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Health Plant-Based Products

These are the Best Plant-Based Food Alternatives of 2022

With each passing year there’s a new plant-based brand that hits the shelves. Some of these newer products fall flat, while others are truly pushing the flavor envelope forward and achieving surprising results. 

For some time, before Beyond Burger and Impossible Foods changed the game, the plant-based burger occupied a bland landscape. Similarly, new plant-based alternatives are making a mark and showing what’s truly possible with the right amount of passion, palate and plants. 

Below is a list of what we consider the best plant-based brands that make faithful alternatives to many of our favorite foods. 

BEST PLANT-BASED BURGER

Photo: Impossible Foods

Impossible Burger 2.0

Photo: Beyond Meat

Beyond Burger

Kicking the list off with these two hugely popular plant-based burgers. Whether you rep OG beef flavored Impossible patties or Beyond Burger’s unique approach to flavor, you’re in for a great patty. Each of these patties are juicy, take well to seasoning and are easy alternatives for plant-based newcomers.

BEST PLANT-BASED SAUSAGE

Photo: Morning Star Farms

Morning Star Farms Hot & Spicy Sausage Patties

Morning Star Farms mastered the plant-based sausage game a long time ago. Their Griller Burgers were legendary way before Impossible or Beyond were household names. Today, they continue to offer healthy and tasty plant-based proteins with the Hot & Spicy Sausage Patties being no exception. 

BEST PLANT-BASED CHORIZO

Photo: Abbot’s Butcher

Abbot’s Butcher

If you enjoy your savory protein with a subtle kick, Abbot’s Butcher Spanish Smoked Chorizo delivers just the right amount of flavor. Made from pea protein with garlic, chipotle peppers and an imported Spanish smoked paprika, it’s a zesty and appetizing compliment for a wide array of dishes. 

BEST PLANT-BASED BACON

Photo: Sweet Earth Enlightened Foods

Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon

Bacon is a favorite of meat-lovers worldwide. It’s also incredibly challenging to recreate. While many contenders have put forth admirable attempts, none successfully stuck the landing. Thankfully, Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon has done just that. It’s generously flavored with hickory, sage and garlic. Unlike others, it can be cooked crispy or tender. Make sure to grab some next time you have a hankering for a BLT.

BEST PLANT-BASED MEAL KIT

Photo: Foodbeast

Nona Lim Dan Dan Noodles Bowl w/ Beyond Meat

In our ever-busy lives, having delicious on-the-go food options is essential. The Bay Area-based Nona Lim brand specializes in classic Asian street foods without MSG, artificial ingredients, preservatives or lots of sodium. The Dan Dan Noodles Bowl with Beyond Meat is a delicious marriage of savory broth and chewy Beyond Meat crumbles that can be ready to enjoy in 30 seconds. 

BEST PLANT-BASED CHICKEN TENDERS

Photo: Gardein

Gardein Ultimate Plant-Based Chicken Tenders

Gardein has been making plant-based alternatives for some time now, providing a range of classics that help preparing dinner easier. Found in the frozen section, Gardein’s chicken tenders are great for salads, sandwich wraps and as an easy snack for kids.

BEST PLANT-BASED CHICKEN FOR STIR FRY

Photo: Daring

Daring Original Pieces

This company focuses solely on making the best plant-based chicken possible. Managing to overcome the stringy, often sponge-like consistency that most chicken alternatives have, Daring’s plant-based chicken sizzles, shreds and serves just like the real thing. It goes great with Asian dishes like stir fry and fried rice. Aside from their Original flavor, they also offer Lemon & Herb, Breaded and Cajun.

BEST PLANT-BASED SPICY NUGGETS

Photo: Morning Star Farms

Morning Star Farms Veggie Buffalo Wings

Plant-based buffalo wings is one area with a high hit-or-miss average. As one of the pioneers in the plant-based space, Morning Star Farms has been making tasty alternatives for more than a decade. Their spicy nuggets have a great buffalo sauce flavor and chewy consistency that is perfect for dipping.

BEST PLANT-BASED FISH FOR COOKING

Photo: Omni

Omni Foods Golden Fish Filets

Omni Foods is truly doing special things with plant-based seafood. Using magic or something, they’ve managed to closely recreate the texture, taste and consistency of actual fish. Their Golden Fish Filets can be fried and baked to be the perfect plant-based centerpiece to your meal.

