2013 Food Trend: A Healthy State of Mind

This is what our plate food distribution should look like.
Many companies and corporations have posted their predictions for the food trends of 2013. Of course, many of these lists include goofy trends like cake-pop push-pops (which sounds fun), but the common theme among a majority of all the predicted food trend lists of 2013 is health.

Over the last several years, our nation has begun to shift into a more health-conscious society. Fast-food restaurants offer lower-sodium french fries, nutritional information for menu items, and fruits, vegetables and milk for children instead of something deep-fried.

With television shows like Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and societies like Slow Food USA, our nation has seen the efforts that organizations have made to get sustainable ingredients incorporated into our daily lives, healthier food options for children in schools and smaller portions on menus in restaurants.

In 2013, we will see chefs and restaurants offering menus filled with healthier options. But have no fear -- these menus won't be filled with bland and flavorless food. Instead, this year we should all expect more interesting twists on classics with healthier ingredients. The food on your plates may change (as well as the size), but the flavor will not disappear.

I Believe I Can Fry
Colorful vegetable noodles might start taking the place of pasta.

The National Restaurant Association released their "What's Hot 2013 Chef Survey," explaining the top trends overall and by category of food, cuisine and menus. In the top 20 trends, 14 were associated with health and nutrition, with trends ranging from the means of producing and sourcing food to the choice of healthier options like gluten-free and whole-grain on menus.

Get ready for menus to offer variations of staple dishes. Instead of regular pasta noodles, you might see vegetables like squash or wheat-free products used instead. Menus will start to feature items with bulgur and quinoa instead of the starchy white rice and pasta. This shift not only gives us choices of healthier dishes, but it caters to those who are eating a gluten-free diet.

Vegetables are also making their way into more dishes than just salads and sides. Ever heard of a cauliflower steak? Me neither, but chefs are taking vegetables and turning them into main entrées, according to predictions from Sterling-Rice Group. This does not mean everyone in America will become a vegan or a vegetarian, however. Vegetables (especially intriguing and uncommon types) will have a more prominent role on our menus.

Andrew Freeman & Co. predicts that vegetables will be incorporated into cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. Think gin flavored with kale, celery juice with gin and tonic, and beets with applejack. Who knew cocktails could be so healthy?

The NRA Chef List reveals that more meat and seafood will be locally sourced and produce will be grown locally. We want to know where our food came from, and having it come from local producers and sources means we will have less processed food on our plates and more fresh items on our menus.

Cauliflower can be grilled and served just like a steak.
Children's menus are also getting a face lift. Chefs are more concerned with the nutrition on children's menus, so instead of them being filled with heavily battered and fried chicken, fish sticks and french fries, they will have more whole-grain items, fruits and vegetables on the side, and more items baked rather than fried, according to the NRA.

Finally, say good-bye to large servings of food because plate sizes are getting smaller. It's no secret that American serving sizes are vastly larger than those in other nations around the world. Anywhere you go, you can find restaurants serving up large portions of food because, well, the plates they serve the food on are huge. But, more and more chefs are serving up food on smaller plates. With smaller plates come smaller servings of food and hopefully a reduced intake of calories.

Overall, 2013 should be filled with healthier menu options for everyone's palate -- vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free, children and the average American -- while keeping your food flavorful.

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