Thursday, January 3, 2013

Food Trends for 2013

Healthy food is trending for 2013. I'm so excited! This year, it seems the focus is on a healthy lifestyle versus the next "fad." Finally. There are lots of fun foods to explore and enjoy. Have fun and get healthy at the same time! Here's what you can look for this year:

Asian influence.
Thai, Vietnamese and Korean flavors will work their way into the American menu. Look for Asian-style glazes and fermented foods like kimchi (pickled vegetables topped with hot pepper sauce). Fermented foods are a natural source of gut-friendly probiotics.

Meatless meals. 
As more Americans have health concerns like diabetes and heart disease, enjoying at least one meatless day per week is a great idea. No, you don't have to give up your meat entirely, but less meat might indeed be more. Substitute meat with healthy and filling meatless proteins like nut butters, beans, legumes, eggs and tofu. Read more about becoming a "lessmeatetarian."

Veggies take over!
And creativity rules. Look for vegetable plates, veggie-based entrees like cauliflower "steaks"and spaghetti squash, roasted veggie side dishes (roasting packs a flavor punch!) and a wider assortment of formerly lesser-known greens: swiss chard, turnip greens, beet greens and seaweed. Kale--one of 2012's biggest veggie trends--is still sticking around too.

It's popping up everywhere. In all kinds of flavors, it's the next bar snack, appetizer and crouton. Popcorn is a great snack option considering it's a whole grain that's naturally low in fat and calories.

Snacks are in style. 
Furthermore, making them at home is a trend. Check out some ideas on my Pinterest boards for baked zucchini chips, apple chips, dried strawberries, homemade granola bars and roasted rosemary almonds.

Tart tastes and savory flavors kick sweet to the curb. 
Think tart cherry, vinegars and savory desserts.

Mini meals. 
From the grocery to restaurants, smaller meals are replacing super-sized portions. You'll find mini meals popping up in the freezer aisle and in restaurants, the tapas theme and tasting menus transition to small plates that are perfectly portioned for one.

Foods catered to Millennials.
The Millennial generation includes those born between 1982 and 2001. We care about where food comes from, high quality taste on a budget, eating our fruits and veggies, green production and simple ingredients. Although sometimes stereotyped as selfish, indulgent and impulsive, Gen Y members aren't all that bad. They've certainly got the right idea here. And food producers will be listening.

Nutrition and environmental impact.
Look for more on organic, the GMO debate, "green" production and local produce.

Protein and muscle-building.
It's the next food-labeling trend. But beware they hype. It's true that our bodies require protein to build and repair themselves. True too that protein needs increase slightly as we age and with exercise. But it's easy to go overboard too. Truth is that most of us probably get enough. Talk to your RD about your protein needs.

Healthier dining out.
Thank goodness. Chefs are adapting recipes to cut fat and calories while increasing flavor. Bye bye bacon and butter, hello vitamin-rich vegetable stocks to flavor dishes. Whole grain pasta, brown rice and ancient grains like quinoa and kamut are being served up too. Several other food trends, like serving smaller portions, more veggies and less meat, are contributing to healthier meals out.

This trend will continue to grow and become even more focused on utilization of local ingredients. As local as the restaurant's backyard or roof in fact! Chefs are growing their own herbs and adding rooftop gardens to the urban landscape in a trend termed "eco-urban chic." Local is still king when it comes to healthier, more nutritious food that's better for the planet.

The carb craze stays.
It's still hanging on. But this year, the focus will be on good carbs, not no carbs. Look for whole grains, fruit and low-fat dairy. These carbs are chock-full of nutrition and provide energy too.

All in all, it looks like 2013 could shape up to be a great year to shape up! Which trend(s) will you embrace? Stay tuned for next week's post: Fitness Trends for 2013.

Related post:
Should You Go Organic?

Food Navigator
Winnipeg Free Press