Treat your taste buds by swapping the old for the new

As run in the Observer

When you hear the term “food trend,” you may be thinking of elusive, expensive superfoods that are found only in remote parts of the world. But not all food trends are inaccessible or complicated. In fact, some of this year’s food trends are affordable, widely accessible and simple.

  1.    The Flexitarian Diet

The word diet is correlated with restriction: restriction of carbs, sugar, fats and other “bad foods.” Except for the Flexitarian Diet. Instead of prohibiting “bad foods,” it focuses on adding more nutrient-dense foods into your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant-based proteins.

The Flexitarian Diet is, unsurprisingly, flexible. Most of the time, you eat a plant-based diet, but occasionally, you eat meat. The Flexitarian Diet can take many forms, such as Mark Bittman’s “VB6” approach (eat vegan before 6 p.m.) or simply eating meatless 5-6 days a week. This flexibility and simplicity, along with the health and environmental benefits of eating less meat, make it a trend that’s worth sticking around.

Curious about going flexitarian? Try committing to a vegetarian diet throughout the week and relax the rules on the weekend; after a few weeks, you’ll likely have fewer cravings for meat, even on the weekends. Worried that it will be difficult? We created Hungryroot to help make it easy and delicious to commit to this way of eating.

Our Italian Herb Chickpea Medley served in lettuce cups
  1. Savory Yogurts

In the U.S., yogurt is typically treated as a sweet or “sweet plus” dish. Fruit-flavored yogurt abounds in supermarkets and most people pair yogurt with fruit or granola. But many cuisines rely on yogurt in savory dishes, a trend that is beginning to catch on in the U.S.

You can spot this growing trend in grocery stores and restaurants. At Whole Foods and specialty stores, you can find Blue Hill Yogurt with flavors like carrot, tomato and butternut squash. At Sohha Savory Yogurt, a family-run shop in Manhattan, you can buy savory yogurt or add it to their Mediterranean meals, like a hot harissa pita. And at the Chobani Cafe in New York City, you can top your yogurt bowls with spinach and garlic dip or cucumbers and olive oil.

Want to try savory yogurt at home? Build a Mediterranean yogurt bowl by topping yogurt with tomatoes and cucumbers marinated in olive oil, capers, dill, parsley, olives, and roasted chickpeas. 

  1.    Minimizing Food Waste

It’s estimated that 40% of the U.S. food supply is wasted. Fruits and vegetables that are slightly bruised, oxidized or discolored are routinely removed from grocery shelves and tossed in the garbage by consumers. Not only does this uneaten food rot in landfills, it also mean that we’re throwing away $165 billion annually.

Luckily, there are growing movements pushing back on this wasteful cycle. For instance, Imperfect, a California-based startup, delivers CSA-type produce boxes at an affordable price by selling “ugly” vegetables and fruits that are typically thrown out. Back to the Roots, another California startup, minimizes food waste by reusing coffee grounds to make mushroom-growing kits and stoneground breakfast cereal.

Chefs and restaurateurs are taking part in the movement too, from Chef Tom Colicchio’s #TasteNotWaste campaign with Hidden Valley to Chef Dan Barber’s wastEd pop-up that serves dishes made entirely of ingredients doomed for the trash.

To start minimizing food waste at home, start practicing with the following tips: (1) make a grocery list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home and buy only those ingredients; (2) research the best way to store certain fruits and vegetables; (3) use every part of the item you’re cooking with, when possible; (4) record every item you throw away for a week and adjust your habits accordingly; (5) incorporate leftovers into your meal prep.

  1.    Hero Vegetables

Move over, steak. Make room for cauliflower. And eggplant, broccoli, and squash. Along with the rise of plant-based diets, we’re seeing vegetables being elevated to the center of the plate. From the roasted cauliflower steak served at David Burke Kitchen to the butternut potato fry bread from Michelin-starred Chef John Fraser’s Nix in New York City, restaurants are increasingly featuring veggies as the hero on the plate.

And for good reason. Did you know you can use meaty portabella mushrooms to make a Philly cheesesteak, jackfruit to make BBQ pulled “pork,” or cauliflower to make crispy buffalo bites?

Interested in trying out these hero veggies but don’t know where to begin? Pick up a cookbook by London-based chef and food writer Yottam Ottolenghi, who helped spearhead the modern vegetable-forward style of cooking. Think sweet potato galettes and mushroom and eggplant with buttermilk sauce.

  1.    Porridge

Our last food trend may not seem like a trend at all because people have been eating it for the last several thousand years.

Porridge traditionally refers to a grain that is simmered in liquid to become a hot cereal. Though porridge is commonly made from oats, it can also be made from other grains such as wheat or rye, vegetables such as corn or even some legumes. And while the word porridge may evoke childhood memories of soggy lukewarm breakfast bowls, the porridge of 2017 has a very different face.

Think quinoa and oats cooked in almond milk and topped with caramelized bananas, peanut butter, cinnamon and vanilla. Or polenta cooked in cashew milk with berry compote, slivered almonds, goji berries and hemp seeds.

Porridge is having a revival because it’s the perfect gourmet comfort food: it’s simple at heart yet it can be jazzed up in countless ways. The bonus? You can find hundreds of thousands of #porridge bowls on Instagram for more inspiration.  


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