It’s crystal clarity that I, like many other folks, have a sweet tooth. Unlike some other people who can stop at one cinnamon roll or one piece of candy, I can eat sugar-tasting treats for eternity. Yep, if I ever decided to, I would probably eat solely sweet foods for a day and love every minute of it. That being said, I still love my spicy and savory indulgences as much as anybody else. Give me sweet potato fries, vegan chicken nuggets, Chinese takeout, spring rolls, pizza, Thai food, and sushi, and I’ll be set for life.
Yes, this blog is all about living a healthy and fit lifestyle. My philosophy centers around nourishing your body with deliciously nutrient-dense foods, physical activity, adequate sleep, and flourishing activities. However, a truly healthy routine understands when to kick back and relax, take a rest day or two, and enjoy a cookie…or two…or three. Given how long I utilized a restrictive diet and exhaustive exercise schedule, I knew that I could only maintain it for so long. Without partaking in some indulgences and days off, I missed more opportunities for fun and memories that I initially hoped for.
Consider this a wink and a nod for lost times. I taste-tested more vegan junk food and treats in the most recent one or two years than I had for nearly my entire high school life. After each trial, I analyzed, compared, and enjoyed every bite (well, for the most part). Below I’ve whipped up a list of my favorite vegan “splurge” foods that I wouldn’t eat every single day, especially a whole container of it, but would definitely love to enjoy in at least once or twice a week, maybe digging into a reasonable serving daily (like two Oreos instead of fifteen like last week….yeah……..).
Each item will include a review completely centered around texture, taste, flavor profile, and overall quality. Face it. Calories shouldn’t be feared or overly controlled when it comes to treating yourself with a few exceptions. The nutritional information is inevitably pictured because I still want to show the ingredients of each product. You can also see a comparison of nutritional facts and variations to possibly create different expectations of quality and taste.
- NadaMoo! Vanilla…Ahhh Ice Cream
- Sometimes you just want a simple dessert. With NadaMoo!’s ice cream, it was one of those days. I love that all the ingredients are organic and plant-based, yet the decadence is absolutely there. I wasn’t too impressed with opening the pint given its rocky-looking surface; however, its airy and fluffy texture won me over along with its deliciously vanilla flavor and slight coconut undertone. I definitely would eat this ice cream again–whether a few scoops or a whole pint–and would recommend it to all my friends and family!
- Ben and Jerry’s Non-Dairy P.B. & Cookies Ice Cream
- Not nearly as healthy as the ice cream above, which kind of says a lot, but not too much. That being said, don’t expect anything from Ben and Jerry’s to be diet-friendly (minus their Moophoria line or whatnot). BUT. Don’t expect anything basic from Ben and Jerry’s–they are KNOWN for the CRAAAAAAZY flavor combinations, and their P.B. and Cookies ice cream did not disappoint! It pleased me enough that I nearly ate a whole pint in one sitting. Might as well call myself out now–I ate the rest of the pint later that night. So yeah, it didn’t last to see the light of day.
- So Delicious No Sugar Added Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Ice Cream
- I already reviewed the So Delicious No Sugar Added line in a separate post, but I had to include it in this post given how much I love it! While it has been a hot minute since I’ve enjoyed it (more than a month), I absolutely adore it and would dig into a pint any time. It does NOT taste healthy (the saturated fat is high, but ehhhhhh whatever–at least in this case), but the coconut flavor is much stronger than that of the NadaMoo! ice cream. If you are not a fan of coconut ice cream, it’s better to try the NadaMoo! vanilla flavor or another non-dairy ice cream that’s coconut free.
- Sprinkles Red Velvet Vegan Cupcake
- Usually I’m not the hugest fan of cupcakes, but I always wanted to taste the famous red velvet cupcake from the Sprinkles bakery! Not only am I a huge fan of “Cupcake Wars” and “Sugar Rush”, I used to be a huge fan of the Sprinkles bakery when I was a kid. After several years without enjoying cupcakes regularly, I finally discovered that the Sprinkles bakery at Disneyland carries a vegan cupcake, which I HAD to try. Man, the cupcakes are delicious! The cake itself is quite soft and crumbly with a bouncy feel, while the cream cheese frosting yields an incredibly sweet and silky gloss to the cake. I actually found the cream cheese frosting so rich that I couldn’t quite finish all of it!
