Each new year brings predictions of food trends for the coming year.
Eating has become more of an “experience” than just nurturing your body. If you want to become a “fashionista of the plate,” here are some culinary trends to look for this year.
Protein is an important part of our diet, but the sources of protein are expanding from the traditional meat and fish to plant-based proteins like tofu, beans, lentils, quinoa and nuts. Plant-based burgers and sausages are available in many popular restaurant chains.
Vegetarian diets are gaining popularity because of their suggested health benefits of reducing risks for cancer and heart disease, as well the concern for preserving the environment and animal life. You do not have to be a vegetarian to enjoy such foods. In fact, vegetables are becoming the star of the meal, like a roasted head of cauliflower or mushroom burgers and steaks.
Last year’s vegetable superstar was cauliflower, sometimes used as a substitute for pizza crusts. This year’s vegetable to replace starches is cabbage. Recipes include cabbage leaf enchiladas, cabbage chips and cabbage lasagna.
Many Americans, especially those in the millennial generation, are looking for fresh, natural and healthy products. Consumers want to know more about the food they eat and from where it comes. They want transparency in food labels, GMOs, fair-trade foods and responsible production. Look for more information about sources of food products on labels and in stores this year.
“Locavorism” — eating and buying locally — is a trend to support local businesses. Another concern in America is food waste. Consumers are learning that food doesn’t have to look pretty to taste good and be nutritious, and they are finally accepting misshapen, bruised or “ugly” produce.
This year, there are new markets and grocery store campaigns that focus on such forgotten produce. Imperfect Produce sends boxes of these fruits and vegetables to your home, and Kroger grocery store is launching a “Peculiar Picks” program that encourages customers to buy produce that is physically flawed.
Sales of that produce will reduce the food waste from grocery stores and farmers.
Another trend that is popular in 2019 is decreasing sugar intake. America’s love for sugar has resulted in increased risks for metabolic diseases, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. New labeling requirements from the Food and Drug Administration have made consumers more aware of the added sugars in their foods.
Manufacturers have until 2020 to comply with the new requirements, differentiating between natural sugar (found in fruits, vegetables and dairy) and added sugars, such as cane sugar, corn syrup and honey in their products.
The best way to wean yourself from sugar and sweetened foods is to gradually decrease them in your diet. The popular no-sugar challenges can be difficult and set people up for failure.
Keep in mind that all foods, in moderation, can be included in a healthy diet.
Lisa McCoy is a family and consumer-sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.