We feel like we say this at the end of every year, but where did 2016 go? As the year comes to a close, many of us will be looking back at what we accomplished (maybe checking them against our often-abandoned New Year’s resolutions) and what we want to do next year. While we’re busy analyzing our victories and shortcomings, let’s not forget to take a look at what kind of food 2016 had us drooling over. It was a time for exotic spices like turmeric to shine. We learned that we can do more with our toast than just top it with smashed avocado and started adding all kinds of savory ingredients. Jackfruit wasn’t nearly as big as it is now and we’re finding all kinds of uses for it from pulled “pork” sandwiches to delicious curries … and there’s so much more to talk about. No doubt about it, 2016 was a fantastic year for food. Here’s what made the biggest splash.

Turmeric: The New Gold Standard

turmeric falafel

You’ve probably always had a bottle of powdered turmeric in your spice cabinet but thanks to 2016, you might have been motivated to seek out the fresh stuff because this little root was being used in so many new and creative ways. Turmeric may have made a big impact in the Western world this year, but it has actually been a staple in Asia for thousands of years where it was used for dyes and its anti-inflammatory properties. After 2016, turmeric is no longer that weird spice you can find only in holistic health stores — it’s everywhere! In terms of recipes, turmeric was like King Midas with the golden touch and graced everything it touched with its gorgeous golden color. For some more ways to get turmeric in your diet, try this recipe for Turmeric Falafel, this Turmeric Butter, and this Raw Mango and Turmeric Cheesecake and then check out our vegan turmeric recipes for even more ideas.


Not Your Mama’s Toast

White Bean, Cauliflower, and Caramelized Garlic Toasts

It’s quite possible that no breakfast item captured the hearts and minds of us all quite like avocado toast. With endless possibilities with the bread you can use and the flavors and additional toppings you can add and not to mention how simple it is to make, it’s no wonder this simple breakfast got so popular. In 2016, we took toast to the next level with Instagram-able creations like rainbow toast. But it wasn’t all about getting a pretty photo for your feed. Savory, creative recipes like this one for Buttery Porcini Mushrooms and Asparagus on Toast and this White Bean, Cauliflower, and Caramelized Garlic Toasts also came to the forefront of breakfast foods. We’re not ready to say goodbye to kiss our avocado toast goodbye just yet but we wholeheartedly embrace the toast revolution. For ideas on how to make your toast more exciting, see our vegan toast recipes.

Fruit Meat Becomes a Thing, Thanks to Jackfruit

Barbecue Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich With Avocado Slaw

Before 2016, would you ever think that we would be talking about fruit like it’s a meat? It’s all thanks to jackfruit. Jackfruit is a spiny tropical fruit that’s actually a member of the mulberry family. Just like with turmeric, jackfruit has been used in Asian cuisine for years, hence why you can find canned, fresh, and frozen jackfruit in just about any Asian grocery store. Traditional recipes like this Bengali Jackfruit Kofta and this Baby Jackfruit Curry show us just a snippet of how versatile jackfruit can be. When cooked, jackfruit is easily pulled apart to create a texture similar to pulled pork making it a great stand-in for meat. Try it in recipes like this Barbecue Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich With Avocado Slaw or these Jackfruit Carnitas With Pickled Red Onions and then see our vegan jackfruit recipes for more.

Cauliflower as the Centerpiece

Tahini-Roasted Cauliflower With Lemony Herb

The days of bland vegetables being pushed to the side of your plate are over and cauliflower is at the forefront of the revolution. There’s so much to love about this cruciferous veg, like the fact that we can use it to make meat-free Buffalo “wings” or that we can steam it and blend it up with some nutritional yeast to make dairy-free Alfredo sauce. But what 2016 really taught us about cauliflower is that it makes an amazing centerpiece. Recipes like these Spicy Lime Cauliflower Steaks and this Tahini-Roasted Cauliflower With Lemony Herb Oil taught us to look at this formerly unassuming vegetable in a whole new light. For even more ideas on how you can bring cauliflower to the center of your plate, check out our vegan cauliflower recipes. You’re welcome.

Pea Protein

Vanilla Protein Cookies and Cream

When talking about a plant-based diet with friends and family, the first question is almost always about where you get your protein. Luckily, 2016 was the year of pea protein, showing people out there that you don’t need meat or whey to meet your daily recommended intake because this plant-based protein was everywhere. Pea protein is the main ingredient in Beyond Meat’s beefless crumbles, “chicken” strips, and burgers. including the Beyond Burger which happens to be the first vegan burger to be sold alongside meat in the frozen aisle. With other new products such as Ripple pea milk, Cytosport’s new plant-based protein shake Evolve, and Sun Warrior Sol protein bars, pea protein has changed the game. If protein is your concern, then try pea milk in these vegan smoothie recipes. You can also pick up a container of powdered pea protein. If you do, try using it in these Raw Vanilla Protein Cookies and Cream or these Cake Batter Protein Truffles.


Curried Everything!

Herb-Infused White Sesame and Tomato Curry With Red Potatoes and Mushrooms

Curry has always been a big hit but in 2016, we really took it to the next level and made curry with anything and everything. Parsnip? We have a curry for that — this Cauliflower Parsnip Coconut Curry.  Corn? Try this Rajasthani Corn Curry. We saw amazing reinventions of classic dishes, like butter chicken made with veggies like mushrooms, chickpeas, and cauliflower or this Eggplant Vindaloo. We also came across amazing new takes on classic gravy-style curries, like this Herb-Infused White Sesame Curry With Red Potatoes and Mushrooms. If there’s a veggie out there, you best believe we have a curry for it. For even more food porn, check out our vegan curry recipes.

So, there you have it, Green Monsters! Were you as obsessed with these foods as we were? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so tell us all about what you loved (or what you didn’t) in the comments!


Lead image source: Barbecue Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich With Avocado Slaw