7 Easy, Vegan & Healthy Alternatives To Your Fave Junk Foods

by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist


Published in Lifestyle and Health on 11th August, 2019


Junk food can be seriously hard to give up, but it gets a lot easier if you have healthy, yummy replacements to fulfill your cravings. So rather than being miserable all summer, treat yourself to some easy to make, healthy, vegan junk foods.

Vegan Nutella

Nutella was one of the first things I missed when I went vegan, and although there are now dairy-free alternatives, they are usually full of sugar and oils and generally, not good for you. Instead of splashing out on these expensive replacements however, you can make a super easy, super healthy and super yummy replacement using only three ingredients.

vegan nutella

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of Hazelnuts
  • 5 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons of Cocoa/Cacao Powder (more if you like a richer taste)

Chuck all of the ingredients into a food processor or high-powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

If you're processor is having trouble blending the mixture, feel free to add some plant-based milk into the mix for a smoother end result. Pop it into a jar and eat within a couple days.

Vegan Cheese Sauce

Before I tried this vegan cheese sauce, I did not believe that using potatoes and carrots, you could create something that even came close to tasting cheesy. I was proven wrong. This cheese sauce is not only tasty, cheesy and slightly creamy, it's also much healthier than any regular cheese sauce.

Use it to make mac n' cheese, plop it on burgers or in sandwiches or use as a dipping sauce. The possibilities are endless.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of soaked cashews (to quickly soak, boil some water and leave the cashews in the boiling water for 30 minutes)
  • 1 - 1/4 cup diced potatoes
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots
  • 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 - 1/2 teaspoons of lemon (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Boil the carrots and potatoes until they are soft and fully cooked through, then transfer along with the rest of the ingredients to your blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, then transfer to a pot to store in the fridge or eat right away.

Vegan Burgers

Who doesn't love a burger on a hot summer's day? Unfortunately, fast food & junk food burgers are notoriously unhealthy. This black bean burger is the perfect alternative - easy to make, packed with protein and delicious to boot.

vegan burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 1 can of black beans (drained)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons mixed herbs
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • Oil for frying

Heat the oil in the pain and saute the onions for about 6 minutes until they are golden and soft. In a separate bowl, mash the black beans until they are fairly smooth, and then add the sauteed onions, salt, garlic powder, herbs and flour. Mix until combined and it forms a sticky ball.

Break of burger-sized chunks from the mixture and form into patties. Transfer the patties to the pan you previously fried the onions in and fry until cooked through. Pop in a burger bun and enjoy!

Vegan Choc Chip Cookies

For me, the elusive vegan choc chip cookie was a struggle for many years as I just couldn't get the recipe right. Even more difficult is finding a recipe for cookies that still isn't going to give you pre-diabetes. The solution: using banana instead of sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 2 overripe bananas (the riper they are, the sweeter your cookies will be)
  • 1/2 cup of melted vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 flax or chia egg1 tsp of vannila essence
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups of flour (or oat flour if you want an even healthier, gluten free alternative)
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (use dark chocolate for less sugar)

Mash the bananas well and then mix with the melted vegan butter, maple syrup, chia egg and vanilla essence. In another bowl, mix the bicarb, baking powder and flour. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix well, incorporating in the chocolate chips as you go.

Transfer to a baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes at 180C.

Vegan Pizza

For many people looking to try out a plant-based diet or eat healthier, the idea of pizza without cheese is tantamount to blasphemy. However, with recent developments in the science of vegan cheese making, a proper vegan pizza is possible.

vegan pizza

Without lot's of oil, sugar, cheese and salt a pizza can actually be quite a healthy meal so long as you make sure to load it with plenty of veggies.

Ingredients:

  • Pre-made vegan pizza dough / base (this can be store bought, but they are easy to make at home too.
  • Passata
  • 1 cup of spinagh
  • Black olives (as much as you'd like)
  • 1 cup of finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped peppers
  • 2 tablespoons mixed herbs
  • 1 cup of chopped mushrooms
  • Grated vegan cheese

Prepare your pizza dough / base and cover in a generous layer of passata. Adorn with toppings - feel free to go crazy if you want. Sprinkle the mixed herbs and vegan cheese over the top and cook in the oven at 180c for around 10-15 minutes until the cheese has melted and the base is cooked through.

Vegan "Nicecream"

We have come very far in the realms of vegan icecream, it's now widely available and being manufactured by well known brands such as Ben & Jerry's and Magnum - however, it's still pretty unhealthy no matter which way you look at it, and can still be pretty expensive. Nicecream is the solution to this problem.

It may sound odd at first, but don't let that put you off. Essentially nicecream is just frozen bananas, blended to form an ice-cream consistency. The sweetness of the bananas means you get a tasty summertime treat, but without the excessive caloric intake.

Ingredients:

  • 4 frozen bananas, chopped into chunks
  • 1/2 Coconut cream / milk (cream will keep your nicecream thicker, but if you're having trouble blending then use milk instead)
  • Chocolate syrup

For this recipe you will need a high powered blender or food processor, or you may struggle to blend the nicecream properly. To make life easier, start by putting only a third of the banana in the blender along with all of the coconut cream and blend until smooth.

vegan ice cream

Continue to add the rest of the frozen banana until thick and creamy. If you're having trouble blending add extra milk while blending. A blender with a stirrer built in also comes in really handy here.

Pour into a bowl - your nice cream should be a thick, creamy consistency that sticks together like ice cream. Drizzle on chocolate syrup and enjoy!

Vegan Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of my personal favourite comfort foods, and traditionally is not only very unhealthy, but hard to imagine being veganised, however, it's actually very easy to make amazing vegan cheesecake.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 Cups of cashew nuts, soaked overnight
  • 2 tsps of vanilla essence
  • 0.5 cups of maple syrup
  • 0.25 cups of coconut oil
  • 0.5 cups of lemon juice
  • 0.25 cups of water
  • Pinch of salt

For the crust:

  • 2 cups of digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 1 cup Melted vegan butter
  • 0.25 cups of maple syrup

This recipe starts the night before - leave your cashews to soak overnight so that they are ready to blend first thing in the morning. You can also make your crust at this time, ready to go the next day. Simply crush your biscuits until they are a fine powder and mix with the melted vegan butter and maple syrup.

Place into a round 8 inch cake tray and flatten until it forms a level crust.

When you're cashews are fully soaked, you can simply add all of the ingredients into a blender, blend until completely smooth and pour on top of your crust. Leave in the freezer for at least two hours to set then transfer to the fridge for a further two hours unless you like very cold cheesecake. Top with fruit coulis and enjoy!

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