Archive for Trends

TRENDS: Fall Beverages

Are you anticipating a special beverage with the change of season…say, a certain latte?

The Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL, to fans) has arrived at coffee shops, engendering peals of delight among a gaggle of young ladies in our neighborhood.

But how do adults feel about fall beverages?

Seasonal coffees are the most anticipated beverage for them, too, according to a KRC Pulse Poll.

The results—in the photo—are from a nationwide survey conducted online by KRC Research in August 2015, among 507 American adults ages 18 and older.

Our vote: fall’s seasonal beers!



What’s your preference? Image courtesy KRC Research.




TRENDS: Breakfast For Dinner

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This idea, from Krusteaz, adds peanut butter
and jelly for a riff on the PB&J sandwich.
Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Krusteaz.


Can it be true that 9 out of 10 Americans enjoy Breakfast Night?

After a long day of tasting foods for THE NIBBLE, we often welcome a simple dinner of cereal, eggs or French toast. But we are not alone; we’re part of the 90 percent!

Krusteaz, maker of premium pancake, waffle and other baking mixes, has just released the results of its annual breakfast survey, a national poll conducted by an independent research firm*. Breakfast for Dinner continues to be a popular trend in the U.S.

  • More than half of the survey participants enjoy Breakfast Night dinners once a month or more, with nearly 25% eating Breakfast For Dinner once a week.
  • Those with children at home are somewhat more likely to eat breakfast for dinner (94% vs. 88% without kids in the house). For 30% of families, Breakfast Night is a weekly affair that’s either “very enjoyable” or their “absolute favorite.”
    In a shift from 2014, more kids are helping out in the kitchen. Thirty-nine percent of responders said that Breakfast Night preparation is a “joint effort,” compared to just 17% of last year’s survey participants.

    What makes Breakfast Night so popular?

  • Thirty-eight percent of survey participants noted that having all the ingredients on hand is the main appeal.
  • Thirty-five percent cite the “love” of breakfast food (the comfort food factor?).
  • Thirty-one percent like that it is easier and faster than preparing a traditional dinner.
    Families with children at home are more likely to use Breakfast Night as family night, when Dad’s in charge, and for celebratory occasions such as birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

    Krusteaz has selected Wednesday dinner to be Breakfast Night. Need recipes? Head to

    *The Breakfast for Dinner survey was conducted by ORC International on behalf of Krusteaz. Findings are based on an online survey of 2,033 U.S. adults ages 18 and older in August 2015.

    The history of meal times could fill a large book. The number of meals consumed per day differs greatly from culture to culture, by era and by socioeconomic status.

    In Europe alone, the name of the meal and time of day vary widely. Depending on the era, dinner could be in the morning or late afternoon. In the millennia before electricity, people lived differently than we do, typically retiring at nightfall. In the winter, that meant the last meal of the day was what we might call a late lunch.

    Thanks to for most of this information:

  • In ancient Greece meal times were variable, but a midday meal was usually called ariston lunch… and an evening meal deipnon, dinner. The latter was typically the biggest meal of the day, and for some of the poor, the only meal.
  • In medieval times, the very poor ate when they could (as was true since the beginning of mankind), but the slightly better-off peasants ate three times a day: breakfast at a very early hour, dinner at about 9 a.m. and supper before it got dark, which could be as early as 3 p.m. in the winter.

  • In Christian countries, the times and number of meals were originally derived from the hours of devotions of the Church. Monks ate their main meal after the celebration of nones, which was nine hours after daybreak—some time between midday and 3 p.m. The evening meal was after vespers, around sunset. For lay people, to break one’s fast after devotions was the general procedure.
  • Through the Renaissance, the larger meal was the prandium, or dinner, at ten or eleven in the morning. Supper, coena in Latin, was served around six in the evening. Most authors agreed that two meals a day were sufficient, although the English vehemently defended their custom of taking breakfast.
  • Breakfast was not a popular meal elsewhere. Writings suggest that it was only eaten by children and laborers. But by the 15th century it was commonly consumed by everyone. However, a 1478 household ordinance of Edward IV specified that only residents down to the rank of squires should be given breakfast, except by special order (sounds like budgeting).
  • At some point, there were four meals a day: breakfast, dinner, nuntions or nuncheons (eaten by workmen around noon) and late supper.
  • With the advent of oil lamps, the evening meal was served later in the day. In southern Europe, where the evening meal was the largest of the day, breakfast did not become important—merely coffee and perhaps a piece of bread or a pastry.

