As I trolled the FNCE expo floor at the recent Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference, I couldn’t help but notice a couple of consistent themes.

One major disappointment, my camera wasn’t working, so I was unable to capture photos of the food items I discuss. Regardless, keep your eyes open for these categories at your local grocery store – they’re popping up everywhere!


From beans (legumes) to soy to nuts to hemp, plant-based protein was HUGE!

Plant-based protein simply refers to “non-meat” protein options. When we look at foods that fill that category, beans, soy and nuts/seeds take center stage.

Legumes were ground into flour and used as the base for everything from chips to burgers. Legumes were left whole and combined with other ingredients to create delicious veggie burgers and meatballs. Legumes were folded into brownies, and baked to create a crunchy, delicious snack.

I tasted a brand of chips called “Beanitos”, tortilla chips made from beans. I’m a tortilla chip fan, so having a more nutritious option is a trend I can get on board with.


People LOVE to snack. That’s a trend I have difficulty relating to, mainly because I’m not a snacker. But for those of you who are – snacks that taste great and are relatively nutritious is something that I spotted in every aisle.

Interesting dried fruit and nut combinations, baked crackers made with bean flours, and snack/meal replacement bars that were more than glorified candy bars were showcased.

My Take

Many of the food companies behind the truly healthier options were small and independent. To me, it seemed as if most of the large food manufacturers were simply trying to “healthy up” existing products, many of which weren’t that nutritious in the first place. I suppose I can give them credit for trying. In the end, consumers vote with their wallet – so I encourage you to support those small, independent companies doing amazing things with truly healthy ingredients!