In our previous article on nutrition trends, we explored trendy diets in 2018. On a related note, here’s what was popular in the food scene in last year and will likely be sticking around in the New Year.
With the increasing awareness of diets such as veganism and flexitarianism even among regular gym bunnies, plant-based proteins came in as one of the most trendy foods of 2018 and probably even 2019. Even restaurants are starting to incorporate them. Popular items include tofu, tempeh, flaxseeds and cashew cheese into main dishes like pizza from my local pizzerias and curries. Chefs themselves have started infusing their food with popular vegetables and ingredients like quinoa and peanut butter, and have taken to redefining cuisines such as Indian and Mexcian that have historical roots in vegetarian diets to give them a modern twist.
Not sure how to use plant proteins in your diet? Check out some tips and recipes using plant-based protein here, or head right to one of these top ten vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Singapore. Dive into this trend with an amazing recipe for high-protein Cashew Butter.
Forget ketchup with too much sugar or conventional ice cream flavours like chocolate and vanilla. From condiments to marinades to cheese, homemade anything was hip in the culinary world in 2018 and will continue to be in 2019. The best part about it is that you don’t even need to leave your house to whip up something delicious. Restaurants are jumping onto the bandwagon as well. In-house ingredients not only bring out the flavours of their dishes, but they also tend to be tastier and more economical.
One spoon of ketchup (alarmingly!) has as much sugar as one chocolate chip cookie. So how about trying to make some healthy ketchup right at home with this simple recipe?
1-cup tomato paste (270 g)
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
Sea salt to taste (optional)
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
- Try the ketchup and adjust if you want.
- This recipe yields 1 standard jar of ketchup. You can use alternative sweeteners or vinegar but you might need to adjust the other ingredients accordingly. For a garlicky kick, add some garlic powder or minced garlic.
Fermented, Gut-Friendly Food
Digestive health might have been popular in 2018 and likely to be in 2019 as well, but honestly, it should feature in your health plan every year. The focus on gut health is largely due to rising knowledge of FODMAPs, prebiotics, probiotics and cooking methods like fermenting, pickling and preserving. The gist of it: certain types of vegetables and fruits can cause indigestion and bloating, but pickling or fermenting them can aid digestion and promote good digestive health (think kimchi). Confused? Here’s a crash course in gut health that may answer some questions.
Food Inspired from the Streets
Street food became an obsession of restaurants this year, including many fine dining places in 2018. Staples such as kebabs, satay and dumplings have been served with a makeover. In fact, the ASEAN Summit gala dinner, delegates were served our local street delight “kueh pie tee” stuffed with line-caught Boston lobster seared in garlic butter. International street food is also growing in popularity and is being infused with other unconventional ingredients. Hot dogs are being topped with crispy shallots and Sriracha sauce, Xiao Long Baos are now infused with truffle oil. This one will definitely be keeping our mouths watering in 2019.
A number of things seemed to be happening with ethnic food in 2018. Ethnic food inspirations made an appearance everywhere, from chilli crab pasta to coconut milk pancakes and even salted egg ice cream! Moreover, high-end restaurants have been proudly infusing ethnic elements into their dishes, creating a sort of haute ethnic cuisine. For instance, earlier in 2018, Singaporean restaurant Labyrinth’s Chilli Crab dish was served a tempura soft shell crab, elegantly rested on a dollop of chilli crab ice cream (you heard right), encased in dustings of mantou (fried Chinese bun) crumbs. Ethnic food is also being fused with popular cuisines. Newly opened Uncle Kiisu in Novena offers diners a Peranakan and Japanese fusion feast, where you will find buah keluak musubi and laksa duck spring roll. One thing is certain: ethnic-inspired food looks set to take food to different heights in 2019.
Poké and Hawaiian Food
Speaking of ethnic food, Hawaii took over the food scene in 2018. Poké bowls are in fact a staple in this American state. The word poké is the Hawaiian word for “to slice or cut”, referring to the pieces of raw, marinated fish (usually tuna) over rice and topped with vegetable and tasty umami sauces. It’s quite like chirashi sushi with a contemporary twist. Economical, healthy, and often flavoursome, it is no wonder it has become so popular. Hawaiian food, in general, seems to be sneaking into our cuisine, with the number of Hawaiian restaurants on Foursquare increasingly almost threefold. This one is staying in 2019.
The Zero-Waste cooking movement that advocates minimal wastage seems true for both for plants and meat. With awareness of sustainability rising, reducing food waste is gaining momentum, resulting in chefs using every part of the vegetable, including those that were discarded in the past, from stems to rinds. The same trend was seen with animals, with more top-to-tail dining restaurants opening all over the world, serving new and unorthodox cuts of meat such as the cheeks, bone marrow, shoulder tender, Merlot cut (from the cow’s heel) and Bavette (the bottom part of sirloin known as flap meat).
Flowers as Food
You heard right, flowers have become popular food, the edible variety of course. In 2018, the culinary world was liberal with its use in oils, dressings, salads, vegetables and drinks, even cocktails. You might even know some of them like zucchini flowers, rose, hibiscus and lavender. Others are more obscure, such as chervil, lemon balm, and lovage. We expect seeing more colourful creations in 2019.
Unconventional Pasta & Grains
Unusual ingredients weren’t just confined to flowers; unconventional kinds of pasta and grains were also trending in 2018, especially those that provided an alternative to wheat-based ones. Examples include pasta made from beans, oats and spelt. People have also switched to using noodles made from rice and buckwheat to replace pasta altogether. Traditional, ancient grains reappeared as well, with an increasing use of amaranth, spelt/farro and barley. Vegetable carbs substitutes, like cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles (zoodles), continue to be prevalent low-carb alternatives, particularly among those looking to lose weight.
What Else to Expect in 2019…
With gastronomic circles gradually opening up to experimentation, here are a few other predictions of nutritional trends that might emerge in 2019:
- Exotic blends of jams, marmalades and chutneys, using flowers, spices and alcohol
- All kinds of fats thanks to the keto diet, even the saturated variety
- Bee pollen
- Insects, especially crickets, as an alternative source of protein
- “Healthy” desserts created with avocados, dates and tofu
- Sustainable seafood and seafood-based snacks
- Lattés get more unusual with flavours: turmeric, chlorophyll, even ground goji berries
And this is just scratching the surface. Who knows what else is in store for us this year.
Photo Credit: Pexels