Chefs, culinary experts and food scientists are predicting food trends for 2016, which include boosting visual appeal, scaling back on grilling, incorporating more probiotics, and adding pulses.
Brad Buck of Florida Trend uncovered some hints from the scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences for food trends within the next year:
- Smart food manufacturers now appreciate that flavor and aroma alone are not enough for many consumers; visual and textural stimuli are just as important. Scientific studies show that people shown a picture of a high-calorie food, such as pizza or pastry before experiencing an unfamiliar taste will find that taste more enjoyable than if they were shown a picture of a low-calorie food, such as watermelon or green beans. Foods incorporating innovative approaches to a blending of sensory attributes will likely win the consumers’ dollar.
- Concerns over heat concerns of grilling red meat will lead to a decline in the popularity of grilling. Grilling has been the go-to way of cooking red meats and poultry, but newly re-kindled concerns about the safety of red meats and poultry cooked in conditions that may char or add smoke may cause consumers to return to recipes that call for baking in the oven.
- Pre- and probiotics continue to be important to our health, including brain health and mood. Sue Percival, a professor of food science and human nutrition, explained to Florida Trend that consumers need to understand how probiotics work to make you healthier, reduce stress and give people a greater peace of mind. People can tackle inflammation by consuming foods and nutrients that include pre- and probiotics.
- Food waste is an important emerging issue and it can affect sustainability, not to mention consumers’ pocket books. Most wastage of fresh produce occurs in consumers’ homes because they think it doesn’t look or taste good, said Amy Simonne, a professor of food safe and quality at UF/IAFS. For many produce items, proper storage plays a key role in preserving better taste and appearance. Consumers and restaurants can save money and help preserve the environment by learning best practices for storing produce properly.
- George Baker, an assistant professor in the department of food science and human nutrition and a Florida Sea Grant specialist, predicts we’ll see more fish products that emphasize product origin or that highlight fishery sustainability. For example, fish might be labeled, “sustainable, small-batch salmon.” On the flip side, we’ll find unrefrigerated, ready-to-eat pouches of flavored tuna products.
“Pulses” may not be a term found in your food vocabulary. However, Kate Taylor of The Telegram of Worcester, Mass., explains that experts say they will be everywhere in 2016. Pulses are a type of legume that includes dried beans, lentils and peas. The term encompasses foods that are already pretty popular, like chickpeas, as well as some foreign to many Americans, such as pigeon peas and run peas.
According to experts, pulses are gearing up to be one of the top food trends of 2016, appearing on more and more menus across the country. And, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse.
“It’s all coming together, and it all makes complete sense,” said Chef Chris Koetke, vice president of Kendall College’s school of culinary arts. “Aside from the fact that they’re fun to cook with, they’re delicious, and super versatile…They bring together a few really important global issues.”
Pulses have been staples around the world for most of human history, in large part because they solve problems that plague people everywhere. They add nutrients to the soil, making them especially important in places that are not soil rich. When it comes to nutrition, pulses are high in fiber, protein, iron, antioxidants. Pulses tend to be inexpensive, unlike many trendy health foods. The United Nations noted in its “Year of the Pulse” materials that pulses are produced and consumed widely in developing countries, promoting food security at all levels, the Telegram reported.
Of course, the good-for-you factor means nothing when it comes to trends if chefs and shoppers aren’t willing to jump on the bandwagon. Fortunately, consumer tastes and industry trends are coming together to give pulses to shine according to the Telegram.
Pulses work well with high-protein, high-fiber, and gluten-free diets, three major areas the food industry is trying to cash in on. As nutrition and sustainability begin to play a larger role in shopping for food in the United States, American consumers are eager to explore foods that fit into these trends. In the last five years, quinoa went from a health store offering to a mainstream staple, thanks to Americans’ obsession with the “superfood.” The Telegram explained more types of pulses may be set up to follow the same explosive growth trajectory as shoppers and restaurant patrons begin to explore newer and trendy grains.
Middle Eastern cuisine’s influence on American restaurants is increasing, helping guide the rise of two of the biggest pulses to watch out for: lentils and chickpeas. American chefs’ increasing interest in tapping into international food traditions, especially those of non-European areas, when creating their own recipes has helped highlight the versatility and worldwide ubiquity of pulses.
Koetke has tried everything from lentils used as money-saving filler in ground beef dishes to pizzas served with black bean puree. Pulses are, in his view, uniquely adaptable and perfect for the adventurous cook, from a restaurant chef to someone trying to whip up a nutritious meal. “I really think this is the opportunity for our country to step and rediscover pulses, because, really, they’re a blast.”