Fascinating food trends: Hard seltzer, 7 spices and plant-based eating

More people are adding plant-based foods to their diets. FILE
Caption
More people are adding plant-based foods to their diets. FILE

When the Miami Valley Restaurant Association announced a hard-seltzer festival for early August, it immediately got my mind on the subject of food and dining trends.

This boozy bubbly low-calorie beverage craze has taken alcohol sales by storm both locally and nationally. Representatives from Bonbright Distributors, Heidelberg Distributing Company and Cavalier Distributing say seltzer sales continue to be a category that Miami Valley consumers and those across the state of Ohio are flocking to.

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That, coupled with the increasing popularity of ready-to-drink cocktails, is a significant, ongoing trend that distributors, manufacturers, restaurants and now, the Miami Valley Restaurant Association, are responding to.

Thinking about this major shift in how we drink got me thinking about the other major trends happening in food and dining.

More restaurants are offering a plant-based burger.
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More restaurants are offering a plant-based burger.

Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The International Food Information Council’s 2020 Food and Health Survey looked at the changes brought on by COVID that will continue to influence shopping and dining trends this year and going forward:

  • 54% of all consumers, and 63% of those 50+, care more about the healthfulness of their food and beverage choices in 2020 than they did in 2019
  • 28% of Americans eat more proteins from plant sources than they did in 2019
  • 24% eat more plant-based dairy, and 17% eat more plant-based meat alternatives.
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The survey results mirror trends that Baum + Whiteman, International Food and Restaurant Consultants, have listed in their yearly trend report.

The continued rise of meatless meats and more plant-based, plant-forward foods is expected to continue to grow in double-digit percentages. An increase in foods and products containing immunity boosters like vitamin C, turmeric, zinc, ginger and green tea is also expected to take place as consumers look to protect their immune systems.

An increased focused on eliminating waste and being more environmentally friendly than ever is happening. That means more and more restaurants choosing to ditch plastics in favor of biodegradable paper options. With Americans wasting about 40% of their food, shipping 130 pounds of edibles into landfills, Baum + Whiteman believe there will be a food trend of apps connecting overstocked local restaurants to diners offering discounted meals.

Spicy dukkah is a healthy dip for pita and veggies. (Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/MCT)
Caption
Spicy dukkah is a healthy dip for pita and veggies. (Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/MCT)

Credit: TAMMY LJUNGBLAD

Credit: TAMMY LJUNGBLAD

There’s a thought that there could be a pivot from bitter foods to sour foods like you see in Korean and Filipino cooking and with the increased popularity of kombucha.

I was very interested in Baum + Whiteman’s seven trending spice flavors for this year:

Dukkah, a smoky-salty Egyptian mix of ground sesame seeds, various nuts, cumin, coriander, fennel and other spices, that you sprinkle on fish, poultry.

Jerk Seasoning from Jamaica’s Black diaspora, an incendiary mix of cumin, nutmeg, allspice, smoked paprika, cinnamon, garlic and lots of hot peppers. Great on grilled or barbecued chicken and ribs.

Tempero Baiano, a cross-cultural African-Portuguese-Brazilian medley of parsley, chili peppers, oregano, nutmeg bay leaves and turmeric, used in soups, stews and fish. Also called Bahian seasoning, its unlike anything else on your spice shelf.

Tajin, a zingy, mildly spicy flavoring from Mexico composed of lime, chili peppers and sea salt (some people add sugar). You sprinkle it on fresh fruit, use it as a citrusy spice rub for chicken and fish, coat the rim of your margarita glass, or perk up a bloody Mary.

Berbere, a high-fragrance, high-heat blend from Ethiopia: chilies, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and coriander. Cook with it or use it as a finishing sprinkle.

Chili Crunch, a trendy Chinese condiment that our partner Rozanne Gold calls “chili crack.” It’s an oily mix of chili flakes, garlic, sometimes sugar or vinegar or sesame seeds that you spoon over anything that needs a flavor lift. Turns mundane pizza into a celebration.”

I can testify to the chili crunch. We’ve been using this a lot in cooking at our house and if you like heat, I highly recommend it.

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Other trends they see coming: A “changing of the guard for food journalists with more BIPOC writers and editors shifting their publications’ focus,” more hot chicken wars, steamed rice noodle wraps, seaweed as a snack, African jollof rice, restaurants selling online-only food brands, telemedicine from supermarkets and health organizations, ajvar — a piquant tomato-pepper condiment from the Balkans appearing in dishes, more celebrity wines and spirits, sugar alternatives derived from fruits and vegetables, more “unnecessarily” flavored and colored gins.

Just as fashion, technology and so many other things develop and morph into something new, so does the cooking and dining landscape. It’s never boring and it’s always interesting to see what sticks. One thing we know is that hard seltzers, for the near future, are here to stay and whatever happens next will almost certainly present something new and interesting to try.

Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.