Once upon a time, not that long ago, blueberries were the only superfood on our minds. In recent years, the globalization of food has brought strange new fruits, vegetables, and grains to our stores; while the farm-to-table movement created seasonally generated demand for food grown right in our own backyards. What’s hot right now might vary greatly depending on your region, access, or just how much you’re willing to spend on food. Not to worry though, getting behind these food trends will not only be good for your health, adding them to your daily routine won’t break the bank. Alternative Flours People are running from traditional white flour. Heavily processed, bleached, stripped of wheat bran and germ, white flour is right behind processed sugar as the unhealthiest food item we consume. For those allergic to gluten, whole wheat isn’t an option either. Thankfully, there are now tons of alternatives. Almond, coconut, soy quinoa, coconut, barley, and spelt are all making the way to more and more store shelves. Many provide protein, vitamins, and amino acids that help us with a more balanced diet. Just be sure to check the label - the conversion is not always cup-for-cup when substituting for white flour in recipes. Chia Seeds Remember chia pets? Like many of you who fondly remember these growing “works of art”, I had no idea the seed was edible. Cultivated since pre-Columbian times, chia is a flowing plant of the mint family known as Salvia Hispanica. It provides a rich source of fiber, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, protein, calcium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, and magnesium. The dried seeds can be easily added to foods such as pudding or cakes; or added to smoothies or water for drinking on the go. Vegetarian Options Whether you jump on the bandwagon of Meatless Mondays, save meat for the weekends, or just incorporate more vegetable options, flexible dieting is trending. Going beyond 2016’s “clean” eating, flexitarianism, which is a diet predominately vegetarian, isn’t necessarily new - but it is gaining popularity. Cutting down on meat consumption is not only good for your health, but good for the planet, since raising fruits and vegetables is much less taxing on water and land resources than raising animals. Start out by swapping meat a couple meals per week with filling alternatives such as sweet potatoes, legumes, mushrooms, or eggplant. Once you start you’ll realize how easy it is to be a flexitarian. Pea Protein Pea protein comes in a powder and is made from extracting the soluble protein from yellow split peas, Pisum Sativum. It’s a great option for those that cannot have the protein powders made from soy or dairy sources due to health or dietary restrictions. Pea protein is absorbed easily, and delivers the branched-chain amino acids isoleucine, valine, arginine, and lysine. The taste is not a concern; thankfully it doesn’t taste like peas. This powder has a neutral taste and can be mixed in with your favorite smoothie without any off-putting aftertaste. Avocado Toast If you scroll through Instagram for more than five minutes you’re likely to see a number of posts with avocado toast carefully positioned for maximum envy effect. This food duo is something we can all get behind. The avocado is full of healthy fats, has more potassium than bananas, and is filled with fiber and vitamins. Pair it up with whole grain or gluten free toast (maybe made with alternative flour), and you’ll have yourself a balanced, filling meal. The options for additional toppings, drizzles, and seasoning are practically endless, because who doesn’t love bread and avocados? It’s a gift to your taste buds that just won’t quit. Love reading, talking and learning more about food? Maybe a career in nutrition is a good fit for you. Check out the Functional Nutrition training at meditec.com and find out!