As chefs and home cooks continue to get more inventive, food trends in the U.S. become healthier, more sustainable—and delicious.
The waste-based food trend received a lot of media attention in 2015, thanks in part to activist chefs who made no-waste their new primary cause. More and more kitchens, restaurants, and consumers are turning their focus to minimizing excess and declaring themselves waste-free, which essentially means making use of as much food as possible. Good thing, considering that approximately 70 billion pounds of food go to waste each year.
As a result of such extreme excess food waste, the FDA and the USDA have established a joint goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030.
2016 is bringing many more creative ways to consume castoff food by embracing “ugly” and expired foods, putting emphasis on reinventing leftovers, and creating gourmet dishes made completely of typically discarded ingredients, such as vegetable pulp.
If you want to enjoy the texture of white bread but slow down digestion, purple bread might be the food trend for you. Created by extracting anthocyanins from black rice and inserting them into a regular wheat bread recipe, the result is a purple colored bread that is rich in antioxidants and made entirely of natural compounds.
The addition of anthocyanin allows the bread to be digested 20 percent slower than white bread. Although the nutritional difference to white bread is minimal, as the individual is still consuming the same amount of starch and wheat flour, the benefit is in the slowdown of energy release, which means it will leave you feeling fuller for longer, without impacting the texture. Purple bread isn’t commercially available yet, but creator Dr. Zhou Weibiao is in the process of working with major food manufacturers to release it into the market soon.
Two keys factors are driving the canned wine food trend. First, the increase in an active-outdoor lifestyle means that consumers are looking for more convenient ways to drink wine. Aluminum cans provide a convenient, portable, light, easy-to-chill option that’s well suited for single servings and on-the-go active outdoor activities such as picnics, camping trips, festivals, and poolside parties.
Second, with the growing trend toward sustainability, cans are the perfect delivery mechanism for wine, as they’re easily recycled. The lightness of an empty aluminum can over a glass bottle means it’s easy to keep and take the empty packaging home to be recycled responsibly rather than discarded in the nearest convenient trash bin.
“Options that provide accessibility and convenience without trading quality will continue to gain traction,” Whole Foods experts agreed. “Cue the aluminum can—a portable, easy-to-chill option that’s well suited for single servings and active, outdoor lifestyles. And with choices like Infinite Monkey Theorem and Presto Sparkling wine, today’s pop-tops are the new popped-cork.”
Getting Creative With Vegetables
We all know we should “eat our greens” and as such, veggies are fast taking center stage and rapidly pushing animal protein to the side of the plate.
Baum + Whiteman, a global food and restaurant consultants group, included vegetables on its list of the top 11 trends on tap for 2016.
“Relentlessly rising beef prices, horror over hormones, a scramble for ever-more antioxidants, health-and-diet concerns, growth of farmers markets, locavore drummers, increasing numbers of flexitarians … all the stars have nicely aligned,” the agency wrote.
Yahoo Food also added veggies to its 2016 Food Trends list. “Move over, meat! Now, more than ever, vegetables are taking on the starring roles on many restaurant menus, as chefs are challenging themselves to create tasty, hearty entrees from plants alone.”
Today’s food consumers are coming up with more inventive ways to enjoy vegetables in an effort to reduce their consumption of animal protein and heavy starches. Some of the most popular plant-based dishes include cauliflower pizza, zucchini noodles, butternut squash fries, and bbq pulled jackfruit, and the trend is only set to grow further.
Although melted cheese is nothing new, a melted cheese dish called Raclette has definitely been causing a social stir (or stink!) in 2016. So what’s all the fuss about with this food trend? The wheel of semi-hard cheese is melted using a fire or raclette rack, and the bubbling top layer is then scraped onto toast, meat, potatoes or veggies, Just watch the video and you’ll soon see why this dreamy gooey dish is finding its way onto more and more restaurant menus.
Souping Is the New Juicing
Souping is different than juicing in that it doesn’t remove the fiber. One of the problems with juicing is that the one ingredient with the most ‘detoxing’ and filling power—fiber—is thrown in the bin after the juice is squeezed out.
Souping, however, uses the whole vegetable or fruit so the fiber, seeds, rind, and pulp are included in the blended bowl of goodness, so it is more filling and nutritious than a juice. Souping companies are cropping up all around the country, from soup cleanse delivery options to grab-and-go soup bowls on retail and restaurant shelves.
Fermented Foods and Probiotics
Probiotics have been around for a while; the “good bacteria,” found in yogurts and other fermented food products have been inching into the spotlight more and more lately as consumers educate themselves on the inherent probiotic health benefits.
“It won’t be uncommon to find probiotic-fortified foods and beverages, such as orange juice, cereals, and waters,” said Nashville-based dietitian Sarah-Jane Bedwell, RD, LDN.
At the Natural Products Expo East in 2015, there were vegan buttery spreads made from virgin coconut oil with probiotics added; microwaveable, high-protein muffins with probiotics; and organic fruit and vegetable juices, sweetened with maple syrup and added probiotics.
Fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir milk, miso, and kombucha are poised to potentially become the “next big thing” to hit grocery store shelves.
There are a number of factors contributing to the dehydrated food trends that has seen a surge of dehydrated broccoli, kimchi crisps, and brussel sprout chips, as well as “sophisticated” jerkies made of salmon, bison, and chicken hitting our shelves.
The rise of clean eating, as well as the tendency for grab-and-go snacks, are both having a big impact on this trend as consumers looking to avoid processed or artificial foods get inventive by dehydrating fruit, vegetables, herbs, meat, and fish that they can snack on the go.
Dehydrating is great for concentrating flavor in fruits and vegetables, and with carrot jerky and beet raisins creeping onto the top restaurant menus, dehydrators have never been so popular with chefs.