The rise of healthy food for kids:
Remember when a bowl of Lucky Charms for breakfast, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, and Lean Cuisine for dinner was a thing? Oh, how times have changed! These days with the rise in social media, globalization, and popular shows like Top Chef, taste buds and food preferences have drastically changed, even in kids! Gone are the days of shelves upon shelves of carbohydrate filled sugar cereals. Now breakfast cereals are boasting less sugar, hidden nutrients and wholegrains. When it comes to lunch and dinner companies such as Kidfresh, are trying to hide veggies in kid friendly products like chicken nuggets and countless other companies are finding new ways to incorporate whole grains into their products. For example, Ortega taco meal kits healthy range includes tacos made with lentil, ancient grains, spinach, white corn and chia, and red pepper. Taco Tuesday just became healthier, yay! Companies such as Ella’s Kitchen (the UK’s #1 baby food brand), have also created a variety of organic frozen meals that are packed with vegetables and contain no added sugar, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Other trends in the kid friendly food space include:
Celebrity chefs creating meals for children: Michelin-starred and well-known chef, Gordon Ramsey and his daughter Matilda have recently developed a new range of delicious and healthy kids’ convenience meals exclusively for Checkers. The Oh My Goodness range consists of locally sourced vegetables and certified free-range beef and chicken. All meals are free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
Mixing food with learning and creating family bonding experiences: companies such as My Little Sous Chef have created an online platform aimed at teaching and engaging kids with food and cooking. They believe that learning the basics of cooking is a great starting point for developing healthy eating habits and a taste for wholesome meals. Companies such as Beechworth Honey in Australia have added educational labels to their honey, highlighting the importance of bees to the food system.
Other October trends include:
For the love of sandwich:
No longer are the days of boring soggy white bread, mayo and cold cuts going to cut it for a sandwich. People are demanding new, local, and organic ingredients and fun and unique creations. Gourmet sandwiches were all the rage last year – with Bon Appetit even naming Turkey and the World – a sandwich stop in New Orleans, as 2017 restaurant of the year. (I touched on it here). Some of the best chefs and restaurants across the US and UK are pouring as much love into sandwiches as they would a four-course meal! (Think Danny Meyer’s line of fast casual burger joints, Shake Shack and Thomas Keller’s casual chain, Bouchon Bakery). Moving on…here are some trends that we are seeing!
Sandwich trend 1:
Gourmet hot dogs: and you thought hot dogs were just for baseball games and summer trips to the boardwalk…well, think again. Here are some spots that are taking wieners to a whole never level (pun intended).
Dog Den (White Plains, NY): the restaurant boasts 106 daily toppings like SpaghettiOs and the fat Elvis topped with peanut butter and jelly. The owner says the concept is to have fun on a bun.
Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs (Denver, CO): Yelp had ranked this establishment the twelfth best restaurant in the country and Foursquare has ranked it the fourth best hot dog restaurant in the country. In fact, since making its mark in Denver, Biker Jim’s has ranked up hundreds of accolades from numerous publications such as The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, the Wall Street Journal and Details magazine. Sounds like it’s worth a flight over just to check this place out!
Portillo’s (Chicago, IL): known for their Italian beef dogs, Portillo’s was ranked in Eater’s 38 Essential Chicago Restaurants in Winter 2017. While the original location still lies in Chicago, they have expanded into Florida and Wisconsin. Patrons rave about the Chicago dog.
Sandwich trend 2:
Katsu Sando: already a Japanese staple, the katsu sandwich phenomenon has made its way to the US and UK. (Katsu is short for ‘katsuretsu, which means cutlet in Japanese and sando is the nickname the Japanese have given to sando). While the most well-known are the ultra-indulgent wagyu katsu varieties – like Japanese members’ club Wagyumafia’s infamous $180 sandwich, plenty of places are creating their own more affordable versions. Here are three places around the USA where you can find Katsu Sando:
Momonoki (Atlanta, GA): this eatery allows patrons to replace pork with fried chicken, shrimp, steak, and vegetarian options.
Ferris (NYC): this restaurant prides itself on its Katsu Sandos which are made from Iberico pork.
Alley Cat (Austin, TX): made with panko cutlet, tonkatsu sauce, cabbage, Hawaiian sliced bread, this sando is a clear favorite.
London Fashion Week, where food meets fashion: many causes were represented at fashion week that we have seen highlighted in the food and drink industry including sustainability. Designer Richard Malone’s collection centered around Econyl; a regenerative nylon which is able to be reused. In fact, his whole collection was inspired by supermarkets by taking inspiration from the palette of simple colors used in supermarket branding. Additionally, this season also saw a first time ever complete ban on fur at the London Fashion show.
Kroger debuts imperfect produce program: Kroger announced in October that it was launching a new brand not yet in stores called ‘peculiar picks’. Although the program is still in the works, Kroger hopes its announcement will spur other retailers to follow suit.
Custom mac & cheese at Panera Bread: as if soups in bread bowls weren’t mouthwatering enough…Panera Bread has added a custom build your own mac and cheese menu to their lineup. They use delicious white cheddar Vermont mac as a base and a variety of topping like avocado and bacon can be added at no extra charge. (Who feels a nap coming on?) Take that Chipotle…the avocado is free here. Three other accompaniments such as BBQ sauce, cilantro, pico de gallo & frizzled onions can also be added at no extra change.
Pumpkin everything! Halo Top’s pumpkin pie flavor is back and is now sold is both the USA and Canada. Wahoo! This limited time flavor is a pumpkin spice-infused flavor complete with pie crust pieces. Who knows, this might be the new PSL…
Little Bento Boxes are a huge trend in Asia right now. Although slowly catching on in the USA, some interesting ideas have emerged. Check out @lunchboxmafia on Instagram for inspirational ideas. Amazon also has an adorable book: Little Bento: 32 Irresistible Bento Box Lunches for Kids here.