Holly Ebel: Sea what will be trendy in foods this year

January 9, 2019

Ready or not, here come the predictions of what we will eat — or won ’t — in the coming year.

It’s especially interesting because of the strong showing of plant-based foods, a nod to the growing number of people on vegetarian or vegan diets. Environmental stewardship and animal welfare are also predicted to make their mark.

So, let’s start with snacks, a food we all reach for probably several times a day. There will always be crackers, chips and bags of mixed munchies, but now there are also portable, pre-packaged snacks with more sophisticated bites like prosciutto and squares of mozzarella.

Look for artisanal versions of classic snacks like those iconic cheese and peanut butter crackers. There are also pork rinds made from mushrooms and vegan jerky from soy protein.

In a search for other ways to get protein, scientists are trying lab-grown proteins as well as experimenting with insect protein. A cricket patty, anyone? Plant-based meat snacks are also on the horizon.

Pacific Rim flavors get mentioned yearly because of our fondness for Asian cuisine. Foods like dried shrimp, cuttlefish and shrimp paste are becoming more mainstream, from breakfast to dinner. This area also includes especially flavorful fruits like guava, passion fruit and dragon fruit. You’ll see these flavors in vinaigrettes, smoothies, sparkling waters and frozen fruit bars.

While you are poking through things in the freezer case you might also come across avocado popsicles, hummus ice cream and coconut water soft-serve (heads up, Dairy Queen).

Middle Eastern spices, especially zaatar and baharat, usually make the list because of their unique flavor and how they enhance whatever foods they are used in. In fact, those spices are becoming more mainstream.

It’s hard for us to think of the farm-to-table movement as a new trend since it’s been such a force for us in this area. However, consumers all around the country are wanting more detailed information on what they are eating, how it was raised (humanely) and harvested. Farmers markets, large and small, in big cities and little towns will continue to spread and be a favorite source of what we eat.

An exciting frontier in the world of food are products sourced from the sea, like kelp. There are also seaweed chips, puffed snacks from waterlily seeds, plant-based tuna alternatives made with algae ingredients, and crispy salmon skin. How about seaweed butter on your toast? If you see a seaweed salad on a menu, order it. It’s delicious. This is definitely a trend to watch and support.

The health food arena also is looking at some interesting trends. There is big support for anything fermented for better “gut health,” as it’s so delicately put. Kimchee and the drink kombucha are in that category.

Almond milk? So last year. Now look for oat milk. It foams like dairy milk for those special coffee drinks and has a similar taste as milk.

And speaking of drinks, get ready for orange wine. Made from the same grapes as white wine, the color comes from letting the juices ferment with the skins and seeds. The taste? Notes of honey, apple, orange rind, juniper and wood. (Wood, really?)

As for trending vegetables, cauliflower took the prize last year. Now cabbage, its garden cousin, is giving it some competition. Look for cabbage enchiladas, cabbage chips and cabbage lasagna.

Lastly, other trends to keep an eye on: fast food delivered to your door? Yes! Starbucks is testing the concept with Uber Eats, and Chick-fil-A offers delivery in some areas,.

Food trucks are very much a part of our culinary culture and will continue to be so, and I bet you can hardly wait for carrot cake Oreos.

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