Top Food Trends of 2018

Food, like fashion, goes in and out of style. If you walked into any major restaurant in the late 1980s through the mid-90s, you would find a dish with sun-dried tomatoes in it – at least one. In the 50s, foods coated in savory gelatin aspics were all the rage. (Tragically, those made a brief comeback in the late 90s.) The 90s also saw fettuccine Alfredo, fajitas and chicken Caesar salads dominating menus and Oscar Meyer’s Lunchables in every home. Recently, food trends have included Peruvian cuisine (2012) and poke (2016). So what’s ahead in food trends for 2018? Lots of good things! We picked our fave five food trends from the list created by Whole Foods and the Specialty Food Association – let us know which ones you love.

Flowers in Food and Drink

Lavender is an ingredient in the classic herbes de Provence but floral infusions in food and beverages have progressed far beyond that. Lavender lemonade is a popular and refreshing summertime drink (add vodka!) and that flavor combo can now also be found in things like ice cream!  If you’ve never tried elderflower liqueur, try St. Germain, a light, French liqueur that’s delicious blended with champagne, mint, cucumber, gin, melon, thyme, peaches, pears and more.  Other florals that are expected to brighten menus this year include rose and hibiscus.

Sparkling Water

Does it seem like everyone you know is toting cans of La Croix with them these days? With people watching their consumption of both sugar and artificial sweeteners, sparkling waters have become a great way to add some fizz to the menu. Sparkling water is a great canvas for fresh fruit and herbs, turns juice into a spritzer and is a great cocktail base. Besides major brands like La Croix, other markets are offering their own flavors like Trader Joe’s cranberry clementine or Publix mandarin orange. Make infused sparkling water at home by slicing or lightly crushing fresh berries, oranges, lemon, mint leaves, cucumbers or limes and combining in a tall glass of chilled seltzer over ice! Try mint with lime to evoke a sugar-free, virgin mojito or combine a few crushed raspberries with a juicy peach slice or two.

Middle Eastern flavors are a top food trend this year.

Middle Eastern Cuisine

Who doesn’t love a good hummus plate? It’s delicious! Hummus and falafel are common to most North Americans these days, but have you tried shakshuka? Originally from North Africa, shakshuka features eggs poached gently in a sauce of tomatoes and peppers, redolent of onions and garlic. It’s a fantastic brunch dish, or you can add a salad and bread for dinner.

Persian food, with its fragrant basmati rice and bright sumac flavors, is popping up more frequently. Za’atar and harissa have become almost mainstream; the Specialty Food Association expects to see more Persian, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian and Lebanese influences in menus everywhere. Most sizeable cities now have Middle Eastern markets of some kind where you can obtain those spices and ingredients like halloumi. If you feel like making Middle Eastern cuisine at home, take a look at Saveur magazine’s 48 Essential Middle Eastern Recipes.

Magical Mushrooms

No, not that kind! The teams at Whole Foods and the Specialty Food Association are expecting exotic mushrooms like reishi, chaga and cordyceps will start popping up in smoothies, teas and skin care products. Vastly different from white button or cremini mushrooms we enjoy regularly in food, these three types of mushrooms are considered to be “medicinal mushrooms.” In holistic wellness and Traditional Chinese Medicine, they are said to have a variety of benefits including supporting the immune system, fighting cancer, reducing inflammation, slowing the aging of the skin and helping to heal ulcers. Some of these mushrooms are already available as supplements (consult your physician before trying them!) and as powders that can be “brewed” into a hot drink that is believed to help with weight loss, stress reduction and increased mental focus.

Traditional Bread

Bakers are jumping on the local bandwagon, sourcing grains locally when they can, milling them into flour closer to baking time and returning to the roots of bread making. This is far from the tasteless, flabby mass-produced white bread we grew up on. Rustic, roughly formed, crusty, tearable – we’re not talking neat sandwich slices here. Some bakers are even turning to heirloom and ancient grains for their flour, resulting in bread with fantastic texture and bite. “Although much attention has been placed on gluten-free options in recent years, the traditional side of bakery has also been elevated by the same sourcing and fine-tuned production processes we see with proteins and vegetables,” according to the SFA’s Trendspotter panel. “Bakers are using local grains, milling the day before baking, and incorporating long proofing times, re-inventing what good bread means.”  Long live the bread basket!

These aren’t the only trending foods for 2018, but they are our favorites. We hope to see shakshuka served with hot, crusty bread on a menu nearby very soon!

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