Stephen Fries: Fun and healthful food trends for 2018

Happy New Year! As I have done at the beginning of the year in the past, I wanted to share food trends that I and well-respected food colleagues and companies forecast.

My food “crystal ball” shows:

More meal kit delivery subscription services (such as Blue Apron) and restaurant delivery services will enter the market as the number people who like to cook declines. An article in the Harvard Business Review, by Eddie Yoon says only 10 percent of Americans love to cook, 45 percent hate it and 45 percent are lukewarm about it. To see the article that provides interesting information, visit

More people will want to know where their food comes from, therefore stores and food manufacturers will need to provide this information.

Nut and seed butters will increase in popularity

Smoothies using protein powders and vegetables will continue to be meal replacements

Middle Eastern spice blends will become popular in recipes

As more people share food photos on social media, chefs will create dishes that are not only delicious but also beautifully presented.

Tumeric will be a popular ingredient in recipes

To avoid food waste, all parts of a vegetable will be incorporated into recipes

More gluten-free products will be available

I asked my friend Faith Middleton, host of the Faith Middleton Food Schmooze on WNPR to share her thoughts. By the way, WNPR has moved its New Haven studio to Gateway Community College and will be broadcasting from the campus. It is exciting to have Faith’s show broadcast from the college.

Faith said “the “medicinal” approach to food will continue, as it has for the last 15 years, though I believe it will grow even stronger. We’re likely to see more satisfying vegetable-centric dishes ... meat substitutes that mimic beef ... an increased interest in what spices can to do to make us healthier ... and at the same time even more interest in convenience cooking — the stuff that goes into the microwave or bagged meals made to be dropped in boiling water.”

Priscilla Martel, of “All About Food” offers her thoughts on food trends. She is co-author of the award winning culinary textbooks, “On Baking: A Textbook of Baking and Pastry Fundamentals,” and “On-cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals.” Martel is a chef, educator and food writer. Some of you might remember; she and Charlie van Over were chef owners of Restaurant du Village in Chester, which they opened in 1979. After selling the restaurant, she was executive chef at the Norwich Inn and Spa, where she trained the staff in the principles of healthy cooking. Through her consulting company, she has worked in product development for major food companies. Martel was president of American Almond Products, where she is culinary director and is a contributing writer for Flavor and Menu Magazine, Gourmet Retailer magazine, Cooking Light, Fine Cooking and Food & Wine. Martel teaches the food writing course at Gateway Community College. Here are food trends she sees for this year:

Mighty Mushrooms: Delicious and complex plant-based cooking will save our waistlines and the planet. I’m always looking for ways to use vegetables that truly satisfy. Mushrooms are not new, but using them in ways that exploit their meaty character may be unfamiliar in many households.

The James Beard Foundation partnered with the Mushroom Council to sponsor an initiative to help reduce the consumption of meat.

The Blended Burger project recommends that restaurants combine finely chopped mushrooms into ground meat mixtures for their burgers. The blend reduces the overall consumption of meat, one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions. It brings umami-rich mushroom, a vegetable, into the diet. And it tastes delicious. You can cook up this mushroom meat blend in place of a regular hamburger or add spices and flavorings. Or make lamb, pork or poultry blends.

Her grandmother, she said, taught her to sear canned sliced button mushrooms to bring out their savory flavor. (Long gone B+B brand was her staple.) Her trick works even better on fresh sliced mushrooms. Sear up any type of thin sliced fresh mushroom in a blend of butter and oil. Then use them on top all manner of things such as: Polenta with butter browned porcini and balsamic vinegar glaze; Black bean vegetable chili topped with crisp sautéed button mushrooms; Butter roasted hen of the woods (or small oyster mushrooms) with coarse salt and fresh thyme.

Seeds of Change: We’re becoming more familiar with seeds as nutritional powerhouses. For many, quinoa and chia are go-to replacements for a side of rice or other starch. But what about seeds for flavor? Great condiments such as Zhug (cardamom seeds with cilantro and green chili) and za’atar (toasted sesame seeds, thyme, sumac and salt) are seed based. Toasted pepitas (pumpkin or squash seeds) are great in salads and use up something most of us just toss. Look for seeds in many forms in dishes in the coming year. Here are some seeds you can use at home as toppings on salads, seared foods and in cookies and muffins:

Nigella or black sesame seeds are popular in Indian cuisine. Try them sprinkled over baked vegetables like eggplant or chicken thighs. They are delicious sprinkled over fresh goat cheese.

Mustard seeds add a burst of hot flavor to relish and give bread and butter pickles their pop. You’ll be surprised how much they add to salad dressings and simple sauces.

Brown It: French-Canadians brown the flour used to thicken their rich beef stew. It adds a layer of unexpected smoky flavor. Stella Parks earned a James Beard Award nomination for her writing about roasting sugar to enhance its flavor. Look for more ingredients that are browned and roasted before using; roasted salt, toasted almonds, toasted flour. I think I’m going to roast sugar for holiday sugar cookies this season.

