Trend Perspectives with Cynthia Maxwell

As we rolled into 2020, we had no idea that in just a few short months, we would be spending the majority of our time at home. Not only that, without access to our favorite restaurants, social gatherings, schools, leisure travel, and even some of our friends and family.


What is the go-to focus when the world outside our living space is not an option? There are several, but with grocery stores being one of the essential businesses at the moment, food would be at the top of the list.

In the first week of shelter in place, I saw posts on Instagram and received texts from friends that were turning to comfort foods like soup and steak, and of course, good ole chocolate cake. Yet as we have hunkered down, things have started to get a bit more creative. Plus, springtime is upon us, and primally, we begin to crave lighter, brighter fare.

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Here are some social media inspired food trends during COVID-19...

FOOD BOARDS

Food boards were a top trend on my food list at the beginning of the year, and now it seems just perfect for our insular lifestyles. What are food boards? Pretty much any themed food items you can place on a food-safe flat surface. You have most certainly partaken in a cheeseboard. In the last year, they have expanded beyond cheese to almost anything one could dream up-waffle and pancake boards, French fry boards, brunch boards, The Epic Cobb Salad Board, and holiday-themed boards featuring candy or desserts of the season.

You might think that a food board has to be big, especially based on what you have seen on social media. However, just think about artfully arranging your favorite foods on a cutting board surface in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to you!

This trend adds a whole new dimension to dining and is one that can be fun for the entire family. Boards are also a food stylist at heart’s dream landscape for food arrangement by color and texture.

MEAL KITS

I have seen a whole lot of meal kits at my neighbors’ doors lately! Even a friend of mine has decided to start cooking a bit healthier last week and has subscribed to a meal kit service as a jumping-off point.

This food trend has had some ups and downs since introduced, but companies have worked out some of the kinks, including order options, and now the meal kit delivery market is expected to reach $8.94 billion USD by 2025.

One of the newest in the game is Martha & Marley Spoon, with none other than Martha Stewart. Marley Spoon offers a large variety of organic produce and global food options like Faster-Than-Takeout Chicken Wonton Stir Fry and Argentine-style Pork Chops. If you want some comfort meals, you will be happy to see offerings like Butter-Basted Steak and Glazed Mini Meatloaves.

Meal kit companies are also offering alternative diet meals that are Keto, Paleo, gluten-free, plant-based, and vegetarian.

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BAKING


A trend that never goes out of style and very close to my heart! The first week of shelter-in-place, I made homemade graham crackers and almond flour chocolate chip cookies and a few other sweet treats. There is a list for the coming weeks as well.

King Arthur Flour has started to post lovely pictures of their employee-owners families baking together on Instagram. Everything from bagels to homemade flour tortillas!

The company has also invited us into their test kitchen to share their mishaps, and baking flops aptly named “April Fools in the Kitchen,” compassionately sharing that just like home bakers, their professionals make mistakes too.

Cakes and confections are a hot hashtag, and with the IGTV option now in place, Instagram is THE place to see some pretty amazing cake decorating skills.

If you’re looking to challenge your baking skills, Arabic and Filipino sweets are at the top of the trend list for 2020. Dates, figs, walnuts, semolina, and pistachios are just some of the flavors you will recognize in Arabic treats. Most notable Baklava, filo-pastry layered in honey syrup and filled with nuts-if you’re a chocoholic add that or other creative fillings of your choosing.

Filipino sweets are a little less know in the United States. Rice flour is used in many, such as Butsi Balls-small rounds made of glutinous rice flour and stuffed with sweet fillings, like red bean paste, or shredded coconut. Again, this is another opportunity to add chocolate. U.S. restaurants are adding Filipino sorbets and using the yam, Ube, as it has a deep purple color and makes for both a beautiful and tasty dessert. Mango, chocolate, cheese (yes cheese), and coconut are also Filipino sorbet flavors.

Cooking and baking are often hobbies that we pick up to express creativity, health, and wellness. If it’s your thing, it may even be your meditation. While we are at home more this next month, it can be a time to bring the family together as well. Cheers!

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