BEST PLANT-BASED FISH FOR SUSHI

Photo: Current Foods

Current Foods Original Tuna Filet

Also doing amazing things with plant-based seafood is San Francisco upstart Current Foods. Their resident scientists managed to create a plant-based seafood alternative that rivals the taste, texture and nutritional density of actual seafood. With Current Foods Original Tuna Filet, you can make tasty sushi at home and help support ocean restoration. 

BEST PLANT-BASED SHRIMP

Photo: Facebook

New Wave Foods

New Wave Foods was one of the first to market with a plant-based shrimp substitute, and it still stands out as the gold standard. Made from algae, their vegan replica is nearly identical from a texture standpoint, and the sweetness and flavor are a close match too. It’s exceptional as a fried shrimp substitute.

BEST PLANT-BASED EGGS

Photo: JUST

JUST Egg

The road to the perfect plant-based scramble has been a bumpy one. That’s not surprising considering yolk is an interesting consistency that changes once cooked. Thankfully, our innate desire to achieve the impossible has resulted in JUST Egg liquid mix. With super simple ingredients and a great egg-like taste, this is the closest you’ll get to the real deal.

BEST PLANT-BASED CHEESE SLICES

Photo: Violife

Violife “Just Like” Slices

In the beginning, plant-based cheeses were bland and refused to do that thing we love cheese most for doing — melt. But thankfully, over the past few years things have improved considerably. With a cheesier taste, chewy consistency and satisfying melt game, Violife “Just Like” slices are the best dairy-free pick that’ll give you the experience you’re looking for. 

BEST PLANT-BASED SHREDDED CHEESE

Photo: Violife

Violife “Just Like” Shreds

If you prefer a shred over a slice, Violife also makes excellent, melt-happy shredded cheese too. With four types of shreds to enjoy from Colby Jack to Mozzarella, Violife has your meal plans covered.

BEST PLANT-BASED CREAM CHEESE

Photo: Kite Hill

Kite Hill Foods Chive Cream Cheese

Kite Hill’s almond-based dairy products are well renowned, and it’s pretty hard to find a tub of this stuff ‘cause it keeps flying off the shelves. When you do score one, though, the combination of chive with the slightly tangy, rich plant-based cream cheese will be a taste bagels won’t be the same without. 

BEST PLANT-BASED MAC AND CHEESE

Photo: Freezer Meal Frenzy

Trader Joe’s Vegan Mac

Easy to prepare and great for those on the go, Trader Joe’s Vegan Mac is the creamy plant-based alternative you’re looking for. It comes in a microwavable plastic container and includes two hearty servings of dairy-free deliciousness. The taste isn’t quite cheesy, yet is richer and more filling than what you’d expect from vegan mac. It also has a dash of cayenne pepper for a subtle kick.

BEST PLANT-BASED MILK

Photo: Oatly

Oatly Oat Milk

I’m totally unsure who discovered that you could squeeze milk from oats, but they deserve a medal or something. Oatly comes in as our top pick as best plant-based milk with its well rounded yet subtle oat flavor. While not exactly dairy-esque, the oat-y flavor compliments all the usuals from cereal to smoothies, or simply drink it straight up.

BEST PLANT-BASED ICE CREAM

Photo: Van Leeuwen

Best Overall: Van Leeuwen Vegan Ice Cream

Many brands are trying their hand at plant-based ice cream hoping to achieve the rich and creamy roundness the dessert is known for. From brand to brand, experimenting with a range of base ingredients like almonds, cashews and even avocado means results may indeed vary. Van Leeuwen began with only an ice cream truck before expanding nationwide. With a good selection of plant-based flavors, you’re sure to find something for your sweet tooth. I definitely recommend their super delectable pistachio flavor.

Photo: SO Delicious

Best Cookies & Cream Ice CrèmeSo Delicious Wondermilk

But wait there’s more! In my experience, most plant-based brands miss the mark with Cookies & Créme. They either lack the creamy consistency, an authentic flavor or only use small cookie bits. Basically, there’s always something off. While Van Leeuwen has great Cookies & Créme adjacent flavors, they do not offer the traditional mix. Thankfully, well known plant-based brand So Delicious has answered our Cookies & Créme dreams with their new Wondermilk series, which features a crazy combination of ingredients like coconut, organic cane sugar and sunflower.

