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Issue 011
2020 in firework lights

Happy New Year, everybody!

We wish you all the very best for 2020. We hope the new year brings you happiness, health, and success.

Before your New Year's celebration gets into full swing, let's update you on some cool trends and news from the world of food blogging.

** And if you’re too busy with last-minute resolution-making, by all means star 🌟or flag  🚩this email for later enjoyment.

** You can also see past articles and trends on our website’s article archive page.

Now, put the bubbly in the fridge. Ready the confetti. Here we go!

Edible Bowl


In last week’s issue, we discussed the edible coffee cups , currently being offered on Air New Zealand. Our article received a lot of interest – and we received many emails about it.

The point behind edible cups, as you surely remember, is to focus on sustainability and to reduce waste.

Well, South African startup Munch Bowls is also getting into the edible dishware game. They make biodegradable bowls from wheat. The bowls can hold salads, fruit, cereal and – supposedly – hot soup!

We like their tagline: “Have your plate . . . and eat it!”

As cool and biodegradable as Munch Bowls pasta straws are, they are unfortunately not gluten-free (as some the Eats Index staff is.)

It also seems that Munch Bowls are savory. We’re wondering if in the future they will offer a sweet version?

Munch Bowls aren’t available to the public yet – we’ll let you know when they are.

One more benefit we thought of for Munch Bowls – they could reduce the amount of time we spend washing dinner dishes! What a glorious time to be alive! 😁

Variety of foods for 2020


The Nielsen Company is the grandaddy of measuring Americans’ actions and preferences. It started by tabulating TV watching and has expanded from there...

Well – calling all food bloggers! – Nielsen recently released a report titled “How Americans Will Eat,” and it’s packed with great insights.

First off, the report interviewed nearly 20,000 people. That’s a pretty big sample size!

    Health First

Nielsen reports that 49% of people in their survey made efforts to eat healthier in 2019. However, many say they’re still not eating as well as they’d like.

Interestingly, there seems to be some disagreement about what “healthy” means.

From Nielsen: “Millennials feel healthy eating isn’t just about nutrition and diet; they believe it extends to mental wellness, stress management and saving both money and time. Millennials are two to three more likely than the oldest generations to change their eating habits in order to manage mental health, finances and time.”

    Health includes Mental

Foods that are supposed to boost mental health all saw significant increases in the last year. These include tuna, blueberries, and shrimp.

(We couldn’t find any recipes that used all three of these ingredients. Not to be ridiculous, but if you could create such a recipe, maybe it would be a mental health supercharger? We did find a good number of recipes that used tuna and blueberries, such as Blueberry Carrot Tuna Wraps and Grilled Shrimp with Blueberry Salsa and – whoa! – Shrimp Corn Dogs with Blueberry Mustard .)

Nielsen says that when it comes to products and ingredients, companies "need to prioritize mental health just as much as they do physical health.”

What this means for food bloggers:  Any food blogger who’s been awake this past year knows that people are interested in healthy options.

We’d like to see bloggers emphasize healthy options without becoming full-on diet blogs. That is, you certainly don’t need your every recipe to be slimming, but it’d be great to include healthy ideas almost every time, as options.

It’s just worth remembering, too, that Millennials (people aged approximately 20-40) are looking to food for mental health.

Even if you don’t feature a lot of recipes with soothing ingredients (like this cucumber mint iced tea or chamomile and honey macarons ), you could at least try to regularly post comfort foods.

(One way of putting it is to try to look at comfort food as “self care on a plate.")

And luckily, the comfort foods category is pretty broad, encompassing everything from mac and cheese to lasagna to chocolate chip cookies.

Another idea:  give yourself a goal schedule when it comes to comfort food dishes. That is, how regularly can you commit to posting comfort foods? Once a month, once a week?

    Convenience Matters

People are more focused on saving time than ever. Nielsen reports that “Americans are drinking, not just eating, their snacks, and beverages can help bridge the gap to time savings.”

What this means for food bloggers:  You don’t have to offer tons of smoothie recipes, of course, but a category on your site for “low time” recipes seems smart. People want convenience, so you should at least give them an idea of how easy and speedy a given recipe is.

On the other hand, we know there is still interest in slower, more involved recipes, like this Cinnamon Rolls recipe, or this Duck Confit , or this Salted Caramel Cake. Just be upfront about cooking times, of course!

Further, it’s worth remembering that most home cooks move a good deal slower than experienced food bloggers and recipe creators. Home cooks prefer realistic cooking times over ‘best case scenario’ times.

    Price Matters

This is a no brainer, but Nielsen’s study confirmed that foods and ingredients need to be reasonably priced.

As Nielsen says, “consumers won’t try what they don’t believe they can afford.”

And “one-third of Americans (33%) say they will prioritize price when it comes to what they consume over the next five years.”

What this means for food bloggers:  Again, knowing people are price conscious is just good to bear in mind. If all your 2020 recipes feature caviar and truffles, your may have trouble growing your audience!

You may be familiar with the food blog Budget Bytes , where proprietor Beth Moncel includes an estimated cost with every recipe. Maybe that level of specificity isn’t your cup of tea, but it’d still be good to give an indication of pricey vs. economical.

You could also help home cooks achieve fancy results for less.

Some everyday foods are pretty costly. As Nielsen points out in their report, many people want a lot of protein, which can be costly. You could create inexpensive ways to make jerky, power bars, trail mix, and so forth.

    Zero Lumps

Americans are forecast to consume less sugar the coming year. Big surprise, right?

