5 Best Things About the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans


You heard the news.  The long-awaited  Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released yesterday.  The five-year process, along with the DGA committee itself,  has been plagued with controversy — which undoubtedly contributed to the delay.  The biggest debate was the interference of Congress who put a stop to the inclusion of environmental sustainability in the report — claiming that it was “out of scope.”

Now some folks are critical that the guidelines didn’t go far enough (such as not making declarative statements to “eat less meat”).  While others, primarily Paleo devotees and authors like Nina Teicholz who wrote The Big Fat Surprise, do not support the limit on saturated fat (less than 10% of calories per day).  They want us to eat more.  And then there are some cynical people who say we should ignore what the government says altogether — that’s why we’re all fat in the first place.

I say ignore that chatter.

Sure, you can find things to criticize.  But can’t we look on the positive side?  I think it’s important now to embrace the new recommendations and spend our energy on creative ways to translate and activate the guidelines to help improve public health.  I firmly believe that when the public sees the experts arguing, they’re even more likely to do nothing — which was the motivation behind the recent Oldways Finding Common Ground Conference.  Even though there are some loud complaining voices, the new dietary guidelines represent a consensus on the science. This was a rigorous scientific review process conducted by some of the top nutrition researchers in the country — so I’m on board.

You can find the detailed report on Health.gov and some tangible ideas to implement the guidelines on ChooseMyPlate.gov.  Here’s a snapshot of the five major guidelines:


So let’s move on from the debate.  In my opinion, there are five great things about the new guidelines:

1.  We have a new plan the country can rally around.  Maybe now the public can focus on what really counts instead of chasing the next big diet trend.   New education efforts are underway, including MyPlate, MyWins that will help people put these guidelines into action.

2. The emphasis is on healthy eating patterns, or eating styles, instead of individual nutrients.  It’s been said many times before, we eat food, not nutrients.  So I like that the guidelines take a food-based approach. And it’s what you eat over time, the totality of your diet, that really counts — not a specific food or nutrient.   Although it’s true, as Marion Nestle says, the guidelines do switch back and forth from eating patterns to nutrients (such as limit saturated fat and added sugars to less than 10% of calories, and consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day), but there are multiple food sources of these nutrients.  A blanket statement to eat less of specific foods doesn’t really cut it.  There are lots of ways to achieve these targets.  Let’s give people a goal and ideas on how to achieve it — leave the options up to the individual.

3. There’s more than one way to eat healthy.  I like that three different eating patterns are highlighted in the guidelines,  a U.S.-style, Mediterranean and vegetarian.  One size doesn’t fit all, and it’s important to consider personal preferences and cultural backgrounds. During a  webinar I attended today on the new guidelines, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services, described the eating patterns as an “adaptive framework.”  You can fit together a healthy diet in many different ways, similar to a puzzle — which is the artwork on the cover of the report. Oh, I get it now.

4. The focus is on small changes.  The guidelines promote the concept of “shifts” or the need to make simple substitutions — that is, choosing nutrient-dense foods and beverages in place of less healthy choices. It’s these little tweaks that can make a big difference.  Most Americans need to up their intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  So making these shifts at every eating occasion will get people closer to daily recommendations without feeling deprived.


5. Fat and cholesterol are getting figured out. For once, the emphasis is on the type of fat we eat instead of the amount.  So that means keeping an eye on saturated fat, but not being as concerned about eating “low fat.”  I hope this means people will no longer fear all the wonderful good-fat foods, like nuts, olives and avocado.  And maybe the “saturated fat is back” message will die down.  It’s not really back.  Of course, butter, coconut oil and well-marbled steaks can still be enjoyed.  But they’re not “health foods.” The guidelines also dumped the 300 mg/day limit on cholesterol, which means eggs and seafood may be seen in a new light (which is a good thing).  However, the guidelines still say that dietary cholesterol should be “as low as possible” in a healthy eating pattern.

Here’s a look at what’s been written about the 2015-2020 DGAs:

New York TimesWashington Post






LA Times


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Weekly Food News Digest

Via Restaurant-Hospitality.com

Millennials are more comfortable with animal fats in their diet than older consumers are, according to research firm Ipsos, spurring restaurants to return to using tallow and lard. “Trans fats are out, and minimally processed animal fats — in the form of lard, derived from pork, and beef tallow — are decidedly making a comeback,” said Coast Packing CEO Eric Gustafson.

Via FoodNavigator

FoodNavigator reviews the five most-read stories of the year, including WHO report on processed meats, fat confirmed as sixth taste, and changing how to cook rice to cut calories.

