Cronuts and ramen burgers may have gotten more media attention this year, but healthy food trends are on the rise, according to the 2014 Culinary Forecast from the National Restaurant Association. Locally sourced foods and nutrition-focused practices dominate the top of the list, with locally sourced meats and seafood, locally grown produce, and environmental sustainability taking the top three spots and health/nutrition itself coming in at #13 (up three spots from last year!). Read on for my favorite healthy food trends of 2014 and how you can work them into your own cooking repertoire.
1. Root-to-stalk cooking
Root-to-stalk cooking–using the whole vegetable, roots, stalk, and leaves included, in an effort to reduce waste–ranked #11 on the National Restaurant Association’s list of more than 200 trends. The benefits of root-to-stalk cooking are threefold: first, it reduces waste in a country that throws out 40% of its harvested food. According to a recent study from Harvard Law School and the Natural Resources Defense Council, 22% of that food waste comes from fruits and vegetables. And of the produce we buy, we only consume 48%. Second, you’ll save money. Leftover beet greens from last night’s beet salad can replace chard, or fennel fronds might replace dill as garnish–keeping you from buying extra vegetables. And lastly, you’re guaranteed fresher produce. Fruits and vegetables start to degrade once they’re broken down, so leaving them intact until they’re in your kitchen can help preserve some of their nutrients.
In the kitchen: Follow Tara Duggan, author of Root to Stalk Cooking: The Art of Using the Whole Vegetable, on Twitter for inspiration. Her book includes recipes like Shaved Broccoli Stalk Salad with Lime and Cotija and Quinoa-Carrot Tabbouleh.
The process of fermentation dates back hundreds of thousands of years and is a part of traditional diets around the world, from kimchi in Korea to sauerkraut in Europe. But experts are only just beginning to unearth the health benefits of fermented foods: they’re packed with probiotics, beneficial bacteria that help maintain gut health. And because about 80% of your immune system resides in your gut–and because the body’s “second brain” lives there too–maintaining gut health should be a priority. Studies have shown that diets rich in probiotics can enhance nutrient absorption, prevent depression, help treat Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome, and boost cognitive health and the immune system.
In the kitchen: In addition to the pickles you probably already have in your fridge, try adding sauerkraut, kimchi, miso soup, and kefir to the mix. Make fermented foods at home with these recipes from Nourished Kitchen.
3. Greek Yogurt Goes Savory
Greek yogurt has been a huge trend in the last few years, with sales growing more than 100% each year since 2011. And while innovative flavors, like Chobani’s Blueberry Power (a blend of blueberry Greek yogurt and chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts), are growing in popularity, Cooking Light predicts that savory mixes will shine this year. Artisanal yogurt shops have debuted flavors like smoked salmon and dill, za’atar with olives, and caprese salad, offering hungry patrons protein-packed snacks on-the-go. And Greek yogurt is also being heralded as a healthy ingredient in new products like Greek Yogurt Cream Cheese (with twice the protein and half the fat of regular cream cheese) and Yummus (a Greek yogurt-hummus blend with half the fat of regular hummus).
In the kitchen: Follow Chobani’s lead and use Greek yogurt as a replacement for butter, sour cream, oil, cream cheese, and more. Or head to Pinterest to find a slew of Greek yogurt recipes, like Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Kebabs and Lemon Tarragon Salmon with Greek Salad.
Behind water, tea is the number one most consumed beverage in the world. But in the US, it’s only #7, preceded by soft drinks, water, beer, milk, coffee, and fruit beverages. But 2014 might be the year that tea moves ahead a few spots. In the fall of 2013, Starbucks opened the first Teavana outpost, with plans to open 1,000 more stores within ten years. Tea isn’t just for drinking, however: trend forecasters believe that tea leaves will make an appearance in rubs, marinades, spice and herb blends, and broths. Green tea, high a compound called EGCG, has been shown in studies to reduce the growth of cancers, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of cognitive diseases and stroke. Other teas, including black, white, and oolong, as well as tisanes (herbal teas including chamomile, rooibos, and echinacea) also have disease-fighting nutrients.