Every December, just for fun, I enjoy surfing the web, perusing food magazines and reading industry publications for the trends that food pundits predict that we consumers will be eating in the New Year. Living in rural Maine, we may not have the opportunity to consume insects or vegetable yogurts, but in my research this year, it appears that we Mainers all ready eat pretty well.
My New Year’s predictions for 2016 trends include:
- Local and sustainable. Locally sourced meats and seafood, sustainably harvested seafood, locally grown produce, and farm branded items. Nothing says this any better than Maine lobster!
- Reducing food waste and simple, back-to-basics cooking. We Americans throw out more than 30% of our food stream. Think smaller portions and encores (leftovers) for lunch. Or better still, roast a garlic-studded Maine farm-raised chicken, prepare a savory chicken stock with the carcass, and produce your own chicken soup.
- Artisan and house made. Artisan ice cream, house made pickles, artisan butchery and fresh sausage, all creative ways to enjoy local foods. You make it, we’ll eat it!
- Ancient grains. Quinoa, kamut, faro, chia, spelt, amaranth and millet. Expand your taste buds! The health benefits of these super foods include high fiber and better digestion, which reduces the risk of cancer and diabetes, B vitamins and minerals like phosphorus and zinc.
- African cuisine. The African continent is quite large; the cuisines vary by region, and are a combination of locally produced fruits, cereal grains and vegetables. Middle Eastern influences of spices include saffron, cloves and cinnamon. A new culinary adventure!
Here’s to a healthy and happy eating New Year!
NORTH AFRICAN CHICKEN SOUP
- 1 tablespoon fat (bacon fat, olive oil, butter)
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 12 ounces cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup dry bulgur wheat
- 1 cup chopped celery or celeriac
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 2 cups tomato puree or chopped tomatoes
- 1 3-inch long cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon marjoram
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- In a large pot, heat the fat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté until soft. Add the chicken stock, chicken, bulgur, tomato puree, chopped celery and carrots. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, herbs and spices. Stir to mix well. Bring to a boil.
- Cover, reduce the heat and simmer until the bulgur is tender. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper.