Four Food Trends We’re Predicting for 2018

In line at Whole Foods perusing food magazines, it’s hard not to notice a theme this time of year. It seems like everyone in food (especially the health food scene) tries to guess what the next Kale, Quinoa, Coconut oil or Kombucha will be. What food trends are predicted for 2018? Paging through my favorite issues while my groceries inch down the conveyer belt, it’s clear that everyone’s thinking about simplicity and ease when it comes to cooking. Meal prep ideas are the rage. As private chefs who basically do that for a living and for ourselves, we’re experts on the matter. Here are four prep ahead food trends we’re predicting for 2018:

A Little Sprinkle Here…

The key to meal prep is having things on hand that you can throw together in a pinch. That’s why I think things like “sprinkles” (coined by Bon Appetit) and sauces are so on trend. They’re perfect for just that–whipping things up and keeping them in the fridge! Not only are these sauces and seed mixes easy to keep on hand, they’re also healthy and protein rich. Sprinkles and sauces are a quick Sunday activity too (#mealprepsundays). Roast your favorite nut (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.), toast some sesame seeds (or pepitas, chia seeds, hempseeds, etc.) and toss with maldon salt, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, granulated garlic…you name it.

Think about the stuff you pinch (or “sprinkle”) onto your plate last minute. Something crunchy, something salty, and something spicy. It’s what granola is to breakfast yogurt. Keep your preferred mix at your fingertips in a jar in your pantry or fridge. Here are a few “sprinkle” recipes to tickle your taste buds: the general idea to build off of and a little something extra to get your creative juices flowing. A good “starter” sprinkle is panko, garlic and parmesan. Saute panko in a little olive oil until golden, adding in minced garlic for the last minute or two. Then add grated parmesan off the heat. Cool and store in the fridge to top soups, salads or other cooked vegetable dishes throughout the week.

Creamy miso tahini dressing with charred broccoli and crispy tofu

…A Little Drizzle There

Sauces work the same way. These homemade condiments can also be packed with nutrients: omega-3 infused anchovies, probiotic rich miso, protein packed greek yogurt to name a few. With the rise of fermented flavors (another food trend, link to Gillian’s take on it here) we’re obsessed with putting a teaspoon of miso in our tahini dressing. It adds tangy, savory flair to the nutty, creamy tahini. Bonus that it’s good for your gut. This dressing can be thinned out and tossed in a salad or better yet drizzled on your roasted veggies. (Here’s a recipe for reference if you need one.)

We love fresh herbs, which means we always have them in our fridge. There’s almost nothing more satisfying than freeing up space in our crisper drawers and putting all the sad, end-of-week herbs in a blender with some olive oil, a little zest and and anchovy filet. Salsa Verde! This stuff is delicious on practically everything. If you throw in some yogurt or avocado, it transforms into green goddess. These sauces are my go-to show stoppers and they’re literally made by just throwing things odds and ends together.

Yogurt With Everything

Our self-proclaimed trend is the rise of plain Greek yogurt or skyr as ingredients. We love to dollop them on everything, from build-your-own rice bowls to chicken tortilla soup. I even put in on top of my scrambled eggs. It adds that creamy richness you get from sour cream but without the guilt. The probiotics make it much better for you. The tang…you’ll love the tang.

Plant-based Bean Stew with Crunchy Wild Mushrooms

A Mostly Plant-Based Diet

Plant based proteins are becoming more popular every year and it feels like the list just keeps getting longer. They include tofu, tempeh, quinoa, lentils, beans, chia seeds, and various nuts. With so many vegan/vegetarian clients we keep this list of possibilities under our belt at all times. It’s becoming clearer that we don’t need as much protein as we think. I try to stick to one animal based protein a day and often end up eating meat just a few times a week. A mix of quinoa and beans (a cup of each) is enough to fulfill half of my recommended daily intake. That’s half in just one meal! With that in mind, I’m always thinking of ways to minimize my need for animal proteins and I’m not the only one. I don’t consider myself a vegetarian, but I’m not limiting myself to animal products and I think that’s where the trend in headed. There’s even a word for it: Flexitarian. This is defined by people who are not committed to a full vegetarian diet but prefer to eat mostly plant-based foods. Long live plant love!







