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Issue 006
Easy Apple and Bacon Cinnamon Rolls
Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies, courtesy of The Baking ChocolaTess

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the U.S, and that’s a good thing — food is being cooked, families and friends are gathering...

At the same time, maybe you’d like an opportunity to take a break from the holiday frenzy? If so, grab a cup of coffee and let us regale you with some intriguing trends and news from the world of food blogging!

Oprah's New Diet

OPRAH’S NEW DIET

If you follow the news at all, you know that sustainability is a big topic.

We think that’s great. We are all about keeping the planet in good shape — now and into the future!

Sustainability, environmentalism, vegetarianism — these are all important trends when it comes to food as well. They’re definitely topics worth some attention from food bloggers, whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or “regular.”

To support sustainability, Oprah (possibly our favorite “one name only” celebrity) recently announced that she will be eating one meatless meal a day.

This is a pretty cool idea — and we like it because it seems a moderate path. (And according to this article, one meatless meal per day can actually have a significant positive effect.)

What does this mean for you? There is an opportunity here, too, for food bloggers. At Eats Index we think it’s a given that more and more people will be looking for plant-based meals in 2020 and beyond. It would be good to keep this in mind, and at the very least, offer vegetarian/vegan options for your meat-based recipes, where possible.

Even for those of us who aren’t going to do as Oprah does on this one, it’s worth providing choices for those who do!


fast food menu board

HOW FAST FOOD MENUS CAN IMPROVE YOUR BLOG

(Seriously!)

We know our fair share of food bloggers. They’re all really good people — and they’re not snooty at all. At the same time, if you suggested swinging by a fast food restaurant for dinner, well, most food bloggers we know would probably protest a bit.

And that makes sense: food bloggers bring delicious, interesting, accessible and healthy foods to the world. Those qualities are not always present in fast food fare.

But food bloggers will find some very relevant information in a study that was recently conducted on fast food menu boards.

And we happen to feel that there is a direct relationship between fast food menu boards and food blog homepages. See what you think...

In the study about menu boards, the researchers found 74 percent of visitors said that an easy-to-read layout is a top priority.

That’s hardly surprising. No one wants to get confused while ordering lunch or dinner!

Another aspect of the report touches on first-time visitors. One successful fast casual restaurant simplified the look and feel of its menu boards so all customers (but especially first-time visitors) would more quickly understand the options.

Taco Bell reduced its combo offerings by half — again with the goal of simplifying in mind. Instead of bombarding visitors with 20 options, the chain now presents a more focused ten offerings. The brand feels it presents a more focused offering, and in this way, people know what choices to expect when they visit the chain. Taco Bell reports success with this effort — and higher sales.

Further, fast food companies report that limiting the choices on menu boards gives them room for innovation, rather than feeling limited by it.

According to the menu board report, the other top most desired qualities of fast food menu boards are:

•   Variety of choices
•   Helpful images for ordering
•   Well organized
•   Easy to understand
•   Easy to find item, order quickly

Many of these are in keeping with “easy to read,” of course.

Two qualities that respondents felt least excited about on fast food menus were:

•   Encourages bigger orders
•   Good snack choices

We can see how these would be not be a draw for restaurant visitors. No one likes to be encouraged to order a lot of food. And snacks are probably not what most visitors want from restaurants — fast food or otherwise.

What does all this mean for food bloggers? We hope you see how this is relevant to you. Just as fast food customers “interact” with the menu board upon visiting the restaurant, so your visitors interact with your homepage.

75% or respondents emphasized readability of menus. Isn’t the same true for a food blog’s homepage? Easy-to-read is paramount.

The reported desire for “a variety of choices” is interesting. To relate that to food bloggers, maybe your homepage could immediate showcase a dinner, a dessert, and a brunch item?

Gimme Some Oven's homepage

Or — as another form of variety — you could feature three distinctly different dinner items: a chicken dish, a salad, and a casserole, etc. Gimme Some Oven often does this — as of this writing its homepage features Green Bean Casserole, Butternut Squash Soup, and Mulled Wine. Those definitely qualify as variety!

To wrap this up, we’d like to share a few homepages that we like a lot — and that seem to deliver on the findings of the menu board report. These pages are easy to read, well organized, and offer a variety of choices.

I am a Food Blog's homepage


I am a Food Blog is one of our all-time favorites. Its homepage is incredibly inviting.



Running to the Kitchen's homepage


Running to the Kitchen has a homepage that pops with a simple layout, pulling the visitor into three tantalizing photos.



How Sweet Eats's Homepage


How Sweet Eats has a homepage that is slightly different. It draws you right in — and offers clear options as to where to go next. It, too, feels very charming.

Fast food restaurants spend hundreds of thousands of dollars researching what works on their menu board. You can take advantage from what they’ve learned!



smokeless smoke

GIVE ME SOME SMOKY — BUT HOLD THE SMOKE

Smokeless smoke is a trend that’s continuing to grow. (We’re talking about ingredients that impart a smoky flavor to foods without actual smoke or fire being used — such as “liquid smoke.”)

There are some real benefits to smoke ingredients — namely that people really like smoky flavors, but they don’t seem to enjoy burnt foods.

Further, smoky flavorings also are useful for foods that cannot be easily or reliably grilled or smoked, such as soups, candy and honey. And smoke ingredients can ensure that the amount of smokiness remains consistent each time you cook. Additionally, consumers have the perception that smokeless smoke ingredients are healthier than smoked using actual wood fire — and science may indeed bear that out.

Several new smoke flavors are being developed without the use of any by-products of combustion. In addition to liquid smoke, other ingredients that can impart a smoky flavor to foods include paprika, chipotle powder, smoked salt, and bourbon.

Ingredient insiders foresee smokeless smoke ingredients to increasingly find their way into desserts and beverages, too.

The global smoke ingredient market is anticipated to grow by approximately 10% each year through 2023.

Many bloggers are already capitalizing on this trend. Tori Avey shares a homemade pastrami recipe that uses plenty of smoked paprika as part of a spice rub. Recipe Tin Eats features a “no smoker” homemade pastrami recipe with paprika and a little liquid smoke. Both look sensational.

How you can benefit from this information: The internet is always waiting for the next cool thing, of course, and there really are opportunities to get creative here. How about smoked candy cupcakes? Or even smoked bacon cupcakes? Or — are we crazy — smoked bloody mary aspic cubes? Those are just a few quick ideas — but we’re sure you can think of something better — and put your own spin on this trend.


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