar they contain. This is where tonics come in – they contain less sugar than juice, but are just as beneficial. They are like a health cocktail commonly made of mineral water, juice and specific herbs targeted at things like increasing energy, vitality, relaxation, and some are even mood enhancing or act as an aphrodisiac. Supercharging the body using plant-based tonics will prove to be one the key food trends of this year.
Coconut everything. Now regarded as the ultimate in superfoods, the coconut has been at the centre of the superfood revolution in recent years, and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Coconut products including coconut-based beauty products, coconut sugar, coconut flour and coconut chips and coconut drinks such as coconut milk iced coffees will make this yet another huge year for the popular fruit.
“Ugly” produce. An incredible 20-40 percent of fruit and vegetables are rejected by shops and supermarkets because they don’t look perfectly shaped. In other words, they are excellent in every way with the exception of a few minor visible blemishes. The latest move has been to educate people that this “ugly produce” is fine to eat and major supermarket chains have begun selling misshapen fruit and veggies at a discount.
Stem to root cooking. This is another trend that has arisen to combat food wastage. Similar to moves to use the whole animal carcass, stem to root cooking advocates that people use the whole of the plant; from the stem to the root. For example broccoli and parsley stems are not only edible, but nutritious. The movement also recommends washing vegetables rather than peeling them to get the full goodness.
Plant Based Proteins. As more people are looking to move away from meat as the primary source of protein in their diet, plant-based proteins have entered as a nutritional alternative. Lentils, chia seeds, nuts and seeds have all taken their place as an important protein source as we move into 2017.
Fermenting, Probiotics and Gut Health. The revelations of how much gut health and the balance of good and bad bacteria may have on our overall health has received big coverage in recent years. This is set to continue in the year ahead with more focus on a “back to the future” approach to traditional fermenting and pickling recipes for probiotic health.
Sprouting. During 2016 we learnt about the beneficial need for sprouting seeds before we eat them. Soaking and fermenting allows enzyme inhibitors (which prevent the seed from sprouting) to break down, making them more palatable, digestible and healthy for us. Sprouted seeds are now becoming easier to find on our health food store shelves.
Good fats. As mentioned previously, fats have made a comeback in our diet. We have been made aware of good fats in our diet, such as those derived from coconut, oily fish, avocados and organic butter. This year we will continue to see the decline of sales in margarine and highly processed vegetable oils, as more people transition over to diet in high in good fats.
These are just some of the expected food and health trends that are likely to be big in 2017. The importance of others — such as the latest superfoods, new found ways to reduce food waste and more localisation of our food — may show themselves as the year progresses. The theme for 2017 seems to have emerged that it’s up to us as individuals to make change in the benefit of our planet for our children and grandchildren at a grass roots level, and this largely includes the way we consume food.
Are there any other food and health trends that you think will be big in 2017? Please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.