Via FoodBusinessNews.net

Chamoy, a blend of flavors including ancho chilies and lime juice, is among the unique flavor trends for 2016, according to Lauren Williams, Sensient’s North American marketing manager for beverage flavors. Others reflect the growing interest in trees, such as honeyed evergreen, and with craft soda flavors, such as sassafras root, Williams said.

Via Forbes

Over the past decade, food choices — such as portion control, which had largely been left up to food companies — increasingly have been taken over by consumers who want to be more proactive in their dietary habits. Today’s consumers tend to eat healthier foods, base their choices on desires, whims and availability, and consume snacks and mini-meals, according to the Hartman Group’s “Culture of Food 2015: New Appetites, New Routines” report.

Via Eater

Insects are a major source of protein around the world, but in the US the “ick” factor has kept the practice of eating bugs from gaining traction. Pro-insect eating activists are trying to get insects into the hands of culinary superstars, and to “friendly” their way into getting people to try cricket flour or meal worm pate.

Via FoodNavigator

Expanding on the success of its “Get Up and Grow” program, Dole is debuting three new products designed to encourage Americans to consume more fruits and vegetables, said Dole Fresh Vegetables marketing VP Carrie Ann Arias. Dole is also meeting consumer demands by offering Premium Celery Hearts with a “less stringy” consistency, darker color and less bitter taste and new Chopped Poppy Seed and Chopped Pomegranate Salad kits, Arias said.

image: lard by tamdotcom on flickr

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6 Food Trends to Help You Eat Better in 2016

23282904354_c6731528c3_zSome of the trendiest foods that are popping up on Pinterest and appearing on 2016 food trend lists may just help you eat better in the year ahead.

I wrote about six food trends to get on board with in 2016 for U.S. News & World Report’s Eat + Run blog.  Here are the trends, along with some recipes that were all featured on Healthy Aperture.

1. Power bowls

Bowls are the new plates. All sorts of creative one-dish meals are being served in a bowl with various monikers – protein bowls, Buddha bowls, broth bowls, quinoa bowls and globowls – for globally inspired bowl meals. The same rules apply to breakfast bowls, which are being dubbed smoothie bowls, acai bowls and Banzai bowls. Just do a search on Pinterest, and you’ll be bowled over.

For lunch and dinner, power bowls are edging out the entrée salad. Served cold or warm, bowl meals combine all sorts of vegetables with whole grains such as quinoa, farro, brown rice or soba noodles and a protein source, including grilled meats, eggs, beans, nuts, cheese or tofu. Sliced avocado often makes a starring appearance on top. One of the best parts: Instead of a creamy salad dressing, power bowls are dressed up with a flavor-packed sauce that ties it all together. In the morning, breakfast bowls can help you check off fruit, yogurt and whole grains in one easy meal.

Check out Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie Bowl, Raspberry Mango Smoothie Bowl (featured above) and The Smoothie Bowl Coloring Cookbook by Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, and Sweet Potato, Cranberry and Quinoa Power Bowl by Blissful Basil


2. Spiralized vegetables

There are lots of tools available now to transform vegetables into pasta-like noodles. These nutrient-rich pasta-imposters are a tremendous way to eat more vegetables – and, of course, they can help you cut down on calories and refined grains, if that’s a goal. You don’t need to invest in a large spiralizing machine (although I love mine). The less expensive julienne peelers work just fine. Some of the best vegetables to turn into noodles are butternut squash, carrots, turnips, beets and zucchini – known as zoodles. Top with marinara or pesto sauce, make an Asian-inspired noodle bowl or use as a base for a salad or casserole.

The good thing about this explosive trend is how you can now find packages of ready-made spiralized vegetables in some supermarkets, and they’re showing up on more menus and salad bars. Cookbooks and blogs are devoted to spiralized vegetables, so you’ll never be short of recipes. This is a trend that definitely has staying power.

Check out Zoodle and Carrot Lo Mein (pictured above) by Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, and Butternut Squash Noodles with Roasted Asparagus and Poached Egg by Inspiralized

3. Ancient grains 

Isn’t it great that what’s old is new again? All sorts of whole grains with ancient pedigrees are being embraced by restaurants and are more widely available in supermarkets. Quinoa darted to the top of the heap, but 2016 will be a time for other ancient grains to shine – including teff, millet, amaranth, spelt, kamut, kaniwa, freekeh and farro.

Ancient grains definitely deserve a spot on your plates (or bowls) in 2016. Rich in fiber, protein, B vitamins and other nutrients, ancient grains can be swapped for pasta or rice in dishes, added to salads and power bowls, and prepared like oatmeal for a warm breakfast bowl topped with fruit and nuts.

Check out Bacon and Egg Farro Salad by My Bacon-Wrapped Life and Freekeh Breakfast Bowls by The Corner Kitchen

4. Pulses

Beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas are getting new respect. The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses, which will bring broader awareness of these dry seed crops for their stellar nutritional profile and positive impact on the environment. Let’s hope the celebration will inspire more people to build meals around pulses.

