As the year begins to wind down, it's interesting to take a step back and note all the food trends that took social media, restaurants, and the entire world by storm.
2016, while not yet over, has been a year full of ups and downs. From crazy election campaigns, to Harambe memes and the Pokémon Go craze, it was almost impossible to go a day without something to talk about.
But this year has been notable for another reason, and that's the vast shift in what was thought to be a systematic pattern of food trends. We are slowly developing a liking to what is healthy, sustainable, and... well... real. And we are the oh-so proud catalysts of this revolution.
In the age of smartphones, it has become an inconvenience to actually leave your house or car to buy what you need. This is where services like Amazon, Uber, and food delivery comes into play. Restaurant delivery has been around for some time, but it is quickly taking over drive-thrus, sit-ins, and carry-outs as one of the most popular forms of dining. It's only a matter of time before Chipotle, Starbucks, and B-dubs are only a few taps away.
2. The "Real Food" Movement
We've seen a huge push from restaurants to prove the extent to which the food they serve is "real." And by "real," I mean organic, natural produce with the least amount of artificial preservatives.
Places like Panera Bread, Au Bon Pain, and Noodles and Company are striving to gain public favor for their prioritization of consumer health. It's a great thing we are proud to popularize in 2016 and can only imagine it becoming a more influential movement in the years to come.
What's the deal with poké? This raw fish appetizer is a Hawaiian delicacy, but it has been making waves in the hipster world for its fast, filling, and healthy characteristics. If you don't happen to live on the coast, no worries, many restaurants have incorporated this delicacy onto their menus. Just take a look at the restaurants near you, and I'm sure you won't regret it.
#SpoonTip: Not ready to go raw? Try the equally as trendy sushi burrito to prepare you for this journey.
4. Smoothie Bowls
Smoothies? Bowls? Yep. The newest addition to the millennial cookbook happens to be the smoothie bowl, which adamantly likes to differentiate itself from the average smoothie by citing its profound creaminess and temptation to pile its surface with toppings.
Try this simple smoothie bowl, and top it with ingredients like nuts, chia seeds, or honey. There's nothing wrong in giving the original smoothie a new home.
5. Turmeric Attack
What makes food like roasted chickpeas or aloo gobi so vibrant? That color, my friend, is largely owed to the addition of turmeric powder. This orange-y spice has been making headlines in the food world for its profound health benefits, exceptional flavor, and stunning color.
Better yet, there are a myriad of recipes everywhere, and you will surely find one that suits you. Make turmeric into a kitchen staple, and you'll never go back to just using plain old table salt.
6. No-Waste Restaurants
It's no doubt that food waste has become a looming concern in the world, and restaurants are finally taking an initiative to combat this wasteful habit. Introducing the concept of no-waste restaurants.
Take Justin Vrany, a restaurant owner in Chicago, who has taken part in this initiative. The restaurant runs on sustainable energy, with food coming minimally packaged from local farms. Almost everything, from food scraps to used frying oil, has another purpose.
Vraney practices the "five R's," reduce, reuse, recycle, reject, and refuse. If only every restaurant was so environmentally conscious. Props, Justin, props.
7. Cauliflower FTW
Cauliflower, particularly prevalent in carb-free and gluten-free diets, has adequately replaced grains in an unimaginable way. Now we have cauliflower rice, pizza crust, fritters, and even soup. Take your health into consideration and try an amazing spin on your favorite foods.
8. No Tipping Restaurants
Tired of tipping 15%, 20%, or even 30% on your already expensive meals? Us college kids need a break, too. The prevalence of no-tipping restaurants is on the rise.
According to CNN, 18% of restaurants have already opted for a no-tipping policy, while 29% are planning to do so in the near future. I don't know if you're about the #serverlyfe, but this whole idea looks like a win to me.
Fast food seems like a trend of the past, but spending valuable time at a sit-down restaurant isn't always probable. Hence the invention of fast-casual dining, places that offer higher quality food in a fast-paced but trendy atmosphere. Think hipster cafes or unique burger joints that are a pleasure to visit, leaving your stomach feeling full and happy.
10. Street Food/Food Trucks
Street food and food trucks have become the thing in 2016. Everything from selling Korean BBQ tacos, meatball sandwiches, or crepes the size of your face fills the street in young cities, just waiting to entice passersby with a food coma.
Many college campuses are feeding grounds for food trucks and stands galore and odds are, these little gems are crawling around your towns. Next time you're on your way to class, take a look around and have some change to splurge on the best hot dog you've ever had.
Pho, an amazing Vietnamese noodle dish, has taken center stage as one of the tastiest health foods to eat. Perfectly simmered broth, tender cuts of meat, and crispy vegetables complement rice noodles in a bowl of perfection.
This dish is great for any light meal, no matter the time of day, although it is traditionally eaten as breakfast. If ramen is the closest thing to this soup you have had, stop what you're doing and get this in your stomach. We know you'll love it, that's pho sure (pun intended).
12. La Croix
Why is water with bubbles so much more satisfying to drink than regular water? Well, La Croix is getting onto something, because we've seen a surge in this sparkling water beverage this year. It's the perfect healthy alternative to your favorite pop or soda, and without any of the caloric impact we all dread so much.
13. Fancified-Cheap Food
Luxury ramen, rolled ice cream, and filtered vodka are just a few of the ways creative individuals have figured out how to fancily revamp originally cheap and simple foods. Just take the elevated waffle and french toast crazes, or even the upscale pizzas we all love so much.
Re-creating traditionally loved classics has become a staple for the millennial generation, showing our own colors through the expression of food. If that's not cool, I don't know what is. Except, maybe a slice of prosciutto parmesan pizza, of course.
It is without a doubt that 2016 has been one of the most progressive years for the development of food trends, food culture, and limitless potential for what can come in 2017. Savor the last moments of the year, and brace yourselves for the new fads of the next year.