Nutrition-wise blog

Restaurant trends — What's on the menu for 2013?

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. January 9, 2013

Each year the National Restaurant Association surveys professional chefs to identify upcoming restaurant trends. Below are their findings and my take on what's going to be hot in 2013:

  • Locally sourced meats and seafood, including newer cuts of meat and sustainable, non-traditional fish
  • Locally grown produce, including "hyper-local sourcing" (think restaurant gardens) and farm-branded items
  • Environmental sustainability

Although these trends were evolving in 2012, they're going to be in full force this year. Customers like you and I appreciate eating lower on the food chain and leaving a smaller carbon footprint.

This year also promises to see more attention paid to children's cuisine:

  • Healthful kids' meals
  • More whole grains in kids' meals
  • Fruit and vegetable side dishes

In addition, the National Restaurant Association is partnering with the Healthy Dining Finders Program on an initiative called "Kids LiveWell." Restaurants that participate submit menus that meet kid-friendly nutrition criteria. In return, the restaurants can use the program's icon on their menus to indicate a healthful choice and be listed on Healthy Dining Finder's website and mobile app. Other hot menu items for children: oven-baked chicken fingers, low-fat milk, 100 percent juice and sushi.

Two-thirds or more chefs ranked the following as the top trends for 2013:

  • Gluten-free cuisine, including non-wheat noodles and pasta made from quinoa, rice or buckwheat
  • Half-portions and smaller portions for lower prices
  • Health and nutrition conscious cuisine

More than half of chefs reported that they're making efforts to adjust recipes to be more healthful by using more fruit and vegetables, and by reducing sodium. That's good news for anyone who's watching calories and for people with celiac disease.

It looks like restaurants in 2013 are shaping up. What's your take on these trends?

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Jan. 09, 2013