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December 27, 2013 at 6:25 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Looking Back: The Hottest Food Trends of 2013

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Gastronomics Blog Series

Condiment fanatics, kale chips, gluten aversions, and classic junk food mashups – reflecting back, 2013 was a boundary-pushing year in food and a strange combination of both healthy eating movement and comfort food celebration.  Here were some the top trends:

1. Specialty Bread

Not only has specialty bread arrived as predicted in our sit-down restaurants this year, consumer demand for high quality bread has leaked into our fast food restaurants as well. Regular old hamburger buns were old news! In fact, pretzel buns probably single-handedly saved the struggling Wendy’s chain this year. The Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger recieved raves reviews not only from the general populace, but from critics as well. Shockingly though, Wendy's recently dropped the burger anyway! Maybe they're hoping for a McRib type hype for their Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger? Guess we'll see how that pans out for them in 2014!

 

Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger was a sandwich even food critics were raving about in 2013!

Source: New York Daily News

2. Sriracha-Mania  

If 2012 was the year of bacon, 2013 was the year of sriracha. Not only was sriracha sauce used everywhere and on everything, it became both meme and merchandising phenomenon emblazoned on every possible surface and enterprising businessman could find.

 

An animated gif tribute to Sriracha.

Source: oohweeh.tumblr.com

3. Eastern Asian Exploration 

While once “Asian food” pretty much only meant Chinese, Japanese, or some Americanized version of either, Americans are now happily branching out and beginning to fully appreciate the many flavors Asia has to offer.  Though old news to foodies and culturally-chic city dwellers, Thai restaurants went fully mainstream this year, popping up in large numbers in rural US towns. Vietnamese pho and Korean specialties – bulgogi, kim chi, and gochujang sauce also gained hold. Will they do for Vietnamese and Koren food what sriracha and pad thai did for Thai food?  2014 will tell!

A Thai table spread featuring a classic tofu pad thai.

Source: femme run@flickr

4. Hard Cider

While I was enjoying Woodchuck last year (My favorite’s their seasonal Fall variety!), at the time it was also the only choice if you wanted hard cider from my well-stocked supermarket. This year saw the hard cider movement move into full gear. Woodchuck’s got competition – Angry Orchard, Redd’s, Fox Barrel, Crispin, Ace - and those are just the commercial brands. Fine hard ciders are now available, trendy alternatives to wine.

 

Huffington Post’s hard cider taste test review.

Source: Huffington Post.com

5. Superfood Menus 

Spurred most likely by both population aging and health and rising concerns around our diets, trendy "superfoods" like quinoa, kale, beets, salmon, Brussels sprouts and berries both familiar and exotic, were all the rage and being highlighted on our sit down menus. Even McDonald’s jumped on the superfood bandwagon with a blueberry pomegranate smoothie.

A recipe for 2013's trendiest healthy snack food – kale chips.

Source: A Tasty Kitchen

6. Gluten Free Fare  

Whether or not everyone that’s on a gluten-free diet actually has a gluten-sensitivity, information about the diet’s potential benefits have created a significant number of converts to a gluten-free lifestyle. As a result, gluten-free sections in our grocery stores are expanding, ancient grains are seeing a resurgence in their popularity, and gluten-free pasta, bread, and pizza crust options are now common place on restaurant menus.

A Bon Appetit recipe for “Gooey Chocolate Cookies That Also Happen to Be Gluten Free”

Source: Bon Appetit

7. Milk Alternatives  

Not only has the gluten-free diet taken off,  almond milk has made the idea of lactose-free milk palatable and attractive people that were too afraid to try soy.  In 2013, many local groceries released their own brands of the two most popular milk alternatives - soy and almond milk – and most are now carrying a host of other milk options – coconut, rice, oat, hemp, plus yummy vanilla and chocolate flavor variations of all of these besides.

Those wishing to avoid lactose, added calories, and fat in milk have more options than ever before!

Source: ICEdot Athletes

8. Cauliflower Substitutions

Low fat cauliflower dip, gluten- free cauliflower wraps and crusts, cauliflower “mashed potatoes” and “potato salad,” Buffalo cauliflower bites, cauliflower steaks -  with just 146 calories and 1.6 grams of fat PER HEAD cauliflower realized its full potential and was the hot new food for dieters in 2013 - especially on Pinterest.

 

A low fat, low cal, yet totally satisfying vegan alternative to buffalo chicken.

Source: Bullfrogs and Bulldogs

9. Savory Deserts

As a savory girl, I love what I saw on desert menus this year! Perhaps inspired by shows like Iron Chef, Master Chef, and Chopped, 2013’s chefs seemed eager to get creative and push the limits of what we typically think of when we think “desert.” Herb and liquor-infused confections were especially popular, but the inclusion of other traditionally savory ingredients – veggies, meats, and cheeses – were also on dessert  menus.

Recipe for “Balsamic Cherry Pie with a Black Pepper Crust” from Adventures in Cooking.

Source: Adventures in Cooking

10. Mashups

While I am not privileged enough to actually live within a reasonable distance of the now famed “cronut” donut/croissant mashup, I am well aware of the confection and its impact on the food world.  2013 was the year ramen noodles became a bun for burgers and a crust for pizza, waffle makers made inviting Panini sandwiches, grilled cheese was rolled to resemble mozzarella sticks,  and crepes were stacked one on top of another until they formed a cake-worthy pile.  Playful presentations and creative recipes were par for the course this year!

The food that went viral this year. People within a reasonable distance wait in line up to 3 hours just to get one and baking enthusiast are scrambling to crack the recipe for themselves.

Source: Huffington Post.com

11. Chefs Behaving Badly

Though sexy chef, Nigella Lawson walked away relatively unscathed from her drug abuse allegations, Paula Deen saw her charmingly southern career wash down the drain as some not-so-charming racial and sexual discrimination charges came to light. The difference according to experts? Scandal vs brand. As Eric Dezenhall, founder of Dezenhall Resources crisis management firm, told USA Today “Simply put, when misdeeds get exposed, the more out of sync they are with your brand, the worse you fare. When you have this endearing Southern woman who is dropping racial epithets in the modern era, that's a shock to the system. Nothing that's happening to Nigella is a shock to the system."  The question is what's next for these two ladies. We know Nigella has went ahead on with her show Nigellisma, but is the last we'll hear from her about drug or spousal abuse? Is there any possible way Paula could recover from her own scandal and what will she do to try and make that happen?

 

Two scandals. Two famous chefs. Two very different outcomes.

Source: USA Today

12. Backyard Gardens

While environmental concerns have been important in the food world for some time, local sourcing went uber-local in 2013 when both restauranteurs and home cooks increasingly took to their backyards to grow dinner. Foodie boards started talking soil quality and compost while diners enjoyed unbeatably fresh ingredients, soothing ambiance, and a feeling of doing good by the planet. 

Upscale Mar' Sell restaurant in Los Angeles is said to have one of the most impressive restaurant gardens in the country.

Source: Living Mi Vida Loca

Which new foods did you try this year?

Which foods could you not get enough of?

What was your favorite of these trends?

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