Kitchen staples get a healthy upgrade

Kitchen staples get a healthy upgrade

By Jenna Blumenfeld, November 21, 2016

Shoppers shake up their weekly grocery list with products that promise improved nutrition and ingredient integrity.

Whether it be a forecasted hurricane-of-the-century or a winter storm that prompts Twitter users to use the hashtag #snowpocalypse, when harsh weather is predicted, consumers flock to grocery stores in droves to stock up on three storm essentials: milk, bread and eggs.

From New York to New Mexico, this holy trinity of hunker-down food (and perhaps a few bottles of cabernet sauvignon) is widely considered to be necessary sustenance for waiting out squalls of all ilk. But are staples like milk, bread and eggs—along with meat and conventional snacks—being replaced by better-for-you alternatives?

The answer is a resounding “yes!” Consciously sourced proteins and meat replacements. Better-for-you dairy. Paleo-friendly baking mixes. Whole-food snacks. These are the new staples, the foods that are weaseling their way onto weekly grocery lists, and appearing in consumers’ pantries and fridges again and again.

Food choices are no longer being made just by special diet constraints. Now, consumers are consistently buying foods that boast vegan, grain-free or gluten-free ingredients—even if they do not eat this way all the time. Take vegan “ice cream” brand Jawea, which blends coconut cream, organic cane sugar and globally inspired flavors into creamy frozen desserts, for example. While founder Mike Rosenthal originally created Jawea because he was lactose intolerant, he says those without diagnosed allergies or ethical reasons to avoid dairy also enjoy the vegan product. “Most of the people that are buying and loving Jawea are consumers who choose to cut dairy out of their diet for health purposes related to how it makes them feel,” says Rosenthal. “People will tell me that eating Jawea makes them feel way better than ice cream. It makes them feel less heavy, less lethargic and with no guilt.”

No guilt. Perhaps this is the best explanation for such shifting food forces.

Innovation in stalwart categories now gives us permission to eat dairy without the regret, tuna without the fish (see, Vegan Toona!), bread without the carbs and snacks without the empty calories. The following natural brands are different from their conventional counterparts because they are asking the right questions—not, “How do we increase sales?” but “How can we do better business for the environment, for our consumers and, yes, also for our economic sustainability?”

Shoppers support companies that seek answers to these questions, and if their stomachs don’t ache afterwards, all the better.

Meaningful snacks

Imlak’esh Organics Sacha Inchi 
Ultrahigh in healthy fats like omega-3s and omega-9s, these USDA Organic sacha inchi seeds are sustainably grown in the rainforest regions of Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. Imlak’esh, a company dedicated to working directly with farmers and cooperatives, aims to bridge the divide between local agricultural communities and the global market for improved socio-economic opportunities in impoverished regions. SRP: $13.99

Green Mustache Mustache Munchies Cheddarish
Baked into the cute, unmistakable shape of a mustache, these vegan crackers contain a savory blend of organic yeast extract, onion powder, rice vinegar, garlic and annatto to develop a delightful “cheesy” flavor. Thanks to a base of garbanzo flour, potato starch, organic rice flour and pea protein, the cracker itself is gluten-free, too. Kale and chia up the nutrition, making them parent-approved. SRP: $5.49

Sol Simple Organic Bananas 
These soft, Nicaraguan-grown USDA Organic bananas are the real deal. Fair Trade USA certified, Sol Simple’s products are made with integrity. The bananas are grown on mountainous coffee farms rather than on specific banana plantations, so their leaves provide shade for organic coffee. The company also excels in their social practices by hiring single mothers in marginalized communities to support their families. SRP: $6.99

Our Little Rebell!on PopCorners Cinema Style
This new snack brand innovates in the category by offering a gluten-free, popped nosh made with Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients. Super craveable, these triangle-shaped “PopCorners” are made with yellow corn, sunflower oil, organic whey, maltodextrin, organic butter powder and organic nonfat dry milk, making them a satisfying afterschool or late-night snack. Just 120 calories per serving. SRP: $3.29

Soul Sprout Almond Crackers Sprouted Jive’N Chive & Onion 
Now with cool, updated branding, Soul Sprout’s (formerly Two Moms In The Raw) almond-based crackers are paleo- and gluten-free snacks that are just as good topped with cheese or hummus as they are eaten directly out of the bag. USDA Organic sprouted raw almonds and flaxseeds comprise the majority of this cracker, and onion, chives, garlic and black pepper add flavor. SRP: $7.00

(Full story here)

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