- Lassen’s Vegan Carrot Cake
- NEVER would I ever pass up an opportunity to eat cake. EVER. There are far too many varieties that I love, but I think I’m almost always in the mood to eat carrot cake. I have tasted many, many carrot cakes, and by far, Lassen’s bakes it the best. The carrot cake slice is fluffy, tender, aromatic, perfectly frosted, and the cake itself does not have huge chunks of carrots, walnuts, or raisins. More so, the carrots are blended into the batter, making the cake even more soft. If you don’t like carrot cake, I highly recommend trying Lassen’s vegan chocolate cake and lemon cake!
- Old West Cinnamon Rolls’s Plain Cinnamon Roll (based in Pismo Beach)
- Vegan cinnamon rolls in my driving range back in university?! YES PLEASE! For $2-$4, you can pick a vegan-friendly cinnamon roll at a Pismo Beach-based bakery called Old West Cinnamon Rolls of all kinds of varieties. They have pecan-topped rolls, raisin rolls, walnut rolls, raisin walnut rolls, almond rolls, and plain rolls just like the one pictured below. By far, this cinnamon roll is the sweetest, crispiest, and most aromatic I have ever tasted! I love Cinnaholic’s cinnamon rolls as well, but their dough is a little more under-baked while that of Old West is more bread-like.
- Miss Teaberry’s Baked Goods’s Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake (based in Morro Bay)
- Speaking of cinnamon rolls, did you know that you can also find a vegan cinnamon roll coffee cake in Central California? Well, if you don’t let me enlighten you: Miss Teaberry’s Baked Goods is a plant-based and allergen-friendly bakery line that only uses natural, non-GMO, and diet-friendly ingredients for their products. By far, my favorite treat of theirs is the cinnamon roll coffee cake that also contains raisins and a gorgeously drizzled glaze. It’s a great sweet pre-workout snack or light dessert as well!
- Charlie’s Brownies’ CBD Brownie
- In my opinion, all of the best bakeries are the ones that don’t utilize mass production. Charlie’s Brownies exudes that the magic of one person can really execute beautifully. Founded by Charlie Fyffe, a health-conscious and passionate vegan, Charlie’s Brownies is an organic vegan and gluten free bakery line that specializes in coconut sugar-sweetened treats, including this CBD-infused brownie! With CBD oil integrated into this brownie, the lasting effects of enjoying this treat is absolutely real. It’s fudgy, rich, gooey, and satisfying for the palette! Don’t be surprised if you’re happy-dancing for an hour after finishing it.
- Doomie’s Home Cookin’s Triple Fudge Brownie and Butterscotch Brownie
- Finding richly decadent desserts in the most unlikely places is a serious win. Based in Los Angeles, Doomie’s Home Cookin’ is a vegan fast food spot where you can dig into sky-high plant-based burgers, decked-out French fries, spicy buffalo wings, and the most massive desserts I have ever seen. When I stopped by, I decided to try their triple fudge brownie and butterscotch brownie. Both of them are moist, fluffy, flavorsome, and absolutely wild. The butterscotch brownie tastes like a slightly burnt butter vanilla cake and the fudge brownie tastes like the perfect chocolate cake. Even my younger non-vegan cake-snob sister loves them!
- Lenny and Larry’s cookies
- My personal favorite flavors are Snickerdoodle, White Chocolate Macadamia, and Chocolate Peanut Butter. However, the Peanut Butter, Choc-O-Mint, and Lemon Poppyseed varieties are other strong recommendations! Generally speaking, Lenny and Larry are the kings of packaged vegan cookies. Their cookies are soft, doughy, sweet, flavorful, and composed of relatively healthy-ish ingredients (aside from the palm oil and loads of sugar). I wouldn’t say that these cookies are completely categorized as junk food, but they are definitely on the refined side. Still, it’s no bowl of oats and fruit, but the taste is absolutely worth it.
