2015 Culinary Trend Predictions

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 It’s that time of year.

The 2015 food trend lists are beginning to appear.  One of the early predictions are from Baum + Whitman, international food and restaurant consultants based in Brooklyn.  They always have a comprehensive and entertaining list of food and beverage trends in restaurants and hotel dining.

Here are a few of the highlights.

Oysters
America has rediscovered oysters.  They’re cheap because bays, inlets and tidal basins are being detoxed, so farmers are reseeding old oyster beds and discovering new ones.
Beyond the traditional,  new toppings include lemongrass cocktail sauce, yuzu koshu dressing, muscatel mignonette with tarragon, kimchee or horseradish granita and chorizo butter.

Ugly Root Vegetables
Celery root, parsnips and kohlrabi are grabbing attention in restaurant kitchens — fried, mashed, pureed, granite, flavored with cured pork or smoked honey.

Pistachios
Nut of the year.

Beyond Sriracha
Look for lots more sweet-spicy sauces and condiments.  Chefs and big restaurant chains are experimenting with piquant honey:  habanero honey, jalapeño honey and ghost chili honey.

Savory Waffles
Entrees and sandwiches made with waffles.

Matcha
Green tea powder in everything — from drinks to desserts.

Japanese Snack Foods
Japan is flavor crazy, so what sticks there might make it here. Products include Lay’s Hot & Sour Fish Soup Potato Chips, Shrimp and Mayonnaise Doritos, KFC’s salty ginger-chicken chips and Pepsi-flavored Cheetos.
The principal is clear:  there’s a restless palate syndrome affecting millennials.

Insects
Crickets and other insects may be appearing in your protein bar.

Ndjua
This spreadable, red-peppered sausage from Calabria is now finding its way onto pasta, melting over pork chops, spiking mushrooms over focaccia and blended into vinaigrettes as sauces for fish. If bold flavors are a trend, this eye-stinging mushy salami is next year’s bold flavor.

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Seaweed
Not just for sushi anymore.  Seaweed may not be the next kale, but it’ on the upslope of the trendline — showing up in poaching broths, seafood sauces, and risotto.

Iced Lattes
Boozed or not.

Flavored Salts

Savory Yogurts and Ice Creams

Shaved Ice Dessert

Ramen
Upscaling ever spicier ramen noodles, Japanese or cross-cultural.

Pimm’s Cup
It’s coming back.

Hummus Without Borders

Beyond Beer
Cocktails with beer are finding favor in trendy bars.  Watch out for Micheladas (or cervesa preparada), a beer-based drink enlivened with a bevy of sauces and spices.

 

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Veggie Hacks to Help Pump Up the Produce

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I love the trend of transforming vegetables into something new — everything from noodles and rice to pizza crust and burgers.  That was the topic of my recent post for U.S. News & World Report: A New View of Vegetables: 7 Ways to Change Your Current Approach to Produce.

The vegetable recipes pictured above,  all from talented Healthy Aperture bloggers, help bring this trend to life. Check out these clever veggie hacks:

Colorful Jicama Noodle Salad with Creamy Tahini-Ginger Dressing by Blissful Basil
Raw Zucchini Noodles and Veggies by Veggies Don’t Bite
Sweet Potato Tofu Burger by Avocado Pesto
Asparagus Fries by Veggies Don’t Bite
Rosemary Sea Salt and Vinegar Beet Chips by Running to the Kitchen
Quick and Easy Refrigerated Pickled Carrots by Domestic Dreamboat
Cauliflower Cilantro Rice by B. Britnell
Cauliflower Pizza Crust by Vintage Mixer
Cauliflower Steaks with Gremolata by Feasting at Home

Do you have a favorite new way of preparing vegetables?

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Trendspotting at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo: Year of the Bean

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I just returned from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2014 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Atlanta.  It’s always one of my favorite trendspotting events of the year. The conference — known as FNCE — brought together more than 8,000 registered dietitian nutritionists, nutrition science researchers, policy makers, and other industry leaders, along with more than 350 exhibitors.

The exhibit floor featured several specialty pavilions: gluten-free, natural and organic, diabetes and California Fresh (food products, services and technologies from 14 California-based exhibitors).  I’ve gathered up some of my favorite finds here.  Please note:  I was not compensated by any of these companies to write this post and do not have any type of marketing relationship with them (although Bob’s Red Mill does send me new products every now and then).  These are simply products that I personally enjoyed or thought they represented a trend and had an interesting story to tell.

Bean Bonanza

One trend that I spotted right away was the prominence of beans or legumes, including peas and lentils.  These plant-based proteins were everywhere — in crackers, chips, pasta, hummus, meat alternatives, nut-free butters and more.  This trend will just keep get bigger.  The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (which are another name for dry peas, lentils and chickpeas).

The two major industry groups representing beans and pulses include:  USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council and US Dry Bean Council.  Pictured above is one of the items featured at the exhibit for the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, it was a delicious lentil cupcake topped with a frosting made with the Sneaky Chef’s No-Nut Butter made with golden peas.  It was pretty amazing.  They’ve promised to include the recipe on their website — so I will keep you posted.  It’s a winner.