I have a secret to share: You eat what you buy. Okay, that’s not exactly groundbreaking. However, keeping yourself stocked with nourishing options and leaving junk on supermarket shelves is one of the most powerful ways to improve what you eat. So, this week we’re sharing our Density Diet grocery list.

The Density Diet is our version of a January “cleanse.” It’s a research-based, well-rounded way of eating that you can return to any time of year. Read more about it here and here.

In order to narrow each category down, I’ve put asterisks (*) next to items that you’ll most often find in my kitchen this time of year either because they are seasonal or I consider them staples because they are easy to cook. These items are no better than others nutritionally though so choose what you like.



(This list is non-exhaustive. All fresh vegetables and frozen-vegetables with no added ingredients are fair game.)





*Brussels sprouts









*Herbs – Cilantro, Mint, Basil, Dill, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Tarragon, etc.


*Onions – yellow/red/white, garlic, shallots, leeks, scallions, chives, etc.





*Sweet potato

*Winter squash/Pumpkin



Bell pepper

Bok choy



Collard greens


Fava bean

Jerusalem artichoke




Rapini (broccoli rabe)


Snap peas

Snow peas


Summer squash/zucchini

Swiss chard





(This list is non-exhaustive. All fresh fruit and dried and frozen fruit with no added ingredients are fair game.)






*Orange – Blood orange, Clementine, Mandarine, Tangerine, etc.



*Dried fruit – Currants, Raisins, Cranberries, Dates, etc.




















Whole Grains

(This list is non-exhaustive. All whole grains are fair game. Emphasize real whole grains versus products made from them such as whole wheat pastas and bread.)

All dried grains (favor these)

  • *Corn/polenta/popcorn
  • *Farro
  • *Oats
  • *Quinoa
  • *Whole grain rice such as brown, black or wild
  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur
  • Freekeh
  • Millet
  • Spelt

A few of my favorite real whole grain products (choose more sparingly to get full benefits of whole grains)

  • Food for Like 7 Sprouted Grains Bread (In freezer section of market. Most of their other options are great as well.
  • Mestemacher Breads (I like the Fitness Bread)
  • Sfoglini whole grain pasta options (I’m opting to avoid whole grain pastas while following DD, but if you feel lost without them, Sfolglni’s options are some of my favorite.)
  • If you can’t find the above products, just make sure whole grain flour (i.e. whole wheat flour, whole oat flour, etc.) is the first ingredient listed on the nutrition panel. Also look for high fiber, low sodium, and low sugar.

Beans and Legumes

(This list is non-exhaustive. All dried and canned beans and lentils are fair game. Full disclosure: I most often use canned beans for ease. Cooking from scratch produces the most delicious bean but I rarely have the forethought.)

*Lentils (Beluga, Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, all Dals, Puy, etc. – most of these take 20-30 minutes to cook, so I most often buy dried)




*Chickpeas (my most frequent go-to)

*Butter beans




Nuts and Seeds

(This list is non-exhaustive. All shelled and unshelled nuts and seeds, raw or roasted and nut butters are fair-game. Look for no added sugar, no added oils. Store opened packages of nuts and seeds in the refrigerator or freezer.)





*Pine nuts

*Pumpkin seeds/pepitas

*Sesame seeds


*Almond butter

*Peanut butter


Seafood, Poultry, Pork, Dairy, Eggs

(This list is non-exhaustive. All fresh and frozen fish, shellfish and canned seafood is fair game. All lean cuts of poultry and pork are fair game. All plain dairy is fair game. I prefer 2% or whole yogurts and some research suggests choosing these over non-fat alternatives is advantageous. Read about that here.)


