New Year, New Foods

January 5th, 2023 | Posted in Info

Many people use the new year as an opportunity to start afresh. It’s a good time to foster new habits and try new things. Dietary changes are a common feature with motivating factors being improved health, improved appearance, more energy or weight loss. Here are some food ideas to jazz up your new year regime. All are gluten free and vegan so are suitable for most people.

Alternative Pasta

Most pasta eaten world wide is made from durum wheat. In the last two decades, there has been much research into improving the nutritional value of pasta with the addition of extra ingredients. These may include herbs, inulin, resistant starches, legumes, vegetables and protein extracts.

There are also many different types of pasta available. Here are a few:

Buckwheat Pasta – made from buckwheat flour, which is not related to wheat and is gluten free. Available as spirals or as noodles also known as soba noodles. It’s worth checking the ingredients as sometimes soba noodles contain a combination of buckwheat and wheat flour. It has a chewy, grainy texture that works well with stir fries or in pasta bakes.

Chickpea Pasta – made from chickpea flour (garbanzo flour), chickpea pasta is a high protein, high fibre, gluten free and grain free alternative to standard pasta. It tastes of chickpeas and has a chewy texture.

Lentil Pasta – similar to chickpea pasta in terms of its protein and fibre content. A good choice for those wanting to reduce their grain intake.

Quinoa Pasta – usually made with quinoa flour combined with other flours such as corn or rice. It has a slightly grainy texture and nutty flavour. Quinoa is considered a complete plant protein as it has a good balance of all the essential amino acids making it a good choice for vegans as well as those avoiding gluten.

Shirataki Noodles – made from glucomannan, a fibre extracted from konjac root, which passes through the intestines undigested. This means these noodles are essentially free of calories and carbohydrates. They have a slightly gelatinous texture and can be flavoured with other ingredients. Glucomannon may reduce cholesterol, help to stabilise blood sugar levels and may improve bowel movements.

Faux Meat

Meat alternatives are becoming more prevalent with fat marbling and ‘bleeding’ using beetroot extracts so that products look like their meaty counterparts. It’s now possible to get burgers, sausages and kebabs with the flavour and texture of meat. Vegan fishless fingers and vegan shrimp alternatives are also available.
There’s also good old tofu (available plain, smoked or flavoured), tempeh and sosmix all of which can be used to make your own meat free dishes.

Egg Substitutes

Veganism and bird flu may both increase the need for egg substitutes. Ground and soaked flax seeds and chia seeds can be used in place of eggs in baked good. Aquafaba, the water drained from canned chickpeas, can be whisked up as an alternative to egg whites. It’s also possible to buy egg substitutes made from a combination of ingredients such as mung beans, protein isolates, starch, oil and flavourings.


Jackfruit has long been available in Asian supermarkets but has only made it into standard supermarkets in the UK in recent years. Jackfruit are huge fruits that can weigh up to 40kg and range in size from 30cm-1m in length and 25cm-50cm in diameter. Jackfruit has a hard, spiky, green or yellow rind and firm, yellow flesh. Although it is not especially high in protein it has a stringy texture similar to chicken or pork. It’s often available canned or frozen. It can be used in curries, stews, and instead of pulled pork inside a burger bun.


Foraging is the act of collecting food from the wild. It’s how our ancestors survived; if they wanted to eat they had to find foods that were edible and palatable. Although we’ve lost a lot of the knowledge around what is edible in our local landscapes foraging has made a comeback in the past decade or so. Foraging reduces food miles, packaging and the carbon footprint of food so has much to recommend it. Many restaurants are now proud to have foraged foods on their menus. Foraged foods include many types of mushroom, leaves, berries, nuts and roots. Do not go foraging unless you are absolutely sure you know what is edible and what is poisonous.

Conscious Choices

Decisions around what to eat increasingly take into account the effect on the planet, sustainability, production methods, compassion and health. How we eat is also becoming part of the picture in terms of mindfulness, timings of meals, hours of fasting, number of meals per day etc. With the cost of living crisis continuing unabated the cost of food is also a big consideration for most people.