    English Breakfast

    This is just part of an English breakfast,
    which can also include porridge, fruit,
    baked beans and other favorites. The practice of eating a large breakfast emerged in the 19th century. Photo © Indigolotos | 123rf.

  • In England and northern Europe, by the 18th century breakfast was the norm, eaten around 9 or 10 a.m. In the 19th century breakfast emerged as a full and sumptuous meal with bacon, eggs and even steaks for those who could afford them. Afternoon tea, as a snack between lunch and dinner, was created in 1840 by Anna, Seventh Duchess of Bedford (here’s the history of afternoon tea).
  • Thus, the three-meals-a-day practice is a relatively recent phenomenon—and of course only relates to those who could afford three meals a day.


    NEWS: Italian Food Remains #1 With Americans

    Nation’s Restaurant News (NRA) reports something that may not even be news: Italian food remains America’s favorite “ethnic” restaurant cuisine. No other cuisine comes close, although Mexican and Chinese round out the “big three.”

    Sixty-one percent of the 1,000 people surveyed said they eat Italian food at restaurants at least once a month. By comparison, Mexican cuisine was eaten at least once a month by 50%, and Chinese cuisine by 36%.

    We couldn’t find an official survey of the most popular Italian dishes, but one informal survey we found nominated the following as the Top 10 favorite Italian restaurant entrées in the U.S. (excluding pizza, the majority of which is consumed at pizzerias* rather than conventional Italian restaurants):

    1. Chicken Parmigiana
    2. Fettuccine Alfredo
    3. Lasagna
    4. Linguine With Clam Sauce
    5. Veal Marsala
    6. Chicken Saltimbocca
    7. Pasta Primavera
    8. Shrimp Fra Diavolo
    9. Penne Alla Vodka
    10. Spaghetti Marinara (with tomato sauce)


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/chicken parmsesan cookingclassy 230

    Chicken Parmesan, the American spelling
    of Parmigiano. Here’s the recipe. Photo

    Our own Top 10 list would be different, but we wouldn’t turn any of these down! And we’d add our own Top 10 Italian Desserts list: cannoli, panna cotta, zabaglione, tiramisu, berries with mascarpone, riccota cheesecake, biscotti, gelato/semifreddo/spumoni/tortoni, sorbetto/granita and bomboloni.

    The NRA defines “ethnic” cuisine broadly as any cuisine originating in a different country or within a specific region of the United States. We prefer the term “international cuisine” (it’s hard to think of French and Italian food as “ethnic”), but that doesn’t always work. American cuisnes—think Cajun and Creole—are ethnic but not international, as are California, Hawaiian, New England, Southern and Southwestern cuisines, among others.

    Choose the term you like better and read the full article at

    *Pizzerias serve other more casual fare as well, including calzones, stromboli and submarine sandwiches.



    TRENDS: Current Favorites & Next Wave Foods

    Will kimchi, Korean hot pickled vegetables,
    be replaced by Mexican hot pickled
    vegetables as a topping for burgers,
    sandwiches, eggs and other fusion dishes?
    Photo courtesy


    What’s next after the current food trends?

    Parade magazine took a look at What America Eats with predictions from Mimi Sheraton, author of 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover’s Life List.

    She takes a peek at what’s coming next. Here are current trends and what Mimi thinks will follow.

    1. HOT SAUCE

    Now: Sriracha, the fiery Thai chile sauce.

    Next: Piri-piri, the fiery African chile sauce. A Peruvian version is spelled peri-peri.


