What’s New in Plant-Based Foods & Beverages?

Variety is the healthy spice of life – especially when it comes to what we eat and drink. Plant-based products is revolutionizing the modern diet. The beauty is – if you always hated “eating your vegetables” plant-based foods and beverages will have your tastebuds jumping for joy and the rest of your body loving the better-for-you nutrition benefits. 

Your parents and grandparents remember the clever advertising slogan, “I could have had a V-8!” which was exclaimed while slapping one’s own forehead in an “aw, geeze!” moment. This was the seminal brand of plant-based beverages, followed by shelf-stable soymilk, which was heavier, and more viscous than what is available today. Now, soymilk is much more palatable and even more viable in recipes, and it is joined by its brethren almond, coconut, oat, and cashew. These versatile grains and legumes are not only used as moo-milk substitutes, they are increasingly being whipped up into creamers, ice creams, and yogurts.

According to one industry supplier, research has found that 47% of consumers worldwide are consciously deciding to reduce their consumption of meat and increase plants in their diets.  And these respondents are not pure “vegans” or “vegetarians.” You may be one who makes the same decision for health and nutrition benefits.

And, did you know that if you are diving more into plant-based diet, you’re not only in great company but you’re in for an amazing plethora of new products? New research from market intelligence firm SPINS commissioned by Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) shows that health-conscious consumers like you bought approximately $5 billion of plant-based products in stores.

Scientific research continues to show that plant-based diets have a beneficial impact on wellness. Beyond weight management, emphasizing plant-based foods and beverages over animal-based can also help in managing certain conditions. For example, according to one review, previous research showing improvements in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in people who excluded animal-based foods in their diets, while other studies have found that the increase in dietary fiber intake in plant-based diets have a favorable impact on gut bacteria composition and increased bacterial diversity which results in reduced inflammation in those with RA.

Another review of 11 human trials involving 433 participants found that “Plant-based diets were associated with significant improvement in emotional well-being, physical well-being, depression, quality of life, general health, HbA1c levels, weight, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol… “Plant-based diets can significantly improve psychological health, quality of life, HbA1c levels and weight and therefore the management of diabetes.

New Beverages

Natalie’s Juice Co. launched Nourish and Immunity. These cold-pressed juices are support specific. Nourish gives you cucumbers, kale, spinach, pineapple, celery, lime cilantro and jalapeno. Immunity features oranges, tangerines, pineapple, aloe vera and sweet basil. (BTW, the website features a delightful collection of recipes

New from Remedy Organics is Berry Immunity, plant-based protein shake that helps protect immune function with a wide variety of plants and botanicals including elderberry, echinacea, camu camu, lion’s mane mushroom, and 10 grams of plant protein, plus prebiotics to further support immunity.

Blendtopia is a new line of superfood smoothie kits rich in plant-based ingredients – just add 12 ounces of your fave (non-alcoholic) liquid and blend.  The blends – Detox, Energy, Glow, Strength, Immunity and 7-Day Cleanse -- contain flax seeds, hemp seeds, wheat grass, chia seeds, , wheatgrass blended with berries, fruits and vegetables plus herbs such as turmeric and maca.

Also new is low-sugar fruit smoothies from plant-based company Koia, based on fulfilling demand for the 70% of adults who are concerned about controlling or reducing sugar intake. A significant number of cold grab-and-go drinks such as smoothies contain high sugar, with up to 53 grams per bottle. Koia’s new smoothies -- Magic Mango, Rise & Shine, Straw-nana Dream, and Tropical Passion – have nine grams of total sugar per bottle.

Orange Squeeze is the newest flavor of Olipop sparkling tonic, joining other flavors Strawberry Vanilla, Classic Root Beer, Ginger Lemon, Vintage Cola and Cherry Vanilla. Olipop provides plant fiber from OLISMART, a proprietary combination of cassava root fiber, chicory root inulin, Jerusalem artichoke inulin, Nopal cactus, kudzu root, marshmallow root, which also contains prebiotics and botanicals and support digestive health and immune health. 

New Foods

Supermarkets are diving right into the plant-based trends by investing serious money into their own brands (private label). For example, in October of this year (2020), Kroger supermarkets introduced 50 new plant-based products and it plans to provide 25 more before 2021 – catering to soaring demand, as shown by soaring sales. And this range, which is now typical in most supermarkets, includes: Cauliflower Blended Baking Mix, Jalapeno Lime Kraut (probiotic, fermented raw sauerkraut), Chickpea Fusilli Pasta, and Oatmilk Frozen Dessert (Sea Salt Caramel).

Whole Foods Market, headquartered in Austin, TX, announced its annual top 10 anticipated food trends for 2021. Two are strictly plant-based.

Chickpea products are moving into the spotlight. According to Whole Foods Market’s report, “You can chickpea anything. Rich in fiber and plant-based protein, chickpeas are the new cauliflower.” Examples found at the store include Biena Vegan Ranch Chickpea Puffs; Peppi’s Greek Gourmet GreekFreez frozen dessert made with chickpea aquafaba: Orange Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip; Chikfu Chickpea Tofu; Three Wishes Cereal made with chickpeas (coming 2021): Cinnamon, Honey; Siete Family Foods Chickpea Flour Tortillas; Banza Pizza made with chickpeas: Margherita, Roasted Veggie

The second is a satisfying alternative to beef/meat jerkies – fruit and veggie jerkies. According to Whole Foods Market, “All kinds of produce from mushrooms to jackfruit are being served jerky-style, providing a new, shelf-stable way to enjoy fruits and veggies. ​The produce is dried at the peak freshness to preserve nutrients and yumminess. If that’s not enough, suppliers are literally spicing things up with finishes of chili, salt, ginger and cacao drizzle.”

Examples include Snack Jack Jackfruit Jerky: Cracked Pepper, Sweet Chili; Pan’s Zesty Thai Mushroom Jerky; Solely Organic Fruit Jerky: Mango with Chili & Salt, Pineapple with Chili & Salt, Mango with Drizzled Cacao; Wild Joy Banana Jerky: Original, Chipotle Lime, Ginger Teriyaki; Fat Top Farm Spicy Mushroom Jerky 

And now, you can have your eggs – without the chicken’s participation. JUST Egg is made from mung beans, and turmeric. It comes in a bottle, already “beat” and ready to scramble, as well as Folded to pop in a toaster or in the pan. On its heels is a startup called Zero Egg, made from a blend of soy, potato, pea and chickpea, and also in two varieties – EGG Basics and BAKE Basics; its website also includes recipes.

Conclusion

Eating healthy has truly never been so easy or so scrumptious. Whatever your food fancy, it can be satisfied – cookies, pizza, macaroni & cheese, even plant-based chocolate, and more. Buon appetito

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