Belfast Telegraph

Move over chia ... pea milk and jackfruit are the new superfoods for 2018

We couldn't get enough of coconut oil or smashed avocado in 2017 - so what tasty trends will step up to the plate this year? Chrissie Russell talks to top foodies to find out what we'll be eating in the months ahead

For fashionable foodies, 2017 was the year of coconut oil, smashed avocado and chia seeds - but what will the on-trend kitchen whizzes be eating this year? From veggie teas to meaty fruits, there's a shopping basket full of new flavours to try out. We spoke to some of Ireland's leading foodies to find out the trendy tastes that will be tickling our tastebuds in 2018.

The new coconut flour: Teff flour

One nut ruled in 2017, particularly in baking, where the mighty coconut replaced both fat and flour. But healthy-eating Instagram sensation Dr Hazel Wallace reckons there's a new food hero in town. "Teff flour is made from a small, gluten-free grain (about the size of a poppy seed) that's native to Ethiopia," explains Dr Wallace - aka The Food Medic. "It offers a nutty flavour to baked foods and in terms of nutrition, it's high in protein, calcium, iron, B vitamins and fibre."

The new quinoa: amaranth

Our taste for ancient grains looks set to continue, with Amaranth stealing the throne from quinoa. "I'm slightly obsessed with amaranth these days and I love that it is so readily available in all supermarkets," reveals Aileen Cox Blundell, healthy family food blogger and author of the Baby Led Feeding cookbook. "Like quinoa, the little amaranth seeds are filled with nutritious goodness and are a brilliant source of vitamins and minerals as well as being an excellent source of protein."

The new matcha latte: Mushroom Tea

Veggie-loving foodies like Dave and Steve Flynn, who wrote The World of the Happy Pear, are all convinced that the health benefits of mushroom teas may well be winning over matcha fans in 2018. "We've been trying out lots of mushroom teas, including Reishi, Chaga, Lion's Mane and Cordyceps," reveals Steve. "These can be really beneficial for immunity and energy, for example Cordyceps can help with energy levels and Lion's Mane helps to support memory and concentration."

The new turmeric: Asafoetida

Encouraged by our flair for travel and street food, flavour-filled food packed with spice will continue to be a trend in 2018. But after turmeric and sumac ruling 2017, what new world flavours are set to titillate tastebuds this year? Food consultant Ali Dunworth reckons the pungent Indian spice, asafoetida, could be set to see a rise in popularity because, similar to turmeric, it comes with a range of health and wellness benefits. "It imparts a savoury taste to food like you'd usually get from onions or garlic," she says. "That's why I think it might be about to have its moment as it's meant to be really great for anyone following a low FODMAP diet or with IBS, as you can leave out the onions. It's also said to have many health benefits including anti-aging properties and is also credited with increasing metabolism."

The new sweet potato: Hokkaido pumpkin

Ubiquitous in everything from soups and stews to muffins and mousses - can any veg steal the sweet-po's crown for most versatile veg in 2018? "Hokkaido pumpkin gets our vote," reveals restauranteur Rachel Firth. "Apart from having the most wonderful vivid orange colour - and being conveniently shaped so that you can actually carry it home - it has a fantastic, deep earthy flavour, roasts beautifully, loves spice and makes one hell of a soup."

The new spiralising: Fermenting

According to a leading trends forecast report, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha and yogurt are set to be the leading food preparation trend of the new year. Hailed for their probiotic powers, health-savvy consumers will be rushing to devour their gut healing properties. "Fermented foods, with their digestive and immune super-powers, are definitely growing in popularity," predicts the Happy Pear's Dave Flynn. "I hope to see more focus on fermented foods and drinks like kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi", agrees Rosanna Davison, author of vegan cookbook, Eat Yourself Beautiful. "I predict that many more of us will be fermenting at home for the numerous health benefits that they bring."

The new superberry: tart cherries

We've had blueberries, goji berries, now get ready for tart cherries. Known to help with post-exercise muscle soreness and reduce inflammation, they're packed with anthocyanins to battle free radicals and repair cell damage. "Dried sour cherries are just fab and add a great zing to savoury dishes," says Rachel Firth.

The new smashed avocado on toast: Eggs and Greens

With 'root to table' a key trend for 2018, we're going to be more focused on locally sourced, ultra-fresh brunch options. "You'll see more of 'eggs and greens' in places around town where seasonal greens like kale or chard are used instead of imported avocado," predicts Ali Dunworth. Aileen Cox Blundell reckons we'll be doing the same with our own home shopping. "Save your money and forget the expensive 'superfoods' in 2018," she urges. "Vegetables and fruit are where the real goodness lies."

The new chia seeds: hemp seeds

Had people even heard of these little black gems back in the waning hours of 2016? Yet as 2017 wore on, the world and its wife were popping the protein-packed seeds into their overnight oats and using them to add crunch to salads. But what will be replacing chia in our seed affections in 2018? "Hopefully, hemp seeds", says Dr Hazel Wallace, author of The Food Medic: Recipes and Fitness for a Healthier, Happier You. "Hemp seed is an awesome source of plant protein, containing all-essential amino acids and essential fatty acids - omega 3 and omega 6. You can buy it ground as a powder or as a seed which can be added to smoothies, porridge or salads. It does have quite a strong earthy taste, but a teaspoon of cocoa masks the flavour."

The new milk: Pea milk

Trend forecasters are all in agreement that the quest for plant-based dairy alternatives will be huge in 2018. But with coconuts, almonds and soya milks already in circulation - what's left to milk? Barley, hemp, flax and pea milk are all set to be major contenders. "I believe pea milk might start to make an appearance," agrees food creative Ali Dunworth. "Made from yellow and green peas, it is high in protein and fibre and low in fat." It also has around half the sugar content of cow's milk as well as some 50% more calcium and higher vitamin D and iron.

The new fat: ghee

A recent study of the trending pins on Pinterest revealed that foodies online are proclaiming ghee the new oil in town. The Indian clarified butter ticks all the on-trend boxes in being paleo - friendly, lactose free and an Ayurvedic favourite for moisture-rich skin. "It's rich in short-chain and medium chain fatty acids and there's evidence that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are more easily digested," adds Ali Dunworth.

The new agave: Stevia and erythritol-based sweeteners

In the search for a new, healthier sugar we've already seen a rise in popularity in maple syrup and agave. Health and wellness blogger Rosanna Davison reckons 2018 will bring more growth in the natural sweeteners market. "Stevia and erythritol-based sweeteners can be used in the same way as regular sugar for baking and adding to hot drinks and cereals, yet many are calorie-free, safe and don't affect blood sugar levels," she reveals.

The new pulled pork: Jackfruit

With the demand for plant-based meals on the rise, jackfruit is predicted to be the perfect centrepiece to meat-free eating. Raw, the South American fruit tastes sweet and juicy, but cooked, it takes on a meatier, savoury profile. "It makes a fantastic faux pulled pork," reveals Ali Dunworth. "The fruit itself is huge - anything from 5kg to 50kg in size - so you won't find it very often, but it's easy to get hold of tinned in Asian shops, just look for 'young green jackfruit'. It's really easy to prep and impart flavour to." It's also packed with protein, calcium, potassium and iron.

The new overnight oats for breakfast: savoury oats

"Don't dismiss oats out of hand just yet," says Rachel Firth. "Savoury oats seem to be having a moment in the States right now and we may well see that trend crossing the ocean. Instead of confining your oat toppings to berries, honey and the like, try with a poached egg or mushrooms."

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