As the curtains go up on a New Year, the food scene is once again looking for all things novel and nice.
Whether you eat to live or live to eat there is no denying that food is an important part of our life. Food today has many more dimensions than ever before and with every passing year there are new ways to use ingredients and healthier ways to eat.
As we step into the New Year let’s look at some key food trends that we believe will shape our palates and plates.
Looking beyond traditional sea food, ocean inspired food includes not just the protein but the plants, seaweeds and even moss in some cases. “For people who have a seafood allergy or are vegetarian, they can easily enjoy umami filled meals with options like seaweed, algae and moss. With all the information at hand regarding the adverse effects of unsustainable fishing and people discarding unwanted, dead fish back into the water, the ocean is going through a massive shift,” says Rishim Sachdeva, head chef, Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mumbai. So there will be things like seaweed chips, kelp noodles, water lily seed puffed snacks, food with algae ingredients, crispy salmon skins and seaweed butter.
Hemp-based food is all set to make a splash in 2019 not only because of its health benefits but also because of the popularity of intermittent fasting and how this food can help. “Firstly, they are a much more nutrient-dense seed than chia and flaxseed, with almost double the amount of protein. It also provides all of the ten essential amino acids that we need to obtain through the food we eat. Secondly, there are many ways you can eat hemp – hulled seeds (you can even make an oatmeal like dish with these), milk or as protein powder, making it very versatile. And last but not least, a few tablespoons of hemp seeds are still considered zero net carbs making it a Keto and intermittent fasting friendly ingredient as it provides enough protein to tell your body everything is safe in the fasting zone but without the carbs,” says Kelvin Cheung, corporate chef and F&B director, Aallia Hospitality, Mumbai.
Frozen dessert is a cold dessert that can be made by freezing liquids, semi-solids and sometimes even solids. “One needs to read the label carefully in terms of serving size. The ones made with oil should be avoided, the ones made with Greek yoghurt are great so look for natural ingredients like fruit chunks, dates and nuts and make a good choice. Frozen desserts such as frozen yoghurts are generally consumed as snacks,” explains Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, chief clinical nutritionist, Apollo Hospitals Bangalore. As per the current trends, the preparation method for these desserts remains the same but the ingredients are being substituted with healthier options. “While we talk about preparation methods, we can positively say that the classical preparation style is apt for the perfect dessert. It allows the flavours to come together with the right ingredients. However, with our millennials being more health conscious, they tend to substitute it with healthy and fresh ingredients; like almond milk and soy milk which are vegetable products. People are opting for lighter healthy desserts which are not too rich. The idea is for substituting cream with yoghurt; which is lighter in nature,” says chef Daniel Koshy, executive chef, JW Marriott Hotel Bengaluru. Frozen desserts like avocado popsicles, Turkish ice cream, Thai rolled ice cream, coconut water soft serve, Taiwanese snow ice and hummus ice cream will be some forms to experience this trend.
A plant-based diet emphasises on wholesome ingredients and almost no or minimally processed food. The main focus is on eating plants, including vegetables, fruits and whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds with an emphasis on locally grown, whole, organic and fresh food. Chef Vanshika Bhatia, head chef at Saucy Spirits Hospitality Pvt Ltd says, “Plant-based milk was the trigger for these diets when people of India realised that the majority of the population is lactose intolerant. Our sugarcane juice, sweet lime juice on the streets are slow pressed and chefs in India have realised this now and are putting all their efforts in getting back the lost knowledge of our plant based diets.” Dr Mickey Mehta, holistic health guru and a corporate life coach avers, “Plant-based diet can help achieve a healthy heart, healthy weight, heathy mind. Such diets if done right can help us get all the protein, fat and nutrients we need. You do not need to be vegan or completely vegetarian. Just consuming whole grains, fruits, nuts, legumes and moderate intake of animal food is the key to a happy life.”
