This is the year of the snake, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. But in food circles, 2013 just might be the year of the roast chicken or Asian noodles.

The new year is always the time when prognosticators of all stripes decide what's in, what's out and, most intriguing of all, what's next. Will we eat more Asian-influenced sandwiches and less Asian fusion? More Latin American flair? What influence will the economy, farmers markets and our time-crunched lives have on what we eat?

"We are always looking for new versions of things that we already know," says Harry Balzer, who has been watching what America eats for more than 30 years as a senior analyst with NPD market researchers. "We're explorers, but we're not Christopher Columbus. "Where are the things that could have the greatest impact? They're in the things that we eat the most often."

Here's our forecast based on the buzz among prognosticators:

Heirloom chicken: Like heirloom turkeys and heritage pigs before it, 2013 may be chicken's turn to get attention. "We'll begin calling chicken by their varieties and, maybe, begin noticing the difference in flavors," says Clark Wolf, a restaurant consultant and trend spotter. Bret Thorn, senior food editor at Nation's Restaurant News, points to an emerging class of high-quality fast-casual restaurants, such as Atlanta's Bantam & Biddy, that celebrate heritage chicken.


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Good, and good for you: Kale sits atop the greens heap now (you ate lots of crispy chips last year, didn't you?) and may be joined by Brussels sprouts and more. "Vegetables will continue to move to the center of the plate, catering to vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, foodies and nutrition-conscious carnivores alike," says David Sprinkle, consumer market research director at Packaged Facts.

Baobab, a coconut-size fruit loaded with vitamin C, fiber and calcium, could be the next superfruit, predicts Josh Schonwald, author of "The Taste of Tomorrow."

Techno-shoppers: According to The Food Marketing Institute, 52 percent of consumers use technology in their grocery shopping, 32 percent are using online coupons, while 31 percent use mobile technology when grocery shopping to make shopping lists, find recipes or research products.

Greek yogurt, part II: Look for Greek yogurt dressings, dips, sauces, smoothies, soda and even cheesecakes with Mediterranean ingredient garnishes. "Keep an eye out for me-too promotion of other regional/national yogurt styles," Sprinkle says, pointing to the rising popularity of New Zealand yogurt.

Noodling: Look for udon, soba, cellophane and rice noodles to show up in hearty layered bowls, fragrant soups and even mixed-texture salads, not only in a burgeoning number of big-city noodle shops but in seafood and varied-menu restaurants as well, Technomic researchers say.

Anti-molecular gastronomy: "In many ways the No. 1 trend is the rather public demise of molecular poo-poo," Wolf says. "Enough. Fine. Time's up."