When you first discovered avocado toast and shared it on Instagram - #BestBrunchEver! - you probably thought nothing could top it. But the dish isn't the only healthy food that drove double taps this year. Here are all the healthy dishes that filled everyone's feeds in 2016, beginning with the photogenic favorite:
1. Avocado Toast
It's not hard to see why avocado toast got so popular among healthy eaters: Spread for spread, avocado has roughly one-fourth the calories of butter (which has made quite the comeback this year) with healthy fats and fiber to boot. It's why you probably don't even mind paying entrée prices for a simple bread and spread, a dish that used to come free with your eggs. #WorthIt.
2. Ricotta Toast
Although ricotta contains more calories than mashed avocado, andmore than its healthy dairy cousins, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, ricotta toast is typically a lighter choice than, say, a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, particularly when the ricotta toast is topped with fruit. That it's served open-faced makes it bonafide Instagram candy - sometimes quite literally when served with jam or honey, which can contribute lots of sugar (with a side of unsustainable energy). Oh well. How pretty?!
3. Sweet Potato Toast
As would be expected in 2016, the year when toast took really over, healthy eaters picked up on this curious way to use sweet potatoes. You slice them up really thin, bake or toast them until they’re crisp, then top them with cheese, dried fruit, or the spread of your choice. Never mind that no one said potatoes are a health food you should be eating all the time. Sweet potatoes still serve up vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber, and unlike bread, they're vibrant, so no filter needed.
Noodles made from spiralized zucchini have fewer calories and carbs than regular pasta, which make them an awesome alternative for those who pay attention to that stuff. Plus they photograph just as well as pasta, which makes them equally likable for both the carb lovers and carb counters who follow your every bite.
5. Matcha Desserts
Dessert chefs have decided to lace their treats with matcha, the antioxidant-rich powder made from green tea leaves and traditionally used in Japanese and Chinese tea ceremonies. Because matcha by itself is fairly bitter and requires a bunch of sugar to balance out its taste in dessert, these treats aren't exactly medicinal. But green ice cream still looks much healthier than the regular stuff, amiright?! *LIKE*.
It's no surprise that both egg and avocado fans fall for this cool party trick where you turn the beloved stone fruit into an edible bowl - a genius way to make basic brunch extra exciting.
7. Avocado Fries
Because healthy eaters can't pass up a new way to eat avocado, it should come as no surprise that people started picking up on avocado fries this year. Too bad that when you batter, bread, and deep-fry TF out of avocado slices, they don't get any healthier. (Although avocado itself is full of beneficial fats and vitamins, avocado fries pack even more calories and much more fat than standard fries.)
This golden spice contains curcumin, an organic chemical known for its anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting, brain-boosting, and blood sugar-controlling properties - one reason it's been used to flavor food and for medicinal purposes in areas of Asia, India, and the Middle East for thousands of years. Now more than ever, healthy foodies in the U.S. are adding it to water, juice, and milk, looking to Google for new (and old) ways to use it.
9. Avocado Buns
This year, the avocado bun emerged as the newest innovation in carb-counters' endless search for a suitable bread alternative. While you can't fault an Instagrammer's creativity, an avocado bun most likely lacks the mouth-feel and sturdiness that make a good burger bun so perfect in the first place. Well, so what if you can't pick it up neatly - can you even with this?!
10. Cauliflower Rice
At 20 calories per cup, cauliflower rice (which is simply cauliflower cut into rice-sized granules) has just one-tenth the calories in the same amount of rice with about 40 fewer grams of carbs. The stuff is gracing restaurant menus all over the place, and earlier this fall, the frozen vegetable producer Green Giant even put its own versions on supermarket shelves in response to high demand.
11. Almond Milk
Starbucks introduced its own brand of Almondmilk (no space) toward the end of last summer. And because the stuff has much less sugar and fewer calories than any other milk on the menu, it's no wonder the nut milk became a widespread favorite among calorie-conscious Starbucks customers. Although so many of Starbuck's tastiest drinks still contain lots of added sugar in addition to that added to the milk of your choice, the new Almondmilk option is a welcome improvement.
People freaked out when the New York Times first wrote about aquafaba, whipped chickpea water that can be used to replace egg whites in baked goods. Although the swap doesn't significantly reduce the number of calories in your recipe or amply protect you from food poisoning when eating raw eggs in batter (the raw flour can still make you sick), it's an A+ hack for vegans with a sweet tooth.
Zoats are overnight oats (oats soaked in milk and fruit overnight) with shredded zucchini, which is added to bulk up a single serving without adding too many extra carbs or calories. If you're together enough to plan for and prepare this sort of morning feast the night before you wake up starving, bravo, you deserve every bite (and like).
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