A new year will soon be upon us, and, as always, some new food trends will emerge. Kale and quinoa, the “it” foods of 2014, will remain popular, and several new items are also attracting chefs’ attention. These top food trends for 2015 indicate that people’s palates are continuing to evolve, and we are craving new adventurous foods and flavors that still meet our demands for balanced nutrition. Start watching for:
- More smoked items. The demand for smoked foods has risen as chefs have begun to apply smoke to a variety of proteins, as well as alternatives like vegetables, butters, spices, beers and cocktails.
- More fermented foods. The popularity of preserving foods by fermentation will continue to rise. You will begin to notice foods like yogurt, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir on menus, as well as in people’s kitchens, with the growing awareness of digestive health. These foods contain live cultures (or are preserved in liquid) to convert sugars and starches into bacteria-boosting agents.
- Local grains. While locally grown fruits and vegetables remain in high demand, the “next level of local” will be locally sourced grains. Expect more farmers to grow small-scale grain varieties and sell them to local bakers, chefs, brewers and consumers.
- Ugly, misshapen fruits and vegetables. Consumers are becoming more aware that imperfect-looking produce still tastes great. Produce with an appearance that previously would have been relegated to compost will instead be marketed and sold.
- Coconut sugar. The new “it” sweetener, this sugar (from the sap in the flowers of coconut plants) has the same amount of calories as regular sugar. Coconut sugar is minimally processed, is claimed to be more sustainable, and is perceived to be healthier than table sugar. For example, compared with table and brown sugars, coconut sugar also contains nutrients like zinc and iron, as well as antioxidants. Coconut sugar also contains good amounts of inulin, a type of dietary fiber that acts as a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in your gut.
- Nutrition apps. We are no longer relying on just the nutritional information on packaging to know what is in our food. Smartphone apps can give additional and more accurate information, some by just scanning the food barcode, and people are increasingly using these apps to make food selections.
The information is not intended as medical advice; consult a medical professional for individual advice.
Information provided by Megan Conlon rD, LD , Mason City Hy-vee West dietitian, 2400 Fourth st. s.W., 641-424-2605.