New Jersey may conjure images of boardwalks and diners, but the Garden State offers plenty of nutritious dining options beyond deep-fried fare.
With excellent farmland and access to fresh seafood, ingredients abound for healthy preparations.
From clean eating restaurants like Lean Green Café spotlighting superfoods, to Korean barbecue joints utilizing antibiotic-free meats, you can readily eat well in NJ.
Even local farms get into the action with stands selling just-picked produce. Read on to discover the tastiest spots for wholesome meals across New Jersey, from shore towns to suburb enclaves.
What Makes a Meal Healthy?
Before diving into the best options for healthy dining in NJ, let’s overview what actually makes a meal good for you. The keys to healthy eating include:
- Lean protein from fish, poultry, beans, nuts and other plant-based foods
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables, ideally from local farms when possible
- Whole grains instead of refined/processed grains
- Minimal added sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, and processed ingredients
When you choose dishes made with natural, recognizable ingredients instead of mystery components, you set yourself up for better health already.
Understanding what constitutes healthy fare is half the battle to finding it.
Healthy Food Chains
If you’re looking for a reliable healthy meal no matter where you roam in New Jersey, some classic healthy chains have your back.
With plenty of NJ locations, including Princeton, Paramus and more, Sweetgreen offers fresh salads and bowls focused on organic ingredients and sustainability.
Theirtangy dressings and inventive flavor combos take salad to the next level.
DIG Inn keeps it simple with vegetable forward bowls, sandwiches and sides showcasing whole ingredients. You’ll find them in Jersey City, Hoboken and elsewhere in North Jersey. Their seasonal roasted veggies always satisfy.
Craving a lighter take on classic comfort food? Honeygrow specializes in stir frys and noodle bowls where you can customize fillings and sauces to your liking.
Stores reside in towns like Cherry Hill, Princeton and Newark. Their portion sizes suit active lifestyles.
Notable Healthy Restaurants
Beyond the chains, New Jersey boasts some special local eateries also focused on wholesome, nourishing foods. These favorite healthy restaurants in NJ are worth a special trip.
Verve Restaurant (Somerville)
Touted as a “revolutionary fast casual” locale, Verve gives farm fresh flair to classics like pizza, burgers and bowls in downtown Somerville.
Their locally sourced ingredients and clever twists, like cauliflower crust pizza, make healthy eating effortless.
Harvest Market Natural Foods Café (New Brunswick)
Attached to a market selling natural groceries and products, Harvest Market Cafe makes use of nutritious ingredients in juices, smoothies, sandwiches and bowls.
Their menu indicates vegan, gluten free and other specialty diet options clearly for extra convenience.
Lean Green Café (Princeton)
Lean Green Café lives up to its virtuous name with protein packed wraps, antioxidant fruit bowls and customized salads and pitas bursting with superfood toppings.
Hearty flavors like Thai peanut sauce keep you satisfied. Their Princeton location’s fresh fare fulfills.
Best Healthy Cuisine by Region
While New Jersey may cover a small geographic area, ingredients and cooking styles shift subtly between North, Central and South Jersey. Here’s where to find wholesome cuisine tailored to each region.
In Northern NJ, the proximity to New York lends itself to a diversity of immigrant fare. Find these healthy ethnics eats in North Jersey towns:
- Korean – Palisades Park, Fort Lee
- Japanese/sushi – Edgewater, Little Ferry
- Ethiopian – Newark
- Egyptian – Jersey City
- Peruvian – West New York
Also home to plenty of fresh produce, North Jersey farms supply locavore restaurants like Restaurant Serenade (Chatham) with seasonal ingredients for regional specialties.
In the center of the state, global influences combine with the Garden State’s agricultural bounty. Go for healthy choices like:
- Tacos loaded with veggies and lean proteins in New Brunswick
- Veggie samosas, grilled meats, and lentil dishes at Edison’s Indian restaurants
- Ramen with antibiotic-free noodles and broth in Princeton
- Build your own Buddha bowls at Two Sevens’ Grain Bar (Marlton)
Shoretown eats tend toward the fresh and casual side. Stroll the Atlantic City, Cape May or Asbury Park boards for wholesome bites like:
- Acai bowls
- Fresh summer salads
- Grilled Jersey corn on the cob
- Hand-tossed flatbread pizza
- Fruit based desserts like blueberry cobbler
Also take advantage of nearby Amish country and hit up farmers markets for just harvested produce.
Best Health Food Stores
Beyond just restaurants, excellent markets and grocers provide healthy meal ingredients, snacks and products so you can DIY nutritious fare. These top health food stores in NJ shine:
Whole Earth Center (Princeton)
With an extensive selection, including supplements and homeopathic remedies, Whole Earth Center feeds all needs for holistic wellness.
Nutrition Solutions (Paramus)
Catering mainly to specialty, restricted diets, Nutrition Solutions stocks hard-to-find items for keto, paleo, gluten-free, and vegan lifestyles under one roof.
Health Food Store of Upper Montclair
This generation’s old store provides traditional health foods before they hit mainstream markets. Catch up on the latest superfoods here.
Lim’s Health Food Store (Hamilton)
Focusing specifically on Asian holistic ingredients like herbs, teas, and essentials for Chinese medicine and cooking, Lim proves NJ loves healthy diversity.
Enjoy Life Natural Market (Cape May Court House)
Close to beach towns, Enjoy Life carries snacks, beverages, and even beauty products suited for healthy living year round.
What food is NJ famous for?
New Jersey is famous for several iconic foods, including:
- Taylor Ham/Pork Roll Sandwiches: Thinly sliced salted and smoked pork meat that is often fried and served on a roll or bagel with egg and cheese. It’s a beloved New Jersey specialty.
- Italian Hot Dogs: Pork-based hot dogs served on pizza bread and topped with mustard, onions, and spicy pepper relish. Popular in Newark and North Jersey.
- Tomato Pie: A type of pizza made with a thick, bready crust and loaded with cheese and tomatoes. Common in central Jersey and the shore region.
- Salt Water Taffy: The popular chewy candy was first produced and sold in Atlantic City along the Jersey Shore boardwalks.
- Blueberries: New Jersey has many blueberry farms and producers. The state even refers to itself as the Blueberry Capital of the World.
- Jersey Corn: Sweet corn harvests thrive in the state’s fertile farmland, especially popular in summer months. Farm stands sell it freshly picked.
- Soft Pretzels and Mini Donuts: Iconic boardwalk snacks fried fresh and coated in salt and sugar for beachgoers up and down the Jersey Shore.
So whether you have a craving for salt, spice, sweet, or savory, New Jersey offers several famous regional specialties to satisfy!
Ready to Eat Well in NJ?
As this guide demonstrates, New Jersey indeed supplies no shortage of intelligent, nutritious dining and shopping options.
From internationally flavored dishes to produce picked straight from Garden State farms, you can readily fill your plate according to healthy tastes and needs across all parts of NJ.
The key simply lies in knowing what general principles constitute wholesome eating, like focusing on whole foods over refined ingredients.
Then, seek out restaurants that prioritize fresh, sustainable cuisine or markets that specialize in natural products.
Before you know it, you’ll have conveniently healthy habits without sacrificing boredom, thanks to NJ’s diverse offerings.
So next time you find yourself driving the Turnpike, stopping on the Shore, or just grabbing a bite in your local neighborhood, use these tips to make sound choices.
Your body will thank you for eating the ample healthy food available right here in New Jersey!