I just returned from the Expo West trad show, where many new “health” foods are introduced. Here’s a look at some of the most-hyped new foods and whether or not you should be adding them to your shopping cart.
Are crickets the new kale? Totally…according to the marketers of cricket flour and cricket bars. Crickets are poised to become the new Gluten-free- and eco-friendly superfood. They’re touted future of sustainable high-quality protein. According to Iowa State University, a 3.5 ounce serving of cricket has 13 grams of protein, 5.5 grams fat, 5 grams carbohydrate, 76 mg calcium and 9.5 mg iron. The same serving size of beef, poultry or fish would have 25-30 grams of protein but with a fraction of the energy inputs and environmental impact of animal-based protein.
How do crickets get into food products like energy bars? They’re cleaned and dried to remove the moisture and then milled into flour. Currently, brands like Chapul and EXO use dates, nuts, honey or other sweeteners and combine with cricket flour to make the protein bars in many flavors, like Cacao Nut or Peanut Butter & Jelly. But watch out because the bars contain about twice as much sugar as they do protein. If your curious, try one on your next Jet Blue flight as EXO Protein Bars are one of their snack options.
Cashew and Camel Milk
If you’re lactose intolerant, have no fear, milk alternatives can be found everywhere and are becoming quite popular. While soymilk and almond milk were once the trending milk alternatives, now new nut milks are taking center stage, like cashew milk. It’s creamier than skim milk (thanks to it’s higher fat content) but has just 60 calories per serving (compared to 90 in skim milk). However, cashew milk has less than a gram of protein.
Camel milk is also becoming more widely available and is great for those who are allergic to cow’s milk, and has been prized by nomads and Bedouins for centuries. Camel milk has about 100 calories per 8 oz. serving and 5 grams protein, 4.5 grams fat and 8 grams of natural sugars. It is also naturally high in calcium like cow’s milk. For food safety, pasteurized products are recommended, but raw camel milk is also available.
By now, you’ve heard all about bone broth, but maybe you haven’t had a chance to try it or don’t really know what’s in it? Here’s the bone broth basics: It’s made from meat or poultry bones, that are sometimes roasted first, combined with water, vinegar and spices and simmered at low heat for up to 24 hours.
Once thoroughly cooked, all the solids are removed and the liquid is strained to become bone broth. Because the bones cook for so long (and with some vinegar) proteins and some minerals, like calcium and iron, leach from the bones into the broth. However, while it does have more protein than regular chicken broth, there is no data to suggest bone broth provides any health benefits that chicken or any other protein source offers.
The pesky plant you call a “weed” in your yard is actually a nutrient-packed salad green that’s for sale at farmer’s markets and natural foods retailers. The greens are even cropping up on the menus of top chefs. The trendy spring salad green is rich in vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytonutrients. They also have just 25 calories and 3 grams fiber per cup and contain calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc.
If you’re intimidated by the thought of cooking with dandelion greens, don’t be. They’re easy to use and will leave your guests impressed and satisfied. Use on salads or to top sandwiches or simply sautéed for an easy side dish. They’re great braised or your can add fresh chopped leaves to any grain or pilaf dish. If you’re feeling extra creative, whip up this dandelion pesto dip for your next spring picnic.
Haven’t heard of matcha? Here’s what you need to know. This finely milled green tea powder is a key component of traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and its use dates back thousands of years. Today, matcha has made quite a splash in the health arena, mainly due to its powerful antioxidants. Matcha can be added to smoothies and batters to amp up the nutritional profile of your favorite beverages and baked goods. But beware of many commercial beverages and smoothies made with matcha as some have more added sugar than sodas and many aren’t made with high-quality matcha.
Matcha also provides a substantial amount of caffeine, which is good news for those looking for a caffeine-laced pick-me-up. Research shows that the concentration of a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in matcha is 137 times greater than the amount of EGCG available from China green tips green tea, and at least three times higher than the amount available from other green teas (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14518774). While further research is needed, some studies indicate that EGCG may help in the fight against certain cancers as well as cardiovascular and neurological diseases.