2013 was the year of the ramen burger and the cronut. It was the year that kale made a comeback. Steamed, tossed into salads, in chip form or in juice form, kale became our go-to green. Now that 2014 is here (from conversations with fellow chefs and industry leaders), I have begun to see where the 2014 food trends are heading. Here are some of my top picks for foods to watch this year!
1) Ancient Grains -- From farro to quinoa, khorasan to chia (which is actually a seed) these ancient grains are appearing on more menus, on more supermarket shelves, and incorporated into more products. Although wheat is a staple in many diets worldwide, more and more consumers are turning to ancient grains. The ancient grains offer unique health benefits lacking in durum wheat, as well as some gluten-free alternatives for those following a special diet. Let this also be a sign that the gluten-free trend is showing no signs of slowing down in 2014!
2) Cauliflower -- Cauliflower is certainly poised to be this year's kale! The pale veggie is being sliced thick and served in restaurants like a steak. I've seen it pureed and baked into a cake. I even tried making a cauliflower cake myself. Let's just say it won't be a recipe I plan to feature any time soon. Of course it's also being diced and roasted, folded into macaroni & cheese, and served raw. Cauliflower even made an appearance this year on some Super Bowl menus, cooked up like spicy buffalo wings.
3) Chicken -- If the idea of cauliflower replacing steaks on menus is going too far for you, not to worry, there's another trend that will hopefully appeal to most of the carnivores out there. Chicken is taking center stage on menus in 2014. Chefs are slow roasting their chickens and stuffing them with ingredients like foie gras and black truffles. Food bloggers are talking about the new KFC. If you're thinking fast food, then you're not thinking 2014! Korean fried chicken (yes, that KFC) is popping up in food trucks, recipe blogs, and even getting its share of airtime on the Food Network.
4) Tea -- Tea is no longer just for drinking, although we will be doing more of that in 2014 too. Tea leaves are being added to entrees, desserts, and cocktails. Even Starbucks is getting into the tea business. They just opened their first tea shop in Manhattan. Does that mean we will soon all be replacing our morning venti cup of coffee with tea?
5) Yogurt -- Although yogurt is hardly a new food trend, it appears that it's taking a savory turn in 2014. New flavors like beet, carrot, tomato, and butternut squash (shown in the image above) are popping up on select supermarket shelves, offering consumers a tasty alternative to the traditionally sweet options.
6) Chocolate -- As healthy lifestyles become more common, we are cutting out more junk foods and sodas. It seems that manufacturers are catching on. As a result, good-for-you alternatives to some of our favorite naughty foods are also promising to be big this year. As a chocoholic, one of my personal favorites are the various chocolate bars now on offer. Probiotic enriched bars, raw unprocessed chocolate, hemp seeds (for a dose of fatty acids), and goji berries are all promising to make 2014 the year of virtuous chocolate.