HAPPY NEW YEAR!
As 2015 begins, full of hope and excitement for most of us, I am always intrigued by what upcoming food trends will be the rage in the New Year, what fad will simply disappear and where the culinary imagination of Master Chefs will take us.
Here is a brief summary of what the “experts” in the gastronomic field tell us will be hot in 2015:
- CAULIFLOWER – It appears that this once maligned vegetable, thought to be a tasteless and worthless side could dethrone Kale as the new superfood due to its high fiber content, important levels of vitamin C and K and its anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally it lends itself to a variety of cooking techniques including roasting, ricing and mashing making it a great, lower calorie substitute for potatoes. Cauliflower can be found in a variety of color from orange to purple adding interesting hues to a meal.
- ROOT VEGETABLES – Although we are accustomed to carrots, beets and ginger, there are many unfamiliar and “ugly” root vegetables that are now readily available in most grocery stores that are packed with nutrients and vitamins. Celery root, parsnips, kohlrabi, turnips and rutabaga can be roasted, grated, mashed, puréed, sautéed and in some instances eaten raw. The flavors vary from subtle to earthy and are a great alternative to potatoes.
- PISTACHIOS – Whether spurred on by the clever “Get Crackin’”advertising campaign from Paramount Farms Intl. or a push by pistachio growers, this little nut is predicted to be the star of 2015. California is the second largest producer of pistachios in the world with over 500 million pounds harvested annually. Recent data shows that this nut contains fewer calories than other nuts and packs more potassium and Vitamin K. Pistachios are an important source of proteins, fats and minerals and an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamin E.
- OYSTERS – With an increase in harvest due to cleaner waters, oysters will be more available and affordable in 2015. The Kusshi oyster from British Columbia will be all the rage due to its small size and clean flavor. Aside from the traditional cocktail sauce, oysters will be served with interesting brines and new sauces adding to their fascination. $1 oysters are appearing in all restaurant types including the fastcas (new buzzword for fast casual) establishments that are introducing younger diners to these tasty indulgences.
- INSECTS – Deep fried locust and other insects have been part of Asian cooking for centuries and are slowly making their way into western cuisine as seen on menus of some of the finest European restaurants. Top restaurants are serving such exotic fares as beef tartare with ants, pâté with a side of crickets and chocolate covered locusts! A healthy source of protein (ounce for ounce crickets have more than twice the protein of meat) crickets are also high in magnesium, calcium, iron and Vitamin B12. Insects may also find their way into your food as powders or incorporated into protein bars.
- SAVORY YOGURTS – Whereas the Greek yogurt trend continues, lower sugar alternatives are in our future. Substituting the familiar fruit flavors with hearty vegetables seems to be catching on. One company already on the market offers butternut squash flavors as well as beet, tomato and carrots, while other specialty shops include exotic seasoning mixins such as Za’atar, sea salt and “everything bagel”. Savory yogurt makes a great alternative for mayonnaise.
- FERMENTED VEGETABLES – Fermenting food is an age-old process practiced by ancient civilizations to enhance and preserve foods. The fermentation process results in a superior food high in enzymes that improves nutrient absorption benefiting the colon and the entire digestive tract. Fermented foods we will see more of in 2015 include Kimchi (Korean vegetable side dish), Kombucha (mushroom tea), Tempeh (bean cake), Miso (bean and grain paste) and sauerkraut (fermented cabbage).
- MAPLE WATER – Experts predict Maple water will replace coconut water as the beverage of choice for the health conscious consumer. The drink is not maple syrup diluted with water but rather a naturally occurring liquid harvested from maple trees in late winter. Whereas maple syrup is sap that undergoes an evaporation process, maple water does not, resulting in water with a hint of maple. Unlike coconut water that comes from overseas, maple water is considered a local product currently manufactured in New York and Vermont.
- ANCIENT GRAINS AND SEEDS – Gluten free diet trends will continue in 2015 and as a result so will alternatives to wheat. Ancient grains such as quinoa and seeds like chia are becoming more mainstream today, but ‘new’ varieties will become more prominent in the coming year. These include: whole grain Teff, traditional Ethiopian grain, Kaniwa, a seed similar to quinoa originally from the Andes, Amaranth, Freekeh, Lupin, Spelt and Kamut amongst others.
- SEAWEED – Though we are familiar with seaweed in our sushi, varieties such as kelp, nori and wakame are set to transition into our salads, risottos, soups, sauces and beverages in 2015. A craft beer company in Maine is infusing its beer with organic seaweed, the Scots have been serving pizza with locally harvested seaweed and the Brits are chomping on seaweed chocolate! Seaweed is an excellent source of calcium, is packed with anti-oxidants and a broad range of vitamins, but most importantly it is one of the few natural sources of iodine.
- SPICY HONEYS – Pairing sweet and spicy continues in 2015 with particular emphasis on honey. Honey with habanero peppers, ghost chili and jalapeños are trending in restaurants as are spicy jams and jellies paired with meats and poultry. A renowned pizzeria in Brooklyn, NY is spreading chili honey on its soppressata pizza and is getting rave reviews from discerning local connoisseurs.
In addition to the aforementioned trends, culinary themes for 2015 will benefit local farmers such as Terrafunga that produce organically grown produce in a sustainable fashion. Restaurant chefs are looking for food waste reduction in their establishments, hyper-sourced, natural ingredients, environmentally sustainable products, farm-branded items and artisan foods. Gluten free cuisine will continue its emergence as will locally-grown produce.
All of these trends and cuisines bode well for Terrafunga, seeing that our mushrooms, fresh or dried, provide a host of health benefits, are naturally grown and benefit all diets including those that are gluten free. We’re looking forward to a healthy and great year!
Sources: newrepublic.com, Alice Robb, baumwhiteman.com, 2015 food trends, restaurant.org, National Restaurant Association, www.nutrition-and-you.com/pistachio.html, men’shealth.com/nutrition/crickets-perfectprotein, superfoods-for-superhealth/fermented-foods.