Food trends, like recipes, contain a variety of ingredients that shape the final dish. Pop culture, technology, the economy, and the workplace are a few social ones. Attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge about food also play a role. And then there’s the psychological determinants like stress, mood, and guilt. Mix all of those together during a global pandemic and you’re sure to see both new and reimagined entrees.
1. Healthy Options
Superfoods are those rich in compounds, which are considered beneficial to one’s health. Fish, leafy greens, berries, olive oil, and nuts are all examples of superfoods. Other healthy options are probiotics, or live microorganisms, that provide health benefits by improving or restoring the gut flora. These are found in sauerkraut and other fermented products.
But, healthy choices include quality foods AND a positive attitude. Mindful eating is becoming more popular, replacing trendy fad diets. The emphasis is on listening to our bodies, or how we feel when eating certain foods. Consuming too many carbohydrates results in weight gain and sluggishness, but we shouldn’t fear them. We just need to limit the quantity and choose the healthy ones, like whole grains and unprocessed carbs.
2. Not-So-Basic Basics
Pantry staples like pasta, sauces, and spices are getting a boost as 2021 is becoming the year of new flavors. With more home cooking than before, people are looking for ways to jazz up their old recipes. Handcrafted and shelf-stable sauces and spice blends are an easy way to accomplish this and are increasing in sales. Hearts of palm pasta, applewood smoked salt, and meaty vegan soups are a few of the unique renditions appearing in grocery stores.
3. Breakfast – New & Improved
The typical American breakfast used to be eaten on-the-run, if at all. A quick cup of coffee or juice and a cereal bar was common fare. But, with more families working and schooling from home, people are investing time and thought into the first meal of the day. Pre-covid times saw 33% of people eating breakfast at home, compared to 44% now. With more time and easy access to the kitchen, folks are preparing a more robust selection of food choices to start the day. Items like loaded omelets, protein pancake stacks, keto-friendly egg bites and healthy breakfast sandwiches are the new normal.
4. Coffee – Think Outside the Mug
Coffee, a worldwide commodity whose popularity continues to grow, is branching out into other areas. Look for it in bars, yogurt, granola, smoothie boosters, and booze, to name a few.
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5. Upcycled Food – Root to Stem
The word upcycle was once used to describe discarded objects like old clothing and household goods. Now it refers to edibles that were formerly neglected or underused. One example is Scraps Frozen Foods. This Brooklyn-based frozen pizza company upcycles ingredients like broccoli leaves, excess or bruised basil leaves, and imperfectly shaped peppers to make sauces for their pizzas.
These types of efforts are aimed at reducing waste and maximizing the energy spent to produce, transport, and prepare the food.
6. Oils – Flavor Favorites
Olive oil used to be a favorite due to its versatility in recipes and health benefits. However, new flavors like walnut, pumpkin, and sunflower seed are headed for pantries everywhere, so the jury is out on what becomes the new go-to oil.
7. Fruit & Veggie Jerky
Jerky was once off-limits to the vegetarian crowd, but is no longer. Fruits and vegetables, dried at peak freshness to preserve nutrients, are spiced up with exotic additions like chili, salt, ginger, and cacao drizzle. This shelf stable way to consume fruits and veggies will put a new spin on snacks and lunch box surprises.
8. Tacos – Versatility Unleashed
Ground beef, cheese and lettuce are old-school considering you can fill tacos with an endless variety of items, such as cauliflower, mushrooms, and hot chicken. They can be plant-based, Keto, or wrapped in lettuce and are only limited by one’s imagination!
While pickling and fermenting both achieve a sour flavor, the methods are different. Pickling involves soaking foods in an acidic liquid, while fermenting is a result of the chemical reaction between a food’s sugars and naturally present bacteria.
There’s much more to pickling than just cucumbers. Examples of other fruits and veggies ideal for pickling are: asparagus, beets, bell peppers, blueberries, cauliflower, carrots, cherries, fennel, ginger, grapes, and the list goes on.
This trend began in 2020 and continues to grow. The pandemic has more people gardening and canning than ever before, which resulted in a shortage of mason jar lids this past year. If you can grow it, you can pickle it, and many folks are doing just that.
10. Homemade Pasta
What better choice for our first pandemic-winter-comfort-food than homemade pasta? After all, carbs = comfort and with the right recipe and proper equipment who can resist? I made my first batch during a cooking class in (none other than) Florence, Italy! I was truly amazed at how easy it was and how a simple flour + olive oil + eggs + salt recipe created a pasta that gave new meaning to the word “fresh.” When you’ve eaten boxed all your life you’re not prepared for the difference, which was a truly gastronomical epiphany!
11. Charcuterie Boards – A Visual Feast
Charcuterie refers to cooked, processed, or cured cold meats and meat products, originally and typically pork products, as sausages, pâtés, hams, etc. It’s derived from the French words for flesh (chair) and cooked (cuit). Charcuterie boards typically showcased meats, cheeses, nuts, and fruits on a board, arranged in a visually pleasing way.
Now we’re seeing culinary art forms focused on flavor, pairings and eye appeal in a wide variety of foods like chocolate, breakfast, and taco boards. The highly visual nature of these boards is credited with its popularity, particularly among Millennials. They lend themselves well to social media and the Internet where influencers are having an impact on their diets and entertaining repertoire.
Photo by amandascookin.com