The Rise Of Insect Protein
Food supply is a controversial topic these days on the global world stage with pundits worried about how we are going to feed what some experts say will be 20 billion people by the year 2050. Humans can’t live without the amino acids, found in protein in the animal and plant world and some people are betting on edible insect protein as a cheap and plentiful solution to feed the millions of hungry mouths that existing agriculture will struggle with. The form? Cricket flour protein bars, granola, chips and other dry snacks. Process wise, edible crickets are dried/dehydrated, then ground/milled into a fine powder and then mixed into the final product as you would any other protein powder. Companies to watch in this area are Chapul, Hopper Foods, eXo Protein, Six Foods and Crowbar Protein. Insects as a source of food may sound strange to many in the West, but anyone who has traveled across Asia will be familiar with grilled scorpions, maggot skewers and fried crickets at outdoor food markets throughout the region. And with double the amount of protein found in beef, expect to see cricket flour at your local health food store within the next two to five years.
Swimming With Sea Veggies
While you have been munching on nori sheets during your weekly sushi fix and supplementing with spirulina powder, the seaweed world has been expanding steadily and you now have a plethora of options when it comes to getting the goodness of the ocean into your diet. Sea spaghetti is a wonderful option for those trying to avoid excess carbs- perfect with the pasta sauce of your choice and made entirely of seaweed. Atlantic Kitchen has a great version that is much celebrated by UK Chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Dulse is another type of seaweed to get familiar with- it’s packed with umami so works great in most sauces and dips to round out the flavour- just add a couple of dried pieces. Want to jumpstart your homemade broth? Try adding some dried kombu. Instead of garlic butter, why not amp things up with gutweed to make a French style beurre aux algues? Yum! Even more innovative are the sea vegetable pestos (or tartars), basically condiments made using different types of chopped seaweeds like Wakame and sea lettuce mixed with capers, shallots, sea salt, olive oil…you get the picture. Serve with crudites or crackers, add to pasta or use as a sandwich spread. Both Marinoe and Porto Muinos offer a range of these.
Beyond Coconut Oil
At this point, you are probably at least familiar with coconut oil, coconut water and coocnut sugar if you don’t consume them already. Once relegated to the back aisles of a hippie health store, these products have become ubiquitous on mass supermarket shelves. But the fertile coconut plant has so much more to give you and the two next big trends in cocoland are coconut chips and coconut vinegars.
Coconut chips are thin coconut meat shavings that have been toasted or roasted until crispy. These fiber-packed chips are versatile when it comes to flavour- find them plain, or in sweet (cacao dusted/cinnamon) and savoury (sea salt & rosemary/ salt & vinegar) versions- they will definitely be giving kale chips a run for their money. Brands that have passed the taste test: Dang, bare and Hippie Foods.
Coconut vinegar is still relatively unknown as a cooking ingredient and flavoured coconut vinegars even more so but we found a company that is on a mission to make it the new balsamic. The Coconut Company offers consumers a range of six flavours: Classic, Garlic, Chili & Ginger, Coconut Nectar, Balsamic Style and Mother of Vinegar (aka the live culture) no matter what your culinary inspiration. All have distinct flavour profiles and pack a punch on the nutrition front: coconut vinegar is fermented, so it’s excellent for your gut health; it’s very low glycemic compared to other vinegars, so a great option for diabetics; and it’s full of minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese and potassium plus it contains all 9 essential amino acids.
The Return of Lard
Thanks to Paleo diet devotees, animal fats are back in vogue (although your vegan bestie may vehemently disagree): lard (pork fat), tallow (beef fat), poultry fat…suddenly demand for these traditional cooking fats are skyrocketing due to the newfound understanding of their many health benefits: high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, K, C, D and E and full of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Sustainable sourcing is the name of the game here and companies like Fatworks stock 100% free range pastured pork lard, 100% grass-fed kettle reared tallow and 100% free range pasture raised duck fat- they even have a special edition buffalo fat product. Also on the uptick: flavoured ghees with brands like Pure Indian Foods showcasing grass-fed and certified organic garlic ghee, herbes de Provence ghee and Ethiopian spiced ghee. Finally bullet coffee drinkers who are looking for a convenient fix might look to Coffee Blocks, a company whose motto is ‘butter coffee made easy, ‘ which they do with their extra virgin coconut oil, organic vanilla, fair trade coffee and grass-fed butter blocks- all you have to do is add the hot water!
Superfood Of The Year
When it comes to what nutrition-packed super powder to add to your morning smoothie, 2015’s answer is without a doubt the fruit from the magnificent baobab tree. The super fruit has been quietly gaining ground in the UK and Australia for a couple of years now, but we predict that this year, it’s going to go mega mainstream. Used medicinally in Africa for centuries, baobab is now revered in health food circles for a myriad of reasons: it’s full of Vitamin C, it’s extremely high in antioxidants, it’s a great liver tonic and it’s jam-packed with every and all minerals. The coconut like hard outer shell belies naturally dried pulp pieces, which are then pulverized into the powder that you would add to your blender. Brands like Aduna, Powbab and Baobest are the ones to watch.
Agua De Birch
Move aside coconut water. The hydrating drink that everyone will soon be looking for comes from birch trees in the forests of Finland and Belarus. What is it, you ask? Collected from the sap of birch trees, which contains a bevvy of minerals and vitamins that accumulate in their roots during winter, this new raw ‘miracle’ water packed with electrolytes is touted for its many health properties with claims that it helps to lower blood pressure, fight cell damage and improve cholesterol levels amongst other things. Birch water is going to hit the shelves like crazy very soon. Be ready! Players include Tapped, Byarozavik and Sibberi.