Top 10 Food Trends of 2013 as Chosen by Professional Chefs

CRFA 2013 Canadian Chef Survey Results

(HealthCastle.com) The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association conducted a survey of more than 350 professional chefs to find out what they think will be the hot food trends coming up this year. The great news is that the top 10 trends selected by chefs lean towards local, natural, and/or healthy eating! We're excited to see some of the topics we talk about all the time on HealthCastle – and that we're truly passionate about – making it into this top 10 list.

So, what did professional chefs rate as the top 10 food trends to watch for this year? Here's the list!

Professional Chefs' Top 10 Food Trends for 2013

1. Locally Produced Food and Locally Inspired Dishes

We love local food. After all, Vancouver is the birthplace of the 100-mile diet. Local eating is environmentally responsible, plus it's the freshest (and tastiest) food you can buy.

Farmers' markets are a great place to pick up local fruits and veggies. If you want to buy your local food in canned or frozen format, make sure you read the label closely so as not to be fooled by tricky labeling terms that imply something's local when it's not.

2. Gluten-Free and Food-Allergy-Conscious Food

Gluten-free eating is important for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, but it's also becoming popular for people who don't have a diagnosed gluten sensitivity. A gluten-free diet is not a cure-all for weight loss and health issues, but many people have embraced it as a way of eating that makes them feel better.

If you've gone gluten-free, keep an eye out for hidden sources of gluten, and be sure to eat plenty of gluten-free whole grains.

3. Sustainability

We most often talk about sustainability as it relates to seafood, because overfishing and other issues (like fish farming) have made considering the sustainability of the seafood we purchase and eat really important. But we have a whole collection of sustainable eating articles that can help you move towards a more sustainable diet.

When looking for sustainable options for other types of food, you can keep an eye out for labels of approval from organizations like the Food Alliance and Protected Harvest.

4. Farm- or Estate-Branded Ingredients

Farms and estates are building their own brands as consumers start to understand that it's important to know who's behind the food we eat. This was something people became especially concerned about during the beef recall this past fall.

We've profiled a couple of local farms, including the Farm House Natural Cheeses, as well as local farms where you can get fresh hazelnuts or u-pick produce.

5. Food Trucks/Street Food

I love food trucks because they provide an alternative to fast food when you're looking for a quick lunch. They are super-convenient, and there are even apps to help you find your favourites, or new ones close by.

If you haven't ventured into the hot food truck scene in Vancouver, why not start with the list of my top 10 picks for food trucks in Vancouver?

6. Ethnic or Street-Food-Inspired Appetizers

Ethnic food can be very nutritious and offer a variety of flavours – but I'm a little concerned about the two examples the chefs' survey mentions as exemplifying this trend: taquitos and tempura. These dishes are both deep-fried, and therefore packed with fat and calories. If you're going to eat these dishes, definitely do stick with the appetizer size.

If you want ethic flavours without all that fat, why not try some interesting salads from around the world?

7. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is indeed enjoying a surge in popularity – which means it's also seeing an increased number of imitators. Real Greek yogurt is made from nothing but milk, cream, and bacterial cultures, and it's naturally high in protein and low in fat. But some products marketed as "Greek-style yogurt" include thickeners like gelatin, pectin, or carageenan to imitate the authentic Greek texture, and may add whey protein to boost the protein content.

We've created a yogurt comparison tool that evaluates more than 85 yogurt products so you can find the best yogurt for you.

8. Simplicity/Back to Basics

I am all for keeping things simple! Why? Because simple food is usually made from a few whole ingredients. There's certainly nothing simple about many of the highly processed foods (I call them HPFs) that we've come to rely on. Well, I guess they may be simple to use, but they are not simple products – just look at the length of the ingredient lists.

If you want to simplify your cooking, try starting with the five healthiest whole foods and see what delicious meals you can create!

9. Non-wheat Noodles or Pasta

This trend, of course, goes hand-in-hand with gluten-free eating, since wheat noodles contain gluten. Asian noodles offer some great non-wheat options, including rice, buckwheat, and mung bean.

You can also find Italian-style pasta noodles made from non-wheat whole grains, including quinoa, spelt, and brown rice.

10. Ancient Grains

Ancient grains provide a great alternative to whole wheat for those who want to incorporate more whole grains into their meals.

We've been featuring ancient grains as part of our "You Can Cook" series for quite some time. (In particular, check out our tutorials on cooking amaranth, teff, and farro.)

Tell Us: So, what do you think of these top 10 trends? Do they reflect the ways you plan to eat in the next 12 months? Did the chefs miss any top trends? Let us know in the comments.

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