Ask the Bariatric Chef: 6 Fun Foods You HAVE to Try

Article By: Maria Tucker, MPH, RDN, LDN, CDCES

Maria Tucker is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with over 20 years of experience assisting patients with diabetes, obesity, and nutrition-related conditions.

Here we are, at the beginning of another new year. Most media outlets and online news sites have already picked several food trends exploding in 2024. Not all of them are bariatric-friendly, so here are a few you should try:

1) Plant-based protein food. Not your Impossible or Beyond Meat alternatives, but a return to whole plant-based proteins, such as lentils, beans, and tempeh. Black bean burgers, mushroom burgers, and the like are making a comeback. The website nydailynews.com predicts that people are going to want more whole plant food sources of protein. And why not? Most of these protein foods not only give you at least 15 grams of protein per cup, they also provide you with 15 grams dietary fiber per cup, as well as minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Another trend is plant-based “seafood” — with carrots as salmon, sushi with root vegetable “tuna”, and mushroom “scallops”.

2) Buckwheat. This is the IT “grain” for 2024. Several websites, including today.com, nytimes.com, and foodandwine.com, cite buckwheat as gaining popularity this year. What is buckwheat? It is an ancient seed, consumed as a grain and said to have been cultivated in northern China around 4000 BCE. It is rich in protein and fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals. It is used to make soba noodles and despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is gluten-free.

3) Chicken wings. Last year, it was the chicken sandwich, but that is so 2023! This year, make way for the chicken wing, boneless or on the bone. It is predicted that people are still going to want their chicken, just not in a sandwich. For an easy healthy version, marinate your chicken wings in a light vinaigrette dressing overnight then air-fry, bake, or grill them. The drumette part typically has more protein than the flats, so opt for the drumettes if possible.

4) Water. Who knew? Water is predicted to continue to increase in popularity this year! There is even a hashtag for that, #WaterTok with people watching other people add flavor enhancers such as flavor powders and syrups to water in humongous containers. There are also water sommeliers, who according to lifesourcewater.com, are people who are trained to taste, evaluate, and educate people about the qualities of water from around the world. The trendy Stanley Cup, which people lined up for hours to buy for themselves or as gifts last Christmas, is likely contributing to the trend of drinking more water. If this trend helps you increase your hydrating fluid intake, go for it! Just make sure your fluids are decaffeinated, low calorie, non-carbonated, and sugar-free.

5) Snack boards. In 2023, we saw a lot of charcuterie boards with deli meat, cheese, olives, crackers, nuts, etc. This year, it is predicted that the board is not going to be limited to the above food items, but there will be new foods gracing these wooden boards this year — fruit boards or “char-fruit-erie” boards, veggie boards, and snack boards used for dinner. Use your creativity! Try different shaped wooden boards to arrange your fruit, veggie, meat, whatever healthy food you want to display on it. Cut up veggies, fruits, cheese, etc. using cookie cutters. Line up a few different light dressings or dips on your board. Involve kids in creating the cutout food and arranging them. It will be a great way to get them to eat their veggies!

6) Spices & edible flowers. Spicy food may not be tolerated well when you’ve had bariatric surgery, but most can tolerate a little spice. This year, spice is defined as a combination of different flavors to give food a more complex dimension. It’s not about the heat this year, but more about layering of flavors. Think sweet and sour flavors combined with different types of peppers or sipping spicy kombucha. Try the Filipino sweet and spicy banana sauce as topping for your meatloaf or brushed on chicken breast or pork chops before grilling. Watch the spice aisle at your local grocery stores for new spice combinations to try. Edible flowers such as nasturtium, pansies, lavender, and rose petals among others will be appearing as garnishes or part of a dish or salad. They are rich in antioxidant nutrients and pack a flavor punch.

There you have it — just a few of the food trends you will see or hear about in 2024! Just remember to be mindful when trying out these food trends. Enjoy!

BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.


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