Food trends can be fickle in the restaurant world and predictions for this year's hottest menu items abound. This early into 2016, there are still more questions than answers. Are food trucks here to stay? Will charcuterie keep making the cut? Tacos are certainly back in style! Will they have staying power?
Here are some food trends and techniques to put on your radar!
10. Ancient Grains: Ancient grains such as spelt, quinoa, kamut, millet and amaranth are considered to have a higher nutritional value than other grains — and are just as tasty. They can be easily substituted in a variety of foods and dishes such as bread, risotto, pasta and pizza.
9. Non-Wheat Noodles Or Pasta: Asian-style noodles and soups have surged in popularity, elevating them from street food to restaurant fare. Rice pasta is also popping up on Italian menus, catering to dietary restrictions.
8. Simplicity/Back To Basics: North American culinary staples like chocolate chip cookies and milk, macaroni and cheese, and even meatloaf are now coveted by some of the country's top chefs. You'll even find classic international go-to dishes pared down to only a handful of the most basic and wonderful fresh ingredients.
8. Citrus: We're sweet on citrus. Once limited to lemon bars and pastry fillings, citrus is becoming a cooking essential in everything from dressings and pastas to flavored chips. The tangy, versatile fruit offers refreshing health benefits like vitamins and zero fat, making it a great replacement for high-sodium salts and seasonings. Whether it's limes or grapefruit, zest or freshly squeezed juice, citrus is sure to brighten up the 2016 flavor forecast.
6. Street Food Inspired Appetizers: Quick and dirty street food is still hot but the variety has been getting better and better. Some classic examples are tempura and taquitos — and no, we're not just talking about the 7-Eleven variety.
5. Food Trucks/Street Food: OK, due to a Canadian-style overload of red tape, this country doesn't have nearly as many food trucks as the United States, but the trend is going in the right direction. We'll take as many as we can get!
4. Farm-/Estate-Branded Ingredients: Since chefs are starting to receive rock-star status, why not farms? Restaurants are increasingly using farm- and estate-branded ingredients and naming them on their menus. Brilliant!
3. Sustainability: Raising and growing food that is healthy for consumers, animals, and does not harm the environment has been on the mainstream radar for a while now. If you're still not exactly sure what it means, simply said sustainable agriculture and farming in everyday cooking and eating.
2. DIY Foods/Canning and Preserves: Get your Mason jars ready! Home cooks are getting crafty in the kitchen as they take on pickling, canning, and fermenting. Whether it's do-it-yourself yogurt, pickled watermelon, or homemade sauerkraut, preserving is the perfect way to enjoy your favorite produce year-round.
1: Locally Produced And Locally Inspired Dishes: The locavore movement and locally produced food continues to dominate and drive chefs to push culinary boundaries Who are we to complain?
But if you're still not caught up with last year's food trends, there's still plenty to enjoy, like some of the comfort foods noted by Toronto Life. Here's hoping tacos and gourmet doughnuts stick around a little bit longer...