- Tender Greens vegan peanut butter brownie
- If there is a brownie to write a love letter to, by far, it is the vegan peanut butter brownie from Tender Greens. This quality may not be for everyone, and it’s definitely not for me at certain times, but I adore that each brownie that I taste is unique–at least in the distribution of peanut butter clumps. However, in my opinion, the more, the merrier! Anyhow, the overall brownies are soft, cake-like, fluffy, sweetly chocolatey with a slightly crunchy, salty, and fatty element from the peanut butter that we all love! I am on a serious hunt for the bakery that supplies these brownies because I’d snatch their recipe and bake it all the time.
- iGreeen Soy Steak (my favorite flavor is Teriyaki!)
- Jerky was most certainly not my cup of tea. It’s dry, tough, and it’s generally over-salted. NOT this jerky. Call it whatever you will–soy steak and all that–but it is, hands down, the best plant-based jerky alternative that I have ever tasted. Each piece of jerky is decadently flavorsome and matches the product label perfectly. The teriyaki flavor indeed punches you in the face with sweet teriyaki and sesame seeds! As a bonus, the jerky is non-GMO, completely natural, and is 97% fat free. So hey, it’s not as bad as other jerky brands out there!
- Eataly’s Pizza Alla Bianca (their pesto flavor is also delicious!)
- Bread is bread. Bread is delicious. That being said, some breads are tastier and of higher quality than others. One major example is Eataly’s Pizza Alla Bianca, otherwise their plain Roman-style pizza crust. Unlike the other pizza flavors, the plain crust may not look like much; believe it or not, the dough is served piping hot, as fluffy as a cloud, and perfectly fresh. I didn’t plan on consuming the entire piece of bread that same day, but I inevitably did. It was that delicious. Eataly is generally a pretty expensive place to buy food, but they put heaps of effort in their products and it shows. And YES. PIZZA CRUST IS CLASSIFIED AS BREAD. DEAL WITH IT.
- Lesser Evil Avocado-Licious Popcorn
- Ah, popcorn. A movie theater’s favorite. Growing up, I easily hammered down a box’s worth of popcorn on top of the rest of my sisters’ popcorn portions and ON TOP of the rest of whatever was left of the large tub of popcorn. All with extra butter and a side of red ICEE. Anyways, I’ve moved far beyond the butter and ICEE train, but popcorn and I will remain close for eternity. Instead of movie theater popcorn, I prefer healthier alternatives like Lesser Evil’s Avocado-Licious popcorn, which is made with avocado oil and minimal salt instead of vegetable oil and copious amounts of sodium-laden ingredients. While this is a much more wholesome popcorn, you shouldn’t have it every single day, let alone a whole bag. *shields face* Then again, it’s a wondrous experience to watch a movie and eat the entire bag of this deliciously light, crunchy, and flavorfully avocado-licious snack.
- Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Protein Granola
- Yeah yeah, granola is a breakfast item, but SERIOUSLY. I was so addicted to this peanut butter protein granola that I enjoyed two cups for breakfast, ate another serving (or two) as a snack, and then polished off the rest of the bag by the end of the day. It is nutty, crisp, sweet, crunchy, and basically eating like peanut butter in granola form. I LOVE the pieces of peanuts too! A whole bag of granola is pretty excessive, though. At least I got in 66 grams of protein and more. NO REGRETS.
- Justin’s dark chocolate nut butter cups
- Reese’s peanut butter cups used to be one of my FAVORITE candies of all time for an amazing reason: chocolate and peanut butter. Yep, sums it up nicely. Sadly, these beloved candies are not vegan-friendly, but fortunately, Justin’s dark chocolate nut butter cups suffice the candy craving perfectly! Pictured is their cashew butter cup, but their other varieties are absolutely fantastic–sweet, nutty, and snaps wonderfully in each bite! Their mini cups are dangerous though–prepare to eat almost an entire bag if you purchase one. There are milk chocolate and white chocolate cups as well if you are not vegan and prefer sweetener chocolate, so everybody has an option!
