‘Bleeding’ vegan burgers, floral flavors top Whole Foods’ trend list

Last year, Whole Foods predicted that we’d be eating everything that’s purple, made from coconuts or that fits within a flexitarian diet.

Is that true for you? I can’t say I ate more coconut (or purple corn chips or paleo-friendly bacon) last year than the year before, but I certainly noticed such products when I was walking around grocery stores of every caliber in many different places across the country. I also noticed other trends they predicted in their 2017 list: wellness tonics (inspired by the kombucha trend), products made from byproducts (like vegan mayo made from leftover chickpea water), nonwheat pastas, creative condiments, Japanese-inspired ingredients and what they called “mindful meal prep,” where you might buy a whole meal kit one week or simply a prepared sauce and precooked pasta another.

At the beginning of 2017, no one could have predicted that perhaps the biggest game-changer in food happened to Whole Foods, not inside it. Amazon’s acquisition of this grocery pioneer topped headlines for weeks, and we still haven’t figured out the long-term affects to the industry. Nearly every supermarket has added some element of delivery, but how will they compete with a company that shipped more than 5 billion items to Prime customers last year? That’s a trend I’ll be watching closely in 2018.

Now, what trends has Whole Foods predicted for 2018? They recently released this list:

  • Floral flavors (lavender, rose, hibiscus)
  • Super powders (matcha, maca, cacao, turmeric, spirulina)
  • Functional mushrooms (reishi, chaga, lion’s mane)
  • Middle Eastern foods (harissa, cardamom, za’atar, shakshuka, grilled halloumi)
  • Transparency (GMO and nutrition labeling)
  • High-tech plants (“not tuna” made from tomatoes, “bleeding” vegan burgers)
  • Puffed and popped snacks (puffed pasta bow ties, seaweed fava chips)
  • Tacos (sweet, savory, breakfast, nontraditional)
  • Root-to-stem (pickled watermelon rind, beet green pesto)
  • Bubbly water (La Croix, Topo Chico)

In last week’s Facebook livestream, I concurred with most of the trends, especially the ones predicting that we’ll be buying even more carbonated water and high-tech plant-based food products. But I don’t think most consumers are getting into those functional mushrooms and super powders just yet. I hadn’t yet heard about that tomato “not-tuna” mentioned on the list, but even though the thin, dehydrated tomato slices look just like ahi tuna in sushi rolls and nigiri, I can’t imagine how the product would replicate the taste. As for tacos? Those are always trendy in Austin.

What do you think about this food prediction list? Are you buying any of these products, or is this Whole Foods being Whole Foods? Hop onto facebook.com/austin360 around noon Wednesday to watch this week’s livestream and chime in on the food news of the week.


Advice on making it through a January cooking challenge

Taking on the Whole30 or another food challenge this month? You’re definitely not alone. Millions of Americans embark on healthy eating quests during the month of January. For the past few years, I’ve tried to eat only home-cooked food for the whole month and have enjoyed the process of reconnecting with my kitchen and dinner rituals.

Epicurious is hosting the #Cook90 challenge, but I can’t even begin to think about cooking three times a day all month long, so I’m sticking with what my friend Martha Pincoffs is calling 30 at Home, a challenge to eat 30 days of home-cooked meals, even if they are at your friend’s house.

Based on our online traffic numbers, Whole30 is the most popular food challenge, but no matter which way you’re trying to eat better, I have some general suggestions for achieving your January goals:

  1. Be honest with yourself. Don’t try to take on too much all at once.
  2. Find a support system and use it. Connect with friends who are taking on a similar challenge, and plan to cook/eat together at least a few times during the month. Send texts and make calls to offer support and check in with others.
  3. Push through the first week. The first few days of any big charge are going to be tough. Find other ways to motivate yourself, such as small (nonfood) rewards.
  4. Build in a cheat day halfway through the month. Even if you don’t take advantage of it, giving yourself mental permission to take a break if you really need it will lessen the pressure you feel each day.
  5. Shop at a different grocery store or at a different time of day. Or if you really like your store/routine, add some music or a stop by the gym on the way there. The idea is to tweak your grocery shopping habits, too. Make a list so you know what you are there to buy, and don’t get distracted by the foods you might really want but that don’t fit with your intentions for the challenge. If you’re trying to avoid junk food, don’t buy junk food. Cutting down on carbs? Skip the bread aisle entirely.
  6. Go to a farmers market if you can. It’s a notoriously slow season for local farmers, but the produce, meats, dairy and other local products might inspire a meal you wouldn’t have otherwise made or create a connection with a local brand that supports this new path you’re exploring.
  7. Treat yourself to a meal kit. If you’re worried about getting bored, plan ahead and order a meal kit delivery halfway through the month to reinvigorate your brain and your routine. Every specialty diet has a meal kit now, but I’ve tried Blue Apron, Plated and Purple Carrot.
  8. Get your knives sharpened. A dull knife is way more dangerous than a sharp one. Almost all the farmers markets have a knife sharpener on site, but you can also take them to Austin’s Knife Sharpest or Knife Party Mobile Sharpening.


New supper club coming to the Plant at Kyle

Pop-up supper clubs have enjoyed more than a decade in the spotlight, thanks to the success of experiential food businesses like Outstanding in the Field and even the local restaurant Dai Due, which started as a supper club. A new traveling supper club company called Moonrise Standard started last year and will be swinging through the Austin area in a few weeks.

The first Moonrise Standard dinner was in Flagstaff, Ariz. They’ve hosted dinners in Joshua Tree and the Cuyama Valley in California, as well as a few others in Arizona, but this is their first Texas dinner. Owners Alana Tivnan and Derek Christensen plan to eventually host food-themed retreats and workshops, but in the meantime, they are gearing up for the Jan. 20 dinner at the Plant at Kyle, a Lake Flato-designed event facility that you might remember used to host those Rude Mechs Oyster Club parties.

The dinner starts at 4 p.m. and will feature seven courses and local libations from Infinite Monkey Theorem. Tickets cost $185 and are available at moonrisestandard.com. They are working with local companies and farms including Still Austin, Austin Winery, Salt & Time, Moonlight Bakery, Dos Lunas Artisan Cheese, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, Katie’s Seafood, Boggy Creek Farm, Johnson’s Backyard Garden Organic Farm, Green Gate Farms, Agua Dolce, Barton Springs Mill, Flat Track Coffee, Austin Beerworks and Confituras, and you can find the complete menu online.

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