As time continues to pass, the trends in the food industry seem to be marching forward in the plant-centric direction. As pulses were the focus of 2016, 2017 may have more plant-based foods at the center of the plate as more people realize their multitude of benefits. Food waste is also a huge topic in the food industry and learning to utilize an entire product is significant to keep waste to a minimum. This year, we will see more of cauliflower, plant roots and stems, purple veggies, ethnic foods, and food served in bowls amongst others.
Health is important when considering food, and there always seems to be one vegetable in particular that people focus on each year. Kale has been cited as a superfood everybody wanted to get their hands on in the past. Seaweed made its reign for a while as it rode on with the upscale ramen train. But in 2017? Cauliflower. It is extremely versatile, more so than kale, and filled with nutrients at the same time. You may find cauliflower in your next mash, gluten free pizza crust, in place of rice or pasta, grilled like a steak, battered and fried, pureed into soup, and much more. As vegetables replace meat on the plate, cauliflower is getting a highlight in the center cooked to bring forth the umami desire.
Food waste is no small issue, even at the Culinary Institute of America. Chefs are trying to find ways to utilize a product completely and that includes an entire plant, from root to stem. Despite food being unavailable to many in the world, one third of the food being produced is turned to waste. Much of what is being thrown out is extremely nutritious, but ends up creating a larger environmental footprint. There are several ways to cook root to stem. Keep your vegetable tops and stems to saute or braise. Veggie stalks and ends can be sliced thin for a delicious slaw. Even the peels and rinds are not completely useless. In addition to using the full vegetable, purple varieties are getting a spotlight. These uniquely colored vegetables are just as nutritious, if not more so, than their original colored varieties, but perk up the look of a plate. Find more purple asparagus, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, and more being served in the next year.
Ethnic flavors are becoming more prevalent as the desire to travel and try authentic foods increase. Travelling is a wonderful way to experience different cultures and cuisine a little at a time, but on the next night out, look out for the restaurants serving authentic cuisine from different countries popping up. Filipino cuisine, Hispanic foods, Indian, Mediterranean, and African are all popping up more often. Some of these flavors include an increase of spice and something to cool and balance it out. More and more of these dishes are also being served in bowls. Acai bowls appeared in the scene a few years ago and more variations arose, moving to the savory side. Grains, greens, and the love for poke has grown exponentially, creating a venue for serving them in convenient bowls to contain the mess it can create. Many popular Asian foods such as ramen, bibimbap, and pho are notably served in bowls. Serving in a bowl also makes it easier on the chef, there is less space to fill compared to that of a plate, also making it much quicker to produce. The CIA has caught on with this trend with their new pop-up Bowl Inc. at the Innovation Station, serving three varieties of meals in a bowl.
Vegetables are making their way onto the list of comfort foods as consumers accept and learn more ways to eat them. Save your money on travel and instead find authentic ethnic cuisine close to home to enjoy more often. These are a few of the food trends predicted by restaurant consultants, but more are definitely springing up. This year, will ride on with a food trend or two. Even better, grab some purple cauliflower, grill it up, and include it in your bowl of sautéed plant stems with some authentic Indian spice to get in on all of the upcoming food trends.


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