Kitchen Shrink: Bubbles with benefits and other food trends for 2022
Reflecting on the past year in food, it’s been a whirlwind of lofty gustatory ambitions as many of us played armchair chefs and bakers for our comfort, distraction, amusement, and amazement. Now we’re all pretty much burned out, and looking for simpler dining options. Although my culinary crystal ball is a bit foggy, I can still make some educated predictions for the New Year with a glimmer of optimism. So here’s my top 10 list to usher in a healthier, happier, and more prosperous year ahead.
Phony Baloneys: Plant-based charcuterie will be branching out more than ever as the cholesterol- conscious among us are transitioning to a more herbivorous diet, and the climate advocates are having a cow over increasing methane gas expelled from bovines. Artisan vegetarian and grain combinations mimic meat so creatively (including grill marks) that even diehard carnivores would be satisfied with these hearty offerings. Textured soy, the plant-based pioneer, has been replaced with quinoa, barley, vital wheat, pea proteins, nutritional yeast, sea veggies, and roasted roots in the form of patties, sleeves of ground “meats,” sausages, and dogs. Cheeses of all manners that shred, spread, slice, and melt like the real McCoy are mostly cashew- and almond-based, while canned tuna lovers can enjoy a vegan doppelganger concocted from pea protein, sans PCB’s and mercury.
Bubbles with Benefits: Supermarket shelves and refrigerator cases are brimming with bubbly drinks that not only provide a refreshing zing, but a probiotic oomph. These sassy sips are packed with billions of friendly colony-forming flora and antioxidants that take up residence in the gastro tract where they perform assorted housecleaning duties like dialing up digestion, and ratcheting up immunity. Kombucha tea, a centuries old beverage that experienced a recent resurgence is now even more refined with less sugar, coloring, and calories, and more creative flavor combinations. These blend organic, fresh, cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices with yeast and bacteria cultures along with green and black tea for an energy lift, and sense of wellbeing. Look for kiwi and ginger, strawberry acai coconut, and pink lady apple. For kombucha alternatives try gut shots, probiotic sodas, and dairy and non-dairy kefir yogurts. New hop-infused waters loaded with nootropics and adaptogens profess a boost in brainpower, and relief from stress. My gut instinct–more to come.
Personal Portions: As the pandemic ploughs into its third year, I don’t think we’re quite ready yet to share a fondue pot, family-style dishes, chips, dips, and other communal offerings as the risks of eating double-dipped foods are still high at this time.
In the Chips: While kale chips were the healthier answer to potato and corn chips, there’s a slew of newbies hitting shelves from cauliflower, coconut, and kabocha (Japanese winter squash) to sauerkraut, beet, and lentil chips.
Fungi Frenzy: Expect to find mighty mushrooms with miraculous immune modulating, and healing properties in assorted products from protein supplements and energy bars to teas, coffees, and seasoned salts. Whether dried, crushed in powder form, pickled, braised, or barbecued there are 200 cultivated species with rich and woodsy porcinis leading the pack, followed by earthy, piney shiitakes, blooming bouquet-like maitakes, and beefy, buttery Portobellos.
Waste Not, Want Not: With inflation still raging on we’re going to continue the nose-to-tail/root-to-tip principle of food preparation. Every part of a fish, fowl, fruit, and root will be used, including bones, skin, organs, stems, and leaves to squeeze every nutrient out of our dwindling dollar.
The Seedy Side of 2022: This year seeds will sprout ahead of their nutty rivals, the latter of which can be thirsty water hogs, especially during California’s frequent droughts (almonds), taste bud disrupters (pine nuts), jam-packed with fat and calories (macadamias), and aflatoxins (peanuts, although legumes). Let’s start with sesame, the king of seeds, one of the most nutrient-dense crops on the planet blessed with an abundant store of copper, magnesium, calcium, folate, zinc, iron, and B6. This translates to a load of health benefits from amping up respiratory health, bone density, and male libido, to putting the skids on anemia, and type 2 diabetes. Another bunch of petite powerhouses, including glossy black poppy, buttery hemp, neutral-flavored chia, and sweet, earthy flax seeds provide a load of health and beauty boons for the heart, hormones, hair, and skin. Toss these versatile beauties into cereals, smoothies, sauces, stir-fries, pastas, and taboulis; crushed as a breading for chicken and fish, or a change-up for nuts in pesto dishes. Finally, the “everything bagel” seasoning that blends sesame and poppy seeds, pretzel salt, and dried onion and garlic flakes will become a ubiquitous topping and add-in across the land.
Chain Reaction: As the supply chain for many food products continues to logjam, we need to use creative substitutions in our recipes, and source as locally as possible, which is a blessing to hometown farmers, the community, and the planet’s footprint.
I have an inkling ... that sales of sheet pans, air fryers, panini grills, pressure and slow cookers along with any other gadget that makes life healthier and simpler will be on the rise.
The Gold Standard: Gold is the new green as turmeric appears to be replacing matcha in both sweet and savory dishes. Sprinkle this mighty spice everywhere — even on ice cream along with soups, stews, egg and chicken salads, dressings, marinades, cake and cookie batters. For a more powerful punch and vibrant hue shred the raw root rather than using the powder into this creamy, dreamy, golden latte with healing Ayurvedic properties inspired from India.
Cheers to 2022!
1-cup unsweetened coconut, oat, or almond milk
1-tablespoon fresh grated turmeric, or 1-teaspoon powdered turmeric
1-teaspoon fresh grated ginger, or 1/8-teaspoon powdered ginger
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1½-teaspoons honey (orange blossom, acacia, your choice)
On low heat, blend ingredients in a saucepan until steamy. Strain into mug or glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick, dollop of whipped coconut cream, and sprinkling of turmeric.
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