    Now: Hummus, now ubiquitous in an every-expanding number of flavors, including fusion flavors like chipotle, jalapeño and wasabi.

    Next: Khachapuri, a Georgian* comfort food of cheese-filled bread. Leavened bread is filled with cheese, eggs and other ingredients. According to Wikipedia, in a 2009 survey, 88% of Georgians preferred khachapuri to pizza.


    Now: Kimchi, Korea’s spicy-hot fermented vegetables, enjoyed as a condiment.

    Next: Mexican hot pickled vegetables, a take on Italian giardiniera that combines garden vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, celery, onions) with jalapeños, garlic, oregano and cider vinegar. A condiment with tacos, it has been ported to American burgers and sandwiches.



    Now: Thick, creamy, tangy Greek-style yogurt, a category so hot, there’s no more room in the grocer’s dairy case.

    Next: Labneh, a thick, creamy, tangy fresh cheese, often called “yogurt cheese” in the U.S., that’s a mainstay for breakfast and snacking in the Middle East.


    Now: African ginger beer, which is even spicier than Caribbean ginger beer. If you’d like a much more intense ginger ale experience, pick some up.

    Next: Matcha, the mellow, powdered green tea that’s drunk hot in Japan (it’s part of cha no yu, the Japanese tea ceremony), but available hot, cold, sparking, in green tea lattes and more in the U.S.
    It’s up to you: Keep eating what’s hot today, or get ahead of the trend!



    Labneh looks like tangy Greek yogurt and tastes like it, but it’s a spreadable cheese. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | New York.

    *From Georgia, the country that lies between Russia and Turkey.



    TRENDS: Restaurant Produce

    Many of us who love to cook get ideas from creative restaurant chefs. It’s their job to present new and different preparations to tempt customers.

    It could be as simple as produce (NB the onslaught of kale, first in restaurants, then in our homes). What’s next?

    Nation’s Restaurant News polled nearly 1,300 chefs in its annual What’s Hot survey. The chefs pointed to produce that distinguishes them from their competitors and gives them cred for sourcing specialty items. Here are what they see as the top produce trends for 2015.


    Consumers like to see locally grown produce on the menu. It shows support for the community, an appreciation for seasonality and reduction of carbon miles, the extra fuel required to the transport food from farther distances. It is the top trend noted by the chefs in the survey.


    Easy for home cooks: Try chervil instead of parsley. Photo courtesy


    Americans have growing awareness of the desirability of organic produce—fruits and vegetables raised without artificial pesticides or fertilizers. “Organic” on a menu is well received (even when consumers don’t buy organic produce for their own kitchens); and all-organic chains such as Sweetgreen are finding success.


    It’s time to think beyond parsley. Chefs with classical French training are turning to chervil as a garnish, Mexican restaurants are wrapping more foods in hoja santa and Japanese chefs are using kinome, leaves of the sansho/Szechuan pepper plant.


    Heirloom apples, grown from seeds that are passed down from generation to generation, are making a comeback. Heirloom foods fell out of favor because they are more difficult to grow, more expensive and/or other reasons that made farmers turn to other varieties—even if those varieties are less flavorful. You can look for heirloom varieties in your local farmers market. Ask the farmer to point them out.


    Chefs have a growing interest in fruit that’s a little out of the ordinary. It could be açaí and goji berries added to fruit beverages and fruit salads, or desserts made with Asian pear or dragon fruit.

    What’s your favorite fruit or veggie trend?



    TRENDS: Restaurant Focus For 2015


    No more waste: In restaurant kitchens, everything can have a second life. Citrus peel
    is turned into marmalade. Photo courtesy Lola Loves Green.


    What are the top culinary concerns for restaurateurs this year?

    According to a survey by Nation’s Restaurant News, the top five focus on gluten-free and sustainability.


    Safeguarding natural resources is a growing concern across the globe, and the number one culinary issue cited in a survey of American chefs. It’s not just with fine dining: Fast casual concepts like Chipotle Mexican Grill and Sweetgreen have been on the bandwagon since their inception. Chipotle recently stopped serving pork when it couldn’t find enough sustainable meat!


