Meat free options
It might be an obvious one, but you don’t necessarily need to be a vegetarian to enjoy dishes that are free from meat. Just ask celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who is a fan of the global Meat-Free Monday movement. A section of his eponymously named website is even dedicated to recipes that support the cause.
While pulled pork sliders may be a little tired, a falafel or tasy vegetable patty version could work wonders at canapé-style events, meanwhile you can substitute meat for lentils, chickpeas and other legumes in bowl food dishes like curries and stews.
Popular dishes such as pasta, pizza and those where complex carbohydrates are the star tend to get a bad rap, which has seen the rise of lighter, yet similarly tasty alternatives to the much-loved foods.
Well-known bloggers such as Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella and even supermarket brand Tesco are advocating for the use of pizza bases made from ground cauliflower, with recipes available on their websites. Rather than opt for pasta, foodies are also opting to invest in a spiraliser to create ‘zoodles’ made from vegetables such as courgette, carrot and parsnip.
Cacao powder or nibs and ‘nana’ ice cream are sure to make an impact this year, as they can prove fairly nutritious and help to the ease sweet cravings. Cacao offers a chocolate taste without the extra sugar typical of its cocoa counterpart, and it can be used in baking in much the same way. Australian entrepreneur and media personality Sarah Wilson has enjoyed success with her I Quit Sugar brand - perhaps evidence of the fact that the trend is here to stay.
As the name suggests, the humble banana forms the basis of nana ice cream. Made from ripe, frozen and then blended bananas, it can also be combined with nuts, fruit or a sweet garnish. The dish can be enjoyed in the morning, as an afternoon snack or dessert in the evening.
A salmon dish by Kitchen Ixta, complete with fermented cabbage
Fermented foods have been gaining momentum in recent times, and the trend is set to continue well into the new year, as the health benefits of kombucha in particular come to the fore. The beverage, an ancient elixir, is generally made by combining kombucha culture with tea, among other ingredients. It can act as the perfect breakfast boost or post-lunch pick me up.
Ixta Belfrage, owner of healthy London-based catering company Kitchen Ixta, notes such foods are particularly good for gut health. "With winter in full swing and the festive season sadly behind us, we’re all looking to boost our immune system and avoid the dreaded cold.
"What many don’t know is that the majority of the immune system is located in the gut. This means that the health of our gut directly affects the strength of our immune system and it’s ability to fight disease," she explains.
Belfrage adds that fermented vegetables, sprouted beans and pulses, kefir, tempeh and homemade yoghurt are all great options when it comes to gut health.
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