Now more than ever, food choices have become a way to advocate for the type of world we want to live in. Sustainability and social responsibility drive many food companies to create products that are not only healthy, but that also protect and enhance the land and people who grow and produce food-with non-GMO, organic, and Fair Trade practices, as well as humane treatment of animals, at the top of the list. Convenient, wholesome foods are being made without relying on toxic ingredients and additives, and allergen-free selections are becoming commonplace.
So regardless of your particular food issues or preferences, there are plenty of healthy, delicious-and convenient-options available today. Here are some of our favorite healthy food trends.
1 - Meat Bars: History Repeats Itself
Grass-fed, sustainably raised meat has been gaining popularity for several years, and now it's making its way into the world of nutrition bars and is another healthy food trend. Maybe meat bars were inevitable, given the popularity of paleo-style diets, but they aren't really a new concept in healthy food trends.
Made of dried buffalo meat pounded together with fruit, meat bars were on-the-go foods of Native Americans for centuries, and a traditional recipe was the basis for Tanka Bars and other convenient bison meat snacks created by Native American Natural Foods. Founded in 2006 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the company embraces social responsibility and sustainability with a mission to revitalize a buffalo-based economy on Native American prairies and restore a healthy way of life.
Other companies have developed a variety of different recipes. Epic Bars, made from grass-fed, humanely raised animals, come in Bison, Beef, Chicken, Venison, and Bacon varieties. Wilde invented a new, proprietary slow-baking process to create bars made with sustainably raised meat and plant superfoods. Choose from a variety of flavors, including Strawberry Black Pepper Slow-Baked Bison Bar.
Bone BrothPacked with naturally extracted nutrients from animal bones, bone broth has become a trendy drink. But since it needs to simmer for hours, few people have the time to make it at home from scratch. Enter frozen Bonafide Provisions Restorative Bone Broth, made from grass-fed beef or pasture-raised chickens-a time-saving way to benefit.
2 - Plant Innovation
As sustainable meats have been gaining popularity, so too have plant-based alternatives-but long gone are the days when soy was the go-to meat substitute.
The Beyond Burger from Beyond Meat is being hailed as the most meat-like vegan burger ever created. Not only is it reported to have a real meat mouth-feel, but if it's pricked, it bleeds-beet juice, that is. Made with pea protein, The Beyond Burger is soy-free, gluten-free, and doesn't contain GMOs.
Cool Foods Veggie Bacon Bits + Dips are made from air-dried, gluten-free, non-GMO pinto beans and contain no soy. Sprinkle them anywhere you'd like bacon, or just add water to make a quick dip. Bring 3/4 cup of water to a boil. Add a 3-oz. bag of Veggie Bacon Bits. Stir 2-3 minutes, until creamy. Allow to cool, and serve. Or refrigerate for later.
Nondairy Milk Trend: Macadamia Nut Milk
Looking for the next dairy alternative? Try Royal Hawaiian Orchards Macadamia Milk, which contains no artificial ingredients, GMOs, or common allergens such as gluten.
3 - Probiotics Within
Yogurt has been our go-to food source of probiotics, but there are other ways to get those friendly gut bugs, such as kombucha, a fermented tea made with sugar. Organic and naturally gluten-free Wild Tonic Jun Kombucha is made with raw honey and comes in recyclable dark-blue bottles to protect the probiotics from UV damage. The company is involved in bee conservation and uses earth-friendly methods in producing its tea.
Probiotics in a chocolate bar? Yes! Solgar ohso Good Chocolate bars combine high-quality Belgian chocolate with a daily dose of probiotics. More than 1 billion live Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotic cultures go into every bar.
Naturally fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut, are other sources of good gut bugs, but some supermarket versions are pasteurized, which kills the live cultures. Farmhouse Culture Kraut, on the other hand, is fermented the traditional way. It's organic, non-GMO, and comes in special packaging designed to protect the beneficial bugs.
Gut-Friendly "Butter"-a New Way to Enjoy Healthy Fats
MELT Organic Probiotic Buttery Spread delivers a patented live probiotic designed to be even more stable than the beneficial bugs in yogurt. It's certified organic, non-GMO, vegan, and contains Fair Trade certified coconut oil and Rainforest Alliance certified palm fruit oil.
4 - Sustainable Inventions
Sustainable methods of farming, harvesting, and producing food are becoming the norm in the natural products industry-and some companies are using them to address specific problems.
- Eco-friendly coffee brewing: Single-serve coffee capsules, or pods, are an ecological hazard, producing enough trash to circle the earth at least 11 times. Recyclable Marley Coffee EcoCups are a sustainable solution and work with many popular coffee makers. Varieties include One Love, Smile Jamaica, and Lively Up! Espresso.
- Edible cups: Concerned about disposable cups polluting the planet? Loliware offers sustainable, biodegradable cups that you can eat. Made from seaweed, organic sweeteners, and fruits and vegetables, they contain no plastic and are gluten-free, gelatin-free, and non-GMO, with or without natural flavoring.