    “Clean” labels and minimally processed food appeal to more and more customers. Chefs polled by the National Restaurant Association named natural ingredients and minimally processed food as a major theme. Last year, fast food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s took the concept mainstream, adding an all-natural burger to the menu. Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts have responded to consumer complaints by doing away with additives.

    Locally sourced and house-grown food are becoming more and more important to customers. “Hyperlocal” fruits, vegetables and herbs are grown in restaurant gardens. Some restaurants have beehives as well. We’ve even seen chickens strutting around rooftops (fresh eggs!).


    Food costs are rising and consumers are growing more concerned about how what they eat affects the planet. Both have become major concerns among the dining public.

    Chefs are practicing more “root-to-stem” cooking, the logical next step to “nose-to-tail” cooking, in which restaurants utilize the entire animal (or vegetable). It’s an effective way to avoid waste and manage costs.

    Chefs have long used bits and scraps—in soups, chicken salad and so forth. But now, they’re making marmalade from citrus skins and bitters from plum and peach pits. This parallels the new law in Seattle, which as of January 1st ordered no more food waste in the garbage. Instead, residents are expected to recycle and compost.


    Fewer than 7% of Americans are sensitive to gluten; about 1% of people worldwide suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which gluten consumption can cause life-threatening intestinal damage.

    Yet, 63% of Americans surveyed by Consumer Reports said they believed following a gluten-free diet would improve their physical or mental health*. About a third of those said they buy gluten-free products or try to avoid gluten.

    Gluten-free cuisine was the culinary theme chefs pointed to fifth most often in the NRA survey. Restaurants are responding with a growing array of gluten-free options, including gluten-free burger buns.

    *Note that no scientific studies to date confirm or deny a positive impact of gluten-free diets among condition-free consumers.



    TRENDS: What’s Hot in 2015


    Bánh-mi, a Vietnamese submarine sandwich
    on a baguette. Photo courtesy The Great
    Pepper Cookbook
    by Melissa’s Produce.


    Nation’s Restaurant News, the major trade paper and website for those in the restaurant industry, reports that Americans are becoming more interested in trying new ethnic foods—especially (but not surprisingly) in restaurants.

    What “ethnic” means varies from person to person. The NRA commented that the three most popular ethnic cuisines in the U.S.—Mexican, Italian and Chinese—have become so mainstream that they hardly count as “ethnic” these days.

    Based on a survey of nearly 1,300 chefs, the NRA pinpointed five ethnic flavors and cuisines that it expects to see this year.

    If you live in a major city like Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco (among others), you probably don’t have to go too far to try these. But if you haven’t had them, plan an “eating safari” for your next big city visit.

    Here’s the full article by Bret Thorn.



    Southeast Asian cuisine was the fifth most frequently cited ethnic trend by chefs. While a full Vietnamese menu is a delightful alternative to Chinese cuisine, the trendiest item these days is the Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich.

    Bánh mì is a Vietnamese version of a submarine sandwich made on a Vietnamese-style baguette (made with both wheat and rice flour). It can be vegetarian—pickled carrots, daikon and onions, for example—or include tofu or meat. Here’s a recipe.


    Peruvian food was the ethnic cuisine chefs pointed to fourth most frequently. Chefs at independent restaurants frequently offer ceviche, a raw seafood dish cured in a marinade, as an appetizer. Here’s a template to make your own custom recipe at home.



    As restaurant customers become increasingly interested in learning about their food, calling something simply “Italian” or “Mexican” is not enough. Pinpointing exactly where in a foreign country a specific dish was created can add to its appeal. The chefs surveyed pointed to regional ethnic cuisine as the third most frequently cited ethnic trend.

    Consider Hunam or Szechuan Chinese cuisine versus Cantonese; Venetian and Sicilian versus Tuscan Italian. Every country is divided into regions, each with its own delicious cuisine.

