The Top 2018 Food Trends – And What A Healthy-Minded Woman Should Know
Which food trends should you try? Which are healthy? Which should be met with caution? Before you jump on the next fad, Best Health finds out.
2018 food trends to watch
Food trends come in and out of our lives, but healthy eating should always be there. We touched base with a food trend expert to find out what is healthy, and what is not.
Dana Speers, director of culinary innovation at THP, a social media marketing agency, gets inside the food trends for 2018 and tells us what you need to know and what a health-conscious women like ourselves should think about too.
You – a regular reader of Best Health – don’t need us to tell you that veganism is a food trend. But it has some mass momentum in 2018.
The trend expert says: “The growing vegan eating trend does not necessarily mean going vegan forever,” says Speers about the first on her list of food trends for 2018. “Non-vegans are incorporating vegan dishes into their weekly menus or going vegan for a period of time. These part-time vegans still eat meat and are not committed to permanently giving up animal products. They’re doing this in part, because of the healthy benefits associated with a vegan lifestyle – low cholesterol, lower in saturated fats – and also the perceived positive impact that veganism has on our environment –reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and a decrease in agricultural land demand and land clearing.”
But did you know that vegan has also gone glam?
The trend expert says: Vegan recipe development is a big trend, and more and more people are searching for entertaining-quality dishes. Speers also points out to vegan cookbooks with coffee table book-level photography, such as The Oh She Glows cookbooks, by Angela Liddon, and Amanda Cohen’s cookbooks as to starting this movement in the food trends. “Cohen, in particular has really contributed to the Vegan craze with her incredible restaurant in NYC by the same name, Dirt Candy. Non-vegan cookbooks written by chefs are featuring more and more vegan recipes, as are food magazines and food sites.”
New sources of lean protein are also a big 2018 food trend.
The trend expert says: “Game meats back a wallop of flavour but are generally less fatty than other meat options like farmed beef, lamb and chicken,” says Speers. “Wild game animals like deer, pheasant and wild hare are more active so they are leaner from all that running around freely in the fresh air. Farmed animals are fed a steady diet of corn and grain so the meaty has a higher fat content.” Some game meat fanatics are suggesting they are healthier than typical meat sources, like farmed beef, pork or chicken. Speers explains: “Wild meat is acquired through hunting, trapping and fishing. These animals have never been fed an unnatural food source and they have roamed freely in their intended habitat. It’s the original free-range meat. Eating wild game is great for the environment.”
South Indian dishes
Bored of salads and chicken breasts? Healthy foods can also be much more interesting and full of flavour, like with South Indian cooking.
The trend expert says: “Kerala cuisine is the healthiest of all the Indian cuisines because there are a lot of steamed dishes requiring minimal oil or ghee,” says Speers. Fresh coconut—rich in vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6, not to mention iron – is a big part of Keralan cooking.”
This might seem like one of the more dry food trends, but it’s actually pretty exciting.
The trend expert says: “Dehydrated veggies are huge with generation Z, a generation committed to preparing their own, healthier snacks at home,” says Speers. Why, you ask? Because it’s healthy and easy on the go. And it’s not just raisins. “Dehydrated coconut, kale, green beans, edamame, pineapple, tomatoes, peaches, plums, cherries and berries are extremely popular.” And, she adds, “It’s not that dehydrated foods are a healthier option to their fresh counterparts that makes dehydrating fruits and veggies a healthier option—it’s the fact that dehydrated fruits and veggies are a healthier snack choice than processed store-bought snacks likes chips and crackers. Dehydrators reduce waste and dehydrated food is all natural.”
North African flavours
Get ready to get spicy! It’s time to expand your spice rack.
The trend expert says: What flavours should we pick up a the store? According to Speers, try chermoula on roasted eggplant, in couscous, and on grilled chicken, shrimp, fish or lamb. “It can be combined with mayo in chicken, egg and tuna salads and makes a tangy and delicious topping for baked potatoes. Another? Ras el hanout, recommends Speers, which is a blend of coriander, cumin, cinnamon, chili peppers, cardamom, ground ginger and turmeric. “Traditionally this spice blend is used to prepare a Bisteeya, a delectable filo pastry concoction stuffed with chicken, dried fruit, beaten eggs, onions, nuts and sliced,” she says. “This exotic spice blend can be used in marinades, as a spice rub for grilled meat, or in pasta sauces.”
