The 12 Best Healthy Plant-Based Foods in 2022: Eat This, Not That! Food Awards
Nowadays, lots of products at your local supermarket have a plant-based label on them. Food manufacturers turning to fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds instead of dairy and meat to make their items has been trendy for a while—and the movement is only continuing to explode in popularity.
As the plant-based selection grows, so has the competition for finding the best-of-the-best items to feature in our 2022 Eat This, Not That! Food Awards.
Out of all of the new plant-based options that launched nationwide between January 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, 11 new products on store shelves stood out from the rest with their impressive nutrition and great taste. Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board member and registered dietitian, Julie Upton, MS, RD, helped rate the products and choose the winners, then we prepared and taste-tested each one. Read on for our honest reviews—and to see where you can buy the winners!
The Best Healthy Frozen Foods in 2022:
- Best healthy chicken alternative: Daring Original 'Chicken' Pieces
- Best healthy meat alternative: JADA's Porkless Mix
- Best healthy milk alternative: Good Karma Foods Unsweetened Plantmilk
- Best healthy plant-based burger: Nabati Foods Plant-based Chick'n Burger
- Best healthy plant-based breakfast: Folded JUST Egg
- Best healthy plant-based cheese: Good Foods Plant-Based Queso Dip
- Best healthy plant-based dessert: Sambazon Blueberry Açaí Smoothie Pops
- Best healthy plant-based hot dog: Very Good Butchers Very Good Dog
- Best healthy plant-based meal: Loma Linda Ultimate Chili
- Best healthy plant-based snack: White Chedda Outstanding Puffs
- Best healthy yogurt alternative: Silk Greek Style Coconutmilk Yogurt Alternative
How They Ranked By Taste:
Watch our taste test video and check out how they ranked below.
Best healthy meat alternative: JADA's Porkless Mix
This plant-based meat alternative comes dry, allowing you to mix and shape it however you'd like—we're talking meatballs, patties, sausage links, and more. All that you need is oil and water, and the textured wheat protein plus the other plant-based ingredients help it all stick together (unless you make it into crumbles). Just one serving (half a cup) has 21 grams of protein.
The expert's take: "This meat alternative is very high in protein, has no saturated fat, is low in total fat, and has no added sugars," says Upton.
Our tasting notes: "Out of all the plant-based meat options in the grocery store, this one is the first one I've heard of and tasted that is supposed to mimic the taste of pork—and it does just that! I made it into meatballs and cooked them according to the packaging. They ended up being crispy on the outside and moist on the inside," says News Editor Amanda McDonald.
Best healthy chicken alternative: Daring Original 'Chicken' Pieces
Daring is no stranger to plant-based chicken. The company has several options, such as its Original Breaded Pieces and Cajun Pieces. However, the newest addition—the Original Pieces—is "the plant-based chicken that sizzles, shreds, and serves just like, well, chicken," the company says. It really makes you wonder what came first: the chicken or the plant-based ingredients?
The expert's take: "[This option is] high in protein, [it has a] good calorie count, and [it is] lower in sodium than its peers," says Upton.
Our tasting notes: "I've tried a lot of plant-based chicken options out there, but this was the first one that wasn't breaded. And wow… It was the one that looked and tasted the most like the real thing. I even had to double-check the ingredients! Though it's a little tough to cut, this product really does shred easily. In the end, it's likely the most accurate swap available at the grocery store right now," says McDonald.
Best healthy plant-based burger: Nabati Foods Plant-based Chick'n Burger
These soy-free plant-based chicken burger patties are loaded with 21 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. (FYI: Nabati Foods also sells other plant-based items, such as cheese, eggs, fish burgers, plant-based grounds, and dairy-free cheesecake.)
The expert's take: "Due to the high protein count, 1 gram of saturated fat, and lower sodium counts than most burger alternatives, this plant-based burger takes the top spot," says Upton.
Our tasting notes: "This chicken burger gets you pretty close to the original—the texture and taste are almost identical. Paired with a bun, barbecue sauce, and your favorite toppings, it's hard to taste the difference. I liked this patty not only because it was delicious but also because it was easy to cook from frozen—no grill required!" says McDonald.
Best healthy milk alternative: Good Karma Foods Unsweetened Plantmilk
Alternative milks like almond, coconut, oat, and more are taking over grocery store shelves. Good Karma's new version is made with a mix of pea protein, oats, and flax oil—and it doesn't have the greasy, oily film that some other alt-milks do. In addition to 5 grams of protein, the Good Karma Plant Milk contains 800 milligrams of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
The expert's take: "This option provides 5 grams of protein and no sugar with just 2 grams of carbs. At 70 calories per cup, it's also lower in calories than skim milk," says Upton.
Our tasting notes: "Some alt-milks are filled with sweeteners, which make them taste more like sugary coffee creamer. This version was smooth and creamy with just the right amount of flavor. Unlike coconut or some oat milks that don't pair well with coffee or cereal, this one tastes like a good alternative in anything from baked goods to oatmeal to pasta," says McDonald.
Best healthy plant-based cheese: Good Foods Plant-Based Queso Dip
"When we decided to create a dairy-free queso, we knew we had to get it right!" Good Foods says about this plant-based queso, noting that "our almond-veggie dip provides an incredible, cheesy flavor profile that would make any cheese head proud." The four-packs of individual dipping cups are cauliflower-based and boast a creamy and cheesy flavor profile despite being completely dairy-free.
