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Foodies Unite: Food Trends for 2012
January 17, 2012
According to Dictionary.com, a “foodie” is “a person keenly interested in food, especially in eating or cooking.” That definition probably describes 90% of the population. Who doesn’t like food?
If you describe yourself as a foodie, or even if you don’t, but you still are interested in food and nutrition, you might be curious about food trends for 2012. Fashion changes from year to year, and so does food. Of course, not all food trends are healthful ones (nor are all fashion trends ones that you’d be caught dead in), so this week I’ve highlighted some of the more interesting trends; of course, there are many more.
When it comes to food, variety is the spice of life. It’s good to try new things, especially when there’s a nutrition benefit to them. Let’s see what 2012 has in store for us.
Black garlic has a softer, more caramel-like flavor than regular garlic. And supposedly it’s at least twice as high in antioxidants as regular garlic, as well. What about it’s health benefits? If black garlic is really as high in antioxidants as some claim (it’s hard to find nutrition data at this time), then it could be helpful in helping to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer disease, some types of cancer, and other inflammatory conditions. Regular garlic may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and lower the risk of heart disease, so if black garlic isn’t readily available in your area right now, good old conventional garlic is still an option.
Alaria: Found in the Atlantic ocean, alaria has a rubbery, chewy texture and is used in miso soup.
Dulse: Popular in Ireland, Iceland, and Canada, dulse is eaten as is, but is also used as a thickener by food manufacturers.
Kombu: Also called kelp, kombu is a broad-leaf vegetable that grows off the coast of northern Japan and is used as a flavor enhancer.
Wakame: Also found off Japan’s coast, wakame, like alaria, is used in miso soup and is similar in texture to cooked spinach.
Eating sea vegetables may be off-putting initially, but give them a try. They’re especially rich in antioxidants, iodine, and vitamin K, and they aren’t too shabby in folate, magnesium, and calcium, either. Including sea vegetables in your diet may help you lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and may play a role in reducing the risk of breast cancer. You can always enjoy sea vegetables in sushi, but try adding them to soup. Also, if beans give you digestive distress, add some kombu to the cooking water.
Kombucha aficionados claim that this trendy drink can treat a host of ailments, including hair loss, insomnia, digestive problems, arthritis, and even AIDS and cancer. There are no studies that support any of these claims, however. Furthermore, because of the bacterial and yeast cultures that it contains, kombucha may become contaminated with molds and fungi, especially if it’s homemade, and several deaths and illnesses have been linked to this drink. It’s not a good idea for people with immune disorders to drink kombucha, and that may include people with Type 1 diabetes.
Not sure how to eat it? Try kale chips: Wash and dry the kale, then remove the ribs and tear the leaves into potato chip-sized pieces. Place them on a baking sheet and toss lightly with a bit of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Bake at 275ºF, turning them over halfway through, for about 20 minutes. Then, munch away!
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