Who doesn’t love a delicious bowl of pasta? Judging from today’s restaurant statistics, far fewer of us than you might assume! As it turns out, carbs (carbohydrates) are starting to look bad for business in a country as concerned about its waistline as it is about its environmental stewardship.
To this point, the latest edition of The Age Good Food Guide 2015 didn’t include even a nod to pasta or carbs in general in its list of food trends to watch.

Rather, the spotlight belongs to healthier slimming alternatives, including:

– Couture greens, including rare heirloom editions.

– Lean protein served up in every possible preparation.

– Spices and seasonings.

– Superfoods (or “health foods” if you prefer).

– Locally-sourced (indigenous) ingredients.

– Small batch seasonal selections.

– Fusion cuisine (such as Asian-Meets-Australian) and true ethnic dishes.

– In-house preparation (“make your own butter” – that sort of thing).

– Sweet, sour and salty (over carb-laden) for dessert.

Where Pasta Still Works

While today’s stone-conscious diners may eschew the bread basket and skip the starch in favour of highly seasoned sautéed veggies, there is still a place for popular carbs like pasta in home larders as well as out on the town.

The key again is vegetables. Steamed, sautéed, stir fried, pureed, mashed and raw – if veggies come with the pasta (or vice versa) you can still get away with adding it to the menu. In fact, a new staple on many menus is “veggie pasta,” which as it sounds is made from vegetables cut and curlicued to resemble their higher-carb peers. As well, zucchini, carrot, yam, beet and other veggie flavours are being combined with pasta for a healthier alternative to straight spaghetti.

Carb and Gluten-Free (aka “Special Diet”) Considerations

In the wake of the worldwide concern over GMO ingredients, many diners today arrive at their venue of choice fully expecting that their special dietary requirements can and will be met. From gluten-free bread and pasta alternatives to low carb menu preparations, restaurants that adopt a proactive approach will find themselves ahead of the trend curve in keeping their tables and chairs filled.

For example, gluten-free dining has become so important globally that whole travel and tourist websites are now devoted to highlighting tasty gluten-free fare in local eateries (see Gluten Free Traveller as an example), which enjoy the perks in tourist season especially.