2011 Food Trends

The experts’ predictions for 2011 food and restaurant trends are out…and it’s looking good for those of us who have to eat gluten free.  Read on for a summary of the various trends we gluten avoiders can look forward to in the coming year.

1) Gluten free/allergy conscious cuisine came in at #8 of the top 20 trends of the The National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2011” survey, which asked more than 1,500 chefs nationwide (all members of the American Culinary Federation) what they think the hottest food trends will be for 2011.  What does this mean?  That chefs nationwide  are becoming more aware of the growing numbers of gluten free customers and that catering to this group is not only the right thing to do, but good for their bottom line!

2) Veggies are all the rage.  According to a recent post by Janet Helm in her blog, Nutrition Unplugged, veggies will be a major food focus in 2011.  Janet summarized the following predictions from various experts as being the hot veggie trends for 2011: locally-grown produce, hyper-local produce (restaurant gardens), organic produce, micro-greens, pickled vegetables, hybrid vegetables (e.g. broccoflower), vegetable ceviche, warm appetizer salads and; children’s vegetable side items and entree salads.  So long as we watch out for our sauces and avoid fried and breaded preparations, more veggies are a welcome trend for us gluten avoiders.

3) Move over meat.  Side dishes are inching their way to the center of the plate and gluten free options are at the top of the list.  According to the article, “Top Ten Side Dish Trends,” posted by the Food Channel website, side dishes are moving front and center in 2011 due to consumers wanting to eat more healthfully, stretch their dining dollars and try new and different cuisines and ingredients.  Both this report and the National Restaurant Association survey show gluten-free sides topping the trends, including exotic whole grain rices, grits, ancient grains (many, but not all, of which are gluten free), quinoa and root vegetables.

4) Simplicity made the #9 slot on the “What’s Hot in 2011″ survey of top 20 trends.  In other words, ingredients will speak for themselves, thereby minimizing the need for heavy sauces and seasonings. If you eat gluten free, you know that simplicity equals safety.  Less is definitely more when avoiding gluten.

5) Dessert is looking sweet for the gluten free in 2011.  Many of the predicted trends are gluten-free-friendly, including: artisan and house-made ice pops and ice creams; exotic fruits and; drinkable desserts. Remember the cupcake craze?  Many are predicting a passion for pies in 2011.  Since we saw many of our favorite bakers offer gluten-free cupcakes, perhaps they’ll rework their pie recipes, too?  Hint, hint.

6) Other notable mentions for 2011:

  • Gluten free beer ranked 47th of the 226 “hot” response items in the “What’s Hot in 2011″ survey
  • Tacos with non-traditional fillings (what would we do without corn tortillas?)
  • Popcorn, a gluten free favorite, in all kinds of dishes

If these trends pan out like the experts predict, looks like 2011 will be a great food year for the gluten free.

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