Oh 2022, you made us go all in on butter boards and turn pasta into chips. We started our days with baked oats and ended them with birria tacos and blue cocktails. And we actually started packing our lunches for work again, with nutritious salads inspired by everyone’s favorite "Friends" actor. From freak outs over pink sauce to the kid who made us all fall in love with corn again, it’s been a memorable year in food. As we enter the new year, we’re getting excited to try the latest health trends, as seen on TikTok and beyond. Let’s be clear — taking care of your mental and physical health is something you should always prioritize. While some of these fun food movements are of the moment, such as elevated charcuterie boxes that you can take on-the-go, we sure hope that others (like brands trying to reduce their carbon footprint) become less of a trend and more of the norm. Let’s see what wellness-forward food trends we have our eye on for 2023.
1. Nostalgic but make it healthy
Sometimes you just want to curl up on the couch and escape with a comfort film and a nostalgic snack such as a Yodel or French’s potato sticks. Frito Lay’s recent Snack Index revealed that of the approximately 2,200 snackers polled, nearly half (49%) said that when thinking of the perfect snack, it would be something nostalgic that reminded them of a specific moment in time. There are plenty of foods that can take us back to our childhood in their original form, like an Eggo Waffle, but newer brands are combining our hunger for simpler times with a desire to incorporate wellness trends into our routine.
With its irreverent packaging and unique flavors like coffee and pandan (a Southeast Asian plant), Off Limits vegan cereal provides a whole new flavor experience in a familiar format. And now that 90s fashion is trendy again, so are 90s-inspired flavors like ranch. Known for its creamy buttermilk base, you can now find plant-based ranch dressings and dips. If that’s not enough to convince you that ranch is back, Hidden Valley Ranch’s limited-edition collaboration with cult condiment brand Truff sold out in one minute online. And if you want to be transported back to your childhood home during your 4 p.m. snack break, grab a bag of PopCorners Cinnamon Crunch, which nails the buttery cinnamon goodness of the cinnamon sugar toast your mom used to make for you.
2. Faux Meat Hits the Mainstream
Over the last few years, we’ve noticed a huge growth in plant-based meat alternatives. Since 2021, we’ve seen the popularity of meatless alternatives skyrocket. Starbucks tested out plant-based chicken and eggs at a handful of their 15,000 U.S. stores. KFC features Beyond Fried Chicken on their permanent menu (though vegetarians beware: it’s fried in the same oil as their chicken). And you can now order a spiced chicken wrap made with Daring plant-based chicken to go with your flat white at all 60 Bluestone Lane locations nationwide.
3. Celebs — and Many of us — Go Sober
Last year, we included sober curious as one of our emerging trends and we see it taking an even bigger hold in the coming year. After a seemingly endless number of premium liquor launches from celebs like Kevin Hart and Rita Ora, stars are now taking a booze-free approach to cocktails. Blake Lively, who is currently pregnant with her fourth child, recently launched the booze-free mixer brand, Betty Buzz, and new mom Katy Perry co-founded De Soi, a collection of alcohol-free aperitifs crafted with adaptogens and botanicals. Both brands are delicious enough to get you through Dry January and beyond.
There’s no sign of the sober curious movement slowing down anytime soon. A recent Gallup poll found that fewer people are drinking overall and the number of drinks consumed per week has fallen from 4.8 in 2009 to 3.6 in 2021. Young adults are leading the charge, as more college-aged students are choosing to abstain from alcohol. When younger people do drink, they’re choosing lower-ABV options. Now that’s refreshing!
4. Pass the Carbon Neutral Snacks
Thanks to the recent supply chain disruptions and our ever-growing grocery bills, a recent study by Ketchum Consumer Research found that 56% of Americans care more about food sustainability in 2022 than they did in the past. Last year, President Biden signed an order to make the US government carbon neutral by 2050 and food brands are pursuing the same initiative.
Climate Neutral, a nonprofit working to eradicate carbon emissions, has created a certification program that helps consumers identify and shop for products that have zero carbon footprint. Thus far, 51 American food brands, including Bud Light NEXT, Numi Tea and shār snacks have earned the certification. “Carbon neutrality is vitally important…because our planet is in crisis. If we don’t reduce the output of carbon emissions, we won’t have a habitable planet,” says Peter Rushford, founder of shār snacks.
Other certification programs, such as Verified Carbon Standard and Tradewater, are also growing. Expect to see more brands touting their carbon neutral commitment in 2023.
5. Latin-owned food brands
Whether you grew up making traditional Latin foods with your abuela or have been inspired to make recipes from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico or other Latin American cuisines, you may be looking for products that bring those flavors to your table. Lucky for us, there’s been an explosion of Latin-owned food companies offering fresh, modern versions of traditional foods. We love the Dominican-inspired Tamarindo BBQ sauce from Pisqueya and the cactus-based tortilla chips from Tia Lupita.
You’ll also likely be seeing more drinks made with mavi (AKA mauby or mabi), which is a tree bark that’s touted for its medicinal benefits. By combining the bark with sugar and spices, including anise seed, ginger and hibiscus flower, it’s become a popular drink throughout the Caribbean. While mavi is traditionally made at home and fermented, you can now find the slightly bitter beverage in ready-to-drink bottles from Mabi, which was founded by Dominican-born, Brooklyn-based Ana Batista.
6. Charcuterie to-go
The board trend just won’t let up, with butter, cream cheese and other schmears as the base for your snacking experience. Now, restaurants are fueling our appetite with easy bites of salami and cheese at lunchtime.
At Boston-based Kured, you can customize a charcuterie box for two to five friends with your favorite cured meats, cheeses and condiments, such as damson plum jam, pistachios and Grillo’s Spicy Pickles. If you’re looking for a single-serve option, opt for a charcuterie cup (much like jarcuterie). And the brand shows no signs of slowing down; Kured is opening a second location in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.
7. The hottest new spice
We’re calling it now — 2023 will be the year of shichimi togarashi, which is a blend of chiles, sesame, orange peel and roasted nori. Home cooks, TikTokers, pinners and chefs like Morimoto are having fun experimenting with shichimi togarashi in both sweet and savory dishes. I recently sprinkled the spice mix over carrots, along with some salt and pepper, roasted them at 400° and they tasted bonkers good.
With these trends in mind, here’s a toast to a less boozy, more planet-friendly new year.