As you know, I’m obsessed with food; I live and breathe it – and each year a new predicted list of trends emerges and I’m not going to lie… I actually secretly love them. Now, they may not actually last and may just be a passing fad, I mean did we really see banana blossom anywhere other than the pages of food magazines in January 2020? But some do really stick, and the reason I love it is it gets people excited about new products, new cuisines and new techniques. But I do know and think they can be a little scary to some people, especially those that are new to the kitchen.
But here’s a little tip – you don’t have to suddenly change your whole food life and adopt them all, just have a little play around and see what you like. Food should be fun and exciting. If it doesn’t excite you – don’t do it.
And to help you get started, here are 10 of the predicted food trends for 2021 and what to do with them!
Spice Is the New Umami
It’s official, bland is banned; it’s all about kicking things up a notch and heating things up in and out of the kitchen. I love using spice in all of my dishes, but they can be super intimidating to people who lack the knowledge or confidence in using them properly without blowing anyone’s heads off. It can be kind of overwhelming when you start introducing yourselves to spices. But here’s how to get started. Did you know, you don’t actually need all of them in order to be a spice-pro? Instead do a little googling and look into the cuisines you love the most, be that Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Italian – and have a look at what spices they are associated with. There’s no point having Chinese 5 Spice in your kitchen when you never cook Chinese dishes. Start small and familiarise yourself with the dishes and flavours you know and love and build up from there.
Alternative Grains and Flours
As some of you know, I’ve had a little bit of a problem digesting certain grains in the past, but luckily there are so many alternatives out there and new ones are being discovered all the time – we have only really just begun to scratch the surface. Again, like with spices, it can be a little intimidating and easier to just reach for your trusted plain flour but what these different grains and flours add is so worth the experimentation. They can help change the taste, the texture and the consistency. They can add nuttiness, or sweetness. I love using Almond or Oat flour in baking, and Brown Rice, Buckwheat or Gram (Chickpea) flour in savoury dishes. Take a basic recipe you know and love and swap out the flour or grains for something new and see what changes it makes.
Breakfast is Key
I LOVE breakfast – it’s the meal of the day that’s worth jumping out of bed for and gets you excited and set up for the rest of it. And now that we have a little more time at home, it’s a lot easier to put time and effort into breakfast rather than grabbing something as you rush for the bus. Try experimenting with different cuisines and getting creative and savour the fact you can enjoy a hot breakfast for once (that didn’t come from a train station café). I love warm savoury based oats or adding exotic flavours into my waffle or pancake batters. Take this time as a way to reconnect with yourself and your loved ones as you nourish your body and mind.
Food waste is a topic that is so close to my heart and drives the way I cook, eat, shop and live. Both of my books and all of my recipes on my blog and social media are driven around trying to waste less food, as a being, as a family and as a nation. There’s not enough room in the world to explain how important it is that we all do what we can to help combat this. But here are a few little tips to get you started:
- Scale up (and freeze) or down your recipes to utilise what ingredients you have on hand – (Happy Food has a Home Alone Chapter and all my dishes are set to be easily scaled to suit you!)
- Don’t be afraid to use ingredients in other dishes and mix and match cuisines (Check out lovefoodhatewaste.com for lots of ideas)
- Utilise your leftovers – turn them into something new and exciting (Best Leftovers Ever on Netflix is a great show to pick up some skills – and laughs!)
- Share your surplus with friends, family and neighbours (or check out OLIO – a fantastic food sharing app and a way to connect with your local community)
- Sniff and Taste – use by dates aren’t an exact science. Sniff, taste and then decide. Listen to our What the Focaccia episode with Chantelle Nicholson who dives in a bit deeper on the contents of her fridge and its expiry dates!
This old-school technique is so completely underrated and underutilised. Braising brings out so much flavour to a whole heap of ingredients and dishes – and now that we are spending more time at home, we can start to expand our skills. We’ve all had our fill of Quick and Fast meals but sometimes a slow and low meal is just what our bodies need and it’s not just for meats, braising vegetables such as cabbage, fennel, onions, carrots, aubergine or peppers can add heaps of flavour to a dish. They may look a little limp and soggy, but the taste is worth it. Braise smaller veggies whole and half or quarter the larger, tougher ones. Season well, layer in a deep tray and cover with liquid (stock, wine, tomato sauce) a good glug of a quality oil and some herbs and let it bubble away for 2-4 hours.