BEST PLANT-BASED YOGURT 

Photo: Silk

Silk Almondmilk Yogurt Alternative

Landing as our top plant-based yogurt pick is Silk Almondmilk Yogurt Alternative. The popular brand has successfully sidestepped the often chalky, liquid consistency of most plant-based yogurts. Available in several flavors, each bite is a creamy and sweet treat for your taste buds. 

BEST PLANT-BASED BUTTER

Photo: Earth Balance

Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread

Creamy and rich, Earth Balance makes plant-based butter that spreads, melts and tastes like the real thing. In addition to their Original Buttery Spread, they have a wide selection of butters that perfectly compliment your preferred slice of bread. 

Besides the health benefits that eating plant-based foods have, many of these brands also support great causes. The awesome thing about it all is that plant-based food is only going to get better. Next time you’re looking to add more plants to your plate, try one of these.

Categories
Drinks Plant-Based Products What's New

Coors is Now Making Milk?

While the thought of Coors making milk products is as left field as it gets for anyone, we have to realize that their expertise and knowledge of grains is what lead them to debuting a new barley milk.

Introducing Golden Wing, a new non-alcohol plant-based milk that can be found in the dairy aisle rather than the beer section of the grocery store. Coors taps into one of beer’s primary ingredients in barley, presenting a product that is made with five all-natural ingredients, including non-GMO barley stock that comes from the fields of Coors’ barley farmers.

The five ingredients that make up Golden Wing are simple: water, barley, sunflower oil, pink Himalayan salt and shiitake mushroom extract. Golden Wing’s flavor is likened to a malty sweetness similar to cereal milk. Color me intrigued.

If you’re as curious as I am, Golden Wing is launching at select Sprouts and Whole Foods grocery stores, and is now available via its website.

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Packaged Food Plant-Based What's New

Impossible Foods Introduces Impossible Sausage Links

Impossible Foods is cranking up its profile as it debuts a new product, Impossible Sausage Links — its sixth product debut in the past eight months.

Impossible Sausage Links take on the uncanny flavor of a traditional pork sausage and even offers the trademark snap of meat sausages. They are available in three unique flavors: Bratwurst, Italian and Spicy.

How Impossible Foods was able to develop this new product starts with a seasoned ground plant sausage filling that’s stuffed into a plant-based casing. When it comes to cooking the sausages, treat them as you would traditional meat sausage links, whether it be through grilling directly on an open flame or seared in a pan.

Fans and the curious ones alike can grab Impossible Sausage Links starting this month at select major retailers, and should anticipate nationwide availability this summer.

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Packaged Food Plant-Based What's New

First Taste: OmniFoods’ Plant-Based Fish Fillets

The recent Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, California was brimming with innovation and sustainable creativity in the food space. Exciting products were everywhere and one that particularly stood out was what OmniFoods had to offer.

For those not familiar, OmniFoods introduced plant-based pork innovation with products like ground pork, pulled pork, and SPAM-style luncheon meat, which we covered last year. The latest from them, however, proved to be a jaw-dropper.

At Expo West, I had a chance to get an inside scoop on OmniFoods’ new Golden Fillets, which are plant-based battered fish-style fillets. My reaction in the video clip above conveys my thoughts on the product perfectly. Not only did the Golden Fillets capture the flaky texture and taste of actual fish fillets, I was in disbelief that they were 100 percent plant-based. The sorcery here is strong, friends.

If you’re on the hook and as intrigued as I am, OmniFoods is aiming for a summer 2022 launch of the Golden Fillets, so stay tuned for further updates.

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Drinks Packaged Food Plant-Based Products

Ghost Town Oats is the First Ever Black-Owned Oat Milk

In the race to be the world’s pre-eminent milk alternative, oat milk has been gaining headway. That’s not surprising as oat milk offers more fiber and protein than any other alt-milk options and its oat base is more familiar to the average palate. A closer look reveals it has more health benefits than dairy milk as well. 

Joining the alt-milk crusade is Ghost Town Oats, the world’s first Black-owned oat milk. It was founded by Michelle Johnson along with her partners who collectively share 40 years in the barista industry. Johnson herself is the first Black woman to qualify for the US Barista Championships, where contestants are given only 15 minutes to prepare cafe classics for a panel of judges. Their hope is to bridge the gap between minority communities and plant-based milk. 