One of my favorites is the humble chickpea. Perhaps best known as the primary ingredient in hummus, chickpeas are gaining fame beyond this iconic Lebanese dip. Trending recipes include roasted chickpeas as a snack, chickpea curries and stews, pilafs, salads and falafel – which many trend-trackers believe will be a break-out star in 2016. Chefs are also cooking more often with chickpeas. In fact, chickpeas are up 290 percent on restaurant menus since 2005, according to Dataessentials’ MenuTrends report.

Check out Moroccan Chickpea Salad by Delicious Everyday and Curry Chickpea Spread by Dietitian Debbie Dishes

5. Healthy fats

Fat may fully shred its devilish reputation in 2016. Now there’s scientific consensus that the type of fat we eat is more important than the amount. So instead of low-fat, the focus is on healthy fats – the unsaturated kind that’s found in olive oil, fatty fish such as salmon, olives, nuts and seeds. Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the healthy fats trend has been the avocado – chocked full of monounsaturated fats.

One avocado trend that rises above all others is avocado toast – smashed avocado on toasted bread, often sprinkled with hot sauce or topped with a fried or poached egg. The avocado and egg combination will continue to be big in 2016 – avocado egg salad, avocado deviled eggs and baked eggs in an avocado half. Other trending avocado recipes outside of the classic guacamole include baked avocado fries, avocado sushi, hummus, pasta sauce and salad dressing. Popular sweet applications include avocado in puddings, smoothies, brownies, cheesecake, ice cream and mug cakes.

Check out Avocado Egg Toast by Savoring Spoon, Avocado Toast with Feta and Sriracha by Healthfully Ever After, and Labneh Avocado Toast by Lynsey Loves Food

6. Plant-based meals

The mega trend for 2016 will be the glorification of vegetables. And I couldn’t be happier. This is not about turning vegan or demonizing meat. Instead, it’s about appreciating a new view of veggies. Now vegetables have become the star of the center of the plate, not simply a side dish. In fact, at Al’s Place in San Francisco – which was Bon Appetit’s top restaurant of the year, and is one of many new vegetable-forward eateries – the meat is considered the side.

Now “steaks” of roasted cauliflower or butternut squash are standing in for rib-eyes. Mushrooms are subbing for ground beef. Lasagnas are being layered with spinach and eggplant. Vegetable cookbooks are best-sellers, Pinterest boards are dedicated to meatless meals and some of the most popular blogs specialize in plant-centered cuisine. So you’ll have lots of veggie inspiration in the year ahead. Be sure to check out some of the vegetables predicted to be popular in 2016: kohlrabi, kalettes, parsnips, purslane, colorful squashes, broccoflower, rainbow carrots and seaweed.

Check out Seared Cauliflower Steaks with Red Pepper-Walnut Sauce by Foxes Love Lemons, Portobello Mushroom Burger by Show Me the Yummy, and Butternut Squash Lasagna by Pinch of Yum


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Friday Food News

Via Los Angeles Times

Avocado oil, distill-your-own spirits and savory takes on traditionally sweet dishes are among Pinterest’s picks for the hottest food and beverage trends of 2016. The social site’s top 10 list also includes gourmet heritage cuisines and vegan recipes.

Via SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Food & Beverage

Ethnic dishes and hyper-local are the preferred cuisines of multicultural Generation Z and top the list of macro food trends for 2016, according to Datassential. Burnt and charred ingredients are gaining a bigger presence on restaurant menus, as are savory versions of traditionally sweet dishes and lentils, chickpeas and other pulses.

Via The New York Times

France’s Foreign Ministry has created La Liste, a new ranking with its picks for the 1,000 best restaurants in the world. Switzerland’s Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville tops the list, followed by New York City’s Per Se. The list features eateries in 48 countries, including 101 in the US.

Via FSR Magazine

Fermented beverages with active cultures, such as kombucha, kvass and kefir, are gaining popularity with consumers looking for healthy beverage options. Restaurants are adding housemade versions of the tangy drinks to the menu as an alternative to soda and beer.

Via The New York Times

“Foodie” made a US list of banished words this year and a Canadian language agency has replaced it with “cuisinomane.” It’s one of a slew of new terms that took hold in the food world in 2015, including “hangry” to describe the state of being so hungry you’re irritable, and “foodspo” to tag inspirational food photos on Instagram.

Via Advertising Age

Chipotle Mexican Grill added new FAQ items on its website last week, to answer a range of questions by brand fans in the wake of recent E. coli and norovirus outbreaks. The questions were selected as a representative sampling, Communications Director Chris Arnold said, and touched on issues around plans to shore up food safety.

