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Food Trends in the Big City

Experts describe hip and healthy food trends in some major U.S. cities.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

In the world of food, there's one thing that's constant -- nothing stays the same. What was chic a few years ago may be a distant memory today. Food trends that started as a ripple in a big city quickly escalated into a tidal wave that swept across the nation. Take the New York cupcake phenomenon that resulted from a mention in a TV episode of Sex And The City several years ago. Cupcakes were suddenly the rage, and bakeries everywhere were selling them as fast as they could frost them.

When it comes to food trends, there's always something new and outrageous to try. But how many of these "foods of the moment" are actually good for us? New York City is home to The Food Network, after all, not to mention some of America's top restaurants. To find out what's hip and healthy, let's hit the streets of the Big Apple and a handful of other major U.S. cities.

What's Cooking in New York?

Everyone's Going Organic. The word "organic" is popping up more and more in restaurants, food markets, and bakeries all across the city. From organic grains to greens (and other produce), eating organic is hot right now.

Wheat Is Where It's At. Pizza and subs just got a lot more nutritious in New York City. Some pizzerias are now offering pies made with whole-wheat crust. You'll also find whole-wheat or multigrain bread options in bakeries and delis, such as Amy's Bread at the Chelsea Market. Amy's now sells whole-wheat Irish soda bread and other multigrain breads. The Grill at All About Food, Rockefeller Center, offers several sandwiches on seven-grain baguette or grilled whole- wheat bread.

Ban on Trans. New York City is also leading the nation with its ban on trans fat cooking oils and spreads in all restaurants starting in July 2007. According to the new citywide regulation, restaurants may not use partially hydrogenated oils, shortenings, or margarines for frying, pan-frying, or grilling if they contain 0.5 grams or more of trans fat per serving. Trans fats are found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and shortening, and they contribute to clogged arteries and heart disease in part by increasing "bad" cholesterol and lowering "good" cholesterol. Technically, restaurants can still use cooking oil that's high in saturated fat; however, the city is encouraging restaurants to switch to heart-healthy oil while trimming away the trans. Restaurants will have an extra year to remove all trans fats from baked goods. That ban goes into effect beginning in July 2008.

Upscale Fro Yo.  A low-fat frozen yogurt chain popular in Southern California is now helping residents of New York's Chelsea neighborhood to chill out. Pinkberry frozen yogurt has become a local obsession, says Shari Forman, senior account supervisor for Edelman Public Relations in Times Square. Pinkberry frozen yogurt is delicious and virtuous, made without preservatives, additives, or excess sugar. A 5-ounce serving adds up to 125 calories, with 5 grams of protein and 0 grams fat, cholesterol, trans and saturated fat, and 30 grams of carbohydrates. Each 5-ounce serving also offers about 20% of the Daily Value for calcium and vitamin C.

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