*Canned tuna (I absolutely love oil-packed tuna. Tonnino is my go-to brand. Long shelf life so great to keep on hand.)

*Chicken – breasts (bone-in or out), legs, thighs, etc.

*Pork loin and tenderloin


*Milk, plain

*Plain yogurt, regular or Greek

*Edamame (I typically keep pre-shelled frozen on hand.)

*Tofu (long shelf life so great to keep on hand.)

*Tempeh (long shelf life so great to keep on hand.)

*Miso (long shelf life so great to keep on hand.)







Canned salmon

Smoked fish

Cottage cheese


(This list is non-exhaustive.)

*Extra virgin olive oil

*Flavorful nut and seed oils for salad dressings and stir-fry seasonings: toasted sesame oil, walnut oil

*Vinegars: balsamic, red-wine, white-wine, apple cider, etc.

*Olives (Kalamata, green, etc.), pickles and capers

*Asian condiments and flavorings: reduced-sodium soy sauce, fish sauce, mirin, chile-garlic sauce, curry paste

*Kosher salt, Maldon salt for finishing

Black peppercorns

*Dry herbs and spices


*Water and seltzers



*Milk or non-dairy milks

Check out our Instagram and Facebook accounts for #densitydiet meal ideas. We’ll continue to provide more information here as well.

Are you following the Density Diet? How is it going and how do you feel? We’d love to hear from you!


Last week I introduced you to What We Eat’s Density Diet, a research-based, sane alternative to the unhealthy and counterproductive cleanses many embark on this time of year. While 5 Density Diet Rules serve as its framework, in order for you to be successful, you need to make them work for you. What does that mean? You need to make following the Density Diet a SMART goal.

Making the Density Diet SMART

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Read more about them here. The adjectives to zero in on in the case of the Density Diet are “attainable” and “time-bound.”

How long do you plan on following this way of eating? A few days? A week? For the month of January? Of course, you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you follow the DD Rules to the letter. But is that attainable (i.e. realistic) for you? If not, make a list of exceptions before you start. If you plan for these, you aren’t “cheating.” You are making the diet work for you and increasing your odds of being successful.

Below is my list of exceptions so you can see how this works for someone else.

Laura’s Exceptions (example only, make a list of your own!)

  • When dining out, I’m allowed to enjoy a bit of cheese, red meat and/or refined grains (likely in the form of pizza or pastaJ). I don’t eat out more than once or twice a week and being able to enjoy what I want is important to me.
  • I’m allowed to enjoy a sweet once weekly but only if it’s truly special and I am savoring it with others (e.g. no mindless desserts consumption in front of the TV).
  • I’m allowed to enjoy my morning coffee and one alcoholic beverage a day (maybe two on weekend nights:)).

Once you make your own list of exceptions, following the Density Diet should be an effective SMART goal for you. It’s…

  • Specific and Measurable: You’ll know at the end of every day whether you’ve been successful or not. You could keep a journal of everything you consume and compare it to your DD rules if that makes it easier. Little deviations are not the end of the world. Perfection is the enemy of progress.
  • Attainable: Your list of exceptions should allow the DD to be doable for you!
  • Relevant: This way of eating is a return to eating for health. If health is your goal, this is as solid of a first step as you can take. Don’t be surprised if you notice you have more energy, normalized digestion, improved skin and maybe even weight loss.
  • Time-bound: You set your own agenda here. Whether you follow this for a few days or the entire year, you’ll benefit.

I’d love to hear from you. Any questions or concerns about this? What are your planned exceptions? If you think it would be helpful, we could start a Density Diet hashtag (#densitydiet2018) and I can tag my meals on Instagram. Let me know. I’d love to see yours as well.

HERE’S TO 2018!

xo Laura, MS, RD

A Better Way to “Cleanse”: What We Eat’s Density Diet

It’s that time of year again. Resolution time. For some, that might mean a vow to limit Instagram, start a gym routine or get more sleep. But for many others, it likely involves a plan to change their diet. After weeks (months?) of indulging, a desire to restore control is natural.

