Food trends you'll see in 2018

Thanks to social media, food trends are huge. Every year has them, and while some stick around others are anywhere from just plain weird to entirely forgettable. If you're at all familiar with the power of the internet — and you know you are — you'll also know there's no telling what people are going to come up with next. Fortunately, we've had a look around to guess at what you're going to see in the coming months, and it looks like 2018 should be an interesting year for food trends.

Gut-friendly foods

According to BBC Good Food, everyone is growing increasingly aware of not just what they're eating, but how it's making them feel. Couple that with ongoing research on just how the microscopic ecosystems in our gut interact with the food we eat, and you're going to be seeing more and more tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your meals. That's things like adding probiotics and prebiotics (like live bio-yogurt), cutting back on late-night eating, and paying attention to every bite of your food, instead of just being distracted by all the tech we're surrounded with 24/7. Mindful eating is going to become a buzzword, and it's all down to making our days happier and more comfortable.

Now, you know about yogurt, so what else can you expect people to be talking about? Health Magazine ranks kefir, kombucha, cultured soy milk, kvass, and sourdough bread as being tops when it comes to digestive comfort.

Purple food

We've had rainbow food and black food, and for 2018, The Telegraph says we're going to have purple food. That's both traditionally always-purple foods (like eggplant, grapes, and plums), and also purple variations of things like carrots, cabbage, and potatoes, too. You're probably going to be seeing some purple-hued newcomers to grocery store shelves, as well, like winter berries and elderberries.  Focusing on color isn't as weird as it sounds, and the British Heart Foundation says preparing colorful meals helps ensure you're filling your plate with a variety of nutrients.

Expect to see social media driving this particular trend, as not only are those purple plates pretty beautiful, Pantone named ultraviolet as the Color of the Year 2018. It's all coming together!

Superfood lattes and healthier coffee

Gone are the days of pouring yourself a steaming cup of buttery coffee. For 2018, expect to see a ton of ideas for healthier coffees popping up in your social media feeds. According to Vegan Food and Living, many of those aren't even going to contain caffeine. Instead, they're going to be relying on things like green tea, matcha tea, turmeric, green algae, and beetroot to not only make a colorful cup, but give you caffeine-free energy boost along with some other benefits. Turmeric, for example, is a long-standing anti-inflammatory and it's surprisingly tasty in your morning beverage. The LA Times adds that Pinterest searches for "healthy coffee" skyrocketed at the end of 2017, as people are apparently eager to make the most out of that cup of coffee they're drinking anyway. It also doesn't hurt that they look pretty darn cool.

Gochujang

You've probably had a bottle of sriracha as a kitchen staple for a long time, but this spicy ingredient may finally be replaced. The Daily Meal says gochujang is going to be the new way to spice up all your favorite dishes, and even if it doesn't sounds familiar, you've likely tasted it before. It's a fermented chili paste popular in Korean dishes, mostly because it captures that sought-after umami. It's sweet, it's spicy, it's thicker than sriracha, and you can add it to just about anything that needs a bit of a makeover. In 2018, you may be doing exactly that.

Adult soft drinks and craft sodas

As the world grows increasingly health-conscious, that's put the soft drinks and soda market into a bit of a slump. Manufacturers have been looking for a way to revitalize interest in these beverages with a bad reputation, and USA Today says the craft soda market has been steadily climbing since 2011. It's entirely possible that 2018 is going to be the year that lavender and hibiscus sodas start showing up in your Instagram, taking over the same way the craft beer industry did.

Beverage Daily adds the excitement is extending to adult soft drinks, which are essentially non-alcoholic beverages that are just as fun and flavorful as their alcoholic counterparts. They're catering to those who are trying to cut back on — or cut out — the booze, but who don't want to cut out the flavor. Expect to see fermented sodas, cold brew coffees, and brewed sodas on the rise.

Alternate proteins

What do we mean by "alternate proteins"? A lot, actually, and as the world continues a swing toward sustainability and less meat consumption, expect to see some formerly niche foods go a little more mainstream. According to a study covered by The Conversation, an increase in food consciousness is pushing more and more people toward plant-based proteins. Meals based around lentils, black beans, tofu, and edamame are going to be more common, says One Green Planet, and expect to see spirulina and other algaes gaining a serious following.

And, if you've avoided eating insects until now, chances are pretty good you won't be able to avoid it much longer. Compare the environmental impact of raising cattle to the impact made by farming crickets, and you're going to find more and more people overcoming the "ew" to start snacking on things like the cricket meatballs featured at Germany's Anuga food fair (via DW).

Fermented foods

The popularity of fermented foods are on the rise, and according to Supermarket News, they're going to be some of 2018's superfoods. They're linked with one of our other trends — gut-friendly foods — and because of our ever-increasing awareness of what immediate impact our diet has on our bodies, we're going to be embarking on a serious love affair with fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, tempeh, miso, and kimchi.

