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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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What's the Hottest Trend in Eating?

Uploaded: Feb 2, 2020

Are you a “foodie;” someone who stays up on new food and restaurant trends? Or are you just interested in good health and flavor? Either way, here’s a tip you are going to be hearing a lot more about: plant-forward cuisine. Different than plant-based (all plants) or our traditional meals with meat as the main dish, plant-forward cooking catapults vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds to new heights. If meat is included, it’s reserved more for a side dish or condiment. This way of eating allows everyone to benefit from more plants, but takes the pressure off meat lovers who don’t want give up flavors they love.

For instance, one plant-forward trend is replacing part of the beef in your burger with mushroom. Tastes tests show that cooks can replace up to 30% meat with mushrooms and eaters can’t tell the difference. The substitution is more than just a healthy choice for people. On average, the U.S. consumes 10 billion hamburgers a year. A 70% beef/30% mushroom burger blend would translate into (annually) 10.5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions eliminated, with associated agricultural changes equivalent to removing 2.3 million cars off the road, as well as saving 83 billion gallons of water.

Who’s eating more plants? The statistics are unexpected.

But while only 5% of the population has tried a vegan diet, a full 57% of us eat “flexitarian.”

Organic foods have been the high-growth sector of the food industry for awhile, but the Food Party! predicts plant-forward is the future. And who to lead the way toward our collective enlightenment but the premiere culinary institute - the Culinary Institute of America. In April, they will host the second Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit, a conference and hands-on immersion into plant paradise. Copia in Napa, CA, is the location

where 300 chefs will gather, as well as foodservice operators, and experts in food, flavor development, cooking, agriculture, media, and food system transformation from around the world.

Key to this style of cooking is craveability; even though the meal is mostly, or all, plants - cooks and eaters still insist on deep flavors, deliciousness and presentation.

I went last year. Here’s some of the dishes we tried using plants in unconventional ways….

Peanut Hummus, Herb-Roasted Carrots with Feta

Black Bean Patty Melt, Caramelized Onions, vegan Swiss Cheese on Rye

White Mole with Fermented Carrots Nuts Seeds and Charcole

Sorghum, Purple Barley, Marinated Shittake and Leek Salad with Rockfish Confit

Legume Kefta with Lamb

Jackfruit and Pork Posole

Smoked Carrot Lox from vegetable superstar chef Tal Ronnen

And for dessert

Butter Lettuce Panna Cotta

Vegan Popper Amaranth Peanut Butter Cups

Over the next 10 years, the plant-forward juggernaut will transform our expectations of restaurants, and how we cook at home. It is the growing passion of young people—and older generations are showing interest too. Plant-forward is the need of our time, and it is what’s cooking, right now. Join us!

Global Plant Forward Summit
The Culinary Institute of America at Copia
April 29 – May 1

Photos by LSIC

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Don Keedick, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Feb 3, 2020 at 4:24 pm

Don Keedick is a registered user.

Love me some vegetarian food. What I don't love however is vegetarian food masquerading as meat. This is why I believe that the whole beyond meat thing will be a blip. If you're already vegetarian, why try to eat something that mocks what you don't eat?

 +   9 people like this
Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Feb 4, 2020 at 6:36 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

I get your point Don and thanks for using your name. How the industry would answer this is you are not their market. The beyond meat movement is designed for meat eaters - not people who already eat that way.

 +   8 people like this
Posted by PA Mom, a resident of another community,
on Feb 4, 2020 at 12:42 pm

These dishes look incredible. Are any of the recipes available?

 +   4 people like this
Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Feb 5, 2020 at 7:14 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

PA Mom - the CIA does a great job at the food (of course). LEt me look into my files, and I would have to get approval from them to publish also. Tell me which one (s) you might want and I can get back later.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Feb 9, 2020 at 6:23 pm

I'd advise @Don against Googling steak cake.
Ultimate meat masquerade, hope to never encounter one.
Funny my Google ads pair it with both Sundance Steakhouse and Mayfield Bakery.

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