Top 10 food trends in 2013: Piri-piri chicken and veggie divas

(Simone van den Berg/shutterstock.com)

(Simone van den Berg/shutterstock.com)

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, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

In 2013, expect to see more foods like kale, Brussels sprouts, quinoa, piri-piri chicken, mezze, ramen noodles and ceviche on restaurant menus across the US.

That's the crystal ball prediction being made by foodservice research firm Technomic, which released the top food trends they believe will shape the restaurant industry next year.

At the top of the list? Vegetables and the humble plant kingdom finally get their "star turn," says the report.

The list was compiled by on-site visits and interviews with chefs, restaurant operators and consumers in addition to data from Technomic's own menu database.

Here are their picks for the top 10 food trends to shape 2013:

Vegetables
With the rising popularity of Meatless Mondays and the growing interest in healthy, nutritious dining, veggies such as kale and Brussels sprouts will no longer play second fiddle as a side dish to proteins, but take on the lead role not only in entrée salads but in roasted and steamed form.

Grains
As the gluten-free trend shows no sign of slowing, grains like quinoa, amaranth, millet, wild rice, oats and buckwheat will boast a bigger presence on restaurant menus. Meanwhile, couscous, bulgur and polenta, which are central to some of the popular ethnic cuisines, will likewise become increasingly popular.

Chicken
The next big trend in poultry? Portuguese and Africa-inspired piri-piri chicken, spiced with crushed chilies, citrus, onion, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, bay leaves and other herbs and spices. The big player promoting piri-piri chicken? South African chain Nando's, which has been called the next KFC and a chicken franchise to watch.

Snacking
Restaurants are indulging the trend towards snacking habits, with more and more menus offering tapas, mezze and gourmet bar snack-type bites. Meanwhile, fast food eateries like McDonald's and KFC have also shrunk some of their offerings to help consumers satisfy mid-afternoon hunger pangs.

Bigger box meals
At the other end of the spectrum, restaurants and fast food chains are offering big family meal deals that include multi-course menus, whole chicken and animal dinners and dine-in plus to-go offers.

Diner and deli fare
Technomic predicts that consumer appreciation for retro-style diners that serve meaty sandwiches, soups and house-made pickles will be on the rise.

Oodles of noodles
Asian noodles in all forms will become increasingly popular across the menu board, from ramen to udon, soba, cellophane and rice noodles, in everything from soups, salads, and main dishes.

Flavors of the deep south - South America that is
Menus will begin venturing beyond Mexico to include the cooking styles and flavors of Brazil, Argentina and Peru, with grilled meats, chimichurri sauce, ceviche, and drinks like Brazil's caipirinha and Peru's pisco sour.

Ethnic fast-casual restaurants
An industry dominated by major players like Chipotle, Panera Bread, Panda Express and Five Guys, the fast casual business will see more ethnic players emerge, from Southeast Asian cuisine to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare.

Beverages
More and more restaurants will begin to innovate their drinks menu with natural energy drinks, homemade sodas, cocktails made with candy-flavored vodkas, and will promote locally produced craft beers and brews.


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