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Anticipating & Interpreting 2013 Menu Trends

The National Restaurant Association recently came out with 10 menu trends for 2013. Over 1,800 professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation were surveyed to forecast up and coming menu/food trends we will most likely see on menus and in stores for the New Year.  As there is an increase in interest in health and nutrition among Americans, it can be difficult to keep up with unrecognizable terminology and cuisine.  Below are the main trends to anticipate as well as some tips in regard to interpreting what it means for you and your health….

  1.  Locally sourced meats and seafood.  You may have noticed more of this in 2012, but expect this to increase in 2013 as executive chefs find value in supporting local communities as well as more seasonal cooking approaches.  What defines “local” for restaurants is very subjective; make sure to ask your server where the food is sourced if this is something important to you. 
  2. Locally grown produce.  Make sure to read the menu description in regards to how the produce is prepared.  For example, local fried green tomatoes or the ribeye from a nearby cattle ranch may not be the best frequently ordered menu choice.  
  3. Healthful kids’ meals.  According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 17% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 are considered obese.  This 2013 “trend” probably should have happened years ago, but thankfully restaurants and Americans are making this a priority.
  4. Environmental sustainability as a culinary theme. 
  5. Children’s nutrition as a culinary theme.
  6. New cuts of meat (e.g., Denver steak, pork flat iron, teres major).  When it comes to new cuts of beef, ask your server questions when ordering as it may be high in saturated fat and/or you get a portion the size of Texas.  The Sierra, a new cut of beef, is very similar to the lean flank steak.  
  7. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g., restaurant gardens).  Think farm-to-table here.  Your food will taste fresher and chefs have the ability to add more diversity to their menus.  Added bonus—environmentally friend. 
  8. Gluten-free cuisine.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye products.  This is great for those with Celiac Disease or those with a known intolerance to gluten.  However, “gluten-free” doesn’t = healthy.  Gluten-free cookies are still cookies.
  9. Sustainable seafood.  More grocery stores and restaurants are trying to ensure their seafood is coming from sources that practice safe fishing practices and responsibly managed fish farms.  Whole Foods is an example of a grocery store that partners with numerous organizations in order to supply customers with sustainable seafood. 
  10. Whole grain items in kids’ meals. 

Restaurants taking advantage of rooftops


’Tis the season to eat citrus!

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