    “Authentic” is a term that can mean as many things as “ethnic. The chefs surveyed pointed to the terms used together as the second most frequently cited ethnic trend. Unvarnished, unchanged dishes from foreign lands bring the true experience to the diner. Foodies don’t want their food dumbed down for “American palates.”



    A trio of different ceviche recipes. Photo courtesy Raymi | NYC.

    The number one trend has to do with the delight so many people take in mashups from different cultures. Recent hits include the cronut, the cheeseburger burrito and the ramen burger; although the concept applies to fine cuisine as well.



    PRODUCT: Cake In A Jar

    Way back in 2009, we discovered the excellent cake in a jar from Yummy Cupcakes in Los Angeles. It became a Top Pick Of The Week, and one of those products that, years later, we still pine for, remembering every spoonful.

    The trend was slow in starting. After five years, in the past week we’ve received notice of two more cake in a jar products.


    The Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman, has a custom bakery in Baltimore, a line of cake mixes and cake decorating accoutrements sold nationwide, and most recently, a bakery café, Duff’s Cakemix, also in L.A., which includes a studio where Duff wannabes can decorate their own cakes.

    The bakery offers an array of freshly baked sweets, including Dinkies (Duff’s version of Twinkies) and Cake in a Jar.

    The latter presents an opportunity to send a special occasion “slice” of cake in a Mason jar, which keeps it moist and fresh for five days (not that there will be any left by then).

    So gift challenges are solved: You can send cake in a jar as a birthday gift, or to celebrate any occasion. There’s currently a seasonal red, white and blue Star Spangled Cake In A Jar.



    Confetti Cake is sweet and celebratory. Photo courtesy Duff’s Cakemix.

    You can buy them in two, four or six units, and in two sizes: 8 ounces ($14 for two jars) or 16 ounces ($20 for two jars). The eight-ounce size is more than enough, but the larger size will keep for five days and affords the opportunity for continuous celebration.

    Flavors include Chocolate With Chocolate Buttercream and Chocolate Chips, Confetti With Vanilla Buttercream, Marble With Chocolate And Vanilla Buttercream and Vanilla With Vanilla Buttercream.

    We received a sample of the Confetti With Vanilla Buttercream. The confetti says “celebrate”; the recipe was a bit on the sweet side for us, but should be just the thing most American palates are looking for.

    Order them online at



    Skip the wedding cake; almost everyone will
    prefer cake in a jar. Photo courtesy Chicago-



    We then received news that one of our favorite artisan bakers, Cake Chicago, is selling cake in a jar.

    Cake Chicago began life as a wedding cake specialist, subsequently branching out into daily treats like cookies, bars and chocolate truffles.

    So it’s no surprise that their cake in a jar achieves a higher standard. Just look at the elegant layers in the jar, perfectly fitted.

    We’d give these as wedding favors and serve a dessert that most guests will prefer to wedding cake. As you can see in the photos, the perfectly-fitted layers and make an excellent presentation.

    Like Duff’s, the jars can be wrapped in grosgrain ribbon, and tags can be added for quantity orders.

    Flavors include:

  • White buttermilk cake with raspberry conserve and Italian meringue buttercream
  • Chocolate fudge cake with salted caramel filing
  • Carrot cake with cream cheese filling
  • Banana cake with fudge filling
    The price is the same as Duff’s: $7.00, with a two jar minimum (8 ounce size only). Order online at

    And if anyone out there wants to send us a gift: More cake in a jar, please! It’s a happy way to enjoy a nice piece of cake.



    TRENDS: How America Likes To Grill


    Tip: Skewer kabobs with sprigs of rosemary
    for instead of conventional skewers. Photo
    courtesy Sur La Table.


    To capture consumer trends around grilling and barbecuing, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) conducts the biannual HPBA Barbecue Lifestyle, Usage & Attitude Study. Here are highlights from the 2014 State of the Barbecue Industry Report, which are based on data gathered in August 2013.