ACCIDENTALLY VEGAN FOOD
- Oreo O’s and Reese’s Puffs
- Oreo O’s: Who wouldn’t want to eat cookies in cereal form? I know I wouldn’t pass on that opportunity. When I discovered the mere existence of Oreo O’s, I instantly embarked on a quest for them. Eventually, my roommates beat me to it, but fortunately, they shared a portion with me and I carried them to my university’s all-you-can-eat cafeteria kitchen to enjoy some cereal for dessert! These bad boys were an absolute winner. The Oreo O’s have a prominent crunch with a similar but more delicate chocolate flavor and even more modest glaze of that sugary creme filling. Still, they pack a magnificent taste and infuse into my non-dairy milks so nicely!
- Reese’s Puffs: Otherwise, my favorite accidentally vegan childhood cereal. If you were to tell me they were vegan, I would have been flabbergasted! Chocolate and peanut butter have always been two of my favorite indulgences. Marry the two together in cereal and we have the best kids’ cereal in the world! The flavors are strong, powerful, sweet, and the cereal itself is relatively dry but softens more quickly than the Oreo O’s.
- Literally NO OTHER AMERICAN COOKIE IS MORE ICONIC than the Oreo. Ever since I was born, I demolished Oreos like no other. I generally grew up with the classic dark chocolate black cookie sandwich with white creme filling, but I did try a couple other varieties like their Oreo thins, double-stuffed Oreos, golden Oreos, mint-flavored Oreos, kettle corn Oreos, and their Halloween Oreos (which unsurprisingly taste the same as conventionally-flavored Oreos). As of now, my number one favorite crazy flavor has to be their red velvet one. It is sweet, zingy from the cream cheese-like filling (fun fact: no dairy in the creme!), and super fun to munch on. It was hard to pull my hands away from reaching for another cookie, but it eventually was unnecessary since I finished them so quickly!
- Fritos Bean Dip
- Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the full package and labeling, but I still highly recommend this dip! Unlike most of these snacks, the Fritos bean dip is actually reasonably healthy. It’s high in fiber, protein, and has a pinto bean base. It’s a wonderfully flavorsome dip to enjoy as a snack or a main accompaniment for fresh vegetables or flatbreads! If you ever find yourself in a convenience store, gas station, or 7-11 and find this bean dip, it will seriously be your savior. Convenient protein and fiber source that looks much more mainstream than eating out of a can of beans. Trust me, I’ve eaten out of a can of beans before. You don’t want to know how many confused looks I received.
- Nutter Butter cookies
- While peanut butter Oreos exist, they most likely don’t quite compare to a cookie sandwich that purely has peanut butter in the middle rather than peanut butter creme (though I haven’t tried peanut butter Oreos). Whenever I have a serious hankering for cookies and peanut butter, Nutter Butters are the WAY TO GO. They are crunchy with a beautiful combination of sweet cookies and salted peanut butter. I don’t know about you, but peanut butter is just the key to anyone’s heart (minus those who are allergic). Add in cookies and I guarantee that you’ll be able to put a ring on it.
- Teddy Grahams
- Another childhood favorite that I NEVER knew was vegan. I was beyond elated to find out that I could eat them on a vegan diet! For a while last year, I snacked on a serving or two of the chocolate Teddy Grahams for dessert almost every night. They are fun-sized, deliciously rich, and perfectly sweetened. Basically think of a graham cracker in a bear-shaped cookie structure. In my personal opinion, it’s even better than a graham cracker!
- Trader Joe’s Chocolatey Cat Cookies
- Similarly to Teddy Grahams, these chocolatey cat cookies from Trader Joe’s are also magnificent! The main differentiation between the two are the thickness–these cookies are thinner and lighter while the Teddy Grahams have a thicker structure. However, these chocolatey cat cookies are still incredible with a rich chocolate flavor and crunch factor. They are fantastic as a topping, a dessert, a snack, or even in a cereal bowl! Seriously, try it in a cereal bowl. You’ll feel like you slam-dunked a basketball in a hoop.
- Nutter Butter Cereal
- If I’m not quite in the mood for granola but I still want to enjoy a bowl of crunchy peanut butter, AND if I feel like making a bad decision for my physical health, I love digging into this Nutter Butter cereal. For some reason, I never had Nutter Butter cereal as a bowl of cereal, but that was probably beneficial because I would have easily annihilated the entire box. Crack in cereal form.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to plan out an entire vegan desserts and junk food taste test. Let me know what your favorite vegan indulgences are!