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Christmas, and the unbridled indulgence that accompanies it, has come and gone in a flash, leaving behind only the consequences of stuffing ourselves like a turkey for weeks on end. So with January upon us, the annual promise to ourselves to lead a clean, green, and wholly holistic lifestyle sets in, and all of us go about undoing the wrongs we did to our poor waist lines over the festive period. More than two thirds of Britons make a New Years resolution to get healthier every year, and many will be looking at altering their eating habits to kick start that change. Where once wheatgrass and spirulina detox smoothies were reserved for harem pant wearing eco hippies, now any self-respecting, newly paid up gym member must be seen chugging one down as they reacquaint themselves with their spinning class. So with healthy eating becoming fashionable and such a massive seasonal increase in the demand for dieting regimes, how are the food industry supplying consumers with the answers to their slimming needs?
With consumers becoming increasingly aware of how they look and feel in the long and short term, new dieting trends are playing an increasingly large role in their food spending, in and out of home. Taking us back to our caveman roots, the Paleo diet is one regime that gained real traction last year due to its wholesome and easy follow nature. Based upon everyday modern foods that mimic the food groups of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors, the Paleo diet cuts out processed foods by focusing on naturally reared meat, fish and nuts, as well as fresh fruit and veg. Australia’s Paleo Café was the first restaurant to wholly cater to this new eating regimen, but has been closely followed by London’s Pure Taste in offering this ancient gluten and dairy free diet. Stemming from this, the latest of New York’s food craze’s, Bone Broth, has seemingly replaced miso as the go to low calorie winter warmer, with the purveyors of the simple yet flavoursome liquor vying for the title of the city’s best broth. In retail, Primal Pacs has positioned itself as the go to Paleo snack with its grass fed beef jerky, however, 2015’s winner of the most outlandish entrance into the retail food industry award goes to Reebok with their own bacon. Wooing the carb-adverse, cross-fit loving Paleo community their bacon boasts no artificial additives, flavourings, or preservatives, instead sticking to the basic with just two ingredients, pork and salt.
The 5:2 Diet is undoubtedly the most popular diet for those looking to shed the pounds without having to fully commit to a life of constant calorie counting. The notion of two days fasting might not appeal to everyone, but for those less disciplined it gives them the free reign to enjoy their food as they want for the majority of their week. Itsu and Leon both now offer 300 calorie snacking options for fasting days, and MyFood.com are now offering tailor made 5:2 meal plans delivered to your front door. It doesn’t just stop at the 5:2 plan however, a number of sites, including Detox Kitchen, now offer custom made meal delivery services that cater to wide range of nutritional and allergen free diets. Either for medical or lifestyle choices, it allows consumers to proactively make food choices about their own diet. Vegan, gluten free, ‘superfood’ and high protein options are no longer a luxury afforded to consumers with very specific dietary requirements, but an expectation that most cafes, restaurants and chains will have to cater to.
In striving to satisfy the demand for nutritionally packed and allergen free foods that remove all of the consumer’s undesirables without compromising on flavour, texture, and appearance; new ingredients have come to the forefront and are set to take centre stage in 2015. For the dairy free among us, Almond milk may have been the go to source of calcium in 2014; but pistachio milk with its delicate flavour, lower calorific content, and intriguing green colour is taking its mantle. Similarly look out for more nutritionally valuable ranges of nut butters to accompany your average peanut and almond, including the newest nut/tuber in town, the tiger nut. As sales of Jason Vale (the world’s leading light on juicing) Juicemasters sky rocketed this festive period, the trend for pressing and juicing looks set to continue, and a daily dose of green juice from blended apple, cucumber, and kale looks to still be on the cards. However, it’s soon to be unseated from its throne as the ultimate morning detox food by the Acai bowl. Known as the beauty berry, it’s safe to say its health benefits are pretty impressive. The fruit sorbet like treat is a wildly flavoursome breakfast, and its combination of antioxidants, amino acids and omega fatty acids all help slow the aging process by boosting immune and metabolic function.
With a global meat consumption issue increasingly becoming a widespread concern, the food industry is looking to vegetables to play a larger role in the coming years. Kale was undoubtedly the star of the vegetable world last year, however, vying for the title this year will be a widespread use of Seaweed such as Nori, Wakame, and Kombu. A noodle like texture such as that of seaweed will be a highly desirable trait in our veggies as Spiralizers look set to become a must have kitchen gadget. With raw food restaurants opening across the UK such as Tanya’s Cafe in Chelsea, the likes of courgette noodles are likely to be commonplace on many a raw food menu. Not strictly reserved for vegan restaurants, a move to towards more vegetable focused menus in fine dining is also clearly visible trend. Rainbow and heirloom carrots, heritage tomatoes, cauliflower and kalettes (a brussels sprout like form of kale) all feature on many a swanky menu, including that of Simon Rogan and Alain Ducasse. In part the trickle down from fine dining, as well as evidence of the increasing influence of a number of Northern European and Asian cuisines, fermented vegetables such as kimchi, sauerkraut and kombuchu are also coming into the public health food consciousness. As well as providing a tartness of flavour to any dish, fermented foods are said to aid digestion thanks to the creation of enzymes and probiotics in the process, plus they tend to be high in B-vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids. With all these deliciously innovative interpretations of humble vegetables, getting your five a day will be transformed from a chore to a treat this January.
Now healthy eating is becoming transformed from dull lifeless greens, into superfoods that burst with flavour and colour, it’s becoming a much less ardous task to enjoy delicious guilt free healthy food across the industry without having to compromise on taste. So whilst the producers, retailers and restaurants have all the bases covered in the fight to lose that Christmas gut this January, the real battle will be for us to keep up it for the rest of the year.
Author – Jack Cliffe – Marketing and NPD Assistant