Being Black, I’m keenly aware of the health issues which impact our community. Most things are harmless in moderation, but can have negative effects depending on your lifestyle choice. For reasons too many to name, the lifestyle communities of color tend to live is often unhealthy. As a result, people of color are more likely to experience lactose intolerance, along with other health issues. Ghost Town Oats hopes to help change that by making a dairy alternative that’s accessible and approachable to marginalized communities.

Ghost Town Oats is made to pack an exceptional taste that pairs nicely with your coffee and espresso favs. Releasing this spring, you can find when and how to get your hands on some here.

Categories
Packaged Food Plant-Based

Harvard Graduate Launches Plant-Based Instant Ramen

Instant ramen has been a staple in many of our lives for as long as we could remember. It’s very affordable, comes in several flavor options and can be enjoyed as is or with a custom twist. As a kid I would spruce things up, mix and match flavor packets or add a protein; hot dogs were my favorite. It might’ve even been one of the first foods I learned how to make for myself. Much like many others, it would keep me fed through my college years and when I first began living on my own.

Although I remember those days fondly, I’d come to find that instant ramen tends to be very high in sodium. One package contains 1760 mg, or 88% of the 2-gram recommendation suggested by WHO. That’s oodles and oodles of sodium. Because of that, as an older and more health conscious person, I still enjoy ramen but rarely eat the instant variety. 

With health becoming more of a focus in our daily lives, it’s no surprise someone found a way to marry our love for instant ramen with our desire for healthier alternatives. Founded by Harvard Business alum Isabel Khoo, NOODIE is a new plant-based instant ramen. It’s served in the single-serve style we’re all accustomed to, yet features real whole vegetables (kale, bok choy, and broccoli), non-fried spirulina jade noodles and MSG-free broth and sauce. 

Inspired by her grandmother’s recipe, Khoo, like many of us, had an instant-ramen-filled college experience. After realizing that the ingredients contained harmful additives, artificial powdered flavors and processed carbohydrates, she decided to be the change she wanted to see in her single-serve cup.

In addition to whole vegetables, each NOODIE cup is recyclable and includes 16g of protein, a fraction of the sodium found in leading instant noodle brands and NOODIE’s flavors; Peanut Chili (Vegan), Tonkotsu (Vegan), and Smoky Garlic (Vegetarian).  

NOODIE’s irresistible instant-noodles are now available online at getnoodie.com in packs of 3 or more, starting at $21.99–also available via Foxtrot, Neighborhood Goods, and Jokr.

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Fast Food Plant-Based Restaurants

Mapo Tofu’s Spicy, Addictive Heat Goes Plant-Based At Panda Express

Photo courtesy of Panda Express

Few things are more comforting in life than a steamy bowl of mapo tofu. This classic Sichuan dish has a warm and addictive heat that will leave your heart and your stomach buzzing with happiness.

For the first time ever, those flavors are coming to Panda Express, as the American Chinese chain is adding the Chengdu signature to its ranks as part of a new plant-based partnership with Beyond Meat.

This dish marks the second ever tofu dish to be served at Panda Express, the first being their hallmark Eggplant Tofu. Here, they’re incorporating tofu and chunks of Beyond Beef in a Sichuan Garlic sauce.

Traditionally, mapo tofu is made with pork or beef, although there are plenty of plant-based versions you can find on the internet. Some of these use finely chopped mushrooms or a ground pork substitute, but Beyond Meat is also a common option.

Panda Express has begun serving the Mapo Tofu with Beyond Beef at their innovation kitchen location in Pasadena. It’ll be there until February 23rd alongside a String Beans with Beyond Beef dish, and if both perform well, there’s definitely potential for the dishes to launch on a broader scale.

Categories
Fast Food News Plant-Based What's New

McDonald’s Plans to Increase McPlant Availability to About 600 U.S. Locations in February

Starting on February 14, McDonald’s will be rolling out its new McPlant burger to around 600 locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth and San Francisco Bay areas.

The McPlant started as a test run at eight McDonald’s locations beginning in November 2021, and is a plant-based patty from Beyond Meat Inc. This new offering features plant-based ingredients like peas, rice and potatoes and will be available for a limited time only.

McDonald’s stated that the test run expansion was due in part “to help us understand customer demand” and “its impact to restaurant operations.”