My back aches and my cholesterol must be through the roof, but once again, I’ve managed to taste my way through the Specialty Food Association’s annual Fancy Food Show, a breathtaking collection of every sweet, savory, salty, sour, fatty, spicy and umamifood one could ever possibly crave.
As I do every year, I’ve culled down the list of amazing foods I tasted into a shortlist of best bites, which represent delicious foods that have some legitimate health credentials to boot. These yummy mouthfuls rose above the fray of a highly competitive buffet of meat snacks, cold brew coffees, Indian-spiced popcorn, turmeric-infused chips and coconut … everything. Enjoy!
Best New Ways to Eat Drink Your Veggies
Most folks have a hard time fitting in the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. But I tasted some delicious and convenient foods that could make that easier. I loved the 100-percent beetroot powder from Love Beets, and thought it would make an easy addition to smoothies and yogurts. Not to mention, the magenta color is gorgeous! One tablespoon of powder is the equivalent of three medium-sized beets, making it a folate powerhouse.
And even though Tio Gazpacho already won me over last year with its refrigerated, ready-to-drink gazpacho soups, it gets another mention this year for its amazing new blends: one made with strawberry, basil and romaine, and another comprising corn, poblano and lime.
Best Next-Gen Hummus
By now, it would seem that hummus has undergone every possible iteration – you can find it made with all sorts of bean bases and flavors, even including sweet dessert varieties. And while I still prefer a good version of the original, I might make an exception for the fantastic Asian-inspired hummus options from Yumami. The black bean flavor was spiked with an unexpected hit of citrusy yuzu, and the edamame variety rocked my world a little bit with its accents of mirin and wasabi. There are adzuki bean ginger ponzu and lentil roasted onion shiitake flavors as well. As if that wasn’t enough to love, Yumami’s hummus is higher in protein and fiber than garden variety chickpea hummus.
Best Low-FODMAP Condiments for Sensitive Stomachs
If you’ve got irritable bowel syndrome or suffer from chronic gas and bloating, you’re probably familiar with the low-FODMAP diet – an Australian food plan that reduces the amount of fermentable (read: gassy) carbs in your diet in order to help treat certain conditions. But anyone who’s tried sticking to the diet for a long period of time knows it’s not easy; the lack of suitable condiments is a real problem. After all, with both onions and garlic – foods that are in virtually all marinades and dressings, as well as in salsa, guacamole and pesto – off limits, what’s a follower to eat? Even hummus is off the table, thanks (or not) to the beans.
But when I tasted Zesty Z, a Mediterranean za’atar spread, I knew instantly it’d be the low-FODMAP pesto substitute of my patients’ dreams. The Lebanese-inspired condiment has the same herbaceous flavor profile and olive oil-slicked texture, but it’s made with low-FODMAP herbs and sesame seeds instead. Even if your digestive plumbing works just fine, you’ll still want to grab a jar to accessorize your avocado toast.
I also swooned over a Macedonian-inspired condiment: Mama’s homestyle ajvar(pronounced EYE-var). It’s smooth and creamy like a spread, but has enough chunkiness to stand in as a salsa and enough body to serve as a sauce. In other words: This onion- and garlic-free condiment made from roasted red pepper and eggplant is going to infiltrate your sandwiches, omelets, chips and dip platters, and pasta dishes before you know it. Trust me.
Best Upgrades to Your Guilty Snacking Pleasures
You can no longer feign ignorance of the terrible nutrition credentials of a certain addictive European chocolate and hazelnut spread which shall remain nameless: It’s got 5 full teaspoons of sugar (21 grams in a measly 2 tablespoons). To help break your addiction, I offer you Maisie Jane’s chocolate hazelnut butter. It’s insanely nutty and delicious, with a far more acceptable sugar content: 1 teaspoon (or 5 grams) per serving.
If you or your kids gravitate toward salty snacks over sweet ones, perhaps you’ll be open to upgrading those empty calorie chips and pretzels to a more wholesome alternative: Popped Chickpeatos from Watusee Foods. Made from green peas and chickpeas instead of flours and starches, they’ve got a decent amount of fiber (3 grams) and protein (4 grams) for a chip.
Best Daily 3 p.m Chocolate Fix
There were some seriously delicious chocolates in the house at this year’s show, but so many of them were so over-the-top indulgent that they’d be hard to justify using for your daily chocolate fix. So I landed on Skinny Dipped Almonds to fill that important role. They’re a chocolate-covered almond dusted with a layer of cocoa powder.
At first glance, this may not sound particularly new or exciting – until you realize that the layer of chocolate coating is a fraction of the thickness of your standard chocolate-dipped almond. That means total chocolate satisfaction with way less sugar than the industry standard – about 40 to 50 percent less sugar per serving, by my calculations. That amounts to 6 grams (or 1.5 teaspoons) per serving. I also liked that this is one chocolate fix that could actually hold your hunger for a bit, given that it includes a satisfying serving of almonds.