Life Food

Top food trends in 2017: Tumeric, plant proteins and meal kits going mainstream

By Rita DeMontis, Toronto Sun

(Handout)

(Handout)

Every year around this time, we start looking at the food trends we've enjoyed - and the foods coming our way in the new year. Yes eternal favourites, like cupcakes, do have staying power, but algae didn't quite make that big splash everyone was anticipating. Forbes is reporting kale is past its prime, and full fat is where it's at for the next little while.

Just recently a group of Canadian food experts from across the country teamed up with the Loblaw Food Council to give us a glimpse of what we're going to look forward to in the coming months - the team, made up of professional and home chefs, registered dietitians to academics and a futurist, came together to identify trends showcasing new flavours, ingredients ways of cooking, and even shopping.

What are we looking at? Turmeric, plant proteins and meal kits, and that's just for starters. Plus living in a country such rich in cultural diversity as Canada is opens the door to so much, and it's the diversity that "is our strength," says Jacob Richler, founding editor of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants and a food council member. "Our restaurants feature cooking of every conceivable style and provenance. And our markets have all the internationally sourced products you need to make it right. The Canadian culinary experience is a multicultural celebration – and our appetite is characterized by insatiable curiosity."

"We hope to start a national conversation about what Canadians are eating and how we can continue to inspire our consumers' creativity and adventurous spirit when feeding their families," adds Garry Senecal, president of the market division for Loblaw Companies. Ltd.

The Food Trend team identified five themes that they say will impact Canadian kitchens:

1. THE NEW CONSCIOUS CONSUMER: Canadians are more interested than ever before about where their food comes from and how it is grown. In 2017, Canadians will be bugging out as they increase consumption of alternative proteins, such as insects and plant-based proteins, as well as change the way they cook as they look to reduce food waste through root-to-stem or snout-to-tail cooking. With the environment and sustainability in mind, customer demand for responsibly sourced food and information on certification will become more prominent. According to chef Ned Bell, advocate and a food council member: "In 2017, Canadians will put the vegetable first and enhance their meal with smaller portions of proteins that are sustainably sourced."

2. THE NEW MINDFUL FOODIE: Canadians will place a greater emphasis on what we're eating and how we're eating it to improve our physical and mental health. They'll be looking to spices and ingredients that serve a dual purpose. It was identified that Canadians will want to cook with simple ingredients to create great tasting food. Chef and food council member Mike Ward comments: "The idea that being frantically busy all the time is somehow a benchmark of our career success is shifting. It's now fashionable to have a sensible work-life balance."

3. THE NEW HOME CHEF: The dichotomy of time pressure and the desire to eat nutritious food will impact the tables of the nation. The home chef will be a weekend food warrior, embracing slow cooking, preserving and canning to create a deeper connection with their food and will be more adventurous to try new recipes and ingredients. During the week the opposite emerges, as home chefs embrace meal kits and, in urban areas, delivery services.

4. THE NEW CONNECTED SHOPPER: Canadians will opt to shop at retailers that offer enhanced digital experiences layered with personalization to make their shopping seamless, accessible and efficient. Online solutions – from pre-order to same-day delivery – will increase in popularity as Canadians visiting recipe sites and sharing food related content look to purchase recipe ingredients.

5. THE NEW CANADIAN CUISINE: From far and wide, the multicultural mosaic of the nation will inspire global flavours to infuse traditional Canadian meals. International flavours and spices, such as za'atar, turmeric and togarashi will make their way into Canadian homes. Canadians are at ease with different flavours and searching for additional ways to incorporate global flavours into their everyday meal staples.

One ingredient that looks to be the "it" big food trend in 2017 is turmeric - growing in popularity, it's being used creatively in restaurants and is even being incorporated into mixologist menus.

"Future thinking is what matters," notes Sanjay Khanna, futurist, speaker and member of the food council.

"For Canadians' benefit, we look forward to sharing what we learn about inextricable links between food and culinary arts, consumer behaviour, digital experience, the environment, health and wellbeing, intercultural ties, and much more."

Food trends from Canadas100best.com

Like we said, food trends come and go, but, according to Canadas100best.com, what's coming our way in 2017 is going to make you sit up straight at the dinner table:

1. Cake! "Studies linking dark chocolate with increased cognitive function are encouraging some consumers to eschew their yogurt spoons for cake forks in the morning.

2. Sardines for Supper: "Canned fish is getting a makeover thanks to modern designs and new flavours.

Usually thought of as an old person’s meal, canned sardines are being recognized for their health benefits and delightfully retro appeal."

3. Noodles and a Show: "Hand-pulled noodles have been big in Chinese restaurants for ages now but the trend should be making the mainstream jump soon."

4. Mocktail Makeovers: "Designated drivers are getting in on the mixology fun with drinks that have all the flair and design of a cocktail while staying shy of DUI."

5. Make a Meal, Make a Friend: New movements and apps are making connections through foods, and setting up hungry strangers to make a meal together, while fleet-farming brings gardeners together to share their yields and their profits.

- Canadas100best.com