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Top Food Trends of 2018

Find out what everyone will be eating (and tweeting about) in 2018. From the latest kitchen appliances to fancy flavors and responsible eating, we cover everything that's new in food.

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Photo: Taste of Home

If 2017 was the year of unicorn everything, then 2018 might be the year of Instant Pot meals. America just can’t get enough of this new (and less scary) version of Grandma’s pressure cooker. What else is back or brand-new to the foodie scene? Find out about fusion tacos, air fryers and other must-try trends.

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Selection of essential oils, with herbs and flowers in the backgroundPhoto: Shutterstock/Madeleine Steinbach

Floral Flavors

Look for foods and beverages infused with floral flavors. Hibiscus frozen pops, elderflower mineral water, lavender granola and rose lemonade are all available at Whole Foods. Lavender can be included in baked goods such as cakes and cookies. Experiment with florals mixed into cocktails for color and fresh botanical flavor. Don’t forget edible flowers for a beautiful presentation.

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Slow cooker and instant pot on a counter top togetherPhoto: Taste of Home

Instant Pot

Google “Instant Pot” and you get millions of hits. That’s because pressure cooking saves time dramatically. You can make pinto beans in less than 30 minutes, an entire roast takes an hour, and a whole chicken is done in a fraction of the time it would take in the oven. Plus, the one-pot approach makes cleanup a breeze. Need more reasons to jump on the bandwagon?

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glasses of milk subsitute; kitchen enviro; with cartonsPhoto: Taste of Home

Dairy-Free

Long gone are the days of stringy dairy-free cheese and flavorless sour cream. Daiya and other brands offer high-quality dairy-free foods, including shredded cheese, frozen cheesecakes and so much more. Daiya’s products not only are dairy-free, but they also skip soy, nuts, gluten and eggs. Get started with these delicious dairy-free recipes.

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A healthy mix of nuts and dried cranberries.Photo: Shutterstock / Sean Pavone

Healthy Snacks

We all know that snacking is an American pastime, so healthier choices are a must. Look for crunchy chips made from kale, beets or lentils. Popped sorghum is a unique, nutritious option. Sweet or savory coconut chips and cocoa-dusted roasted almonds provide healthier options compared to old-school potato chips and pretzels.

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Close up of various colorful raw vegetablesPhoto: Shutterstock/Ana Blazic Pavlovic

Vegetables in Place of Carbs

Lots of people follow a low-carb diet, so you’ll see more dishes that use veggies—like zucchini noodles, broccoli pizza crusts and cauliflower “rice”—in place of traditionally high-carb foods. These swaps aren’t just lower in carbohydrates, they’re also lower in calories, higher in fiber and packed with nutrients. Here’s how to make zucchini noodles, even if you don’t own a spiralizer.

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Photo: Taste of Home

Twisted Tacos

This year, taco Tuesday recipes will be more interesting. Look for unique fillings such as jackfruit, pulses, roasted cauliflower or poke tuna. Shells get a reduced-carb makeover with variations like seaweed or shaved jicama to replace corn or flour tortillas. Tacos will go beyond their Latin roots in 2018 and incorporate other ethnic flavors and ingredients.

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air fryerPhoto: Shutterstock/ROLAND ANCLA LEGASPI

Air Fryer

If you could have French fries that are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and significantly lower in fat and calories, you’d be in heaven, right? The air fryer has answered your prayer. It combines a grill with circulating hot air to make food crispy without deep-frying. Use it for breaded chicken, popcorn shrimp, roasted nuts and more.

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Various pulses - chickpea, lentil and beansPhoto: Shutterstock/Magdalena Kucova

Pulses

Lentils, chickpeas, white beans, pinto beans and split peas are all part of the pulse family. They’re high in fiber, low in fat and loaded with nutrients, so there are a lot of reasons that we should be cooking with pulses. All kinds of recipe substitutions are possible: Swap half the taco meat with lentils, replace some oil in baked cookies with pureed red lentils, or layer white beans into lasagna.

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Homemade Organic Vegetarian Mushroom Burger with tomato and guacamolePhoto: Shutterstock/Brent Hofacker

Veggie Entrees

Plant-based diets for better health and sustainability continue to dominate eating trends. Along these lines, look for veggies featured as entrees on restaurant menus. Jackfruit “pulled pork” tacos, Buffalo “chicken” cauliflower and mushroom burgers are a few examples.

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Japanese green tea matcha in a wooden bowlPhoto: Shutterstock/Tatyana Berkovich

Matcha

Found in foods ranging from lattes to ice cream, matcha seems to be everywhere these days. What is it? Basically, it’s a powder made from green tea. High in caffeine and antioxidants, and rich in flavor, matcha has endless possibilities in cooking. We bet you can’t stop at just one of these Pistachio Coconut Chews.

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Organic leftovers, waste from vegetable ready for recycling and to composPhoto: Shutterstock/KaliAntye

Root to Stem

Restaurants and home cooks are looking for new ways to reduce food waste and to use foods from root to top. Shred broccoli stems to use in salads, add carrot greens to homemade pesto, or blend canned-bean brine into aquafaba, a fluffy white mixture used in place of egg whites or whipped cream. It’s time to get creative in the kitchen.

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Ancient grains and healthy organic edible seeds in round stainless steel containers. These are considered superfoodsPhoto: Shutterstock/Lost Mountain Studio

Ancient Grains

Moving past plain white rice or even brown rice, menus are emphasizing ancient grains. While the varieties may be new to many, they of course aren’t new at all. Sorghum, farro, freekeh and bulgur are a few of the fiber-rich ancient grains that are excellent substitutes for rice or pasta. Use in Buddha bowls, pizza crusts, veggie salads and side dishes.

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Top view of sliced wholegrain bread on a wooden table.Photo: Shutterstock / PageSeven

Gluten-Free

Not everyone requires a gluten-free diet, of course. But for those who do and for those who prefer to follow gluten-free recipes, 2018 will offer more selections. It’s not just about bread, crackers and pasta anymore. You’ll find new products like GF onion rings, baking mixes, breaded chicken and fish, jerky, and snacks of every kind.

Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD
Jennifer is a doctoral-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with nearly 25 years of experience. The majority of her career has focused in health care, disease prevention and nutrition education for all ages - from middle school to graduate school students. She owns a private practice focusing on freelance writing and extracurricular nutrition clubs for children. When she's not working, Dr. Bowers enjoys swimming, running, hiking, biking, camping, cooking, and reading.
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