A Look Ahead at 2014: Our Top Food Trend Predictions

Haute ice cream sandwiches are quickly coming into vogue.Haute ice cream sandwiches are quickly coming into vogue.

Our food experts have consulted the crystal ball, and here's what we they see on our tables in the year to come.

1. Middle Eastern Food
Last year's best-selling cookbook Jerusalem helped build up steam for a taste of the Mideast. Signature dishes -- skewered meat, tahini and yogurt sauces, smoky eggplant dips, lentil stews, hummus, and tabbouleh salads -- all go nicely with other trends we've been watching: family-style dishes, lots of veggies, grains, and legumes in the center of the plate, and Greek yogurt in everything. This year's kale salads will be sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, slices of dates, and chunks of feta. New seasonings to add to your spice rack: za'atar and Aleppo pepper. Even breakfast menus will be affected: Instead of an omelet, order shakshuka, eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce.

2. Craft Sodas
The only question we have about this one is: What took it so long to emerge? After all, hasn't it always seemed kind of weird to wash down organic carrots and line-caught tuna with a Diet Coke? These artisanal soft drinks are made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup and natural flavorings from roots, berries, fruits, and even vegetables. It shouldn't be long before Coke and Pepsi introduce their own versions.

3. Bread and Not Butter
For so long it was bread with chilled pats of butter, then little bowls of olive oil, and then back to butter but with a pedigree (one restaurant even identified the cow whose milk was churned to make it). Next year, expect to see white bean dip, chicken schmaltz, smoked ricotta, roasted garlic, and tomato jam served with your artisanal bread. And don't be surprised if bread is an item on the menu and not something you get for free when you sit down.

Related: The Best Gluten-Free Snacks

4. Not Wasting Food

No, this one isn't as fun to hear about but people are finally paying attention to the fact that nearly 40 percent of the food in this country goes uneaten. We'll be more mindful about buying more than we need and using up what's in our fridges, whether it means turning past-their-prime veggies into soup or leftover pasta into a casserole. If there isn't one yet, look for a composting center to spring up in your hometown.

5. Rabbit
It's what will be for dinner. Already on menus in trendy restaurants, look for it to pop up in the supermarket and your favorite local eateries. No, it doesn't taste just like chicken, but at its best, it's mild and tender, lends itself to stews and sausages, and fries up nicely.

Related: 2013's Biggest Food Trends

6. Formal Dining
Okay, last year was all about super-casual eating out - sitting with strangers and even picking off their plates! Well, the pendulum was bound to swing back. We'll be seeing a return of Caesar salad, lobster thermidor, and crepes Suzette tossed, sautéed, and flambéed -- and served by a waiter in a tux and bowtie. Get your little black dress, pearls, and heels ready.

7. Healthy Kids' Meals
Fingers crossed that this one comes true. Chefs say they're committed to revamping their children's menus, serving grilled cheese on whole wheat bread and carrot sticks, broccoli trees, and apple slices instead of fries -- and even oven-baking their chicken nuggets.

Related: Healthy Chicken Dinners

8. Ice Cream Sandwiches
We've seen them pop up on trendy food trucks, but look for this to be the breakout dessert of the year. It probably goes without saying that these won't be chocolate wafer cookies filled with vanilla ice cream. Look for strawberry ice cream in a brioche, pistachio ice cream between coconut macaroons, and banana ice cream with chocolate chip cookies. Spotted in Austin, Texas: Aged Cheddar Ice Cream Sandwiches.

9. Cauliflower
You may have heard that white foods aren't good for you, but this isn't true when they're natural and unprocessed. Expect to see this member of the cabbage family roasted, mashed, fried, and even cut into thick steaks and grilled. Parsnips, turnips, and sunchokes are other white foods we see gaining popularity.

10. Fermentation
Move over, pickles. This year we'll all be eating sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kombucha. Why? In addition to being tasty and spicing up our diet, they're supposed to be good for the gut.

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