Friday, January 2, 2015

2015: The year we eat bugs

International restaurant consulting firm Baum and Whiteman predicts that Americans will start eating insects as a protein source in 2015.
“The conversation about eating bugs is just beginning but it won’t go away,” the firm said in its annual predictions. “Insect protein bars already are on the market. And Vij, the Indian restaurant maven in Vancouver, sells a pizza-like paratha topped with crickets.”
Billions of people around the world eat insects, but Americans still have to get over the “yuck factor” of eating creepy-crawlies.
“Would you really care if your chips or nachos or tacos were fortified with cricket powder? If your bread got a protein boost from ladybug flour? If your pasta (gluten-free, of course) contained low saturated-fat grasshoppers? Probably you would care ... but soon you may find your children scoffing at the amount of non-sustainable food you eat,” Baum and Whiteman said.
Eating insects is one of several emerging food and restaurant trends, experts say. What follows are other gastronomic predictions for the New Year.

Looking for the next Sriracha sauce

Now that Sriracha hot sauce has conquered the U.S., foodies are looking for next big sauce.
“Look for lots more sweet-spicy sauces and condiments,” Baum and Whiteman said. “Chefs and big restaurant chains are experimenting with piquant honey: habanero honey, jalapeno honey and ghost chili honey, ginger-citrus honey ... going on chicken-and-waffles, whipped into butter, mixed into salad dressings, snuck into sauces.”

Hummus could replace salsa as top condiment

Hummus, a staple of Arab and Israeli immigrants, is following the same trajectory as Greek yogurt, Baum and Whiteman said.
“Google says that hummus has out-trended salsa, no small thing since salsa dethroned ketchup,” the firm said. “The chick pea dip has become so Americanized ... that Subway is testing it as a no-meat option for its sandwiches. Hummus is high in protein and fiber and low in fat, so it touches lots of dietary bases.”
The Sabra brand, co-owned by Pepsi, has done an enormous amount of missionary work to grow the popularity of hummus, Baum and Whiteman said.
“Upscale supermarkets display two dozen variations (of hummus, including) beet, pumpkin, Thai chili, spinach-artichoke, guacamole, edamame, cilantro-chimichurri, lemongrass-chili ... even (oh, dear) chocolate mousse,” the firm said.

The rise of coconut sugar

Sterling-Rice Group, a Boulder, Colo.-based consulting firm, thinks coconut sugar will take off as a sweetener in 2015.
“With a lower glycemic index than cane sugar and more nutrients, coconut sugar is sweetening confections, dessert spreads and granola,” Sterling-Rice Group said.

Bitter is the new bold

Food research and consulting firm Technomic predicts that bitter will be the flavor of the year.
“Look for darker coffees, deeper chocolates, next-gen cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and collard greens, hoppy beers and cocktails with the bite of bitters,” the firm said.
Baum and Whiteman agrees. It predicts bitter coffee, bitter chocolate and bitter greens will be popular this year.

Ugly root vegetables grow in popularity

Ugly root vegetables increasingly will show up in restaurant kitchens, Baum and Whiteman said.
“Celery root, parsnips and kohlrabi are grabbing attention in restaurant kitchens,” the firm said. “Fried, mashed, pureed, gratineed; flavored with cured pork or smoked honey ... humble themselves, they replace humble potatoes with lots more inherent flavor. Better yet, consumers have no notion of how to cook them ... so they’re becoming cheffy ingredients.”
Joy Bauer, NBC’s “Today Show” nutritionist and founder of Nourish Snacks, predicts that unusual produce will debut in 2015.
“Exotic picks like jicama (a Mexican yam or turnip) and sunchokes (the Jerusalem artichoke) are making their way on to people’s plates,” she told Fox News.

Photo: Chapul energy bars made with crickets.

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