Flavour of October: Diets D’Jour
Catering to diets en vogue is a task unto itself these days. It’s no longer just a matter of catering to meat eaters and vegetarians; there’s gluten-free, vegan, pescatarian and flexitarian (What? Read on to find out!). And to add to the confusion, each dietary restriction seems to come with the search for local produce, organic or high carb, dairy free, or low fat options. To keep this milieu of meal requests easy, we’ve broken down the top ten diet trends of 2016.
Vegetables are becoming kings of the culinary stable: spiralized, used as a replacement for cous cous and rice or made into steaks, they’re proving that it’s not just meat that can make a meal. The once detested brussel sprouts are now trendy, roasted cauliflower steaks are a dinner option, and pizza bases made of the brassica oleracea species is growing. Zucchinis are the new pasta understudy, and spiralizers allow the summer squash vegetable to become zoodles.
Just to confuse things, a flexitarian is someone who has a mostly vegetarian diet but enjoys meat occasionally. The diet doesn’t have rules – which is its greatest appeal, but encourages consumers to look at other options. Cultural institutions like ‘Meatless Mondays’ are giving consumers the option to try alternate proteins like falafel and chickpea burgers, opening up the possibilities for restaurants to provide alternate options too.
Vegan dining has taken on new meaning in the past year – with dedicated chefs and vegans alike shaking up preconceptions on what vegan food is actually about. One example is Sydney’s Bliss & Chips, a vegan restaurant whose menu boasts the fish ‘n chip shop classics like crabstick and prawns, but which are actually seafood alternatives that are entirely vegan. With non-dairy coffee shops and even hatted restaurants offering vegan cheese plates, vegan dining is no longer just for vegans.
While the paleo diet’s sticking points such as bone broth are no longer causing a furor in the news cycle, there’s still ample support for the caveman inspired diet, which is giving many venues sufficient reason to include sympathetic dishes on their menus. Melbourne’s list of paleo establishments continues to grow, while some eateries, such as Kew’s Mastic, now offer a paleo friendly menu.
Low FODMAP diet:
Acknowledging the correlation between brain and gut, consumers are becoming all too aware of the food groups that don’t ‘get on’ with their gastrointestinal processes. The Low FODMAP Diet, developed by Dr. Sue Shepherd, has taken off and there’s even a whole eatery dedicated to the diet in Melbourne; aptly titled Foddies.
Year of the Pulses:
2016 is United Nations’ International Year of the Pulses, so there’s been further awareness put on what foods are possible with the legume family, but even without this, their popularity is on the rise in line with larger scale healthy eating. Chickpeas and lentils, the pulse behind many people’s diets, have taken a leggy legume turn, and menu inclusion of the humble pulse is also on the rise.
Burgers have gone from menu staple to heroe as gourmet burgers offer fillings beyond our wildest imaginations. Pop-ups dedicated to the dressed up burger are heralded as dining destinations, and high-class burgers are now appearing on fine dining menus. A great demonstrator of the diversity in current food trends, burger mania flies in the face of the vegan, paleo or low FODMAP movements and instead is largely born from social envy; one snap of a triple topped burger seems enough to break any pious pescatarian’s rules.
Livin’ La Vida Local:
Cafés and restaurants offering produce from their local markets, suppliers or farmers are growing in popularity and courting customers’ good will. For many diners, local produce equates to a healthier option, plus it’s more likely to tie in with their desire to support organic, sustainable products from the surrounding community. Providing all of this with the right menu can make your establishment the easy choice for customers.
As the saying goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but by ensuring you are catering to key diets trends, you can definitely please some people a lot of the time, and that’s bound to be a good thing for business.