Tea is really having a moment right now – with trendy and functional botanicals making their way into our mugs. Added and boosted benefits to help with energy, relaxation and digestive health have made their way into the market and exotic spices such as turmeric, Moringa and Goji are too. Don’t be afraid to splurge a little and think outside the tea box. Invest in a strainer and brew your own leaves, go for an oolong or pureh over your standard earl grey or pick up a crazy flavour that reminds you of your childhood favourite dishes such as Rhubarb and Custard. You can even incorporate tea into porridge, batters, cakes, cookies and even flavour veggies with it too.
Just like you need to change the oil in your car, you should be changing the oil in your kitchen too. I’ve been a huge advocate for different oils – they bring different flavours and benefits to your cooking. Coconut, Grapeseed and Olive Oil are just the beginning. Walnut, Pumpkin Seed and Sunflower Seed oils are starting to become more mainstream and can totally transform your cooking. Check the smoking and high temperature points of certain oils depending on your dish – needing to deep fry, roast or char something – opt for Avocado or Sesame Oil. Creating a dressing? Add a flavoured oil such as Walnut or Peanut or an infused oil with herbs and spices. Baking? Go for a neutral tasting oil or use the flavour such as coconut or olive oil based on the recipe.
During lockdown – pizza ovens became so popular and in-demand. I am a huge fan of my Gozney and regularly utilise its professional design for the best quality pizza you can have in the comfort of your own home. It’s a great activity to do as a family – making the dough, watching it rise and then mix and matching your toppings. Little hands love to help add grated cheese and their favourite veggies and it’s the perfect fakeaway where you know exactly what has gone into it. Not got a pizza oven – a regular oven works just as well – invest in a pizza stone or try a frying pan pizza; don’t forget about dessert – spread my home-made NutElla on and add your favourite fruits for a sweet treat perfect for any day of the week.
I love and have always loved Tarragon. I am a proper 80’s kid that loves the flavours of a good bearnaise or remoulade so I’m super excited to see this make its reappearance this year. Tarragon works so well with sweet veggies like sweet potatoes or roasted carrots. Tarragon is super aromatic and has an almost subtle liquorice-like taste that lingers on the palate and adds a whole heap of freshness to so many dishes. It’s used a lot in French cooking but is also used in Mexican and Russian dishes. Try and use fresh where possible and add into sauces, garnish dishes and add to scrambled tofu or mixed with olive oil and drizzled over roasted vegetables.
Fruit and Vegetable Skins
I don’t know why fruit and vegetable skins have such a bad rep. There is so much flavour, colour and nutrients you are losing by peeling or cutting off. I only peel if it’s absolutely necessary such as ginger, if it’s not organic – but even with these ‘leftovers’ you can create delicious products from the off-cuts. Made famous last year with the Nigella effect – banana skins shot to the top spot as Lawson uses banana peel as a substitute for aubergine and Nadiya Hussain shredded it the previous year to mimic pulled pork. With food waste at an all-time high and food costs at an equal one, try utilising every bit of your product. Try these to get you started:
- Make vegetable stock with off-cuts from prepared veggies – onion skins, tomato cores, veggie tops and celery leaves – simmer in water with some herbs and peppercorns for around 30minutes – strain and freeze in ice-cubes to add flavour to any dish.
- Bake fruit and vegetable peelings into crispy crisped snacks. Make sure to scrub your produce clean before prepping so that you can utilise the peelings. Drizzle with a little oil and some salt or chilli flakes for parsnip, potato or carrot and sugar and cinnamon for apple and pears.
- Keep all the leaves from vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli and herb stalks and roots. Roast them up and scatter over salads or soups for extra crunch and texture.
- Add to oils and vinegars to flavour and infuse.
- Save pulp from dishes and juice making to pop into cakes, bakes and more. Freeze and keep adding till you have enough to utilise. There are some great recipes out there – just search juice pulp on Google or Pinterest and see how you can save all that leftover goodness.
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