Flavour of September: Functional Food
Let (Functional) Food Be Your Medicine…
It was over two millennia ago that Hippocrates said “let food be thy medicine” – and with the recent surge of interest in functional foods and their specific health benefits, it looks like we’re finally taking his advice on board!
According to Google trends, “best foods for…” searches have grown by 1,000% in the past ten years. These have often been followed by terms like “skin”, “energy” and “your brain”, meaning consumers are increasingly aware that food offers benefits beyond basic nutrition. With functional foods purported to help everything from acne to depression, there’s no wonder it’s caught the eye of savvy foodies.
So how exactly can you incorporate more functional foods into your menu? From turmeric lattes to super seeds in salads, the possibilities are endless. Irresistible to health conscious consumers, this trend has the potential to positively impact your business.
Whether it’s the omnipresent kale or the less common gac, the following are some of the favourite functional foods that you should be thinking about incorporating into your offering.
Green split peas, along with green and coral lentils, add a range of natural health benefits to your signature dish and drinks. Visit the Turkish Pasta, Bulgur, Pulses and Vegetable Oils Promotion Group (Stand T37) to learn more about the benefits of different pulses, and how to incorporate them into your menu.
Chia is everywhere – literally. From breakfast pods to desserts or blended into a smoothie, chia seeds are a healthy customer’s darling. Add these seeds, plus others like pumpkin seeds to smoothies and salads for an extra health hit that customers will love. Healthier Tastier Foods (Stand A49) offer a range of super seeds, including chia, that are the perfect addition to most dishes.
Plant-based protein is having a moment, and some of the most popular sources are micro-algae – more commonly known as spirulina and chlorella.
With foods now linked not only to health but also beauty, the potent Gac fruit is beginning to gain popularity for its anti-ageing qualities. While usually found in Southeast Asia, it’s now becoming more and more common in Australia.
More and more people are shunning dairy, meaning alternatives such as almond, macadamia and coconut milk are increasingly popular. Be sure to check out Freedom Food’s (Stand J22) MILKLAB range – their variety of non-dairy options, which was specifically created for baristas, took out the Best New Foodservice Product award last year at Fine Food Australia!
Good fats have made a fabulous comeback in the past few years, with avocados, coconut oil and nuts leading the way. If it’s organic, like the range of coconut oils at Spiral Food (Stand E28), even better!
Leafy greens are abundant in health benefits – and while kale might still reign supreme in this realm, spinach, cavolo nero and collards are popular alternatives, and the rise of the previously shunned brussel sprout has chefs – and mothers – everywhere rejoicing.
Not only is beet juice packed full of nutritional goodies, but it has also been proven to improve athletic performance – which makes it perfect for the growing number of gym junkies in Australia! Salads, smoothies, and even desserts can cater to this vegie and your customers. The Juice Lab (Stand R19) are ahead of the pack when it comes to this trend, with their ‘Unbeetable’ juice (made with beetroot, carrot, celery, pear and cayenne pepper!).
With an abundance of health benefits, Google searches for turmeric have grown 300% over the past five years. From smoothies to soups, and even lattes, the spice is also incredibly versatile. In fact, most spices have specific health benefits – visit the Spices Board India (Stand F6) to learn more.
Otherwise known as the Peruvian ginseng, the maca root enhances energy and stamina – and serves as a natural aphrodisiac, too! Pop over to Ceres Organics (Stand E27) to check out their raw organic maca powder, perfect for adding to juices and smoothies.
Many of the trendy foods that consumers latch on to have been staples in the industry for years – but their widespread popularity provides opportunity for a renewed focus, and a great way to cater to an increasingly health conscious customer base. To learn more, head over to the MYOB Talking Food Stage on Wednesday 14 September at 12pm, where a panel of industry leaders will be speaking on the latest health food trends you should be aware of. Don’t forget to register for Fine Food Australia to attend this session and more.
For more on what’s happening in the foodservice industry, have a read of the Fine Food Australia 2016 Newspaper.