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Published: 7/23/2013

Just say no to healthy desserts

BY DAN NEMAN
BLADE FOOD EDITOR

The unasked question is: Do we really want our desserts to be healthy and good for us?

Sterling-Rice Group, which appears to be an advertising agency of some sort, has come out with a list of its top 10 natural and organic trends in food.

The company is out of Boulder, Colo., which is located right at the intersection of food trends and self-consciously healthy living. If anyone would know about natural and organic food trends — the ones they expect to be showing up soon in grocery store — it is they. And one of the trends they foresee is: “Bringing positive nutrition to dessert.”

In other words, they expect to see “healthy yet indulgent treats, such as high-protein frozen yogurt and ‘fully functional’ cookies that promote wellness and detoxification.”

I’m not sure I even want to know what a “fully functional” cookie is, and I’m pretty certain I don’t want to eat one. Would you? And that’s my point: The purpose of dessert is to splurge, to indulge, to feel a little naughty. There may well be a trend toward desserts that are full of Omega 3, or whatever, but who would want to eat one?

Dysfunctional cookies are fine with me.

Another trend to look for, I am very sorry to say, is drinks that have “unexpected textures.” No longer happy with beverages that are just liquid, some people are apparently reaching for drinks that have chia seeds in them. According to Sterling-Rice, it makes the drink “chewy.”

For thicker and more syrupy drinks, you can get them made from flaxseeds. And “even kombucha is losing its trademark stringy bacteria colony and getting crystal clear to create more widespread appeal.”

That’s good to know, because when I’m thirsty I almost never want to drink a tall glass full of a stringy bacteria colony. Though if I ever form a rock band, that is totally going to be its name.

One of the trends that makes more sense than chewy drinks is an uptick in the number of so-called superfoods that come from South America. Superfoods are foods that have a lot of health benefits and few potential downsides, and many of the currently hottest ones already come from South America — acai berries, goji berries, and chia seeds among them. Other South American superfoods to look for in the future, according to the company, are acerola cherries, Peruvian purple maize, and Chilean maqui fruit in juices and energy drinks.

Male-oriented health foods is another trend, which is surely good news to us Y-chromosome carriers. Most health foods are marketed only for women, but that is about to change, according to Sterling-Rice. Expect to see “male-oriented health foods, with an emphasis on food as fuel.” That would be things like buffalo jerky and foods with extra-high protein, such as high-protein yogurt.

So far, all of these health-food trends are targeted for people who are trying to achieve physical health. The same is true with older health-food trends, too — they are meant to help you lose weight, perhaps, or boost your immunity. Things that can be specifically measured.

But a potential new trend is toward products that claim to help you in ways that, frankly, are less subject to regulations from the Food and Drug Administration and the prying eyes of federal prosecutors. These products claim to help grant you clarity and calmness, inner peace and bliss. Some manufacturers, for instance, are putting the spice turmeric in drinks that, according to Sterling-Rice, “promise the experience of yoga in a bottle.”

Meanwhile, other “upscale natural ingredients” are now being used to fortify water to make it seem more luxurious. Companies are adding “rare natural ingredients” to their waters, such as birch tree juice, highly alkaline fulvic minerals, and olive oil. Olive oil, of course, is not much more rare than the water into which it is being added, but if you’re drinking it for its health benefits you are kind of missing the point, anyway.

These potential trends may indeed come to pass, or they may not. It’s lists like these that make me want to reach for a bag of Oreos.

Contact Daniel Neman at: dneman@theblade.com or 419-724-6155.



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