    Reigniting the Spark: Outdoor Cooking Still Hot

  • Eighty percent of households own an outdoor barbecue, grill or smoker.
  • Nearly all (97%) of grill owners used their grill in the past year.
  • The majority of grill owners (60%) use their grills year-round.
  • Sixty-one percent of households own a grill own a gas grill, followed by charcoal (41%) and electric (10%).
  • Nearly half (45%) of grill purchasers bought a replacement grill last year, with 29% buying an additional grill.
    Grill Usage: Consumers Loves to Grill Year-Round

  • The major summer holidays top the list of the most popular grilling days: the Fourth of July (68%), Memorial Day (52%) and Labor Day (51%).
  • Winter holidays saw an increase in grilling over 2011: Super Bowl Sunday (31%), Easter (18%), Thanksgiving (15%) and New Year’s Eve/Day (15%). Grilling Thanksgiving meals outdoors is increasingly popular.
  • Nearly half (49%) of grill owners see their outdoor grilling area as a functional cooking area of their home; more than a quarter (30%) see it as entertainment area and 21% see it as a place to rest and relax.
  • Thirty-seven percent of consumers have a large, moveable grill system on a modest patio/deck, with some outdoor furniture and an informal place to eat.
  • Consumers say an easy ignition system (49%) and large grilling surface (39%) are the most important features of a gas grill, followed by ease of cleaning (35%), quality of construction (32%) and ability to heat up quickly (29%).

  • Owners of gas (42%) and charcoal (34%) grills view the color of the grill as a major purchasing factor, a 38% increase from 2011.
  • When entertaining using a barbecue grill, gas grill owners use their grill an average of 12 times a year, electric grill owners 12 times a year and charcoal grill owners 11 times a year.
    Tasty Trends: It’s All About the Meat

  • Meats, including hot dogs (72%), steak (71%), burgers (69%), and chicken parts (64%), top the list of the most popular foods prepared using a grill.
  • Grill owners believe that food cooked on their grills rather than their ovens is more healthful (38%), while 57% believe it is just as healthful.
  • Nearly three out of four consumers (74%) who cook on a gas grill normally use barbecue sauce for basting during cooking.
  • Dry meat rubs remain popular among consumers, with 33% using them more often than not.


    Treat yourself to extra-long tongs. These are from Sur La Table.


    Household Roles: Male or Female, Everybody Grills

  • The male head most often makes the decision to cook (62%), lights the grill (73%) and does the cooking (68%).
  • Whether male or female, nearly 78% of consumers cooking on the grill consider themselves to be “extremely proficient” or “proficient in most situations.”
  • Across the board, males are most likely to make the decision to purchase a grill (66%).


    TRENDS: Chicken Up, Seafood, Pork & Beef Down


    Chart courtesy The Wall Street Journal.


    While Americans are aware of the need to improve their diets, there’s been a decline in consumption of one of the healthiest food choices: fish.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2012, the last year for which figures are available, the average U.S. consumer ate:

  • 82 pounds of chicken
  • 57 pounds of beef
  • 46 pounds of pork
  • 14.4 pounds of seafood, down from 15 pounds in 2011 and a record high of 16.6 pounds consumed in 2004 (by comparison, the average Japanese consumer eats 120 pounds a year, while Spaniards consume 96 pounds)
    As you can see from the chart, chicken—affordable and versatile—is the big winner in growth, and the higher-calorie, higher cholesterol beef and pork have experienced some decline. But while the overall category experienced positive gains, the decline in per capita consumption is down.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s a combination of higher prices (quality fresh fish is $15 or more a pound while fresh whole chicken is 10% of that) and consumer hesitance, because they don’t know how to cook fish properly (and at those prices, who wants overcooked fish?).

    Is help on the horizon? Maybe not: The seafood industry is much more fragmented than the beef and pork industries, which organized major marketing campaigns to promote their products.

    Here’s a tip: Although it’s a treat, you don’t need to pay top dollar for fresh fish. Look for values in frozen fish and stock up. Defrost it slowly in the fridge.

    After all, if you order fish at restaurant chains, it’s likely frozen—and few people know the difference.



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