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  • Slow Cooking
  • Smoothies

Our six picks for trends to look out for in 2016

Posted in Miscellany by Liam Coates 10 months ago

It’s the start of a new year, so there’s a lot of ‘top ten’-style lists on the go at the moment, but we’ve produced our own “Delicious Half-Dozen” that might just get you itching to get back in the kitchen.

We like to think we’ve got our finger firmly on the culinary pulse, but realise we’re not as young as we try to convince ourselves, so we’ll just stick to what we know – good food.

Here’s our predictions of what will be trending among the food fandom in 2016:

Cauliflower

Plain white all over and the boardroom beige of the veg world, you’d be forgiven for falling into the trap of thinking cauliflower is boring – we’ve all thought it for years, boiling broccoli’s paler cousin to fill out our plates on Sundays. But, 2016 will be the year of the cauliflower.

As we look towards living healthier, we’re experimenting with good food and finding new ways to use and cook it all. Gone are the days when cauliflower’s only friend was cheese sauce – it has been rebranded from boring and bland to daring but delicate, able to take on the most vibrant and exotic flavours in any dish.

Why not try splitting a cauli and cooking the two halves as steaks with parmesan and chili? You could even grate them down to use as a substitute for rice to give curries an earthy and tasty crunch. Or, try adding them warmed to fresh salads, cut into chunks or grated strands, both add a new texture and dimension to any leafy dish. Whatever you do, move away from boiling – in just five minutes of boiling you’re losing around 20-30% of the vitamins and goodness cauliflower is packed with – try grilling and steaming to lock in the good stuff.

Smoothies

This craze may have been around for a little while already, but the popularity of the smoothie isn’t just good news for blender suppliers, there’s a very good reason we’ll be loving smoothies all the way through 2016.

Smoothies are so simple and easy to try at home and a handy way to get your five a day. The beauty of smoothies is that they can be as simple or as experimental as we like, and some of the best recipes come from messing around with ingredients like pairing the superfood kale with the more traditional bananas and apples. If you keep the skin, seeds and pulp, you’ll be getting more fibre which makes a smoothie healthier than the average fruit juice. And the smoothie won’t fall foul to our busy lifestyles, in fact, it’s thriving on them because they’re so quick to whip up.

We do have one word of warning when it comes to smoothies – sugar. Try not to include too many sugary fruits and always check the labels on commercial smoothies as they tend to include added sugar, which can more than double carb counts. And there is one downside – the lack of chewing means that your body doesn’t register the intake as much, so you’re likely to feel hungry again soon. But the health factor means a good smoothie is definitely worth investigating if you haven’t already.

Slow cooker meals

It doesn’t feel natural to step away from your cooking pot for a full day or even leave it on overnight – think of the hazards! – but with a constant low heat, this method is not only time saving by slashing the time you spend cooking on an evening, it also produces amazing dishes.

Slow cooking is great for bargain cuts of meat, as the slow heat will loosen the fatty connective tissue without toughening the muscle – we’d highly recommend the delicious and underrated shin of beef for plenty of flavour. What we don’t recommend is you just to leave it heating forever – while it’s pretty impossible for anything to burn because of the low heat, you will end up with a bit of a meaty-veggie-sludge.

The beauty of the slow cooker is that if you’re an hour late home from work when you needed to turn it off, it’s absolutely not a problem, you can even get high-tech ones that you can set timers on and use ‘keep warm’ settings – nifty!

Grilling

It’s time to whip out your old George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Machine and get grilling as 2016 is all about the health kick packed with flavour.

We all know that grilling is better than frying as it uses a dry heat, reducing the fat and calorie content in our meats, which then help to reduce cholesterol levels (and that’s quite an important thing, if you hadn’t heard). Grilling tends to be a quicker method of cooking as it involves high heat – so remember to be careful! – and you can really lock in the flavours this way, so that’s an added bonus.

When grilling, try to use pans and grills that direct the fat away from the heat source as burning the dripping can release chemicals that can be bad for your health, but then enjoy the flavoursome juiciness of your grilled meat.

Sweet potato

The sweet potato came to the fore in the boom of fas-cas diners with hipster chic chefs and heavily bearded barkeeps, and is now considered the perfect swap for the traditional spud, for everything from fries to jackets.

While the sweet potato is better than the regular ol’ potato in that it contains more energy, less fat and more fibre, it does contain nearly six times more sugar – maybe that’s what makes it so yummy. The sweet taste (who would’ve guessed?) of the sweet potato is a great offset to salty and rich meats and it is just as versatile as your typical spud.

Why not try your own sweet potato fries alongside our best-selling beef burgers? Add a little mustard or onion relish to really set off the sweetness of the potatoes and the rest is just down to you to pick the right beverage to wash it down.

Coconut

Last year we saw the humble coconut bump Aloe Vera off the top spot of cleansing fads as thousands started swilling the oil around their mouths in the hope of removing stains from their teeth. We’re pretty strange creatures, aren’t we? But, it turns out coconut is great for a lot of soaps and cosmetics, and the versatility of coconut as a foodstuff is pretty incredible.

While actually the coconut is not a nut – it’s botanically a drupe, which means a stone fruit, more closely related to a peach than a nut – the oils from its seed are great for frying as a safer option to other oils (avoiding those chemicals that can be bad for us when burning fats), and the white flesh (either fresh or dried) is included in some of our favourite desserts such as macaroons.

Our favourite part of the coconut is the milk, which gives a fantastic creamy freshness to a good curry. But there’s more coconut products to try – coconut flour and coconut chips both sound like something worth jumping on the bandwagon for. We’re definitely interested in experimenting more with this coco-not-actually-a-nut-nut, but for those of you thinking its milk is a healthier option than lactose, think again. Coconut is great, but it’s full of fat, so enjoy it moderation is probably the best advice.

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