Juicing is so last year… 2016 is all about souping. And that’s great news for our health. Why? Because souping uses the whole vegetable, so retains the vital nutrient fibre, which is lost through juicing. We’re not just talking savoury soups – the trend for dessert soups and smoothie bowls has taken Instagram by storm. For more conventional seasonal recipe inspiration, see here.
2 Sprouted grains
Our ancestors lived off them, and now sprouted flours, breads and oats are appearing on supermarket shelves countrywide. Historically, grains such as wheat, oats and barley were left to sprout naturally in fields, but modern-day farmers began to harvest and mill the grains while they were still dormant. Now the agricultural world is beginning to hark back to its yesteryear roots, again allowing the grains to germinate before harvesting. Nutrition-wise, sprouted grains are believed to be easier to digest as the sprouting process breaks down the starches into simple sugars, and contain more vitamins, minerals and protein. But is it worth switching from self-raising to sprouted flour? We tested Rude Health’s Sprouted Whole Spelt Flour – read out verdict here.
3 Natural sugar alternatives
First fat was the enemy, then sugar got a beating. The war against the sweet stuff rages on, putting food manufacturers under increasing pressure to reduce the added sugar in their products. This year, it’s predicted natural sweeteners such as stevia, maple syrup, agave syrup, date syrup, monk fruit and coconut palm sugar will be top of the sugar-swap list. Some of these alternatives such as stevia are calorie free, while date syrup provides nutrients not present in refined sugar. However, there’s little research to suggest these ‘natural’ alternatives are any better for our health. Our advice? Swap high-sugar biscuits and chocolate with fruit, to reduce calories and fat and boost fibre and vitamins.
Regular HFG readers will already be familiar with the many benefits of probiotics – live bacteria that boost the population of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. For a while now, we’ve been able to get our fill from dairy products such as yogurts, fermented milk drinks and supplements. But dietitian Sarah-Jane Bedwell reckons we’ll soon be seeing more everyday foods fortified with probiotics: ‘It won’t be uncommon to find probiotic-fortified foods and beverages, such as orange juice, cereals and waters.’ As well as being good for digestive health, research suggests that probiotics may be helpful in treating symptoms of depression due to an important connection between the gut and brain.
Lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas have been associated with a reduced risk of many health problems, including diabetes. One study even linked high intakes of pulses to fewer deaths from coronary heart disease and the World Cancer Research Fund recommends eating more pulses to protect against cancer. The United Nations believes so strongly in these protein powerhouses that it dubbed 2016 the International Year of Pulses. As well as being a vital source of plant-based protein, fibre and amino acids (so a great choice for vegans and vegetarians), pulses can aid weight loss by keeping you feeling full for longer.
Read our article on why meat-free days are good for you.
What makes beetroot such a great ingredient is that it contains high amounts of fibre and blood-pressure-lowering potassium. Plus it’s loaded with manganese, which is vital for healthy bones and protecting cells from damage. Food companies are harnessing the unique health benefits of this earthy veg with a rise in beetroot-based products – look out for purple-hued juices, hummus and sports drinks. Try adding young beetroot leaves to salads or stir-fries, and give this punchy dip a go.
7 Managing food waste
There’s growing emphasis on sustainability and reducing food waste in restaurants, shops and the home, where 60% of food waste occurs. According to figures from Love Food Hate Waste, 7 million tonnes of food and drink are thrown away every year in the UK – enough to fill Wembley Stadium nine times. Time to tackle how to cut food waste in your home…
Find out which foods you can easily freeze.
8 Meat-free protein
With sausages, bacon and other red meats receiving bad press last year, there’ll likely be a rise in the demand for vegetable proteins in 2016. Adults need around 0.75g protein per kg bodyweight daily (so, for someone weighing 60kg, that’s around 45g protein a day). As a guideline, the daily value you’ll see on nutrition labels is set at 50g. That may sound a lot when meat and fish are taken out of the equation – but there are many foods that pack a protein punch. Read about HFG recipe consultant Phil Mundy’s favourite meat-free proteins.