Back in the 1950s, only 3 to 5 percent of consumers bought high-end foods like truffles, pate and imported delicacies. But these days, 60 percent of shoppers say they've bought a specialty food or beverage over the past six months, according to a 2016 report from the Specialty Food Association and Mintel. Millennials top this category and are not afraid to lay down big bucks to splurge on the unique foods they desire. So which fancy foods are worth your attention (and money)? Here are my picks:
1. Healthier chips.
Move over potato chips; there are some new chips in town. Companies like Food Should Taste Good, Beanitos and Enlightened Cocoa are making chips that include beans as a base to boost protein and fiber. Some also contain healthy and satiating ingredients like flaxseeds and chia.
Other companies like JicaChips, Kettle Uprooted and Rhythm help you crunch while you munch with bases of root veggies such as jicama, beets, sweet potato and parsnips. Speaking of veggies, Tropical Field's Premium Mixed Veggie Chips are carefully vacuum-fried so they actually retain the color and flavor of the vegetable.
Then there are companies like Dang Foods, which makes chips that bring on the heat with flavors like sriracha, chili and garlic. Bare Snacks, too, has jumped on unusual chip trend by making organic baked coconut chips with flax, chia, coffee beans and cocoa.
The bug-eating trend may not be for you (or for me!), but it's gaining popularity – and that's not a bad thing. Crickets (mostly in the form of cricket flour) are a sustainable food source that can be used in items including baked goods, pasta and ice cream to enhance protein quality at little cost to the environment or your wallet.
Whether it's full-fat yogurts, whole milk, butter, coconut oil or avocado oil, one thing for sure is that fat is back. Consumers have finally figured out that choosing fat-free could be costly, especially if you take into consideration the other flavor-enhancers that are usually added to replace fat, like sugar and sodium. This, coupled with recent buzz that has put saturated fat on a pedestal, has led many of us to ditch the words "skim" and "low-fat."
But before you get cured of the fat phobia you developed in the 1980s, it's best to shoot for a mix of different types of fats in your diet. Moreover, if you're trying to lose weight, watching the amount of fat you consume can help you achieve that goal.
Tea has been hot across the globe for centuries and is gaining in popularity to help cure your ailments, soothe your mood or make you more mindful. This beverage has taken on superfood qualities with the addition of herbs and spices like turmeric and ginger.
The resurgence of matcha, too, is encouraging, since it seems to concentrate the heart-healthy and inflammation-reducing benefits of green tea. Thanks to companies like Republic of Tea, which makes matcha in convenient packets, you can even drink it on the go by adding it to your bottle of water.
The term "plant-based" eating continues to grow in popularity. In a nutshell (pun intended), it means that you don't have to be a vegetarian or vegan to prefer plants. This type of diet describes one that focuses on plant proteins (nuts, soy, beans, veggies and whole grains) versus those that come from animals (poultry, meat and fish). Vegetable-based foods have been shown to help people prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. They're also kinder and gentler to our environment by decreasing global greenhouse gas emissions caused by food production practices.