Sustainability in a Can
Meat and fish counters in natural supermarkets often display information about the sustainability of different foods, and many producers of canned goods are doing the same. Bela Sardines and tuna are sustainably caught in Portugal. Wild Planet produces a variety of sustainable canned seafood, as well as Organic Roasted Chicken Breast. To compare sustainability of canned tuna brands, look for the Greenpeace Tuna Shopping Guide at greenpeace.org.
5 - "Free From" Products
Avoiding allergens or ingredients that simply don't agree with you no longer means foregoing your favorite foods or preparing separate dishes for sensitive family members. These options are delicious and nutritious for everyone.
Daiya vegan pizza, mac and cheese, other cheesy foods, and dressings are free of seven major allergens: dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, peanuts, fish, and shellfish.
Enjoy Life Foods is dedicated to making delicious cookies, baking mixes, chips, and other snacks without common allergens, including wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish, shellfish, sulfites, crustaceans, sesame, and mustard.
Feel Good Foods puts delicious Asian dishes within reach for celiacs. Their certified gluten-free, non-GMO options include vegetable fried brown rice, dumplings, egg rolls, and chicken and beef dishes. Plus, all of their products come in sustainably produced packaging.
Living NOW has perfected the art of gluten-free baking with their extensive line of mixes, including flour blends and bread and pancake mixes.
Allergens in candy and desserts can be challenging. Bixby & Co. chocolate-nut-fruit bars are handcrafted in Maine, and are organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher, vegan, and Rainforest Alliance certified. Let's Do...Organic Sprinkelz and Let's Do...Gluten Free Sugar Cones add a traditional touch to gluten-free frozen desserts. Instead of traditional malt balls, try I Heart Keenwah Chocolate Puffs, which are certified gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO, and made with Fair Trade ingredients For baking or pancakes, try Let's Do...Organic's new Organic Green Banana Flour.
A Nut Butter Alternative
Can't eat peanut or tree nut butters? Try peanut- and nut-free, gluten-free Sesame King Tahini. It's available in a variety of flavors, including Chocolate.
Healthy Food Trends for Dogs
Don't Forget Fido
Dogs, like people, can have difficulty digesting grain. For your best friend, try a certified organic, grain-free dish from Castor & Pollux Organix.
6 - Better for You
Who doesn't want healthier versions of staples? Enter Nature's Way Liquid Coconut Premium Oil. This high-quality oil contains significantly more medium chain triglycerides (MCTs-fats considered to be especially therapeutic) than typical coconut oil.
Snacks are a challenge because so many are rich in calories, but poor in nutrients. Here are some delicious-yet nutritious-alternatives.
Ginger's Healthy Habits Veggie Trail Mix is the first to be made of raw, dehydrated vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Each naturally seasoned variety-Maple Cinnamon, Garlic and Herb, and Pepperoni Pizza-is air-crisped for crunch and brimming with flavor.
VegiDay Organic Coconut Crunch and Coconut Chips can top cereal, desserts, or yogurt, or be eaten as a nutritious snack. The company is on a mission to enhance the health of the planet with sustainably produced foods too delicious to resist. Plus they're free of gluten, soy, and dairy.
Beanitos Black & White Bean Skinny Dippers are among the latest flavors from the company that invented the bean chip. Made without any corn or potato, one serving contains only 90 calories and 2 grams of fat, plus all the fiber and protein of a quarter-cup of beans.
Element Dark Chocolate Dipped Rice Cakes and Corn Cakes are made with locally sourced ingredients. With only 80 calories and 5 grams of sugar per cake, they're gluten-free and non-GMO, with no artificial ingredients.
If your taste buds are ready for more than coconut water, try Elmhurst Naturals Banana Water or Steaz Organic Cactus Water.
Certifications & Label lingo
These are some of the most popular certifications. You’ll see them on many food packages and company websites.
What it means
Where to get more information
Produced according to rules set by the USDA Organic Program, and certified by a third-party organization qualified by the USDA. Organic foods cannot contain GMOs.
Non-GMO Project Verified.
Does not contain GMO ingredients, and is verified by the nonprofit Non-GMO Project.
Manufacturers may voluntarily label foods “gluten-free” if they meet an FDA requirement of containing no known sources of gluten and less than 20 parts per million of gluten (to avoid significant cross-contamination). Foods may also be certified gluten-free by an independent certifying organization, such as the Gluten-Free Certification Organization.
To gain B Corp certification, manufacturers must meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency, determined by the nonprofit organization B Lab.
Made according to social, environmental, and economic standards that protect workers and the environment and empower local communities around the world.
Made according to Rainforest Alliance standards, which conserve wildlife, safeguard soils and waterways, protect workers and local communities, and increase livelihoods.
Marine Stewardship Council
Certifies fisheries that catch seafood in a sustainable manner and use methods that help maintain the natural ecosystem.