The name interestingly comes from ‘Pacific Islands’, because the freshest ingredients are obtained from these environments. Omega-3, a crucial nutrient found in seafood, is present in abundance in Pacific foods since they are sea algae food. “Pacific food brings together the varied cuisines of Asia and the Mediterranean while incorporating seasonal vegetables, abundant herbs, exotic fruits, and aromatics such as lemongrass and ginger. An abundance of fresh seafood, tropical fruits, root vegetables, and coconuts can help cook a range of inspiring dishes from canapés to desserts. Apart from the obvious health benefits, the exotic element in Pacific food is brought to the fore as it is acquired straight from the island and seas surrounding it. In essence, the vibrant colours, fresh smell and impeccable taste harmonise our senses in an engaging and healthy manner,” says Saanchi Nayak, founder Superfood Café, Mumbai and celebrity nutritionist. The range is extensive including dried shrimp, cuttlefish, jackfruit and products inspired by Pacific Rim fruits like guava tropical vinaigrette, pineapple passion fruit, passion fruit coconut frozen fruit bars and strawberry guava puddings.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are the good microorganisms needed for and living in the digestive system. They help balance out the bad bacteria that cause many simple and chronic illnesses. With focus on gut health increasing, fermented foods and probiotics are making waves. Nutritionist Anupama Menon says, “Add natural probiotics to your regimen. Beet Kvass (popularly known as beet kanji) and fermented veggies can keep the good to bad gut bacterial ratio smiling and happy. This ensures better digestion and a fitter you.” Probiotics can be highly effective in decreasing the appetite by releasing satiety hormone GLP – 1. The increased levels of hormone aids in the process of burning calories, thus reducing the fat storage. Probiotics are also now being researched to help fight obesity. “Bacteroidetes and firmicutes are the two main families of good bacteria in the gut. Your body weight might be related to the balance of these two families of bacteria. Studies have shown that people with obesity had more firmicutes and fewer bacteroidetes, compared to normal-weight people,” says Carlyne Remedios, Group Manager – Clinical Practices, Nutrition & Product Development – Digestive Health Institute by Dr. Muffi, Mumbai. Probiotics with longer shelf lives will be popular and will be seen in nutrition bars, granola, nut butters and soups.
Consumers are stepping away from mass produced food. Hence new age manufacturers are looking at manufacturing food which adhere to a certain format but at the same time are experimental thus making them artisan. Chef Abhijit Berde, chef and director at AGA Hospitality explains, “The artisan touch to the product could be on the basis of packaging which is becoming very innovative and expressive. A health or wellbeing twist to the usual snack too adds an artisanal touch to the product, use of specific raw produce, local produce is making it exciting.” Artisanal snacks are generally used to describe gourmet, taste bud tingling food that pack an unusual flavour as compared to their regular household counterpart. “These are small batch newly introduced foods that gradually make their way up to the grocery list over a period of time. They are termed artisanal due to their limited availability and owing to that, often higher price,” says Ankita M Kukreja, co-founder, The Butternut Co., Mumbai. These would include but not limited to handcrafted cheese, handmade chocolates, single origin coffees and organic honey.
Ethical food is food produced from source to consumer on the principle that it should protect the interests of everyone and everything that is part of the cycle. This means food that benefits the farmer, is good for the consumer and does not cause harm to the environment. “Ethical food is a movement to uphold values such as respecting the dignity of the farm, allowing the consumer to make informed, healthy choices and causing the least damage to the eco-system. Ethical food will trend because there is increasing awareness about the ill-effects of the non-ethical food industry,” says Priya Bala, food writer and author Secret Sauce – Inspiring Stories of Great Indian Restaurants. Sustainability is becoming the buzzword in all consumption patterns. The United Nations itself has come out with sustainable development goals for the world instead of just economic and GDP based growth. K C Raghu, founder and managing director, Pristine Organics adds, “Ethical food has to be acceptable to all and has to basically focus on reducing the ecological footprint, humane handling of animals in farming and even at slaughter houses. The loss of biodiversity is become the biggest bane for agriculture.”
Paleo and vegan diet were a huge hit during the past few years. In the paleo diet, one tries to achieve optimal health by following the eating pattern of a Stone Age era avoiding all kind of processed items and focusing heavily on natural proteins, whole grain, and fresh produce. In the vegan diet, one strictly avoid any kind of animal by-products. That means no dairy, no meat, no egg or seafood. “Pegan diet is the amalgamation of these two kinds of diet forms. That means one needs to eat a wholesome meal consisting of plant proteins, grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Also, you can include a certain amount of animal protein of your choice. The pegan diet is all about – eat real and whole foods,” says Chennai-based food blogger Hina Gujral.
Imagine a pizza crust from cauliflower or spaghetti made from zucchini. Well this is no imagination, food swaps to healthier options is trending big. With food swaps, one can cut out carbohydrates completely, replacing it with fibre, proteins and bulk instead for preparation compared to the original recipes. “Imagine if you could eat an entire pizza guilt-free, without raising your blood sugar levels – wouldn’t that be a life changer? A plain flour pizza can be replaced by a cauliflower crust pizza slashing the calories to less than half. Replacing original plain flour or semolina noodles with zucchini noodles would be healthier and lighter on the tummy, digestion would be much easier and there would be no excess weight gain. Starchy carbohydrates replaced by fibre-rich vegetables are a good option for all looking to lose weight, getting rid of gluten and easing the load on our already overworked digestive system,” says Payal Kothari, integrative and functional nutritionist. And you can create umpteen innovations with food swaps.
As the curtains go up on a New Year, the food scene is once again looking for all things novel and nice.