Sugar is out, kale is (still) in, and quinoa and chia are appearing in almost everything. But that's not all. At the recent Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California -- where 70,000 people (it's insanity!) gather to see the newest innovations from the healthy food world -- I came across many more up-and-coming trends. Here are some foods you'll start seeing at a market near you:
Jerky and Bars
Flavored jerkies have been around for several years, but soon, you'll start seeing meat bars, jerky in trail mixes and even more innovative flavors. Here are some brands worth a try:
-- Lorissa's Kitchen: This gluten-free jerky is made from 100-percent grass-fed beef and chicken, which are raised without antibiotics. The Korean Barbeque and Szechuan Peppercorn are my top flavor picks.
-- Dick Stevens: These guys sell jerky trail mix, which comes in turkey and beef. Each 4-ounce bag contains between 24 to 28 grams of protein.
-- Wilde Snacks: From Boulder, Colorado, the two founders of Wilde Snacks developed six flavors -- think Turkey Cranberry, Strawberry Black Pepper and Chili Lime -- of slow-baked meat bars.
-- Organic Prairie: This company's Mighty Bars are made with 100-percent grass-fed organic beef and are available in flavors including Bacon & Apple and Cranberry & Sunflower Seed. They're also gluten- and nut-free.
The United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. Pulses include dry beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas. Many food companies are now releasing all types of products containing pulses. Here are a few to start with:
-- Love Grown Foods: This brand's cereals for kids look like popular sugar cereals, but they're made from a blend of navy beans, lentils and garbanzo beans. Even better, they contain about 7 grams of protein per serving.
-- Biena: The lovely founder of this chickpea snack company made sure her chickpeas were light and crunchy. The chickpeas are gluten-free, non-GMO-verified and vegan. Each flavor contains 5 to 6 grams of protein per serving and 24 percent of your daily recommended amount of fiber. Flavors include Cinnamon Crunch, Rockin' Ranch and Sea Salt.
More and more, food manufacturers are realizing they can make chips out of almost type of vegetable. Many chips are baked and look much like the vegetable they came from. Here are some good examples:
-- Dang: Besides making killer coconut chips, Dang recently came out with onion chips. One ounce of the sea salt flavor (about 37 chips) contains 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 90 milligrams of sodium and 4 grams of fiber.
-- Jicachips: These are chips made from jicama. Each 0.9-ounce bag contains between 100 and 110 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 2.5 grams of fat. The baked chips are non-GMO-verified, gluten-free and paleo-friendly. Flavors include Sea Salt, Smoked BBQ, Spicy Soy Ginger and White Cheddar.
-- Terra: Some of the latest flavors from this popular vegetable chip brand include Pickled Beets and Celery Root. Both just hit the spot!
Over the past few years, bagged popcorn has made a comeback. Now, however, you'll start seeing super creative flavors. For instance:
-- Pop Art: Gourmet popcorn now comes in flavors like Nori Sesame, Thai Coconut Curry and Rosemary Truffle. This line of popcorn is certified gluten-free, non-GMO-verified and kosher.
Tea, which comes in a variety of blends, is one of the hottest trends. Here are some brands that get my seal of approval:
-- Pukka: This organic tea company was founded by two gentlemen from the U.K. Flavors include Peppermint & Licorice, Love (flavored with organic rose, chamomile and lavender) and Three Cinnamon.
-- Rishi: This organic and mainly fair-trade tea comes in flavors such as Peach Nectar, Jade Cloud Green Tea and Matcha Super Green Tea. The tea bags are decadent and make your tea time an enchanting experience.
Fortunately, you don't have to attend the annual expo to get a taste of these new trends. I asked the food company representatives where I can pick up their products -- and this year, Target was almost always on the list. Kudos to the company for stocking its stores with better-for-you options. Now, many more people, including you, can access them.
Editor's note: Toby Amidor has no affiliations with any of the mentioned companies.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is the owner of Toby Amidor Nutrition and author of the cookbook, "The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day" (Grand Central Publishing 2014). She consults and writes for various organizations, including FoodNetwork.com's "Healthy Eats" blog and "Today's Dietitian" magazine.