Especially when it comes to planning your diet and the food choices that keep you healthy and losing weight. Here at Eat This, Not That!, we’ve followed the predictions for 2015 since they started popping up last fall, and here’s a roundup of our favorites. Some are ancient, some are new, some are downright weird. But all of them, whether or not they take the foodie world by storm, are good for your health. So you can leave the stretchy pants at home.
Kalettes … The New Kale
Kale and Brussels sprouts met at a party, instantly hit it off and … they had a baby! It’s called Kalette, and 2015 is the time for the U.S. to celebrate the “sweet & nutty" arrival. The leafy green hybrid, a development by the British company Tozer Seeds, debuted the vegetable in the U.K. back 2010 before bringing it across the pond to the U.S. late last year. Marketed as “a fusion of sweet & nutty,” kalettes look like baby cabbages with frilly, purple veined leaves; they taste, well, like a cross between kale and brussels sprouts, though slightly less bitter. A small bowl of the newbie green (1.5 cups) contains a similar nutritional profile to its parents, with a mere 45 calories and a whopping 120 percent of the required daily value for vitamin K, a nutrient studies associate with bone health and fat loss through improved insulin sensitivity. Call it cool, call it crazy, kal-ette whatever you like: but make sure you celebrate the new fresh fusion, now available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, nationwide.
So over the whole kale fuss? We found 10 greens that are healthier for you than kale so you can mix up your salad greens again.
Harissa … The New Sriracha
Sriracha, you’re smoking hot and all, but we’ve met this new saucy number, Harissa and things are heating up. A spicy paste made with hot chili peppers, garlic and spices such as coriander and caraway seeds, harissa is a staple of North African cuisine. Chefs love its smoky, mellow heat and are starting to incorporate it into everything from chicken wings to scrambled eggs. A tablespoon has about 70 calories, but a little bit goes a long way and the ingredients pack some serious health benefits. Capsaicin, the compound that gives the chili sauce its powerful kick, has proven to suppress appetite and boost metabolism. One study by Canadian researchers found that when men ate appetizers with red chile sauce ate about 200 fewer calories at later meals than those that did not. And recent research into caraway seed has found regular consumption of this spice can alter gut microbes and improve weight loss. So make a date with harissa this year. We’re pretty sure the hottie will have you coming back for more.
Stem-to-Root … The New Nose-to-Tail
How do you eat broccoli, circa 2015? Perhaps not as you ate the cruciferous veg last year. There’s a new food trend on the brink of superfoodie stardom, and it could revolutionize the way you eat fresh produce. It’s called “stem-to-root” or “stem-to-peel,” and it refers to eating the entire fruit or vegetable, including the parts we normally toss in the garbage, like citrus peel or the stem and leaves of broccoli. As wholesale food costs are on the rise, minimizing waste and maximizing ingredient yield are among the top culinary trends for 2015, according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual "What’s Hot" culinary forecast. And the benefits of using the scraps don’t stop at sustainability and affordability; they’re also brimming with nutrients. Consider the stalk of broccoli. Just as tasty as the florets, the oft disposed-of stalk has the added bonus of providing 4 grams of fiber—more than you’ll find in a bowl of Quaker oats! Oh, and don’t forget the broccoleaf! Just one serving provides 100 percent of your daily need for vitamin C. Try slicing broccoli stalks into matchsticks and enjoy the entire vegetable in slaw, on salads, or in a stir-fry. You’ll be doing your health, wallet and the environment a favor.
Insect Protein … The New Soy Protein
Soy is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of getting protein into food products like protein bars, but manufacturers are searching for non-GMO sources. Enter: insects. Totally natural and totally Fear Factor, tiny insects pack a nutritional wallop. Crickets have about as much protein as chicken breast and a bit more fat (20.5 g and 6.8 g respectively, per 100 grams), plus three times the calcium. Whey protein isolate, the main ingredient in many protein products, is about 80 percent protein, according to Daniella Martin, author of Edible: An Adventure Into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet. That’s after industrial processing. By comparison, dried crickets in their natural form weigh in at 65 percent protein. Processed as a flour, the nutritional benefits are even greater. Health food forecasters don’t predict full bodied insects to be showing up in grocery stores anytime soon, but insect-powered protein bars like Exo, Chapul and Crowbar are expected to make quite the invasion.
