What Are YOU Eating?

By Chris Astrala


Remember when kale was the new lettuce, quinoa the new rice and cauliflower the new mashed potato? We are constantly looking for that latest thing to tickle our taste buds and at the same time be a bit healthy . We’ve run down a few trends that will stand to shape how, why and what, we will be eating in 2018


Fake Meat Is Tasty Enough For You To Eat. 

Faux protein has evolved past bean-heavy veggie patties and pallid tofu dogs. Thanks to innovative engineers and scientists at Impossible Foods (home of the bleeding heme-burger), Ripple (purveyor of dairy-free pea milk), and Beyond Meat (whose sizzling sausages owe nothing to pork), plants are being manipulated to successfully mimic the sensory experience of consuming meat. And they pull it off using a fraction of the land and water, producing minimal greenhouse gas emissions, and tasting pretty damn good, too.


Your Gut Takes Center Stage.

Since the way to a diner’s heart is quite literally through his or her stomach, chefs are increasingly padding their menus with natural probiotics and anti-inflammatories. Harvey at the Williamsburg Hotel house-ferments pancake batter and cultures its own labneh, while Austin food truck Curcuma is christened after golden milk-making turmeric. Dinner will sit much easier.


Plant-Based Diets

Don’t expect the plant-based diet trends to die down anytime soon. Whether your motivation is from a Netflix documentary or the desire for better looking skin, Americans now more than ever are willing to abandon their carnivorous ways. In fact, a recent survey conducted of 1,000 Americans, yielded that 54% of respondents said that they believed a plant-based diet to be more beneficial to their health than the traditional Western diet.

The great news about the growing vegan population? Expect to see even more innovations in the area of plant-based food tech that will be more affordable than ever in 2018. Brands like Daiya continue to make the switch to this healthier diet more accessible than it has been in previous years, with plant-based food alternatives (that don’t make you feel as if you’re sacrificing foods you love, like pizza!). Yes, you read that right. You can still indulge in favorites like pizza or mac-n-cheese (and many more) without abandoning your plant-based diet.


Middle Eastern and African Flavors

Turmeric, harissa, cardamom, halloumi, za’atar — start Googling now so you’ll know what these words mean when they start popping up on menus everywhere in 2018! As we see more shifts made toward vegetarianism, with more Americans opting for meals that are meatless, we’ll also see restaurants and chefs playing with different flavor profiles to keep things interesting.

Americans are becoming more adventurous with our eating, veg or not, and the spices of Western Asia and Northern Africa are playing a bigger role this year than they have previously, and we’re so here for it — another order of warm lavash, please and thank you.

The leader of the pack will undoubtedly be Turmeric with its anti-inflammatory powers. Other benefits of this super herb include boosting your body’s defense system, promoting gut health, and easing joint pain. And while it dominated in health circles in 2017, expect it to go mainstream and be fully accessible in 2018. Turmeric latte, anyone?


“Root to Stem” Eating

America has an egregious abundance of food waste. According to the Washington Post, the US wastes approximately $165 billion — yes, with a B — of food every year. We’re hopefully going to see a decline in these numbers now that so many publications, documentary filmmakers, and even Anthony Bourdain are fervently talking about it.

Expect to see a rise in “root to stem” driven restaurants and options in health food grocery stores. The idea is pretty self-explanatory — using the entirety of the vegetable or animal so as to minimize waste as much as possible. If you care at all about climate change, focus your efforts on wasting less food. Period.


Mediterranean Diet

While Whole 30 is still a favorite, the Mediterranean Diet will reign supreme in 2018’s get-fit trends. U.S. News and World Report recently named the Mediterranean Diet the best way to eat for 2018, while Keto came in dead last.

The idea behind the Mediterranean Diet is simple: eat colorfully, lots of leafy greens, ditch the processed crap, and stick to only lean protein like fish and low-fat dairy in moderation. The Mediterranean Diet is more flexible and sustainable in the long term than some of the other get-slim-quick fad diets as it isn’t exclusionary in nature.


Medicinal Food

Probiotics have had more than their fair share of the spotlight in recent years — suddenly everywhere we look, from yogurt to skincare, everyone is touting their inclusion of probiotics in their products. However, probiotics alone just aren’t cutting it. Expect to see an emphasis on “gut healing” and Ayurvedic foods in 2018 — things like kimchi and sauerkraut, along with other pickled vegetables, will become even more popular as we aim to regenerate our bodies from the very root of our systems — our stomachs. Additionally, expect to see different types of supplements, like collagen and amino acids, being talked about extensively this year.


Meat Raised Without Antibiotics

We’ve all heard the bad news about antibiotic resistance: Overuse of these life-saving drugs, especially in agriculture, are driving up cases of antibiotic resistance in humans. In 2017 there was much progress in reducing antibiotic use in chickens raised for food, says Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports. “In 2018, we hope to see producers making more of an effort to eliminate them in beef and pork, too.”

Buying meat and poultry raised without antibiotics or those labeled organic (organic standards prohibit antibiotic use) is a simple strategy consumers can use to help combat global antibiotic resistance. They can also support restaurants that have “no-antibiotic” policies. “Several large chains, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway, and Taco Bell, are now serving only ‘no-antibiotic’ chicken,” says Halloran. “​In 2018, we hope to see at least some additional chains source some of their beef and pork from ‘no-antibiotic’ producers.”


Functional Mushrooms

Varieties such as reishi, chaga, cordyceps, and lion’s mane will be starring in unlikely products, such as bottled drinks, coffees, smoothies, and teas, Whole Foods predicts. “The rich flavors also lend themselves to mushroom broths, while the earthy, creamy notes pair well with cocoa, chocolate, or coffee flavors,” the company said in a press release. Though they don’t have magical healing properties, mushrooms in general offer a healthy mix of vitamins and nutrients, such as niacin, selenium, copper, and riboflavin. And their texture and savory flavor make them good substitutes for meat.


Activated Charcoal

Have you noticed this black powder turning up everywhere, from supplements, smoothies, cocktails, and lattes to face masks and bar soaps? The compound is a useful antidote for drug overdoses in the emergency room, but its promises to cleanse your insides, reduce body odor and bad breath, stop gas and bloating, brighten skin, clear acne, and even whiten teeth are largely unfounded.


Well what do you think? Are you adventurous enough to give these a try? Or are you already a part of the food trend revolution. Just like technology that seems to change by the second, you can bet that there are new culinary treasures being discovered even as you read this.