If you’ve ever been on Instagram, you know that food can be as trendy as Kendall Jenner. One day your feed is full of latte selfies and the next day it’s all artfully staged brunch pics. What’s Instagram-worthy is always changing, so to help you keep up, here is a comprehensive list of the biggest food fads of the year, from the annoying all the way to the adored.
Pressed Juices: The WORST
Cold-pressed juices (aka regular juice… that’s pressed instead of squeezed? what?) are trendy because they come in cute bottles and taste, well, bad. If someone you know has ever participated in a juice cleanse or detox, you definitely saw several pictures of green juice on your Instagram feed. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good cleanse. But these drinks can cost you $12 a pop, and it’s not even clear that your body can absorb the nutrients from a juice that’s cold-pressed.
It seems like the value is in the name and the aesthetics rather than the content, which doesn’t make much sense. With the money you could save from drinking water (which is, like, pretty healthy) instead of cold-pressed juice, you could buy a month’s worth of real fruits and vegetables. Or better yet, a month’s worth of Chardonnay.
Kale arrived on the food scene touting miraculous health benefits, and before long it was in salads, wraps, and smoothies everywhere. Truth: kale has more protein, calcium, and fiber than regular green-leaf, tons of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and can even reduce your risk of some cancers. Myth: tossing some raw kale into your salad or smoothie will give you access to these benefits.
Your body actually has difficulty processing the nutrients in kale if it isn’t properly cooked, so paying tons of money for a raw kale salad or smoothie isn’t doing you any good. Watch your back for “superfood” scams, and maybe feast on broccoli or Brussels sprouts instead (they have the same health benefits).
Yet another “protein-packed superfood,” quinoa has made its way into over-priced salads all over the country. Yes, it is an awesome source of protein, but something tells me that this trend has more to do with the exotic name than the protein content.
Maybe quinoa, as well as acai berries, goji berries, chia seeds, etc. are trendy because they claim to come from ancient, far-away lands like Tibet or “the Amazon.” Sharing foods across cultures is a great thing, but we need to remember that food trends in America can actually hurt the far-away lands that produce them.
For instance, quinoa was a dietary staple in the Andes for centuries until we acquired a taste for it; foreign demand has raised the price of quinoa so much that the locals can’t afford it anymore… Whoa. If we don’t get educated about how our short-lived food obsessions effect the rest of the world, we’ll end up doing a lot of harm without even knowing it.
An açai bowl is just a super thick smoothie served in a bowl with hella toppings. As a concept, I get it – a big smoothie topped with granola and chia seeds definitely has enough nutritional value to constitute a full meal, so why not stick it in a bowl and treat it like the main event?
What I don’t get is the painstakingly lined-up toppings and $10 price-tag. Açai bowls are super yummy and can earn you tons of likes on Instagram, but if you don’t have the time to artfully craft one at home or the funds to buy one at a trendy cafe, a regular smoothie is just as good.
Peanut butter is a classic, but when other nut butters like almond butter and cashew butter became a trend, I don’t think anyone complained. Why should peanuts corner the nut butter market when almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts are just as deserving of breakfast love?
And let’s not forget that peanuts aren’t even nuts. If you’re allergic to legumes, are sick of peanut butter (aka legume butter… gross), or just want to try something new, look for Justin’s almond butter in the grocery store or order some online. You can even replace your favorite junk food with a healthier alternative (like Justin’s peanut butter cups). It’s worth it.
These fluffy calorie explosions were invented by Chef Dominique Ansel at his bakery in NYC and have since become “the most virally talked about dessert item in history.” People line up in front of the bakery every day in hopes of getting their hands on one of these babies before they sell out. The term “cronut” is even copyrighted. So yeah, this is a pretty serious pastry.
If you don’t live anywhere near NYC, don’t worry. If any of your friends get an original cronut, you’ll definitely see plenty of mouth-watering pictures of it on Instagram.
Sometimes called a “sushirrito,” a sushi burrito is, you guessed it, a giant sushi roll that you eat like a burrito. This trend is definitely something that only happens in America… And I’m not complaining.
Chefs and foodies on the West Coast have been cranking out East-meets-West fusion dishes for a very long time (ever heard of a California roll?) and since the results are this good, here’s hoping they never stop. If you don’t live in a major city but want to get your sushi burrito fix, you can make your own like this.
People who love sriracha, really love it. Sriracha fanatics are willing to put it in almost anything, from cocktails to ice cream. This spicy sauce is trendy, but seems to be more niche than most other trends. And what I mean by “niche” is this – not everyone is ready to put on their sriracha-print leggings (Google it) and order a sriracha margarita (…Google it) at the bar.
But for those of us who want to partake in the trend without going full-blown-fanatic, there are easier ways to enjoy sriracha: mix some into your hummus, salsa, or guacamole for a spicy kick, or mix it into some mayo for a zesty dipping sauce for your fries or onion rings.
Avocado Toast: The BEST
This simple dish was born when avocado mania met pure laziness. Avocados are awesome on sandwiches and salads, so why not cut out the middle man and put it straight onto toast? The beauty of avocado toast and its simple, healthy deliciousness led to its appearance on Instagram accounts everywhere (sorry not sorry).
But instead of remaining in the realm of food bloggers and health nuts, avocado toast also appeared on the menus of trendy cafes and five-star restaurants. It’s simple, inexpensive, nutritious, and easy to make in the dining hall. Avo toast is definitely trendy, but it’s worth the hype and hopefully here to stay.