Food Trends

A New Year’s resolution that’s easy (and pleasurable) to keep here at RGJTaste is the annual prediction of what food trends in the coming 12 months will shape how we eat and the ingredients we’ll find in restaurants and at retail.

For 2017, as in the past, we compiled the prognostications (a list that is not exhaustive, of course) from top-notch sources like the McCormick Flavor Forecast, the National Restaurant Association, and the food and beverage trends report from Baum & Whiteman, a leading food industry consultant.

Is wretched kale finally on its way to outer darkness? Let’s see what the experts have to say about that and more.

Cauliflower. Kale isn’t going anywhere, alas, but it’s no longer at its peak. Cauliflower, it’s your time.

This cruciferous vegetable is nutrient-packed, takes to a variety of recipes, and has made its way into products ranging from smoothies to pizza crust to packaged cauliflower “rice” crumbles.

Global breakfast. Mainstream mornings are going international with chorizo (instead of bacon!) and eggs, rise-and-shine tacos, breakfast sandwiches finished with chimichurri, congee rice porridge with mango, and an a.m. hash topped with zhug (”shoog”), a Middle Eastern hot sauce.

Drone delivery. Yes, there are logistical and regulatory challenges to overcome. But experiments with food and drink delivery by drone already have taken place in Reno, Virginia, New Zealand and the U.K.

How far will the trend progress in 2017? We will be looking up for grande burritos?

Plancha grilling. The plancha, a grilling staple in many Latin countries, is increasing in popularity. Its flat cast-iron slab smokes nicely, sears beautifully, and creates a savory crust for vegetables, seafood and meat. As in: crusted fish and ratatouille a la plancha.

Coconut. There’s more to the coconut in 2017 than coconut milk for Asian dishes and coconut water for electrolytes.

Think coconut milk pancakes, coconut spreads, coconut flour tortillas and coconut chips (look for the last two at Whole Foods Market).

Meals in bowls. A bowl is the new plate. Meals in bowls now range from modern ramen to “power” mixes of vegetables, grains and protein to offbeat takes on bibimbap.

The trend will expand as more chefs and diners turn to bowl meals for ease of serving, portability, and flavor-texture in every bite.

Japanese beyond sushi. Japanese and Japanese-inspired eating is growing. Miso, sesame oil and plum vinegar are becoming pantry standards.

Japanese pickles are getting noticed. So is fresh and dried seaweed for traditional uses, as new greens and in products like a seaweed substitute for bacon.

Jackfruit. This tropical fruit, a relative of breadfruit, grows big and is sold in stores at weights up to 25 pounds.

Jackfruit offers meaty texture and, when ripe, a sweet flavor that mingles banana, mango and pineapple. Cooked jackfruit develops a savory flavor some have compared to pulled pork.

Snack attack. Millennials are snackers (more so than Gen X-ers or Boomers), and many start-ups (to which Millennials are naturally inclined) produce snacks.

Look for graze-able items like Korean dried chickpeas, masala popcorn, nori cashews, thin Meyer lemon crackers and fancy jerky.

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