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Top Five Foods to Give Up in 2014 and What to Eat Instead

Don't settle for regular old tuna anymore.
Don't settle for regular old tuna anymore.
Photo by Akira Kamikura

No, this is not an article about how to be healthier in the new year. Read a fitness blog if that's what you want.

This is about foods we are just so totally over. Not trends, necessarily, but things that need to chill out for a little while as we focus on other, better things. Okay, and some of them are bad for you. But mainly, we're just way over-saturated with these edibles, and we think it's time to move on.

I mean, really, cronuts? Ugh. Those are sooooo 2013.

5. Akami Tuna Raw tuna can be revelatory for those who are reluctant to eat uncooked seafood (I'm looking at you, Dad) due to its soft but meaty texture and the way you hardly have to chew it before it falls apart. When you order tuna at a sushi restaurant without specifying what part of the tuna you'd like, you're going to get akami, the relatively lean, crisp meat from the sides of the fish. If you're at a good restaurant, it will be high quality and tasty. But you know what's even better?

Toro The fatty belly meat from the tuna makes for some of the most divine sashimi out there. Sliced thin and served ice cold, it quite literally melts in your mouth due to the high fat content. I've heard it described as "fish butter." Think of it like the foie gras of the ocean world. It's more expensive than akami, but believe me, once you go toro...you'll come back for more...o...

Romaine is boring. Eat these instead!
Romaine is boring. Eat these instead!
Photo by stereogab

4. Romaine I got over iceberg lettuce once I realized there were greens out there that actually tasted like something. And after years of salads composed largely of romaine, I'm pretty much over that too, now that I've discovered all of the far more flavorful greens out there. And flavor aside, romaine isn't even as good for you as many other leafy greens, which pack major antioxidants, iron, fiber and vitamins A and C. Instead, try:

Arugula, Bok Choy, Kale, Mustard Greens or Chard Each of these greens has unique health benefits, and all of them are more interesting and flavorful than romaine. Arugula is best fresh, but the others can all be sautéed, stewed, charred or eaten raw with a little oil and vinegar.

 

Yes, it feeds the largest percentage of the world's population, but that doesn't mean it's delicious.
Yes, it feeds the largest percentage of the world's population, but that doesn't mean it's delicious.
Photo by cookbookman17

3. Rice Rice is the most widely consumed food in the world. And that's boring. Yes, it's great with Asian food, and I can definitely get behind some red beans and rice, but by and large, rice doesn't really add anything to a meal. It can serve to sop up extra juices or provide gluten-free carbohydrates, but really, rice isn't a good source of anything but caloric energy. Some varieties, such as black or purple rice, are a little better for you and slightly more flavorful, but in general, rice is just bland, empty calories. I propose we all switch to:

Quinoa Remember when quinoa was only on menus at health food spots? The seed (not a grain like rice) has totally taken over, and is often part of nutritious, gourmet meals. Of course, by now we all know the issues regarding food security because developed countries are buying up all the crops that used to feed the natives. The stats about that seem to be a bit overblown, though, and the Peruvian government and first-world countries who import quinoa have figured out how to cultivate enough for us and the natives. Superfood for everyone!

A tiny piece of truffle does not truffle oil make.
A tiny piece of truffle does not truffle oil make.
Photo by C John Thompson

2. Synthetic truffle oil When knowledgeable foodies complain about truffle oil in everything, it's not just because they're snobby and want to appear better than the expensive treat. It's because most truffle oil served in restaurants and found on grocery store shelves is synthetic -- a combination of olive or grapeseed oil and chemicals that mimic the aroma of truffles. On an episode of MasterChef, Gordon Ramsay called synthetic truffle oil "one of the most pungent, ridiculous ingredients ever known to chef." He and his fellow judges went on to berate the person who used it in her food, telling her that it's a clear sign of an inexperienced chef. Of course, the alternative to synthetic truffle oil is obvious.

Natural truffle oil Okay, it's not actually so simple that one can just say, "Screw the fake stuff! Only natural truffle oil for me from now on!" The real oil made from stinky tubers can be prohibitively expensive, sometimes retailing for up to $90 an ounce. Still, I say bring me the real deal! If it means having truffle oil only on rare, special occasions, I can handle that. The fake stuff is just far too chemical-y.

Ain't no shortage of gochujang!
Ain't no shortage of gochujang!
Photo by ayustety

1. Sriracha By now, we've all read the news stories about the shutdown of the Sriracha plant in Irwindale, California, after residents complained of the noxious chile odor in the air. The plant has been in limbo for weeks and courts decide whether to shut it down, and as a result, we've all been in a tizzy trying to figure out where we'll get our favorite spicy condiment if the company stops production, even for a short while. But fret not, dear friends. Regardless of a possible shut-down, there will be spice in your life in the form of another (cheaper, more readily available) Asian condiment.

Gochujang It doesn't come in a squeeze bottle, but gochujang definitely packs a punch. The fermented Korean condiment is made from red chile, glutinous rice powder, fermented soybeans and salt, and it comes in jars or tubs rather than bottles. It's a little more spicy than Sriracha and slightly less sweet, but otherwise the flavor profiles are similar. And I'd hazard to say gochujang is actually better. Since Sriracha has been adopted by everyone from candy cane makers to Lay's potato chips, gochujang is certainly more authentic. Oh yeah, and there's plenty to go around.


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