It may only be November but it’s coming to that time of year where we can start to take a look back and review the past 12 months – what we’ve learned, how we’ve changed, how the world has developed.
Upward spiral – Gluten-free Pasta
One of our all-time favourite comfort foods – pasta – has seen a revolution of sorts over the past 12 months. Pasta noodles are now being made from buckwheat and other gluten-free, super-nutritious grains such as quinoa and amaranth, the latter of which also has high-quality protein content. These gluten-free alternatives allow us to indulge and enjoy delicious dishes such as spaghetti bolognaise and macaroni cheese without any worries about adverse side effects.
The spiralizing trend was also responsible for a whole new development in free-from eating this year. The spiralizer turns vegetables into thin ribbon noodles in the blink of an eye using a razor-sharp cutting device. This invention has made the base of many of our main lunch or dinner dishes far healthier and free-from-friendly than before.
Courgetti is the new spaghetti that all the health gurus and fancy foodies are serving up, while carrot curls and beetroot noodles are other popular choices to use in salads or as fancy decoration atop a main dish. The spiralizing trend has also made it a lot easier for parents to sneak fruit and veg into the kids’ meals and make healthy eating fun!
It’s not only pasta that’s being phased out as ‘so 2014’. Many people are now using the cauliflower as a healthy alternative to rice, or even as a pizza base – great news for gluten-free followers. The prepared or minced cauliflower has soared in popularity at supermarkets this year and shows how we are becoming more adventurous with our food and exploring healthy, free-from options.
First Dates – Free-from Dried Fruit
Dried fruit also saw a surge in popularity during 2015. Bloggers such as Deliciously Ella bake using dried fruits such as dates in their desserts and the annual Waitrose Consumer Trends Report 2015 showed a staggering 16 per cent increase in the purchase of Medjool dates.
Elsewhere, the Great British Bake Off brought free-from to the mainstream attention with their ‘alternative ingredients’ week where contestants used finely ground nuts and seeds in their breads and cakes to add nutrition and flavour.
Almonds and hazelnuts were among the most popular, while chia, flax and pumpkin seeds were also used. GBBO and its infinite wisdom also showed how we can increase the nutritional value of our baking produce by using alternatives to white flour.
Some people hoped for more – but there’s always next year.
Keeping Things Sweet With Free-from
The annual Waitrose Food Report emphasised the nation’s gradual move towards cleaner eating and, in particular, the hunt for sweet treats that won’t harm our health. There’s been a major shift away from buying white granulated sugar, demonstrating how the public is recognising how damaging it can be.
People are increasingly seeking out natural sugars and sweeteners as opposed to artificial options. Both date nectar and maple syrup have seen an increase in popularity, while agave syrup is also becoming more mainstream. Agave is a natural sweetener that comes from the agave plant and was known to the Aztecs as the “Nectar of Gods”.
It’s sweeter than honey and ideal to use in baking as it works well at high temperatures. It also tastes delicious when added to smoothies or as a topping on (gluten free) bread or toast.
Its versatility makes it the perfect free-from diet staple.
Going Nuts Over Free-from Food
The almighty almond has also seen great success this year with an increase in sales of almond milk – a welcome alternative for those following a dairy-free diet. It’s even made its way into coffee shops – keep up the demand, followers!
Milk alternatives that were bang on-trend this year include soya, rice, oat or flax seed milks, all of which can be used in baking. For dairy-free dieters, coconut oil makes a great substitute for butter when baking, or you can use olive oil too – just make sure it’s a very mild type.
Coconuts in general have seen a huge rise in sales this year – this versatile fruit and its derivatives can be used in a number of ways both raw and cooked – just check out our recent blog on the many uses for this humble but delicious exotic fruit.
Looking forward now, 2016 looks set to just continue the free-from adventures. Drinks companies are in talks to introduce maple syrup and honey as the sweeteners to their beverages in response to the nation’s desire to cut down on artificial sweeteners.
And the food to keep an eye on next year is porridge! Chefs are experimenting with rye, barley and spelt to make new and delicious alternatives to this warming classic.
One thing’s for certain, Pudology will be keeping track of all the trends to keep our readers up to date with the latest, greatest, free-from foodie developments over the next 12 months.
What do you think – have we missed anything out? Please add your comments below and let us know your favourite food of 2015.