The versatility of seaweed was on full display at the Summer Fancy Food Show this year (it’s not just for tea!). The superfood showed up in snacks: toasted and sprinkled over popcorn at Pop Arts, and turned into barbecue, onion, and jalapeño chips at Seasnax (or what they've dubbed “chomperz”). Microalgae, specifically Chlorella, took the place of eggs in The Good Spoon’s vegan mayonnaise, giving the condiment a light, creamy texture without any seaweed taste (there are four flavors available: original, garlic & herbs, curry, and spicy). Meanwhile, Maine-based seaweed company Ocean’s Balance rolled out two new products: jarred kelp purée, which can be stirred into smoothies, soups, sauces, and dips, and Japanese furikake-inspired seaweed sprinkles, which can be used as a savory topping for everything from rice to toast.
2. Mushroom Jerky
Umami-rich mushrooms are making waves as a meatless alternative in the jerky category. Pan’s Mushroom Jerky was born out of a family recipe, specifically from the vegetarian Buddhist side of founder Michael Pan’s family in Malaysia. He adapted the recipe to make it vegan and introduced flavors including applewood BBQ, zesty Thai, and sea salt & pepper in addition to the original. Pennsylvania-based Shrooms Snacks just released their first mushroom jerky, doctoring meaty shiitakes with honey and chipotle chiles. Giorgio Foods launched a portobello mushroom jerky line called Savory Wild, starting with three flavors: roasted garlic & black pepper, sweet balsamic & golden fig, and sesame, ginger & Korean chile.
3. Alternative Oils
Should we call them alt oils, à la alt milks? Nuts and seeds are giving coconut a run for its money as the source of the new it oil. Argan oil has long been prized as a finishing oil in Morocco, but here in the U.S., it has primarily been extolled for its beauty benefits. Argania founder Nadia Gara hopes to change all that with the release of her culinary argan oil. Argan kernels are roasted and cold-pressed into a silky, fragrant oil with a rich hazelnut-like flavor. Beyond the Equator's cold-pressed chia seed oil is also meant to be used as a finishing oil, for smoothies, salads, yogurt, dressings and more. Milder in taste, it’s chock-full of omega-3s and antioxidants. Another alternative oil was honored with a specialty outstanding food innovation award at the show this year: the butternut squash seed oil from Stony Brook Wholehearted Foods. With a warm, buttery flavor reminiscent of cashews, it works well for sautéing, grilling, roasting, or drizzling.
4. Cauliflower Snacks
Cauliflower “rice” and cauliflower pizza crust are still going strong, but the unassuming vegetable is also taking the snack space by storm. Cauliflower is the better-for-you twist in From the Ground Up’s pretzels and crackers, as well as in Vegan Rob’s probiotic puffs. The vegetable is pickled and marinated with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon oil, and sea salt for Gaea's snack packs. Lantana pairs cauliflower with white beans, pickled carrots, and caramelized onions for a fresh take on hummus.
5. “Exotic” Fruit Juices
Fruits that are hard to find, let alone grow, in the U.S. are getting their moment in juice form. Newcomer Kimino teams the tart, aromatic juice of the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu with sparkling water and organic sugar cane. Mansi sweetens the juice of the calamansi fruit, a cross between a mandarin and a kumquat that’s ubiquitous in the Philippines (it's also known as the Phillippine lemon or golden lime), with sugar and agave. It can be served chilled like lemonade or warm like tea. ReTreat offers mangosteen juice on its own or mixed with lychee juice, procured from family-owned orchards in the Chanthaburi province of Thailand.