Thanks, Priscilla for sharing these thoughts and creative ideas.

Martel will share her experience in the 15-week Food Writing class (HSP 249) at Gateway Community College, 20 Church Street, New Haven on Tuesday evenings, 5:55-8:45 p.m., beginning Jan. 23. Cost for the 3-credit, 15-week course is $569 for Connecticut residents.

We’ll use the Lower East Side Tenement Museum site to explore our own family’s past by looking at the foods, recipes and food-related objects that define us. For me, it’s a 100+ year old brass sugar thermometer passed down to me by Mary Pilarski Sheridan. She was my maternal grandmother who arrived at Ellis Island in 1914. I still use the thermometer when I make candies and sugar syrup.

The course covers the personal food essay, restaurant reviewing, recipe and menu writing and food blogging, along with writing skills used in food and restaurant marketing.

For information, email For more about Martel, go to

McCormick, a global leader in flavor for over 125 years, released its 2018 Flavor Forecast. Its report has been on the forefront of identifying top trends and ingredients shaping the future of flavor. Some of their findings:

Handheld Flavor Fusion: Take to the streets for the latest fusing of global cuisines. Carts, trucks and food halls are merging high-flavor fillings with unique crepes, buns and breads for loaded street fare you eat with your hands.

Globetrot with Hot Pot: Throw an Asian hot pot party and leave the cooking to your guests. Gather friends around a steamy pot of deeply flavored broth. Offer meat, seafood and veggies for dunking, then finish with various toppings for a new DIY meal. This East Asian favorite can be easily changed up to go Mexican, Caribbean and more.

Drink to Your Wellness: Wellness never tasted so good. Breakfast boosts, snacking soups and end-of-day sips feature robust flavors and uplifting ingredients like cucumber, dandelion greens, ginger, turmeric and cayenne pepper. For the recipe for Spiced Cucumber & Apple Morning Boost visit

Japanese Izakaya Eats: Sushi isn’t the only bite-sized food Japan has to offer. Izakayas — Japanese gastropubs — serve up casual tasting plates, similar to Spanish tapas. Featuring bold glazes, tangy sauces and seaweed seasonings, these dishes are an explosion of flavor.

A Bite of East Africa: East Africa is a treasure trove of flavor. At last, the signature seasonings, BBQ marinades and sauces of Tanzania and Ethiopia are being discovered across the globe. Check out their recipe for Berbere seasoning blend and Berbere Spiced Roasted Vegetables and pasta

This distinctive Ethiopian spice blend brings a warm, fragrant heat to stews and meats, as well as lentils and veggies. Featuring McCormick spices such as cinnamon, ginger and paprika, it’s great to have on hand for dishes such as East African Chicken & Lentil Stew and Berbere Spiced Roasted Vegetables & Pasta.

Mix all ingredients in medium bowl until well blended.

Store in tightly covered jar in cool, dry place up to 1 month

Showcase Ethiopia’s star seasoning blend, Berbere, in this simple veggie-forward pasta dish. Warm ingredients like cinnamon and ginger infuse a fragrant richness into cauliflower, carrots and cherry tomatoes while they roast. Toss with cooked pasta, feta and parsley squeeze of lemon to complete this East African meal. Makes 8 1-cup servings.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss vegetables with 2 tablespoons of the oil in large bowl. Mix Berbere Seasoning Blend and sea salt. Sprinkle over vegetables; toss to coat evenly. Spread in single layer on foil-lined 15-inch by 10-inch by 1-inch baking pan. Roast 35 to 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender and slightly charred, stirring halfway through cook time.

Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on package. Drain well. Transfer to large bowl. Add feta, parsley and remaining 1 tablespoon oil; toss well. Place pasta in serving dish. Top with roasted vegetables. Garnish with lemon wedges and additional feta and parsley, if desired.

Send us your requests: Which recipes would you like to have? Which food products are you having difficulty finding? Do you have cooking questions? Send them to me.

Jonathan Edwards Winery Dinner: Jan. 10, 6 p.m., Shell & Bones, 100 South Water St., New Haven, 203-787-3466 $100 includes tax, gratuity and a gift from the winery.. Reservations are required. For menu and pairings visit

Consiglio’s Cooking Demonstration and Dinner: Jan. 10, 6:30 p.m., Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489 (reservations required), $65 (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). Preparation of a four-course meal is demonstrated.

Date Night, Cast Iron Cooking Class: Jan. 13, 6:30 p.m., Chef’s Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange, 203-799-2665, $75. Invite a special someone to join you for a fun night out. If you have never tried cooking with cast iron or if you just want some useful tips, this class is for you. Learn the tips to cleaning and caring for your cast iron pan properly. Tickets at

Consiglio’s Murder Mystery Dinner “… Or Not to Be:” Jan. 19, doors at 6 p.m., dinner and show at 7, Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reservations at 203-865-4489, $55 includes dinner and show (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). An interactive comedy show that goes on as you dig into a three-course dinner.