A few weeks ago, I was able to fly to Nashville for a few days to participate in the Almond Board of California's annual food trends tour. I had attended the tour in 2017 when it was in Denver, and last year it was hosted in Los Angeles. This was also my second time in Nashville, but the first time had been back in 2014, so the food landscape had changed a bit.

We started off at Paleo Works, which prepares paleo-inspired meals from scratch, and had me seriously thinking I should switch to Paleo—they use almond or coconut flour in all of their products, and both the biscuits and grits and the cookies we sampled tasted pretty good. 

That same day, we learned about the new MinusCal bars, which uses Choleve to contribute to natural weight loss. Barrett Jacques, its founder, talked to us about the bars, which come in Chocolate and Apple Cinnamon flavors. 

At E+Rose Wellness Cafe, we tried their breakfast bowls, which included acai, blueberries, bananas, peanut butter, pea protein, and coconut milk with crushed almonds (the "Pro Bowl"). We also tried their Baked Apple Toast, which was made from local flax bread, with roasted almond butter and sliced apples. 

Five Daughters Bakery was probably one of the more interesting stops of the trip for me (and most relevant to our readers), as they have a plethora of doughnuts, including Paleo doughnuts made with California almond flour. I even tried a "Cream Cheese Everything" doughnut, which was probably one of the most interesting desserts I've ever tasted—"Your favorite bagel, but it's a doughnut" is their tagline for it, and it tasted like bagel seasoning, but sweet. We also tried all four of the Paleo doughnut varities, which included Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Hazelnut, and Birthday Cake. (yet another reason to go Paleo!)

At the Mockingbird, stop #1 for lunch that day, we had duck breast served with almond hummus, as well as almond milk poached chicken, with Moroccan Almond-Semolina cookies for dessert. 

And at Colt's Chocolates, we were able to meet Mackenzie Colt, formerly known as the actress from the TV show "Hee Haw," and current owner of Colt's. She sent us home with a goody bag (I still have some left, actually) and we tried Cherry Almond Bella Bark, Peanut Butter Bella Bark, Colts Bolts, and Smoked Dark Chocolate with Jalapeno Roasted Almonds. 

Other snack and bakery items of note were Le Bar bars, which was founded in 2014, and which are all-natural and vegan; and Killebrew Coffee, where we sampled a California Almond Biscotti as well as an Almond Bear Claw. 

It was interesting to me to see how much variety is available in 2019—even if you're on a specific diet (let's say Paleo, or gluten-free) there are always options to be found. Five Daughters Bakery illustrated this best, with its Paleo-friendly doughnuts, but many of the other restaurants we stopped at had gluten-free options, too. There's also a renewed focus on eating and drinking healthy. We sampled some juices from Juice Nashville, including a Green Almond Juice and a Chocolate Almond, which actually both tasted great. At Hathorne, we had grilled acorn squash with leek, fennel, almond, kasseri, and sumac, and at Henrietta Red, we sampled their Red Butter Lettuce with whole grain mustard, toasted almond, pickled turnip, Bartlett pear, and Castelvetrano olives.

We were also able to learn more about almonds—California almonds, to be specific. California is actually one of five places on Earth with the Mediterranean climate needed to grow almonds. Almond production supports California's economy by creating 104,000 jobs statewise, and it adds $11 billion to California's GDP while generating $21 billion in gross revenue. 

Also, more than 90 percent of California almond farms are family farms, and 85 percent of California almond farmers and processors donate their time and money to local organizations.

I was especially interested to see how both sustainability and food trends played a role in the food and meals that we sampled. Recently announced, the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals focus on reducing the water used to grow almonds, achieving zero waste in the orchards, increasing adoption of environmentally friendly pest tools, and improving local air quality during almond harvest.

And did you know: every almond  you eat exists because a honey bee pollinated an almond blossom? Also, every honey bee who visits an almond orchard gets its first natural food source of the year there, building up reserves of worker bees and stored food to support a healthy start to their pollination season. Because of honey bees’ essential role in almond production, the Almond Board has invested more in honey bee healthresearch than any other crop group. And what's more, farmers have widely adopted voluntary measures, like Honey Bee Best Management Practices, to protect bees in the orchard and beyond.

I'm curious to see where these trends will take us in 2019 and beyond. 

Related: CA almond community announces almond orchard 2025 goals focused on growing good