The expert's take: "This has the best nutritional profile of this set of products," says Upton.
Our tasting notes: "I'm not vegan, but I love to try out the latest dairy-free cheeses at the grocery store. When this was picked as the winner of the plant-based cheese category, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it—and I wasn't disappointed! I tried this dip straight out of the cup with tortilla chips, and I absolutely loved it. It's creamy and cheesy and would work perfectly as a fresh dip for veggies, topping for nachos or tacos, or even as a dressing for salads," says McDonald.
Best healthy plant-based snack: White Chedda Outstanding Puffs
Outstanding Foods' Outstanding Puffs are a vegan version of your favorite snack puff, and they contain 21 grams of plant protein. They're also a good source of iron, calcium, zinc, as well as vitamins A, B6, B12, D, and E.
The expert's take: "Low in calories, sat fat and no sugar with lots of filling protein," says Upton.
Our tasting notes: "When I opened the bag, I was surprised by how many puffs were inside! These puffs aren't like other chips and snacks that come in bags filled mostly with air. They're smaller than I expected, but they're super cheesy and have a good crunch to them," says McDonald.
Best healthy plant-based dessert: Sambazon Blueberry Açaí Smoothie Pops
Sambazon is known for bringing açaí to grocery stores, and its wide range of products now includes these smoothie pops. One serving (two pops) only contains 25 calories and 4 grams of sugar, all of which comes from fruit.
The expert's take: "This pick is low in calories, carbs, and contains just a teaspoon of sugar. Another reason why it's the best healthy plant-based dessert is that it's made with antioxidant-rich pomegranate and açaí juice," says Upton.
Our tasting notes: "These reminded me of the popsicles we ate constantly over the summer as kids, except they're even more refreshing. I really enjoyed them as a snack when I craved something sweet and cold, and the boost of antioxidants and electrolytes was an added bonus," says McDonald.
Best healthy plant-based meal: Loma Linda Ultimate Chili
Loma Linda thought of everything when it created this new plant-based meal. These vegan packs of chili contain 15 grams of protein, 280 calories, and 15 grams of fiber. But that's not all—the 10-ounce bags are shelf-stable, meaning they don't need to be refrigerated. To heat the meal up, simply tear open the bag and microwave it, or keep it sealed and boil it.
The expert's take: "With a moderate amount of calories and being low in saturated fat, Loma Linda's Ultimate Chili wins for the best plant-based meal. The only issue is sodium, but most products in this category are high in sodium," says Upton.
Our tasting notes: "I love chili, so I was so excited when Upton picked this product. I heated it up in the microwave and ate it plain. It was perfectly spicy, warm, and hearty. Not only is it filled with beans and veggies, but there are also plant-based crumbles inside to mimic ground beef. I also love how I didn't need to get any dishes dirty to make it," says McDonald.
Best healthy plant-based breakfast: Folded JUST Egg
JUST Egg has already been in the plant-based egg game for a while, and its newest offerings transforms your kitchen into a café. These frozen folded egg patties are made with mung beans and turmeric. Each one has 100 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein.
The expert's take: "Good calorie count, more protein than a medium egg, and no added sugar," says Upton.
Our tasting notes: "I was pleasantly surprised by these patties. I added one between two pieces of bread along with some avocado, cheese, and Everything But The Bagel seasoning—and it was tastier than any Starbucks breakfast sandwich. I heated it up in a paper towel in the microwave for one minute, but it can also go in the toaster straight from the freezer. I couldn't believe how easy it was to prepare—and how delicious it ended up tasting!" says McDonald.
Best healthy yogurt alternative: Silk Greek Style Coconutmilk Yogurt Alternative
Greek yogurt has a unique taste and texture, but Silk has created the ultimate coconut milk version. "Spoon up the power of plants," the brands says of this lemon-flavored option that combines 10 grams of protein with calcium, vitamin D, and live and active cultures.
The expert's take: "This has a good amount of protein, and while it has more saturated fat because it's made with coconut milk, the saturated fats in coconut are likely not as harmful to your heart as saturated fats from animal products like meat and full-fat dairy foods," says Upton.
Our tasting notes: "I wasn't expecting this yogurt to taste so much like the real thing… It's hard to believe it's fully vegan! It's still thick and creamy like regular Greek yogurt, with a light lemon flavor that would pair perfectly with granola and fresh berries for breakfast. It was my second-favorite winner, and I finished off the carton in no time," says McDonald.
Best healthy plant-based hot dog: Very Good Butchers Very Good Dog
The Very Good Butchers have tons of alternative meat options. This new one is made with navy beans, onions, wheat, and spices. The company says it "delivers that summertime taste with none of the guilt."
The expert's take: "This is the best plant-based dog of the options here as it has less sodium than its competitors, and like its peers, it's low in saturated fat. Since it has navy beans, it also provides fiber," says Upton.
Our tasting notes: "When tasting all the winners in the plant-based categories, this one stood out the most. With and without ketchup, it tastes like a hot dog straight from the grill. I have eaten this product multiple times since with roasted vegetables, a salad, and on its own. The texture isn't 100% on the money, but as a vegetarian, I didn't mind that," says McDonald.
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