Bella Sun Luci Plant-Based Tomato Jerky Might Replace Your Favorite Meaty Snacks
I've said it before, and I'll say it again—I love beef jerky.
When I was in the third grade, the item at the top of my holiday wish list was a food dehydrator, because I had big dreams of crafting my own homemade jerky. And while I still crave meaty jerky strips, these days, I'm also willing to try meatless versions that are better for me and the environment.
So when the folks behind Bella Sun Luci Plant-Based Tomato Jerky reached out to me and asked if I'd be interested in sampling their products, I simply couldn't say no. Could tomato jerky even pale in comparison to the real thing? The brand sent me a couple of bags of each of their three unique flavors so I could find that out for myself.
Bella San Luci's Plant-Based Tomato Jerky was designed to be a good-for-you, on-the-go snack that simulates the flavor of savory, mouth-watering beef jerky, but without any of the meat. It achieves that thanks to the bold umami flavor inherent in sundried tomatoes, which simulates the beefy flavor of classic jerkies.
With just 80 to 90 calories per serving, depending on the flavor, this tomato jerky is also vegan, kosher, gluten-free and non-GMO. Each serving also packs six grams of protein and six grams of dietary fiber plus calcium, iron and potassium. They're available for $4.99 for each 2 oz. bag, or $29.95 for a case of six bags.
As someone who likes but doesn't love tomatoes, I had to say I was very curious going into the first tasting. The Hickory Smoked flavor seemed like the most basic, so I started there. As soon as I opened the bag, I got a whiff of the bold, smoky flavor within, and I knew I was in for a treat.
While it didn't taste exactly like mesquite-smoked beef jerky, it did have some of the same qualities going for it. The tomato had a sharp, tangy kick, while the smoke gave it a vague barbecue taste, which worked well with the sweetness and boldness of the tomato itself. Texturally, it was even a bit like a slightly soft piece of jerky with a bit of bite, and it even got stuck in my teeth in the same way.
I was quickly hooked, and it was all too easy to snack through the entire back in a single sitting. Though the bag says that you should refrigerate these tomatoes after opening, in my experience, they probably won't last long enough that you'll be forced to do so.
For my next tasting, I moved on to the Sriracha flavor. As a big fan of the spicy sauce, I was very much looking forward to giving it a try, and when I bit into my first piece, I wasn't disappointed. While the natural flavor of sundried tomato was still the star, here, it was elevated by the strong flavor of chili. The heat packed a punch, and got stronger and stronger with every piece I ate, but was never overwhelming. Basically, if you like sriracha and the words "tomato jerky" didn't immediately turn you off, chances are that you'll enjoy this flavor.
Teriyaki & Cracked Pepper
I saved the Teriyaki & Cracked Pepper flavor for last knowing that teriyaki jerky pretty much never fails, and that happened to be the case here, as well. The combination of sugar and soy sauce brought a completely new aspect to the flavor profile of the tomato jerky, and I just couldn't stop snacking on them. On top of that, the pungent flavor of a lot of cracked black pepper gave it a spice that lingered in my nose as I ate. As I'd expected, it was my favorite flavor of the bunch—and also the first for me to run out of completely.
If you're a jerky lover who's looking to reduce the amount of meat they eat, I think Bella San Luci's Plant-Based Tomato Jerky is worth trying at least once. You might be surprised by the meaty flavor and texture you can get out of sundried tomato, and with the different flavors available, you just might find a new favorite. Of course, not everyone will be converted—after all, some people just can't stand the taste of tomato—but others might be surprised how much they like it. And at a price point similar to that of fancy beef jerkys, it's worth the investment as well.
Looking for more plant-based jerky alternatives? Click HERE to read our review of Pan's Mushroom Jerky.