Everywhere you turn—the internet, TV, magazines, friends—you’ll find someone promising you that they have the easiest, quickest way to do it. And it’s probably going to come in the form of a cleanse, detox or elimination diet. I’d like to offer a sane alternative that can be a diet touchstone anytime of the year.

First, let’s get to the two main reasons why I don’t like traditional cleanses, detoxes and/or elimination diets:

  • They are not research-based. The most prominent claim these diets tout is that they remove toxic build-up in your body. News flash: Your kidneys, liver and colon are the most magnificent, incredibly effective detoxing machines. Eliminating particular foods won’t allow these organs to “rest” and eating particular foods won’t make them more effective. (And certainly, no supplements are going to help either. If a diet recommends taking its own branded supplements, be wary.) If you are going to put a large amount of effort into changing the way you eat, then it should deliver on its promises.
  • They are often too severe and/or unrealistic in the long-term. Cleanses, detoxes and eliminations that prescribe a narrow set of foods or beverages typically lack the full spectrum of nutrients your body needs. Why rob your body of what’s essential now in the wake of what was likely a long period of sub-optimal nourishment? You’d just be swapping one bad diet for another. And while, yes, they might lead to short term weight loss because you’re severely restricting calories, the weight loss won’t last. Whatever you do to lose weight, you have to continue in the long-term to keep it off.

Continue reading “A Better Way to “Cleanse”: What We Eat’s Density Diet”

Hygge Holiday Mulled Wine

Being Scandinavian, I was raised on my father’s stories of his childhood in Sweden. He described long winters accented by warm and comforting meals, lots of social interaction, and a good amount of singing. I remember my grandfather bouncing me on his knees while singing to me in Swedish, mocking me for disliking herring and deeming me “knickity pickity.” He called me this as if it were my name, accompanied with a devilish grin and a poke in the ribs. (If only he could see me now, and understand how deeply I took his insult to heart by forcing myself to become the adventurous eater and cook that I am today.)

Nordic people have a beautiful outlook on life. A big part of that is something called hygge, a concept that is hard to grasp and difficult to define:

“Generally, hygge is defined as a feeling or mood of comfort, wellbeing, coziness, happiness, charm, safety, friendship. Simplicity, pleasure or intimacy. Hygge means living in the moment, savoring all that it has to offer.”

I try my hardest to embrace this part of my heritage, especially during the holidays. I light candles and put up twinkly lights, savor every moment spent with family and friends, and make dishes that fill my home with familiar scents and memories of holidays past. Food is central to hygge afterall.

But beverages can be hygge too! What is a dense shortbread cookie without eggnog to chase it with? How can one send wishes of good health without a toast to raise in accompaniment? Beverages, especially ones spiked with a little something extra special, refresh the palette, warm the soul and add to the jolly mood of all holiday social gatherings.

Every Christmas since I can remember, the evening’s focal point has been a slow-simmered mulled wine called Glogg. This is a Swedish holiday tradition that I refuse to skip. The concoction is warm from spices, barely sweetened by dried fruit, and deeply nutty from the addition of slivered almonds. It is also deceivingly strong due to the addition of vodka. This combats the loss of alcohol content when cooking the wine, or so my ancestors say. All of this goes into a pot over low heat to marry the ingredients together. The biggest obstacle is being patient enough to wait until it is ready!

So, for this holiday, my gift from me to you is my own family recipe for Swedish mulled wine.

With Love,  Kristina



  • 2 bottles dry red wine
  • 2 cups aquavit or vodka
  • 8 oz chopped dried figs
  • 2 oranges peeled without the pith
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 6 cardamon pods
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole star anise pods
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  1. Pour the wine and the vodka into a pot and heat on very low, just below a simmer.
  2. Add the chopped orange peel, dried fruit and spices to the mixture and continue to cook on low for two hours in order to let the flavors marry.
  3. Stir in the sugar until dissolved and adjust to taste.