My somewhat unofficial trend report for 2017
I was waiting for a drone to drop my LaCroix sparkling water and smoothie bowl onto my head when I learned that drones, although pegged to perform that duty in the future, are just not ready yet. And even if those flying space oddities were poised to change my life in 2017, I am crushed to learn LaCroix and smoothie bowls are so totally and completely over, I might as well skip backwards over 2016 and snuggle down into 2015, which isn’t a bad idea because David Bowie was alive then.
The food world keeps marching forward with trends that I sometimes try (avocado toast, cold-brewed coffee) and sometimes ignore (veggie burgers that bleed? that just sounds wrong). Last year, I challenged myself with the 28-day plant-based diet. I actually loved it, lost weight and felt great. But on day 29 I had bacon. The truth is, I’ll give up bacon when pigs fly. And when drones fly, I’ll have them deliver it.
Following are just a few ideas from my unofficial trend report:
Last Year’s Strawberry Smoothie Bowl
This is like building a healthy sundae for breakfast. Purée strawberries, yogurt, honey and vanilla in a blender. Pour into bowl. Arrange strawberries, blueberries, chia and pumpkin seeds over smoothie. Drizzle with yogurt that has been thinned with a bit of almond milk. Other combos: Banana, peanut butter, cocoa powder, maple syrup, ice; spinach or kale, blueberries, apple juice, ice; mango, pineapple, coconut water. Stir in your favourite cereal as well.
It’s having a moment this year largely thanks to adobo, a vinegar/soy sauce marinade for meat. To make chicken adobo:
Combine 1/2 cup cider or rice vinegar, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 3 crushed garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, salt to taste and 3 pounds chicken thighs.
Marinate in fridge 1 to 2 hours.
Transfer to Dutch oven. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and simmer 20 additional minutes or until sauce is reduced and slightly thickened and chicken is tender.
Serve with rice. Try a California Pinot Noir.
The Plant-Based Diet
The hardest part of this diet was not giving up meat, but dialing down the sugar. I became frustrated at how much of the stuff I found in processed foods, including so-called good-for-you protein bars. The takeaway? Make whatever you can from scratch at home, read the labels on the foods that have a label, eat vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, a bit of fruit and much less dairy, fat, salt and sugar. Try this recipe for starters.
Zucchini and Garbanzo Beans with Quinoa
Drain 1 can garbanzo beans.
In a bowl, drizzle beans with lemon juice. Toss with 1 tablespoon avocado oil.
In a large skillet, sauté chopped onion in 1 tablespoon avocado oil. Sprinkle with turmeric, paprika and cumin. Add chopped zucchini and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are tender. Add garbanzo bean mixture and heat through.
Serve over cooked quinoa or brown rice.
In a small bowl, mix plain yogurt, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Drizzle over vegetables.
Match with a Sauvignon Blanc.
The Farmers’ Market
Seek out a farmers’ market in late spring and pick up food that grows close to home. Early in the season, the pickings will be mighty slim. But as spring segues to summer, the bounty will astound you, with much of it heirloom. This is the year to buy eggs from a local farmer, poach or fry them and place them on top of everything from steaks to grains to salads for a chic 2017 dish. Pick up purple cauliflower and potatoes for a new spin on a colourful plate. Buy lavender for your lemonade and other herb plants at the market, then grow them in the backyard or in pots on the windowsill. Delicate, flavourful radishes are plentiful this time of year. Eat them the way the French do — whole, trimmed and raw with softened butter and fleur de sel.
This is absolutely one of my favourites and it’s on trend this year. Start with a selection of sliced cured meats — salami, prosciutto, sopressata, chorizo, jamón Serrano, smoked sausage — then add chutney or grainy mustard, pâté, cornichons, fresh figs, Marcona almonds, buttery cheese and fennel drizzled with lemon and oil. Serve on a platter or large cutting board with crusty baguettes and plenty of Prosecco.