Food & Beverage

Pot cocktails, cricket protein and milk made from oats — 6 trendy foods and drinks for 2019

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2018 was the year of decadent donuts, plant-based meat and crafted mocktails. So what does 2019 have in store for our palates?

While a number of trendy food items in the last year seem to have been created for Instagramable pictures, 2019 is all about sustainable resources and bold flavors.

Heading into the new year, companies and restaurants will try to tantalize customers with innovative flavor combinations and healthier versions of their favorite foods.

Here are six food trends to look out for in 2019:


While marijuana has been part of the political conversation for years, it's now starting to creep into the kitchen. Cannabidiol-infused foods and beverages are becoming more trendy in the culinary world.

CBD, as it is more commonly called, is a cannabis compound that is believed to help relieve anxiety, help people sleep and stabilize moods. Although there have been few scientific studies to prove these benefits, CBD is becoming more mainstream.

From pills and oils to brownies and cocktails, CBD is already appearing on menus across the country.

"It's getting a lot of attention," Kara Nielsen, vice president of trends and marketing at CCD Helmsman, a culinary innovation agency, told CNBC.

"But, it's still cloaked in a lot of mystery, confusion, ignorance and is spread by word of mouth," she said.

This trend is ramping up at a time that the Food and Drug Administration is looking for ways to legalize the sale of CBD oil and other cannabis-based compounds in foods and beverages transported across state lines.

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Seed butters

Almond butter has become almost as popular as peanut butter these days, but it's about to have some competition. Seed butters are gaining momentum in the U.S. as they contain similar good fats to their nut counterparts, but are nut-free and, thus, a good alternative for those with allergies.

Grocery stores are already carrying items like sunflower seed butter, pumpkin seed butter and even watermelon seed butter. Other brands are opting to blend multiple different seeds into one spread.

A small dish of fresh sunflower seed butter with rice cakes
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North African ingredients

In recent years, Mediterranean and Asia Pacific flavors have become more mainstream, with diners indulging in the Hawaiian dish poke and falafel rice bowls at restaurants like Cava.

However, in 2019 you'll likely see more of a North African and Middle Eastern influence. Harissa, a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste, is already enticing diners in 2018.

"These blends offer not just heat, but lots of heady Silk Road flavors," Michael Whiteman, president of Baum+Whiteman, a restaurant consultancy, told CNBC. The Silk Road is an ancient network of trade routes that connected the East and West and brought spices from Africa and Asia up to Europe.

Consumers, particularly younger ones, have been more adventurous with their food choices in recent years, opting for experiential occasions and not just traditional fare. This desire for bold, new flavors has given rise to more global ingredients entering the U.S. culinary space.

Keep an eye out for the bold flavors of the Egyptian condiment dukkah, Ethiopian spice mix berbere and North African spice mix ras el hanout as they'll start to hit menus this year, if they haven't already.

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Water infusions

Fruit- and vegetable-infused waters and agua frescas are not uncommon on menus today. Restaurants like Blaze Pizza and Panera already sell these beverages.

"People just don't like drinking plain water," Nielsen said.

Expect to see more innovative combinations and unexpected flavors like cactus water.

Bottle of Water Flavored with Fresh Strawberry and Basil Leaves
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Sustainable protein. Yes, we mean crickets.

Consumers have long been looking for sustainable options to replace beef and poultry — and they've found it in the form of cricket powder.

It takes much less land, water and food to raise crickets than it does cows, offering an environmentally friendly alternative protein source to the typical American livestock.

While crickets haven't quite taken off with mainstream consumers, there are plenty of instances of cricket powder appearing in protein bars, pancakes, breads and even dog treats.

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Oat milk

You've probably heard of almond milk and soy milk, but the latest trend in nondairy milk is oat.

Oat milk is made by soaking steel cut oats in water, blending the mixture and then straining it. The result is a creamy beverage that can be used over cereal, in lattes or just in a cup.

CCD Helmsman's Nielsen said that because oat milk has more fiber and carbohydrates, it is thicker and more similar to milk than nut milks, allowing it to be frothed for lattes.

Oat milk doesn't need as much water as almond milk to make, which is enticing to consumers who are conscious about conservation.

Glass with oat milk and flakes on wooden table
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