Matcha … The Newest Green Tea
Green tea in its traditional form had a bit of a moment last year, but 2015 has something matcha better in store. Derived from the Japanese tencha leaf and then stone ground into a bright-green fine powder, matcha literally means “powdered tea,” and it’s incredibly good for you. Research shows the concentration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in matcha to be 137 times greater than the amount you’ll find in most store-bought green tea. EGCG is a dieter’s best friend: studies have shown the compound can simultaneously boost lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and block adipogenesis (the formation of fat cells) particularly in the belly. One study found men who drank green tea containing 136 mg EGCG—what you’ll find in a single 4 gram serving of matcha—lost twice as much weight than a placebo group (-5.3 vs -2.8 lbs), and four times as much visceral (belly) fat over the course of 3 months. You can prepare the powder as a traditional tea drink as the zen monks have done since 1191 A.D., or enjoy the superfood 2015-style in lattes, iced drinks, milkshakes and smoothies. Need one more reason for tea-time? A single serving sneaks in 4 grams of protein—that’s more than an egg white!
Wondering why tea's so good for you? Here's all you need to know about green tea and weight loss.
High (Animal) Fat … The New High Protein
O.M.Ghee! Eating fat doesn’t make you fat! In fact, a new surge of interest in the benefits of regularly eating natural, animal-derived fat makes it one of the top health food trends to watch in 2015. Books like Nina Teicholtz’s bestseller The Big Fat Surprise have fueled the argument, and chefs and foodies are following suit, adding red meat and full-fat dairy to their menus and dishes with gusto. There’s plenty of science to back up the high-fat push. In one study, middle-aged men who consumed full-fat milk, butter and cream were significantly less likely to become obese over a period of 12 years, compared with men who never or rarely ate high-fat dairy. An analysis of 16 observational studies in the European Journal of Nutrition came to the same conclusion: in most cases, high-fat dairy is associated with a lower risk of obesity and cardiometabolic disease.
One particularly trendy fat to try is ghee, a clarified butter, particularly popular in Indian cooking. Because the milk solids have been removed, it’s very low in lactose (milk fat) and almost purely the “good” kind of saturated fat. Like coconut oil, ghee is rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which new research suggests may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. One study found rats fed high CLA ghee showed a 26 percent reduction in total cholesterol in just 21 days. As with any major dietary shift, you should consult a physician before making bacon and butter your regular brekkie, but experts say now’s the time to banish any lingering phobia and start enjoying animal-derived fats as part healthy balanced diet. At least this year.
Coconut Sugar … The New Honey
Coconut oil is sooo good for you. Yea, and sooo last year. Foodies are moving on to a different palm product, or maybe just making room in the pantry for another addiction: coconut sugar, also known as palm sugar, has been used as a sweetener for thousands of years in Southeast Asia where coconuts are abundant, and it’s gaining popularity here in the U.S. as a “healthier” sugar alternative. Unlike pure table sugar, only 78 percent of coconut sugar is actually sugar; the remaining 22 percent comes from nutrients like zinc, iron and fiber—more specifically, inulin, a type of insoluble fiber that acts as a prebiotic to feed the healthy bacteria in your gut and slows down the digestion and absorption of sugar into the blood. One study in the journal Nutrition Research and Practice found coconut sugar to score a relatively low 35 on the glycemic index, a measure of how quickly blood glucose levels rise in response to food with a measure of one to 100. Comparatively, table sugar clocks in at 80; high fructose corn syrup gets an 87. But don’t throw out your sugar detox resolution yet. While coconut sugar is marketed as a “low GI sweetener,” it’s still sugar: caloric and potentially fattening. So approach this 2015 health trend with caution. Consider coconut sugar the new honey—an ever-so-slightly better alternative to table sugar.