Harvest Snaps were showcasing crisps made with lentils, including Lentil Snaps in Tomato Basil and Onion Thyme flavors.  The snacks touted 40% less fat, good source of fiber and less sodium than traditional potato chips.  I especially enjoyed the bean pastas from Explore Asian, including the black bean pasta pictured above.  These were tasty.  I’m totally into my vegetable spiralizer and enjoy making veggie pasta impostors.  But now I’m excited to explore  more of these bean pastas, which are gluten-free and high in protein and fiber.

Bob’s Red Mill Heritage Beans included mung, adzuki, orca and cranberry beans.  Excited to try these. Perhaps my favorite bean product of all was Eat Well Embrace Life  hummus.  I’ve never seen such creative hummus flavors (including the latest varieties: sriracha carrot and beet hummus) and they’re all made with different types of beans beyond the traditional chickpeas — including white beans, lentils, black beans and edamame.  I especially liked the individual portions of hummus with crackers.

Beanitos has been out ahead of the bean trend with bean-based chips.  The company’s latest offerings are bean puffs, including hot chili lime, white cheddar and real cheezy (although I’m less enthusiastic about these).

A bean-based product I thought was truly neat is called Neat, dubbed “a healthy replacement for meat.” This creative meat alternative is made from pecans, chickpeas, oats and spices. You mix it with water and eggs (or a vegan egg mix made by Neat) and then cook it in a single flat layer in a skillet until it browns on both sides.  Then you chop it up to resemble ground beef.  The company was serving it in vegan nachos when I stopped by.

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What I especially liked about this product was the people behind it.  Many of my favorite products at FNCE were made by small start-up companies and the founder was at the booth handing out samples.  These folks were passionate about their creations.  They were authentic, sincere. They had a story to tell.  Here’s the story of Neat.

Good-for-You Convenience 

Another major trend I saw at FNCE was healthier versions of frozen and packaged foods.  Here are two of my favorites.

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Luvo offers better-for-you frozen entrees, flatbreads, burritos, breakfasts and yogurt bars with some real star power behind the company (partners include Derek Jeter and Jennifer Garner).  Not sure why I’m just learning about these products, but I am.  Again, this company has a story — a purpose behind the products.  And they may highlight “be good to you,” but the focus is all about the taste — and they didn’t disappoint.  I loved the cherry tomato and mozzarella flatbread (with a packet of balsamic glaze that you add after baking) and the chicken chile verde with polenta and black beans.  The company has embarked on a partnership with Delta airlines — which is such a good idea.  Airline food could use an upgrade.

Cook Simple is trying to redefine the boxed dinner.  This was another example of a passionate founder who had a story to tell.  I adored the husband and wife duo dishing up the samples.  I like this idea (a healthier hamburger helper) and their creative interpretations, including cowboy chili with quinoa and cinnamon, coconut curry and New Orleans jambalaya.

Healthy Kids Foods

Many exhibitors were showcasing healthier kids foods, especially snacks.  Well, this is rather important — I would say.

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Bolthouse Farm Kids introduced several fun options, including these veggie snackers featuring baby-cut carrots with chili lime and ranch seasoning.  They also showcased new smoothies and fruit tubes.  Way to go.

Portion Control

Beyond food, I also saw several exhibitors showcasing ways to control portions and teach nutrition with specially designed plates, bowls and cups.  Here are a few examples.

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In addition to portion control dishes, a product called MealEnders claimed to be the antidote for overeating.  These are ”signaling lozenges” to eat after a meal to fight the urge to overeat.   Here’s how the company explained how it works:

MealEnders’ active-taste formula rewards and resets your taste buds, freeing you from the temptation to overindulge.  First the delicious Reward Layer treats you to the sweet taste of dessert – a signal we typically associate with the end of a meal.  Then the Inner Core’s Active-Taste Layer releases a proprietary blend of gentle, cool tingling sensations on the tongue, which engage the trigeminal nerve, distracting your brain from the urge to continue overeating.  You can feel your MealEnder go to work instantly.

Could this be the new Sensa?  The company claims the lozenges are a tool for mindful eating.  I’m curious what my mindful eating colleagues think of this new product. mindful eating candy

So, did you attend FNCE this year?  What were the trends that you spotted?  Any favorite products?

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Friday Food News

KIMCHI DONUTDUNKIN’ CHEF: FERMENTATION IS THE NEXT BIG FOOD TREND
Via Bloomberg Businessweek

Dunkin’ Donuts has tried a kimchi doughnut in Korea and a yogurt-filled one in Greece, reflecting the rise of fermentation as the next hot food trend, said Dunkin’ Brands Executive Chef Jeff Miller. In the U.S., the trend will likely come into play as the chain expands its sandwich line, Miller said.

THAI COPYCATS FACE SCRUTINY FROM FOOD TESTING ROBOT
Via The New York Times

The government in Thailand has developed a robot to test dishes at Thai restaurants outside of Asia to determine their quality and authenticity. The “e-delicous” machine measures the chemical composition of dishes and compares them to the country’s specialties that are programmed into its processor.

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Seeking Out Mindless Eating Solutions

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I recently started a column on the Eat + Run blog for U.S. News and World Report, hope you’ll follow me over there.  My first column was 7 Mindless Eating Solutions, based on the new book by Brian Wansink, Slim By Design. Hope you’ll check it out.

Here’s a look at what I wrote about:

Throughout the day, we’re constantly nudged to eat more than we intended, says Cornell professor and food psychologist Brian Wansink, who put the concept of  “mindless eating” on the map.

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