Red palm oil, quinoa, saffron top 2013 food trends

From red palm oil to eggs, here are a few food trends for 2013. (Fotolia)

From red palm oil to eggs, here are a few food trends for 2013. (Fotolia)

Rita DeMontis, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:22 PM ET

Ditch the dieting, embrace your inner quinoa and get sassy with saffron.

And don't forget to rub a little red palm oil behind your ears.

So it is that 2013 shines bright with culinary promise and the happy arrival of yet another batch of the newest food trends.

Dr. Oz is touting the medicinal properties of red palm oil, the "new miracle food" — what happened to coconut oil? — and the United Nations has officially announced 2013 the International Year of the Quinoa, a designation that's meant to "focus world attention on the role that quinoa´s biodiversity and nutritional value plays in providing food security and nutrition," noted on the UN's website.

Really? Quinoa rocketed on the food scene faster than the last American Idol, not bad for a foodsource that looks like a carb, comes from a plant, is gluten-free and high in protein and will probably land you a date if you eat enough of it.

But its popularity proves to be a double-edged sword — the old supply and demand chestnut has seen prices rise along with its popularity, leaving us wondering who will truly benefit. And, to be honest — it's an acquired taste.

How long its popularity lasts remains to be seen for what The Daily Meal calls a junk crop. Speaking of, The Daily Meal, the website that houses all things food and drink, reports that, since the world didn't end last month, expect "anything to go" this year, with "macarons and donuts redoubling their assault on cupcakes."

What to look out for in 2013? The rise in pressure cookers, lardo as the new pork belly, beer and wine hybrids, sea beans, eggs in appetizers and high-end counter dining, to name just a few bon mots we should look forward to.

The Food Channelrecently released its 2013 Trends Forecast,  compiled in conjunction with CultureWaves and the International Food Futurists, noting smoked foods — and beverages — are what to look out for, including smoked cocktails and even smoked water!

Apparently at-home bakers can rejoice with the news they'll be given the tools to make difficult dishes a little easier thanks to new parchments, pans and online tutorials. Think French pastries for the masses.

This is also the year we see brunch as the fourth meal and illegal dining (also known as clandestine dining or pop-up restaurants) turned into hush dining — "fueled by Twitter and the spirit of entrepreneurship." Ah yes, the thrill of the hunt. Here in Canada, The Test Kitchen Topline Trends  reports a greater variety of cheese, yogurt and ice cream products made from dairy other than cow's milk, poultry lovers going to the dark meat side, and sea vegetables with a side of social responsibility.

And the much-maligned anchovy is emerging as an ingredient that "packs a huge umami punch for chefs, food truck operators and food writers.

"You'll also be seeing saffron used in unique ways — Cat Cora has launched several teas with saffron in them," says Topline Trends' Amy Whitson, adding "there's still seems to be a buzz about popcorn."

But the biggest trend is the the diet backlash, adds Whitson — a message rippling through the the talk show circuit not to mention healthy-eating gurus.

This year — eat smarter, not harder!

What do I think will be coming this year? Definitely more chefs and food stars endorsing everything from canned foods to furniture polish, and more hand-ringing over our food source's carbon footprint.

My 2013 wish list includes less waste, smaller dishes and learning to love our leftovers.


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