By Natasha Reta, Culinary Consultant
Food trends in 2021 are focused on health and sustainability, which is surprisingly delicious. These healthy trends are flavorful and exciting. Try them out for healthy alternatives when you are tired of the same old same old.
Canned or cooked from raw, chickpeas are an amazing source of fiber and protein. Besides exploding on the market in various hummus flavors, chickpea is also used as a gluten-free flour alternative. And because we all love chickpeas so much, we found yet another alternate way to use chickpeas, by using their water waste. Also known as Aquafaba. The starchy liquid leftover from cooked chickpeas can be used to make vegan whipped cream, mayo, plant butter, egg substitute, and more! Don’t want to cook it from raw? Try opening a can and saving the liquid you would normally drain out.
If left on the tree, banana blossom would grow into bananas, but this blossom may be the next new plant-based alternative for vegan meat. When cooked, the tightly packed petals of the banana blossom mimic the flaky texture of fish. The dark purple husk of the blossom is removed to reveal tender, yellow-green leaves inside. The taste has been compared to artichoke or bamboo shoots. Although not readily available fresh in areas that do not produce bananas, these blossoms are also sold canned, jarred, and sometimes frozen.
It sounds like a mythical creature, but in fact, it’s a hardy shrub with thorny branches, willowy leaves, and bright orange-yellow berries. A native of Asia and Europe, this small berry has been emerging in popularity due to its high amount of vitamin c and B12. It’s used in juices, preserves, smoothies, chocolate, and even skincare products. Look for sea buckthorn berries dried in your local health market.
Made of sesame seeds, this treat is popular in the Middle East and seen on brunch platters and served as dessert. It is currently being sold on the market in various products, including shelf-stable halva slices and halva butter. Halva originated in Persia as a mash of dates and milk. As preparations varied throughout its discovery, the word began to refer to any confectioners sweet made of a mash and flour or semolina paste. This sesame seed version is a later modified recipe adopted by the Ottoman Turks. This halva has a dry and crumbled texture that dissolves into a sugary sweet paste on your tongue with warm notes of toasted sesame seeds.
Tired of the same grains? Fonio is an ancient grain from Senegal that is gluten-free, high in dietary fiber, and supports sustainable land use. It is growing in popularity due to its use in porridge, couscous, bread, and even beer. The fonio millet species grows to maturity in as little as six to eight weeks and grows in dry climates without irrigation and poor soil. Compared to quinoa in texture, fonio is also used as a gluten-free ingredient in chips, cereals, and crackers.