2020 was, for lack of a better word, a doozy. Things changed dramatically, rapidly, and many of us spent more time in our homes than ever before. But one thing that also meant was that we adopted some new kitchen habits, healthy ones that support ourselves and our environments
The pandemic highlighted the frailties of the food world and its supply chain.
For many people this has been the first time in their lives they went into our supermarkets and couldn’t buy toilet paper or flour or milk or their favourite brands.
In some stores many shelves were bare and shoppers felt scared and shocked about the possibilities of having no food to feed their families.
Some of the big things that defined our shifting attentions to food this year? Self-sufficiency and maximizing our ingredients: leading to less waste, more kitchen projects, and a whole lot of learning.
Of the things we tried in 2020, there's actually quite a few that we're hoping we can bring into the New Year
Making our own bread
Seriously, all of it. From pasta to pizza to pao and beyond, this was both the year we realized we could make our our bread with nothing but flour, water, and patience.
In the New Year, we'll continue experimenting with crazy loaf additions, and work on trying out flour blends to get even more nutrients out of our favorite new hobby.
Growing from home (even in tiny apartments)
With the uncertainty of grocery supply during early lockdowns, people started doing everything they could to extend the life of fresh food—including growing more of it from scraps, where possible. This was the year we all started growing green onions on our windowsills, and while that might not seem like much, it can make a definite difference.
Going forward, we're planning to be a little more intentional about our gardening endeavors: whether that means picking out the herbs we love to cultivate on our tiny windowsills, building a bed in the backyard, or looking into supporting or joining a community garden.
Microgreens aren’t exactly new, but consumer appetite for them is at an all-time high. These tiny shoots are the baby counterparts of plants like carrots and broccoli. You may have enjoyed microgreens atop a meal at a high-end restaurant in the past, but now you can find them at the grocery store in myriad varieties. They’re not only colorful and cute, but also loaded with nutrients.
A 2012 study found that microgreens have four to 40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts. The tiny shoots are delicious atop egg dishes and sandwiches and can be added to salads and smoothies to boost flavor and nutrients.
You can also grow microgreens at home from seeds. It only takes 7 days to grow certain microgreens, which is a little faster than establishing your own sourdough starter.
An increased understanding of how our food choices can impact our planet will be on the radar in 2021. This will encourage quality over quantity when it comes to meat consumption and a search for tasty alternatives on meat free days. We will see an increase in plant-based proteins and veggie meals and snack options loaded with chickpeas! The hottest ‘bean’ trend in years, including chickpea ice cream and snack bars.
Home preparation of more plant-based proteins such as dry beans and lentils, tofu, and homemade veggie burgers are helping shoppers discover that good nutrition can be delicious.
We're talking about banana bread, people—but going into the new year, let's do more than that. Serena Poon, C.N., CHC, CHN, loves using mashed bananas and apple sauce as oil substitutes in baking: "Mashed fruits will add moisture to muffins and cakes without the processed oil or added fats and can act as a substitute for some added sugar," she said.
So going into 2021, consider trying out these alternatives to banana bread for less-than-perfect bananas, swap in a bit of fruit for oil in a favorite recipe, or at the very least try a new (healthier!) banana bread recipe, please.
Virtual Cooking Classes
Looking for a fun and safe date night idea? Tired of playing trivia with friends over Zoom for the millionth time? Expect to get more invites to virtual classes that you can do with your fam in your home or even more elaborate ones that you can follow along with friends on Zoom.
Everybody from famous chefs to your favorite restaurants have these on the docket, and we think more people will be taking advantage of them next year.
Now that people are bartending at home, we could see homemade bitters, maraschino cherries, flavored alcohols, and simple syrups becoming increasingly popular. Don't be surprised if you have the urge to fill up your bar cart in the coming months.
Buying local (and homegrown)
With our physical health in the spotlight this year, we will still be looking for ways to boost our health and resilience to infection in 2021.
With 70% of our immune cells residing in our gut, looking after our microbiome will play a key role here. While there is no magic ingredient or superfood, feeding our gut bacteria a wide variety of plant-based foods will ensure a good dose of fibre and nutrients to do the job.
Restrictions on travel have also given us a new appreciation for buying local and supporting local producers and farmers as well as trying our hand at growing herbs and veggies at home.
This trend is here to stay as people get back in touch with the source of their food and get their hands dirty in nature. It will deliver the bonus of reducing food miles and impact on the environment.