With a new year (and a new decade) upon us, food is at the top of many resolution-conscious and wannabe-healthy eaters’ lists. Or, if you’re less inclined to count calories and scour the back of the box for ingredient lists, maybe you’re just looking for the next big — read: delicious — culinary trend to sink your fork into.
The 2010s have cooked up a plethora of… interesting trends, from delicious food mash-ups and healthier dietary alternatives to over-the-top edibles and the rise of “Instagram worthy” #foodie posts on social media. Over the past decade, healthy food and diet alternatives have permeated the market: gluten-free options, soy, oat and almond milk, the ketogenic diet, more vegan and vegetarian dining and grocery options, buying organic — even foods like avocado toast, cauliflower pizza crust and Burger King’s “Impossible Burger.” On the opposite end of the trend spectrum were mile-high mega desserts like giant milkshakes topped with everything but the kitchen sink, adding a spicy layer of Sriracha sauce to your dish, craft beer, food trucks and meal delivery kits for the burgeoning at-home chef.
Heading into the new decade, however, some trends are set to shift while others will continue influencing our palates. Making their way onto plates everywhere, here are a few predicted food trends for 2020:
While health and diet-conscious alternatives have already grown in popularity and are increasingly available in grocery stores and on menus across the country, more environmentally-friendly options are the way of the future. With a greater focus on health, fitness and sustainable foods and lifestyles, consumers may remain curious about edible alternatives that are better for themselves and the planet. Meat substitutes like Beyond Meat appeal to not only vegans and vegetarians as an alternative actually designed to taste like meat, but markets to meat-eating customers as a way to replace some of those customers’ meat purchases — thus promoting a more climate-friendly diet.
Less alcohol, more mocktails
Alcoholic or “hard” seltzers like White Claw and Truly saw a tremendous boost in popularity in the last year as less alcoholic, less caloric options when it comes to drinking. In fact, 66 percent of millennials are making efforts to reduce their alcohol consumption, according to Nielsen data. Also in keeping with more health-conscious consumers, hard seltzer has a relatively low ABV and little or no additional sugar, which allows most versions to remain in the 100-calorie range. Zero-proof crafted cocktails may also see a rise in consumption as people move towards a more alcohol-free lifestyle.
Purple power with ube
Those with a sweet tooth can’t miss “ube” (pronounced ooh-beh) — a purple yam hailing from the Philippines that is more commonly used as a flavoring in desserts such as ice cream. Its distinctive, bright purple coloring makes for visual appeal, while its flavor profile is likened to a sweet potato, though with an even sweeter and slightly nutty, vanilla taste. In Filipino cuisine, ube is often boiled then mashed with condensed milk.
This fermented, fizzy tea is continuing to be a trendy culinary item to drink. Often thought of as having health benefits that aid gut health, kombucha took to grocery shelves as a healthy alternative to soda or alcohol, with various flavors, healthful additives and probiotics. (Due to fermentation, kombucha contains a small amount of alcohol naturally; however, commercial kombucha tea is labeled non-alcoholic, as it contains less than 0.5 percent alcohol.)
Calling on cauliflower
Not only is cauliflower low-carb and gluten-free, it’s versatility lends itself to often being used as a flour and rice substitute in dishes such as pizza dough, gnocchi and mashed potatoes. Cauliflower is an extremely diverse, healthful vegetable — it can be riced, roasted, grilled, breaded and fried, you name it — and possesses a neutral enough flavor to be sauced, seasoned or flavored to suit any palate. It also has the texture of a starch, or a “meatier” texture (see: cauliflower steak), which makes it a viable substitute for less healthy ingredients.