Nearly every year, there are a few foods that make a big splash. Brussels sprouts, beets, kale, cauliflower and quinoa have all been gastronomic giants in recent years.
This year, ancient grains, creative veggies and foods and spices across the globe share the spotlight.
Here’s a forecast for what’s in store for the new year:
▪ Bowled over: Whether you call them Buddha bowls, protein bowls or globowls (internationally inspired combos), they’re meals served in a bowl instead of a plate. The concept features a base of noodles (probably soba or buckwheat), rice or quinoa topped with veggies. Other top ingredients: broth, poached eggs, tofu, beans and protein. Breakfast bowls combine fruit, yogurt and whole grains. Even sushi joins the bowl bandwagon.
▪ Spiralized veggies: This trend goes beyond spaghetti squash. The idea is to turn vegetables into noodles using a spiral vegetable cutter or spiralizer. Zucchini, jicama and parsnips are popular choices. “You can decrease overall carbs while twirling veggies on your fork,” said Lillian Craggs-Dino, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston.
▪ Exotic influences: “Americans are no longer afraid of using ethnic flavors,” said registered dietitian Sonia Angel, coordinator of the Diabetes & Nutrition Center at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood. “Here in South Florida, we’re exposed to Latin American flavors, but we’ll see more of a mixture of Indian, European and Chinese herbs to spice up food,” she said. Moroccan, Middle Eastern and African spices are also on the rise. Shaking up the global marketplace: ghost pepper from India, sambal from Southeast Asia, gochujang from Korea and harissa, sumac and dukkah from North Africa.
▪ Veggies as the main affair: Swap a cauliflower steak for a rib-eye. “We’re eating more and more plant-based foods now,” said Amy Kimberlain, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator for the University of Miami Health System and Miller School of Medicine. Experts call this a big trend for the new year: creative vegetable dishes gaining more of a starring role on menus. Vegan choices go mainstream.
▪ Inside the box: Subscription, ingredient delivery services are getting more attention, appealing to consumers who want to prepare a homemade meal without the fuss of planning and shopping. These online services — including Blue Apron, Plated and Hello Fresh — deliver recipes and all the ingredients needed to prepare a meal. “It’s a very, very fast-growing industry,” said Memorial’s Angel. Meals are generally $8 and up per person; costs vary depending on the foods.
Along with these trends, you can expect the following foods to pop up on power lists in 2016:
▪ Amaranth: Gluten-free grains are still trending. This ancient grain, dating back to the Incas, is moving into the spotlight along with spelt, millet and farro. Amaranth is high in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium and is the only grain documented to contain Vitamin C, according to the Whole Grains Council.
▪ Avocados: The focus on healthy fats will help keep the avocado front and center. Yes, you’ll see the popular poached eggs and avocado, avocado toast and traditional guacamole. But other choices will include smoked avocado, sliced avocado with grapefruit or avocado in puddings, bread and smoothies.
▪ ▪ Black rice: A fun ingredient, also known as forbidden rice (how enticing is that?) that adds drama to even basic dishes. Black rice has a nutty flavor and texture and the grain is packed with vitamin B1 and fiber, plus antioxidants found in blueberries, grapes and acai that have been linked to myriad health benefits.
▪ Kalettes: This new veggie is a hybrid of Brussels sprouts and kale and looks like a small cabbage. Like many dark leafy greens, they’re high in vitamins C and K.
▪ Kimchi: The fiery, pickled cabbage is a staple in just about every Korean meal, but now, “it’s becoming more mainstream,” said Cleveland Clinic’s Craggs-Dino. Kimchi “is good for colon health,” she said. “It helps strengthen the good bacteria in your gut.” It’s considered a cancer-fighting food that can help the immune system, aid digestion and lower cholesterol. Other fermented foods to discover or rediscover: kefir (fermented drinking yogurt), tempeh (fermented beans) and sauerkraut (pickled cabbage).
▪ Lucuma: The subtropical fruit, native to the Andean valleys of Peru, Chile and Ecuador, was known as “gold of the Incas.” It’s now winning over legions of fans with its sweet, caramel-like flavor, making it a distinctive ice cream. As for health benefits, it contains beta carotene, iron, zinc, calcium and other nutrients.
▪ Pulses: “It’s the year of the pulses,” said UM’s Kimberlain. Healthy beans, peas and lentils will wind up in snacks, drinks, salads and other dishes as consumers look for alternative protein sources. “We’ll be getting away from eating beans in just a traditional way,” said Memorial’s Angel.
▪ Savory yogurt: Surprise! You can pair yogurt with savory or sweet mix-ins. No one’s ditching yogurt with fruit and granola, but consider yogurt with roasted tomatoes, nuts, carrots, seeds, herbs and any veggies that you fancy.
▪ Teff: Another ancient, gluten-free grain that’s re-emerging, said Cleveland Clinic’s Craggs-Dino. This small grain packs a nutritional wallop. It leads all grains in calcium, is high in B vitamins and it’s a good source of dietary fiber. Mild and nutty, it’s the seed of Ethiopian grass, also known as love grass, used in inerja, the spongy flatbread. Try it as flour, a hot breakfast cereal or side dish.
▪ Turmeric: The spice that gives curry its yellow hue “is an amazing antioxidant with cancer-fighting properties,” Angel said. Its potential health benefits, as well as its exotic flavor, have helped make it the star of the spice rack. Its potential is said to be stronger when you combine it with black pepper.