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Issue 007
Baklava Cookies – Low Carb & Gluten Free, courtesy of Joy Filled Eats
Baklava Cookies – Low Carb & Gluten Free, courtesy of Joy Filled Eats

Happy Tuesday, folks. Suddenly it’s December already! As Dr. Seuss said, “How did it get so late so soon?”

With an eye toward 2020, we’d like to share some noteworthy trends and stories from the world of food blogging. Here we go...

Door Dash Bag


    An In-Depth Report

DoorDash is the number one food delivery service in the United States. It just released a report showing the most ordered food items — and we can also see some trends for 2020 in what they’ve shared.

Here are some highlights for you:

➡   While fast food is popular, the report shows that of the top 15 most-ordered foods, three are salads. It shouldn’t be a surprise that healthy options are still very much on trend.

➡   Mexican and Tex-Mex fare are up big — and are indeed the most popular food DoorDash delivers.

How can you benefit from this information?   Well, obviously Mexican foods are beloved — but the report shows that even Mexican-inspired dishes are popular, such as taco salad.

This is certainly an invitation to food bloggers to include more dishes and flavors from down Mexico way. This idea could extend, obviously, to any country in Central America. Further, foods that are not from that region, but have the characteristics of it, could work well for you. Think dishes that include rice or beans — or that have a little spicy kick.

Mexican food also features something scientists call dynamic contrast. That is, there are both soft and crunchy parts in the same dish — for example, rice, beans, and cheese are soft, and taco shells are crunchy.

As an example, this creamy, crunchy polenta by Leanne Brown definitely has a lot of dynamic contrast.

So does crème brûlée (such as this recipe from Kevin is Cooking.)

To take advantage of this information, you don't need to put a Mexican spin on your dishes. But it may behoove you to think about interesting contrasts you could provide.

➡   People order fast food from Door Dash, not just because it is convenient, but because they like fast food. Many bloggers have had a lot of success sharing their own versions of restaurant fare.

A perfect example from the aptly named Copykat Recipes blog. Its Red Robin Onion Rings keep getting mouths watering here at the Eats Index office.

Also check out the Copycat Chipotle Barbacoa Recipe from Mommy Musings. Just looking at that post has become something of a guilty pleasure around here. As soon as Thanksgiving leftovers are finished, we’re giving it a try!

One final example: Lisa at Snappy Gourmet shares a homemade Chick-fil-A sandwich copycat recipe. You know that anything inspired by Chick-fil-A is going to be worth the eating!

How you can benefit from this information:   You don’t have to create copycat versions of fast food offerings, but by bearing in mind fast food’s popularity, you can write recipes that match people’s tastes.

For instance, french fries are a quintessential fast food. We are intrigued by this recipe for daikon fries, from Cooking on the Weekends. These fries are fun and interesting — and even more exciting than “regular” french fries.

As another example, tacos are massively popular. Well, how about Greek-inspired fish tacos? This recipe from Gina at fulfills people’s desire for tacos, but is also unique, creative, and memorable.

Build Your Own - Customization Trend

➡   Another trend is customization. That is, people don’t just order entrees via DoorDash. Instead, they like to tweak the dishes with their own choices and preferences. Sushi and pizza are prime examples.

How you can benefit from this information:   Most food blogs share recipes for very specific dishes, of course. But you could offer suggestions on how a meal could be customized, not by the home cook, but by the diners. Your posts could include ideas on what toppings could be served at the meal to help the home cook’s diners customize the food. That could make for a more pleasurable, satisfying experience across the board.

As an example, Love and Lemons suggests topping options for her Berry Superfood Smoothie Bowl, which is just right for this type of dish.

Live Love Yummy shares how to make a burger platter — a great, fun idea for entertaining.

Similarly, Jessica at Good Cheap Eats has a build-your-own nacho bar. Honestly, who in their right mind would turn down an invitation to an event featuring a build-your-own nacho bar?!

You get the idea. Offering diners options is just going to be well-received!

Key Takeaway:   The DoorDash report indicates that delivery is the number one most popular meal option. It is the choice of 66% of people in the study. That is pretty significant!

The good news for food bloggers is that the second most popular option is cooking one’s own meal at home.

Third and fourth most popular options are picking up food and dining at a restaurant respectively.

While the DoorDash report shows that people like to have their meals brought to them, they still cook at home — and food blogs are as relevant and needed as ever.

A Robot Writing


    It's All in the Phrasing

In a previous issue of our newsletter, we recommended Hemingway, free software that can improve your writing. Here is another useful tool – and this software is fun, too! It adds to the enjoyment of writing.

Quillbot is an automatic, AI-based rephraser. That is, you enter your text into Quillbot – and it returns slightly rephrased text.

Why would you do this? Because sometimes QuillBot can suggest text that is actually better. It can suggest words or phrasing that you’ll like more than what you had drafted.

Using Quillbot is like having a proofreader – not one who's looking for grammar mistakes, but who is helping you with the way you say things.

From Quillbot's website:

The artificial intelligence understands the meaning of each sentence and then rewrites it to maintain the meaning.

Here’s a quick example from our own Eats Index “About” page. We had written:

Our goal is not just to report on trends that affect food bloggers, but to provide practical and actionable information.

Quillbot suggested:

Our aim is not only to document trends impacting food bloggers, but also to provide relevant and actionable information.

We’re not using all Quillbot’s suggestions here, but “trends impacting bloggers” is much stronger than “trends that affect.” We updated our text accordingly.

Here’s another example, from Eat Index's “subscribe now” text. We had written:

Delivered once a week to your inbox.

Quillbot came back with:

Delivered to your inbox once a week.

That word order feels a little better, doesn’t it? We’re going with it.

Fair warning: QuillBot can be addicting. If you are looking to procrastinate rather than publish, Quillbot will enable you!

(Did we mention that it's free?!)

Butterfly Pea Flower
A butterfly pea flower


    Butterfly Pea Flower Power

Are you familiar with Butterfly Pea Flowers? Their popularity is on the rise – and we’re keeping tabs on them.

(Also, we’d like to point out that "Butterfly Pea Flower" rolls off the tongue nicely. It’d be a great name for a cartoon character...)

The tea made from this flower is strikingly blue. Its herbal taste is described as “earthy,” comparable to the flavor of a mild green tea. It can be enjoyed hot or cold.

BPF tea is packed with antioxidants and flavonoids but contains no caffeine – all of which is contributing to its rise.

And this is cool: this tea starts off blue, but with the addition of some acidity, it becomes purple. Magic!

Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
Butterfly pea flower tea brewing

As evidence of this trend, Starbucks has been offering a butterfly pea flower drink in select locations.

We’ve also seen BPF starting to pop up in recipes across the world wide web...

A Uniquely Edible Magic has a recipe for Butterfly Pea Flower Chocolate Chip Cookies. (We’d like to try one, please.)

Love and Olive Oil shares a recipe for Butterfly Pea Lemonade that would surely charm your guests – mostly because its color is beautiful and beguiling! Lindsay points out that the lemonade goes from blue to magenta during its preparation.

Butterfly Pea Flower Mentions Graph

Rainbow in My Kitchen shares a recipe for Butterfly Pea Flour Pancakes that is simply head turning. This breakfast dish definitely has the “wow” factor going for it.

Finally, Dave at Dave Bakes presents a recipe for Unicorn Cookies, which uses dried butterfly pea flowers to achieve a distinctive and pleasantly unicorn-ish look.

How you can benefit from this info:   Butterfly Pea Flowers give foods an unusual blue (and sometimes purple!) color. Some industry groups predict that the color palate for foods is transitioning from warmer tones to the cooler colors like blues and greens. Unlike the food colorings of yesteryear, BPF offers a lot of positives in the nutrition department. It may be worth getting creative with. You could also investigate and get inspired by other natural food dyes, like beets, matcha, and turmeric.

At the very least, butterfly pea flowers could be useful for any tongue twister you may need to compose.

Fresh Baked Breads in a Bakery

    Oh No – Faux Sourdough!

You may not think of sourdough as a trend, but as you can see in the chart below, its popularity is on the rise. Fans cite its tangy taste, pleasing chewiness and crunchy crust.

Unfortunately, this popularity has led to breads being labeled sourdough that are not very . . . sourdough!

As you probably know, sourdough is made using naturally occurring cultures (that is, bacteria!) which act as a leavening agent.

Some doughs are made with less lactobacilli and more baker’s yeast – which has led purists to decry the labelling of such breads as sourdough.

On the other side, some bakers say that using more yeast is helpful in smaller kitchens (ones lacking the space to store the sourdough starters.) Yeast also reduces the time involved.

Sourdough Trend Graph

Some analysts have pointed out that labeling breads as sourdough allows businesses to charge more for them. An industry watchdog reports that only about 20% of breads sold as sourdough contain the traditional ingredients.

Industry groups in the UK are currently wrangling over what exactly sourdough is – and how breads should be labeled.

How can you benefit from this?  Aside from just enjoying the dispute and the drama on this topic, it’s worth knowing that sourdough continues to excite taste buds around the world. Recipes for the bread – or recipes that use it as an ingredient – may gain some nice traction. Using sourdough in creative, unexpected places could work, too. Finally, there are some international variants of sourdough that could be of interest to your readers – birote salado, for example, is a version developed in Mexico.

Here’s hoping that bakers can come to some agreement, and take the sour out of the situation!

Fresh Tomatoes

    Congressional Commotion – for Tomatoes

Eats Index is a politics-free zone, we’re proud to say. You can get negativity and discord in plenty of other places.

One legislative body that we heartily endorse, however, is the Global Tomato Congress.

Actually, the GTC was a first-time event held last week in Rotterdam – in the Netherlands. As its website touts, the event featured more than 40 top tomato speakers.

You’d think that an ingredient as venerable and omni-present as the tomato would be unlikely to be on trend. Maybe. But tomatoes are continuing to, um, grow.

As noted at the recent Congress, tomatoes are a key component in many vegetarian and vegan recipes, of course – and seem well positioned to benefit from the ongoing plant-focused eating trend.

Further, raw tomatoes may be poised to feature in healthy snacks.

We’re ready to vote tomato in 2020...

(The Global Tomato Congress is organized by the same group that puts on the Global Berry Congress, which – its website says – highlights both "berry brilliance" and the "best berry business minds." Bravo!)

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