A treat is a treat, is a treat! Whether you have processed, store bought cake or a gorgeous vegan cookie, it’s still a calorie-dense and fat-ladened experience.
We define a treat as anything that is calorically dense, high in fat or high in sugar.
The higher your fat and sugar intake, the higher your cholesterol and risk for disease.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I can’t sit here and say that you can never have a piece of birthday cake again. That would be crazy and virtually impossible to do.
If, however, you’re at a birthday or wedding or special anniversary party, then sure, have a piece of the cake. They key is to not have more cake the next day or the day before or three more that week. Then it’s no longer a treat and more of an “everyday food”.
It’s not about perfection
No one expects perfection or never enjoying a treat. Perfection doesn’t work. The key is to enjoy treats in a mindful way.
I often remind those I’m consulting with or who I’m at a party with that eating a whole-food plant based diet doesn’t mean you have to be perfect all the time. It just means your everyday fare is whole foods, plant based.
For example: When someone else made by birthday cake, which wasn’t vegan, I enjoyed one piece and understood more was too much. I also understood that even if it was vegan (as you’ll see in the recipe below) it still would be a calorically dense treat.
Just because it’s labeled vegan or plant-based doesn’t mean it’s healthy
Use common sense. Many vegan or plant-based treats are still high in fat. Check the label and check the calories from fat amount. See our blog post on that for more information.
Finally, keep the treats out of the house. If you have to choose between an apple or bowl of strawberries versus a vegan cookie or bowl of soy ice cream…your willpower isn’t going to work. I know I’d be gobbling up that vegan cookie and ice cream. Don’t buy it in the first place then you won’t have to decide.
If you’re looking to be healthy, fit and feel good – stick with whole plant foods as your everyday fare…keep the treats for special occasions.
O’Rourke family’s favorite vegan chocolate cake
…but it’s still not the best option.
Our favorite birthday cake is the one from Minimalist Baker. It’s rich and delicious, but just as calorie-dense as a store bought cake or non-vegan cake.
If you don’t have heart disease, cancer or other ailments then enjoy a slice. Otherwise, see my other option below.
I made a few changes to this cake because it calls for quite a bit of coconut oil and vegan butter (calorie-dense and high in fat).
For the cake: I use 1 ½ cups apple sauce and only ¼ cup of Earth Balance “butter” for the cake. You can add more apple sauce if it’s not wet enough later.
I also cut the sugar down to about 1cup or less…taste it as you go.
For the frosting: well it’s confectioners sugar and vegan butter (Earth Balance)…use more almond milk if you want to cut down the butter, or just go for the full thing. We found that it was too sweet and cut the sugar.
But again, it’s usually made for birthdays so we only have it 4-5 times a year. We enjoy it and eat a really healthy dinner alongside!
Better options for dessert
The Esselstyn family favorite: Kale Cake. It sounds crazy, but think about it…have you had carrot cake, or zucchini bread, or apple cake? Same concept but with kale.
The frosting is made with a tofu/berry mix…it’s delicious. I was not a fan of tofu for a long time and I didn’t even notice it on here.
It’s so refreshing and delicious! Grab their book for the recipe: “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook”. (Or I’m sure you could do a quick search and find it.)
Other desserts to satisfy the sweet tooth
- frozen grapes
- fruit, especially berries and pineapple
- banana “ice cream”
- chia pudding
Your taste buds will change
As your taste buds change you’ll even notice that you don’t need sweets as you once may have. It’s fun to celebrate but just make sure every day isn’t a celebration of treats! 😉