There's another benefit waiting to be discovered here, and that's preservation. Feed Avalon is a U.K.-based organization focused on sustainability and healthy eating. They're already offering classes on how to ferment your own foods, and it's a long-term commitment more and more people are going to be taking on right in their home kitchens. Prep your summer vegetables for the winter months, and it's a great way to eat right all year long. How can you not love it?

The fourth meal

As one of the U.K.'s major food chains, Waitrose needs to have its finger on the pulse of the consumer. According to Waitrose (via Business Insider), it's gearing up to have the fourth meal become one of the trends people will be shopping for in 2018. It isn't the only chain getting ready, either, and British Baker says most U.K.-based food service industries are looking at how to capitalize on this growing trend.

So, what is it? It's a sort of formalized snack, and it's becoming more popular as people are being forced to adapt to increasingly irregular schedules. Most will opt to fit in an evening snack, if dinner is being moved earlier, or into a post-workout, afternoon time. It's definitely not a full meal, and it's just something to fill the void — healthy, or not-so-healthy.

Cannabis cuisine

CBS News says entire meals made with cannabis have been served up on the down-low (and with a medical marijuana card) for some time, but with more and more states legalizing recreational use, you can expect to see pot-laced food popping up more in 2018.

What kind of delicacies can you expect? They say it'll be everything from pot-infused soups and wines to chocolate, trail mix, and even health foods served up at gyms for post-workout snacking. Cafes and restaurants specializing in cannabis cuisine are likely to become popular, and Munchies says the revolution has already started. Expect sweet and savory dishes alike, from the super-trendy to the more mainstream. Cannabis is even being used in after-dinner cocktails, making this a likely candidate for the next food movement.

Pandan

Nigella Lawson called it the "new matcha," according to The Guardian, and that's no small claim. If you're not familiar with it, you're probably not alone. It's actually an ancient ingredient that's just making an appearance in the Western world, and you'll probably be seeing these long, green leaves popping up on social media feeds all over the place. They've been touted for their health benefits for a long time, and it's claimed they can be used to do everything from treat sunburns to reduce stress.

Those are lofty claims, but what's the practicality of all this? They're used to add a sweet, almost vanilla-like flavor to foods, and The Independent says you'll be seeing the leaves ground into a paste and used in sweet and savory dishes alike. As an added bonus, they're great for adding a little flair to your photographs.

Cottage cheese

There's nothing pretty about cottage cheese, and that makes it all the more surprising that this lumpy, chunky spread is set to be massive this year. According to Fast Company, it's the dairy industry that's driving this one in a bid to make cottage cheese just as popular as Greek yogurt.

The selling point is that it's good for you. It's packed with all kinds of calcium and nutrients, but it tastes a bit like how getting socks for your birthday feels. It's been largely unchanged for the last 40-odd years, but a number of companies have jumped on board a cottage cheese rebranding in 2017, lining up 2018 to be the year of cottage cheese's rebirth. Gone are the days of boring, bland cottage cheese, as you're going to see flavored varieties popping up at your grocery store. Will it be enough to revamp the image of the soggy, slimy, yuck-pudding? Time will tell!

Ancient grains and pseudograins

You're familiar with some ancient and pseudograins already. According to the Washington Post, a huge number of new and revamped products hit shelves in 2017, including trendy new grains like quinoa. That's set to continue and, if anything, they're going to become even more important as companies find new ways to make them more convenient. Think microwavable lunches, side dishes, and rice bowls with ancient grains as the star, and you'll be on the right track of what you're going to be seeing more of in 2018.

You're probably going to be seeing an even larger variety, too. Bold Business says grains like amaranth, kamut, einkorn, teff, millet, and spelt are all poised to be the next quinoa, and if some of those sound vaguely familiar, they should. Kamut and einkorn are grains that have remained largely unchanged since the days of our ancient ancestors, but millet and spelt have more commonly been used as animal feed. Before you make a face, don't forget that oats were once nothing more than animal feed, too. Quaker Oats revolutionized how we thought of them, and it's likely to happen again soon.

Ghee

Butter might not be amazing for you, but let's be honest: You wouldn't want to live without it. Margarine was big for a while, and 2018 is likely to welcome the next version of butter. It's called ghee, and Taste of Home says it's a clarified butter that doesn't have the casein or whey that's found in standard butter. All that's left is the butterfat, and it's ideal for pretty much everything.

It's great for baking because it'll help all your favorite baked goods brown at an even rate. It has a high smoke point, so it's great for foods you're cooking at high temperatures, and it's great for slow-cooking, too. Even the texture is right, since it's super-creamy and will pass that on to any dish it's in. It's no wonder it's on the cusp of being the food world's new go-to butter — we just want to know why it hasn't happened before.