If you feel like shakshouka has been popping up on more breakfast menus around the country, you’re not alone. The spiced tomato-egg-bread casserole-like dish is part of the trend toward more globally influenced breakfasts and is just one of several flavors and movements to expect in 2019, according to the National Restaurant Association, an organization that polls chefs and hospitality employees annually about what’s happening on their menus.
But let’s not get too excited. Last year, the food NRA predicted something very similar, calling for an increase in ethnic-inspired breakfast items. Each year, organizations and media outlets like the New York Times, Whole Foods and Eater forecast for the following year. Though the NRA polls about 650 chefs, others interview experts, review search terms and make educated guesses.
And almost all of them predict a continued shift to plant-based diets, whether in the form of veggie sausages and hamburgers, as forecasted by the NRA, or more vegetable entrees, according to the New York Times.
Diners continue to choose vegetables for health, environmental and ethical reasons, and it’s common to see at least one vegetarian or vegan option on menus (hallelujah). This is also crossing over into diets, where “pegan” – a cross between paleo and vegan – is now a thing.
Eating healthy is going beyond vegan, with an emphasis on fermented foods like kombucha and kimchi, which are good for the digestive system. But whether eating healthy is called clean eating, vegan or sustainable dieting, there’s a definitive move away from rich, processed foods – at least in terms of those talking about it.
And most reports show that people are opting for more than health-conscious meals; they’re choosing environmental wellbeing too. That means less packaging for to-go and grocery items, and restaurants that use plastic silverware may be pressured to implement reusable cutlery, according to the New York Times.
Food waste is increasingly a cause, with solutions on both sides of the food chain: use less from the beginning, creatively use waste and compost. (This year, Aspen Skiing Co. transitioned to composting all of its food scraps in all almost all of its food and beverage operations.) Consumers are demanding more from their suppliers when it comes to food waste, which is a contributor to climate change because of the large carbon footprint it takes just to make and produce food.
Finally, what’s a “green” story without the newest green? CBD, the non-psychoactive component in marijuana and hemp, is everywhere, from lotions and potions to granola bars. It’s promoted as having medicinal effects, and the oil form can be used for cooking. In the coming year, we’ll see a lot more of it used in creative ways. And that sounds a lot better than one additionally odd prediction: a Taiwanese drink called cheese tea.
Christine Benedetti writes about food here every other week. Mostly the plant kind. She’s editor-in-chief of Aspen magazine, but you can reach her @cabenedetti.