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Five food innovations born in the pandemic

Louise Lizan



PIRI Piri Style Chicken with Sauteed Mushroom Spinach Pasta.

In 2020, people learned to look after others, not just themselves, and the environment as well, becoming more mindful of the things they consume.

According to San Miguel Foods Culinary Chefs through an online event called Food Forward, this growing consciousness born in these unprecedented times brought forth five food innovations on the table.

Everyone is now more conscious about achieving a healthier lifestyle and are more open to adjusting their diets to protect themselves against the virus.

Plant-based options will, thus, gain more appeal. Ingredients such as tofu, mushroom, chickpeas will become the go-to choices while some to watch out for are plant-based seafood and eggs, sweet and savory fruit and vegetable jerkies, chocolates, cheese and milk.

Growing your ingredients is an emerging trend, too. According to chef Ernest Reynoso-Gala, indoor gardening helps people maintain a safe hobby during a stressful time and promotes organic and healthier eating.


More food upcycling will be done in a conscious and proactive effort to promote food waste reduction.

As defined by the Upcycled Food Association, food upcycling is the utilization of ingredients not consumed for other use.

An example would be spreads, energy puffs or even beauty products that are made out of spent grain of brewed alcoholic beverages, spent coffee grounds or fruit peels.

Ready to eat
More people are turning to ready-to-eat (RTE) meals as the pandemic continues, as it saves time and effort amid surprisingly hectic work-from-home schedules. It also reduces the risk of eating out and getting exposed to the virus.

Restaurants will serve creative meal kits and food packages that aim to bring the five-star quality of the restaurant inside homes. RTE meals, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even merienda, can be another source of income for home cooks and entrepreneurs in the pandemic.

According to chef Emelita Galang, food delivery and takeout will still be the most ideal until people feel safer going out.

Global ethnic flavors
Even though traveling is still a risky option with a new variant of the virus in the air, there is no barrier to exploring global, ethnic and unconventional flavors and ingredients, whether through food deliveries or re-learning and exploring new recipes inside home kitchens.

India’s spice blend Garam Masala and North African condiments and spices such as dukkah, za’atar, sumac and Baharat, as well as ethnic breakfast dishes such as the North African Shakshukah and Turkish Menemen or cuisines coming from the Asian Islands, regional Chinese, South America and India are expected to gain popularity as more people widen their options in meals.

Since Mediterranean cooking is one of the healthiest cuisines, this will be a popular choice in homes and restaurants, as forecasted by chef Ernest Reynoso-Galang.

Functional indulgence
Not just taste or Instagrammable appeal will matter, but the food’s healthy effect as one of the trends in 2021.

Look out for ingredients that are good for the body, including those rich in fiber, nutrients such as vitamin C and zinc and antioxidants. Adaptogenic food and drink that can counteract the effects of stress and promote relaxation are also to watch out for.

There’s a saying, “You are what you eat” — and at a time when the world is still fighting off the virus, it’s best to consume healthier food and ingredients in order to achieve our optimal state.

Gone are the days of the Dalgona coffee, sushi bake and sourdough bread, trends that made staying at home stress-free and satisfying for a few months on lockdown. Now it’s time to shift focus, adjust and improve one’s way of living — and eating.