Stir Crazy: Eight food trends include more kale, less wine at dinner

News-DemocratFebruary 10, 2014 

Shop 'n Save polled St. Louis-based chefs, culinary experts, food critics, bloggers and food enthusiasts for key food trend predictions for 2014. Among the key predictions from the forecast, expect to see increased demand for locally sourced food and ingredients, continued interest in more healthy food options and a growing influence on the local food scene from Bosnian residents.

St. Louis consumers will also experiment more with vegetarian or vegan diets, intermittently eating less meat or dairy rather than completely changing their diets. In a nod to St. Louis' attention to national trends, local food experts noted that surgeon, author and television celebrity Dr. Oz, the Food Network and Pinterest will influence the ingredients and cooking techniques consumers pick up throughout the year.

St. Louis-area food predictions for 2014 include the following:

Man of Kale. Superfoods, such as kale, turmeric and sweet potatoes, will enjoy greater popularity as health experts, such as Dr. Oz, applaud their multiple virtues. Expect to see kale in everything from sandwiches to salads to side dishes.

Lettuce Go. St. Louis will want on-the-go meals and ingredients to be healthier in 2014 as part of their overall goal to eat better. Experts also predict growth in healthy snacks that taste great, such as nuts with unique flavorings.

Culinary Creds. Experts say more locals will follow TV celebrity chefs in attempting new preparation techniques such as quick pickling, smoking, infusions and sous vide.

Pit to Plate. Fear not, grillmasters. Experts predict that barbeque will remain a staple food and entertainment option for St. Louis residents throughout 2014.

Ethnic Influences. In addition to more Bosnian-influenced offerings, Asian foods and ingredients -- specifically Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese cuisines -- will influence the local food scene.

No W(h)ining. Beer dinners are expected to replace wine dinners.

Viva la Veggie. St. Louis will continue to have a high interest in vegetables due to local farms, community groups and schools introducing kids to locally grown produce, such as asparagus, beans, sweet broccoli, and Southern vegetables like turnips and collards.

Food Delivery. We'll see more food trucks serving up lunch, but some experts are predicting that home-cooked meals will be the biggest trend for dinner.

A reader called and said he was looking for a dish he remembered making in college when he shared an apartment with two other buddies. Bill, I think this is the Rice-A-Roni-based recipe you're looking for. I found it at busycooks.about.com.

Meatball Skillet

1 package garlic rice and vermicelli mix (Rice A Roni)

1 1/2 cups water

1 pound frozen fully cooked meatballs

2 cups frozen french cut green beans

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare the mix according to package instructions, adding 1/2 cup more water and adding the meatballs along with the water and seasoning packet. Five minutes before the rice is done, stir in the green beans.

Cook until rice and pasta are tender. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream and cheese. Cover and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

While I was looking at this site, I came across this tasty Greek-inspired one-pan meal. While it calls for ground beef, you also can use ground turkey or lamb.

Beefy Greek Skillet

1 pound ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1 cup orzo pasta

2 cups or a 15-ounce container tomato sauce

1 cup water

2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Brown ground beef, onion and garlic in large skillet. Drain well.

Add pasta, tomato sauce, water, oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper; stir to combine, making sure pasta is covered by liquid.

Heat to boiling, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 11-13 minutes, stirring frequently, until orzo is tender.

Remove from heat, sprinkle cheese over casserole. Cover and let stand 2-4 minutes until cheese is melted. Makes 5 servings.

Here's how to reach me: Phone, 239-2664; e-mail, sboyle@bnd.com; or write, Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

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