July 1, 2014

Beets are among the top organic food trends for 2014.Sterling Rice Group releases a list of the top trends in natural and organic food each year. The 2014 list includes a few surprises and some common foods you probably already use in your cooking courses. From honey to milk, the organic aisle at your grocery store is likely to include the listed items. Here’s a look at six trends:

1. Lentils
This not-so-obscure legume has been a common ingredient in vegetarian cooking for years thanks to its high concentration of protein. As more consumers move away from meat-heavy meals, they’re turning to lentils instead. To get more of this healthy ingredient, consider adding lentils to soups or chilis. It also makes a great meat substitute in vegetarian burgers.

2. Probiotics
Digestive health is on the minds of U.S. consumers, and the Sterling Rice Group notes that consuming probiotics will be popular throughout 2014. Whether obtained through a vitamin supplement or diet, probiotics will be a common part of organic meals. As a chef, you probably want to eat your way to happy stomach. Yogurt is naturally rich in probiotics, so consider adding it to your dishes.

3. Beets
This vegetable is popular not only as side dish, but also as a sweetener. You can roast beets and include them in a salad or use them to make an ice cream. Get creative with this healthy food and your diners will be sure to notice.

4. Bee-free honey
Consumers are becoming aware of the sudden bee shortage in which entire populations of the insect have died out. Bees are important for more than just making honey, but producers of the product have decided to cover their bases. You’ll likely find plant-based sweeteners that mimic the taste of this golden elixir – vegans should be happy about this one!

5. Liquid grains
Quinoa, oats and other grains contain fiber and protein. Instead of just eating these ingredients in 2014, consumers may be drinking them. Be on the lookout for quinoa smoothies and oat milk this year. You can follow this trend without purchasing new products by adding your own grains to homemade drinks. Cook some oats and blend them with bananas, strawberries and soy milk for a protein-rich breakfast drink.

6. Algae milk
While we’re on the topic of liquids, the world of milk has taken a turn. There was soy, rice and hemp, and now there’s algae. This green organism is surprisingly rich in omega 3, protein and fiber, and is the only vegan source of DHA, a form of fatty acids.