The lower sugar trend shows now signs of abating. Indeed, the words "no carbs and no sugar" ranked No. 8 on Google's most-searched diets of 2019 .

This year, a whopping 80 percent of U.S. households said they bought sugar-free items in the last year, according to Nielsen data. Again, not surprising.

You could gain some traction by experimenting with non-sugar sweeteners. Monkfruit, stevia, and the roll-right-off-the-tongue erythritol are all options.

As an example idea, we googled – and couldn’t really find – "monkfruit macarons." As that sweetener becomes more popular, so will recipes that use it.

New York Times and doughnut


The New York Times cooking section released their top fifty recipes of the past year. The list is based on which recipes received the most website visits.

The most popular dishes are mostly ones that work for weekday dinners – and we like that.

The number one most viewed recipe was a sheet pan chicken created by NY Times favorite Alison Roman. (We discussed the Times’ obsession with sheet pan recipes in a previous issue of the newsletter . And Alison Roman blew up in 2019!)

In the top fifty, there were a couple more sheet pan recipes, such as Maple and Miso Sheet-Pan Salmon and Sheet-Pan Chocolate Chip Pancakes .

We liked seeing that the top fifty list also contained some traditional fare, such as Grilled Flank Steak with Worcestershire Butter and Lemon Chicken with Herbs .

We always encourage food bloggers to share comfort food recipes and indeed, there were a good number on NYT’s list, such as French Onion Macaroni and Cheese . (We just gained two or three pounds writing that recipe’s name!)

Cauliflower certainly made its presence known in a goodly number of dishes, including Crispy Spiced Cauliflower Steaks , Creamy Cauliflower Pasta , and Cauliflower Adobo .

Many soups were present – they must be popular. Some entries included Spicy Corn and Coconut Soup (that does sound good!) and Spicy Noodle Soup with Mushrooms .

We are always interested in dessert here at the Eats Index offices. (Sugar is the prime offender when it comes to our guilty pleasures!) NYT’s list included Mango Pie , which looks pretty darn good.

Other dessert items on the list were pretty much fruit-based, like No Bake Lemon Custards with Strawberries and Baked Apples (is that even really a dessert?)

Lisbon Chocolate Cake was the only real chocolate dessert on the list (we don’t count the pancakes mentioned above). We feel this is something of an outrage! We love sweet and decadent desserts!

What do you think about the lack of representation for chocolate?

We couldn’t help but notice that were no other cakes, no ice cream, no pastries on the list. We suppose this is further evidence of the healthy, low-sugar eating trend that is prevalent these days.

What this means for food bloggers:  If you’re brainstorming recipes to create, you could do worse than starting with a review of NYT’s list. It’ll give you a good idea of a variety of popular recipes and ingredients.

And we look forward to your recipes making headlines in 2020! It could happen, right!?

The 2010s and a naked cake


We’ve noticed in the news that it’s not just the end of the year – it’s the end of a decade. Okay, wow. Where does the time go anyway?!

A number of news articles are offering retrospectives and reviews of the just completed decade. They’re saying, “Here’s the decade that was...”

Just for the heck of it, we googled "food trends of the 2010s" to see what people are saying on that subject. We found a lot.

Ten years ago, it’s safe to say that none of us had heard of avocado toast. And yet it became huge in the past few years.

Another big trend over the past decade was photogenic foods. Maybe when we look back on the decade that just went by, we’ll remember people taking pictures of their plates in restaurants for posting to Instagram. (Or, er, the ‘gram.)

Bowls aren’t just for soup any more! They really came into their own in the past ten years. Many Mexican restaurants began offering bowls in place of burritos. And of course, açai bowls became a “thing.” And in just the last couple years, poke bowls dominated.

Ten years ago, we thought that kombucha was the name of a hot young pop sensation. We know better now. Kombucha and other fermented foods are a trend from the past decade that will continue into the next one.

Similarly, ten years ago the world hadn’t quite yet experienced the Sriracha craze. Sriracha popped up everywhere in recent years, from chips to cookies to sorbet.

Remember ramen burgers, anyone? That’s a trend that’s pretty much come and gone. Ramen itself though – as the title character in soups, for example – is a 2010s trend that’s still strong.

Naked cakes – rustic with minimal frosting – were big, especially at weddings.

Non-dairy milks really got popular this past decade. Almond milk and soy milk seemed almost traditional compared with the likes of oat, hemp, and cashew milk – along with other “alt” milks.

No list of the past decade’s food trends would be complete without a mention of pumpkin spice flavor (thank you, Starbucks lattes!)

Further, quinoa and kale both went from to occasional to commonplace.

This past year, hard cider and plant-based meats came into their own and look to be extending into 2020.

Let’s close out the past decade’s trends with a round-up list. More trends we all saw...

Meal kits started bringing recipes and all needed ingredients conveniently to people’s homes (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Plated, etc.)

Delivery services became huge (Door Dash, Uber Eats, Postmates, and more).

Instapots and air fryers popped up on kitchen counters around the globe

• One of our writers once knew a dog named “keto” or something like that. Now the keto diet is big time, along with its approved dishes, such as bone broth.

• Also on the diet front, zoodles helped people avoid carbs

Gluten-free got bigger – and continues to be almost common nowadays.

Rainbow foods delighted our eyes and our Instagram feeds, even if they didn’t do favors for our waistlines.

And now some questions for you, the folks in the trenches of food blogs . . .

• Did we miss any obvious trends from the 2010s?

• Are you “over” of any of the trends we’ve listed?

• Are you still enamored with any of them?

And most importantly, what trends will define the coming decade?

And how many of them will you start?!

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