Via FoodNavigator

Sales of Greek yogurt are growing, according to data from Nielsen, and product launches are driving growth for Chobani. The company plans to introduce 100-calorie Flip varieties and sweet-and-spicy combinations such as sriracha mango. “It’s highly curated, culinary, with lots of nuts and spices and interesting flavor combinations,” Chief Marketing Officer Peter McGuinness said. “Consumers are bored beyond belief by current flavors, they want flavor and texture.”

Via Advertising Age

McDonald’s launch of all-day breakfast and rivals’ push to beef up their own morning menus was the top food-related news story this year, according to an annual study from Hunter Public Relations. Food safety and environmental issues also gained attention — Blue Bell’s recall ranked second, followed by the growing impact of drought in the West.

image courtesy of ulterior epicure on flickr  

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Compilation of 2016 Food Trends: A Collection of Culinary Predictions

We’re nearing the end of the year and the bulk of the 2016 food trend predictions have been released.  Like I’ve done for the last several years, I have attempted to summarize the major trend reports.  Below you’ll find links so you can read the original trend predictions from a variety of sources.

Real, less processed and “clean” will continue to be major themes — with even more food companies and restaurant chains making commitments to remove anything artificial and introduce better-for-you options.  Big issues that will get even bigger: food waste, modernizing the supply chain, GMOs,  and sustainability.  Home meal kits and food delivery will become mainstream.  All of this fueled by the growing food + technology connection.  Food halls , foodservice in retail outlets, vegetable-forward menus and chef-centric fast casual restaurants will also be hot trends in 2016.

Here’s a summary of the major trends:


Swavory foods (combination of sweet and savory), sour and bitter, sour + salt, Middle Eastern (za’atar, sumac, shawarma spices), falafel, search for the next Sriracha (harissa, peri peri, gochujang, sambal, ghost pepper), Japanese 7 spice, smoked spices, turmeric, tea across all categories as a flavor, African flavors

Food Preparation/Techniques

Burned, smoked, charred, slow-cooked, pickled, fermented, fire roasted, sous vide


Filipino, Hawaiian, Caribbean sea cuisine, advanced Asian, authentic Mexican, reinvented Jewish food, African, Cuban



Cauliflower (roasted, as a steak, turned into rice and pizza crusts), seaweed, algae, burnt vegetables, root-to-stalk cooking, pickled vegetables, umami vegetables (mushrooms, nori, tomatoes), vegetable purees for cooking, drinkable soups (especially gazpacho), vegetables as main course, vegetable noodles, purslane, cucumbers, root vegetables, kimchi, “ugly” vegetables


New ancient grains (millet, teff, farro, freekeh), small scale milling, globalized ramen, black/forbidden rice, non-wheat noodles, pumped up porridge, cheesy bread


Savory yogurt, smoothie bowls, acai bowls, labneh, yogurt drinks, house-made cheese in restaurants


Plant-based, pulses (beans, peas and lentils), poke (cubed raw fish), fried chicken Nashville hot chicken, slow-cooked (short ribs, tanginess), large meat platters in restaurants (whole roasts, whole chickens, piles of ribs), artisan butchery, meatballs, sausages, meat pies, farmed oysters, lobster rolls


hummus, flavored popcorns, jerky, pretzels, sprouted seeds


Extreme indulgences, stuffed cookies, mini/bite-sized desserts, smoked desserts, intensified desserts (umami-flavored, whey, malt and miso paste), fermented pastry, eclairs, ice cream sandwiches, shortbread, liquor-themed desserts, savory desserts


Switchels (vinegar drinks), bubbly (champagnes and proseccos to campari and soda aperitifs and sparkling teas), Cachaca (Brazil’s national spirit), microbe-based cocktails (fermented drinks), classic cocktails (Negroni, Manhattan, Old-Fashioned), inhalable/breathable cocktails, sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks, craft sodas, cider, house-brewed beers, artisan spirits, specialty teas, new fangled coffees (nitro tap to dry hopped), coconut water in many forms (e.g. fortified with protein), waters (birch, maple), probiotic drinks beyond yogurt, kombucha

Sources for 2016 trends:


Sterling-Rice Group

National Restaurant Association

StarChefs International Chefs Congress

Specialty Food Association

Baum + Whiteman

Andrew Freeman & Co

McCormick 2015 Flavor Forecast (#client)

Phil Lempert

The Food People

The Future 100 J. Walter Thompson Intelligence

Geoff Williams, Forbes

Matt Preston


Images: Harissa by Saalena Bamjee, Fuji seaweed salad by Ken Hawkins, Ahi poke by Wally Gobetz, Oreo stuffed cookies by Melvin Cacho, Negroni by Mariobonifacio

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