Natural food dyes
So this one is a bit sneaky – as it’s not about food dyes, but making your food look like a rainbow is so fun!
The trend expert says: You know that Instagrammer with the brightest smoothie bowls! This is their secret. Using bright coloured foods to change the colour (or amp it, really) of other foods. “We blend mashed beets into gnocchi dough and prepare spaetzle dough with pureed kale,” says Speers. “We love adding colourful garnishes to plates: Edible flowers, sprouts and shoots. Purple rice, packed with antioxidants, is growing in popularity as well.”
That’s fancy talk for jarred or tinned fish. But that doesn’t make mean it cannot be tasty.
The trend expert says: “This trend was inspired by traditional Spanish tapas,” says Speers. So you may notice in restaurants imported preserved seafood like pickled octopus, salt-cured sardines and anchovies and smoked mackerel, she adds, noting Bar Raval in Toronto. And East Coaster and chef Charlotte Langley has made a name for herself across the country as a preserved seafood chef, and as the first Canadian ambassador for the MSC.“Seafood that has been preserved has a highly concentrated flavour so you don’t need much to enhances vinaigrettes, salads, soups and stews.”
The big smoke
Smoke is actually a flavour, and it’s not just for seafood and meats.
The trend expert says: “The THP team browsed through countless menus across the globe and smoked butter is now a big thing, as is smoked mozzarella, ricotta and smoked sauces,” says Speers. And “smoke is used abundantly on vegan and vegetarian menus with vegetables, vegan cheese and as a component in desserts.”
We love citrus fruit as a snack, but we’ll be loving it for dinner too!
The trend expert says: “Citrus is not just a dessert flavour anymore,” says Speers. “Its tangy flavour profiles add complex acidity to sauces, stews and braised dishes.” And it’s not just oranges, she adds. Juices from lemon, kalamasi, kumquat and key lime are great in vinaigrettes, pancake batter and meat marinades. Or as slices to salads, risotto, pasta dishes and soups. “At THP, we add blood orange juice, pomelo or Meyer lemon juice to sautéed garlicky greens like kale, chard and spinach.”
The new grain: Sorghum
The gluten-free movement had us looking for new, more tolerable grain choices. Enter Sorghum.
The trend expert says: “Sorghum is drought-tolerant, so easy to produce, ancient grain that is gluten free and a good source of fibre, protein, iron magnesium, vitamin B6 and lots of antioxidants,” says Speers. “It can be cooked like any other grain and has an earthy flavour and slightly softer texture than barley.” Where do you find it? “It’s available in the health food or organic food sections of grocery stores. […] We especially love the fact that it’s grown in the U.S. and Canada.”
You had us at “fryer.”
The trend expert says: “Air Fryers have emerged as the ‘it’ small appliance,” says Speers of the 2018 food trends. “With a tablespoon of oil – as opposed to the cups or litres of oil required for deep frying foods – added to the oil compartment, ingredients are whipped around with the oil in a hot air chamber until cooked through and crispy on the outside much like deep-fried food.” Some foods Speers enjoyed testing: French fries, crab cakes, latkes, tempura, fried chicken, kale chips, beet chips, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, fried rice, chicken wings and empanadas. “It’s revolutionary.”
Fancy cakes aren’t just for weddings and milestone birthdays any more.
The trend expert says: “The glam in glam cakes comes from the cake decorations: Gold and silver dust, edible flowers, and decorative candies,” says Speers about this surprising inclusion in healthy food trends. “Using the word ‘healthy’ is a stretch due to the sugar content but lighter cake/icing options can still look glamorous. The cake and icing ingredients, on the other hand, can be on the lighter side. Think angel food cake with Swiss meringue frosting [is] lower in fat all around. Carrot cake, zucchini cake, dark chocolate beet cake, whipped cream cheese and seven-minute frostings. All can be decorated with metallic dust, candy jewels and beautiful flowers.” So you can have your glam cake and eat it too – as a treat.