By Becky Van Drunen. Food trends are like fashion trends. Blink and all of a sudden you’re serving Candied Bacon wearing a Peplum Top and everyone around you is wondering if you missed the memo that 2012 is over. (Note, it is.)
1) Gluten Free is hot. You may have noticed that you can find a Gluten Free alternative to almost anything these days. Is this because we’ve all suddenly acquired Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivities? Nope. It’s because we think that Gluten Free must mean healthier. Don’t be fooled, Gluten Free foods can contain just as many, and more, sugar, fat, calories and preservatives as their gluten filled counterparts. But to be fair, many of these ingredients are actually quite good and if you want to be truly inclusive and be sure all of your friends can partake in your picnic this summer, try Gluten Free Pasta in your next pasta salad.
2) Locally Sourced Ingredients make the difference. Local ingredients are catching on, and for lots of good reasons. The shorter time between farm and table means that ingredients are at their freshest, offering you the greatest health benefits. Eating local foods helps you to eat seasonally which will also help your wallet. Not only that, but there is something wonderful about knowing you are supporting local families and businesses in your community. You have to agree that there is nothing cooler than being able to tell your dinner guests exactly where their dinner came from. Local fruits and vegetables, eggs, meat and dairy are all easily available in the Lower Mainland and are probably more affordable than you think. Check out circlefarmtour.com to get started in your area.
3) Veggies are in. And it’s not just about the Kale. Farm fresh carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and the other mushy veggies we remember from our childhood are making a comeback. Only now they’ve ditched the mush and come dressed in balsamic reductions or smoked salts and grilled to tender crisp perfection. It’s now okay for vegetables to look like vegetables. And it’s even ok for them to be the star of the show. Try marinating strips of carrots, zucchini and red peppers in a balsamic dressing for 30 minutes before simply grilling them until just tender.
4) Artisan Gourmet Pizza has arrived. No more ordering delivery pizza for your next casual summer evening on the patio. The heavy greasy stuff is out and has been replaced by a thin crusted, slightly chard, Naples-style (read: folded) pizza topped with San Marsano Tomatoes, creamy Burrata and fresh basil, among other artisanal things. This truly is one of the most glorious foods of all time if you can get it done right. If you want to impress the pants off your dinner guests the most important thing is the pizza must not be neither square nor round, but some oblong rustic shape in between. This of course means it’s authentic and automatically makes you a culinary superstar. You’re welcome.
5) Biscuits are back. There will always be a bread product that tops the food trend charts. Gone are the pretzel buns of yesteryear. Biscuits have snuck into the gourmet world and are making an appearance in places beyond the breakfast table. Cornmeal Biscuit Eggs Benedict and Gourmet Biscuit Sandwich shops are popping up all over the place. For us non-Southerners it’s a refreshing new gastronomic indulgence and every West Coaster should try ‘Serious Biscuit’ in downtown Seattle owned by a renowned Pacific Northwest Chef Tom Douglas. If you’re staying close to home though, try serving a dessert of Cornmeal Biscuits topped with local strawberries and fresh whipped cream.
It’s important to keep moving forward in your cooking. Trying a new ingredient or recipe can help keep things exciting in the kitchen. This summer try a Gluten Free, Cornmeal Biscuit Crust Pizza topped with Local Peaches and Arugula then drizzled with Balsamic Glaze. Or maybe just try out the trends separately. Better idea.
Becky Van Drunen is a happily married momma to a toddler and owner of the food blog basilandbacon.com. As a healthy living enthusiast, she offers Meal Planning and Culinary Services to clients across Canada.