So far, 2014 has been a year of contrasts. It would be difficult to term the food trend as healthy or not-so-healthy, as surveys conducted recently show an array of results. As we approach the holiday season — a time for calories and sugar highs — let's do a quick recap of what’s been cooking so far.

Speaking of sugar high, it seems the cupcake and pretzel overload of 2013 is going to take a back seat to innovative ice cream and chocolate concoctions. Studies conducted by the National Restaurant Association show some interesting food habits indeed.

1. Instant ice cream

Instant ice cream (yes, you heard right) and specially concocted ice cream sandwiches are the new "it" desserts this year. A trend that started with San Francisco-based Smitten Ice Cream has now caught on big time. By this next time next year, experts are predicting similar companies on the rise all over the country.

Smitten's 90-second treat, made while you wait, is a fine blend of the latest food technology and artisanal food that California loves so much. The high-tech, liquid-nitrogen-fueled freezing process is partnered with handcrafted ice cream to offer lip-smacking comfort to foodies.

2. Artisanal food

Since we are on the topic, let's take a look at the artisanal trend. Yes, it's the choice of the season for foodies all the way from Portland to California, with the rest of the country catching on.

According to Yelp Trends, a data tool launched by Yelp that graphs the popularity of trends, demand for more artisanal goods has risen slowly and steadily in the past decade. The graph has shown a sharp increase in the past two years, which means that the typical farm-to-table products better sit up and take notice now.

3. Nuts

Food market research by the NPD Group shows that nuts rank among the top 10 convenient snacks for consumers in the U.S. Nuts have always been favorite with all kinds of foodies, so no surprise there. What is noteworthy is that it is equally popular with health freaks and junk-food lovers. Nuts are great sources of energy, good to eat and high in protein.

The survey found that over 77 percent American homes store nuts all the time to help them meet hunger pangs in between meals. Now they are eaten throughout the day by health foodies and others who want taste and nutrition, and fast.

4. Egg yolks

Eggs and egg yolks are no longer the tasty enemy that we have tried to fear and ignore for years now. It's hard to find a meat-eater who doesn't love eggs, and it has been quite a pain for many to throw the yolk away every morning.

Well, the good news is that experts are now saying the yolks are not so bad after all, and we can go ahead have eggs every day. It's not just individuals who are waking up to this fact, but businesses as well. Chefs, restaurants and caterers are focusing on the egg yolk resurgence. It is fast replacing the thickening agents or packaged cream made with refined chemicals, a natural progression when most people are veering towards organic and holistic foods.

5. Umami burger

Some call it the savory "fifth taste," while others are calling the ultimate gourmet burger. Along with the signature Umami products that bring new life to ground beef, Umami sauces now have an established reputation for their outstanding flavors. The special "Umami Master Sauce" and "Umami ketchup," use of port-caramelized onions, parmesan crisp and roasted tomato, and a range of chilies on one dish are just a few wonders to start with.

Umami fans are growing by leaps and bounds as the L.A.-based franchise chain plans countrywide expansion. Expert predictions point at not just Umami expansion, but also the rise and growth of other restaurants that are ready to jump onto the Umami bandwagon. For detractors, there is a simple bit of advice try out the Umami burger, which is generously topped with house-made truffle cheese.