What’s Hot, What’s Not This Year

Food goes in trends just like fashion or anything else. Sure, there are some constants, but “hip” ingredients and cuisines come and go. Remember when dill weed was necessary for everything? I can’t wait for cilantro to go out of style. Why is oregano, one of my favorite herbs, looked down on?

Well, I want to pass along to you some of the hot food trends for this year, according to the editors of Eat Well Magazine.

One key to a trend that’s peaked is when you see the stars of The Disney Channel talking about it. Food gurus have been touting the benefits of eating so-called Superfruits. These include pomegranates, cranberries, blueberries, acai berries, raspberries and strawberries. All of these are high in fiber, which most Americans need more of in their diets. But food producers have been making outrageous claims about their health benefits. So, these are now trending down. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to eat them. They really are good for you. Just don’t expect miracles.

Diets are still a big thing for many people. We’ve all seen those fad diets: grapefruit, low-carb, no carb, gluten-free, et cetera. Too often we learn years later that many of these diets can actually cause harm because they either limit calories to less than what your body needs or they leave out necessary nutrients. Many of the trendy diets are waning, thank Goodness. But the gluten-free diet is continuing to gain followers. Health experts say that some people truly need to avoid gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Some people have celiac disease, an auto-immune condition irritated by gluten. Many have a mild food allergy to some grains like wheat which causes sinus problems. Part of that is due to overexposure to wheat as the central grain and starch in our diets. Many people claim they feel better cutting gluten out of their diets, but there’s no scientific evidence to support this. Some experts say it’s more about the cutting of processed foods involved in going gluten-free that makes the most difference.

There was a time when eating food off a truck or a cart was strictly a lower class activity, something working men did. But now, street food has become chic. Going beyond hot dogs and tacos, street food now covers everything from Korean barbecue to French crepes. And the trend is rising.

Not all food trends are bad. The awareness and pursuit of Omega-3’s is a positive food trend that’s continuing its rise. These are “good” fats that help your body fight off infection, disease and maybe even cancer. There are three kinds of Omega-3’s. Two of those are found in oily fish like salmon and sardines. A third, less powerful kind is found in plants like walnuts and flaxseeds. Trends like this might lead to a healthier population one day.

While some food trends deserve their place in our eating consciousness, others can be bidden “good riddance.” One of those finally declining trends is cupcakes. I’m not quite sure why these mini-cakes caught on so well. But now there are cupcake shops all over the place. I guess it’s because we see them as a little treat. Their time is now over. Next up: fruit pies.

Meatless meals are trending up. I’ve said it many times that we Americans eat way too much meat. While I don’t advocate that everyone become vegetarians, I think we should be able to find at least three meals a week that shy away from animal protein.  When celebrity chefs like Mario Batali feature and support movements like Meatless Mondays in his restaurants, it’s a positive trend that deserve support.

Here’s a trend I’m not sure if it’s good or bad. Probiotics are trending up. These are good bacteria that live in your gut. However, there are many different kinds and not all of them are beneficial to every body. In my experience, following surgery probiotics can be good because those little critters are usually killed by knock-out drugs and antibiotics. Otherwise, a balanced diet that includes fermented foods like yogurt or miso should give you what you need.

Growing your own food is a rising trend that we welcome and encourage. You’d be surprised what you can do if you want to give this a try. Start with something small like a little herb garden on your window sill. A simple flowerbox makes a great place to grow three or four different, popular herbs like basil, oregano or chives. If you have a yard, you really have no excuse not to do a little gardening during the growing season. There are plenty of things that don’t require a lot of work but can produce amazing yields. Consult your local nursery. And today, you can even raise tomatoes inside or on your patio. More and more, this is becoming a popular thing and is a good trend to see growing.

I know bacon is America’s favorite meat and favorite savory flavoring. Did you know there are even bacon-only restaurants? But considering how unhealthy this meat product can be, it’s time for this trend to go away. Fortunately, the trend of using bacon in everything, including desserts, is declining.

Simple, wholesome meals are a good trend that’s growing. More and more people are interested in food. And that awareness is causing a demand for better food. This is a very good thing. We’re becoming more aware that good food doesn’t have to be fancy, complicated or expensive. We are rediscovering the joys of a good home-cooked meal. So, if you’re doing more cooking at home, you’re actually hip!