We may be approaching the end of the trend lines for kale salads and gluten-free cuisine, predicts the National Restaurant Association. Both of these formerly hot trends have been losing steam over the past couple of years, but don’t expect either to go away altogether. They are more likely to evolve into perennial favorites over time. For example, kale salads are being adapted to salads that traditionally feature other greens, such as Caesars and Cobbs, and gluten-free items are becoming menu staples at many foodservice locations. Potential contenders for the new “superfood” include: Seaweed (or “seagreens”), lingonberries and elderberries (instead of blueberries), kohlrabi or collard greens (instead of kale), avocado oil (instead of coconut oil), as well as banana peel, BroccoLeaf (a leafy green with the nutrients of broccoli), baobab (an African fruit), pitaya (a cactus fruit) and chlorella (a type of algae).
A growing number of consumers are pursuing and maintaining more active lifestyles and becoming more aware of sports nutrition’s emphasis on energy, hydration and protein, according to researcher Mintel. In foodservice, the trend shows up as protein-packed menu items, including Noodles & Company’s line of Buff Bowls, packing 17 to 31 grams of protein, and Panera Bread’s Breakfast Power Sandwiches, offering 16 to 21 grams of protein.
After years of seeing fats as evil, consumers are seeing that not all fats are created equally and that some have nutritional value, Mintel reports. This means that fat is not always a downside when consumers look for healthier foods. Diners are returning to foods that were once derided for having too much fat, such as eggs and oils. High-fat avocados have gained widespread acceptance as a healthy food.