Archive of ‘Vegan’ category

 Real Food Rainbow Popsicles (No Sugar Added!) Made with Natural Sugar-Free Sweeteners (Stevia, Erythritol)

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It’s officially summer! The MS-1s are out enjoying our last “summer of freedom” (doesn’t that sound ominous?), so I’ve been grateful for some down time. (To follow along with my medical school journey and get a glimpse of life in rural North Carolina, head on over to my instagram!).


Here in North Carolina, the fruit bins are overflowing with seasonal produce.  To celebrate the colorful array and the start of summer, I made cool, creamy, drip-down-your-arm frozen fruit bars. These cheerful treats have no added sugar, made from real whole fruits and a splash of coconut milk for creaminess.


After working with patients this year on mission trips and at the free clinic, I’ve been more inspired to talk about healthy food than ever before. Many of them have diabetes or are pre-diabetic. The ones I’ve spoken with have been open to making dietary changes, but aren’t sure where to start. Through such conversations, I’ve learned that small tweaks and substitutions are the most manageable for people trying to change their way of life. In my next chapter of blogging, I hope to share more simple recipes with common ingredients that can nudge people towards healthier habits. I’d also like to solicit your feedback, dear readers. What’s one change you made to your diet that kick started your healthy eating? Leave it in the comments, and maybe it’ll inspire others to take a step in the right direction. 



Secret Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe (Sugar-Free and Better Than Starbucks!)

What’s the secret to making a healthy, diabetic-friendly version of Starbucks’ infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte at home? 

It involves real pumpkin, fresh spices, and a crock pot! You’re gonna brew up a batch of your own PSL flavored coffee creamer, so that you can have this nourishing and delicious treat every morning on the go! A few glugs of this sweet nectar of the gods (it’s that good!) will transform your coffee into something magical…

Homemade Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte

DId you know that the Starbucks version doesn’t contain any actual pumpkin?! 

The best part about making PSL lattes at home is that you can control the sugar and type of milk used. The recipe below is sugar-free and dairy-free! It’s made from a blend of creamy cashew milk and coconut milk, which creates an amazingly rich, silky smooth “cream” that lightens coffee just like dairy cream!

To keep this treat diabetic-friendly, I sweeten it with natural, calorie-free sweeteners called stevia and erythritol. You could use xylitol as well (3/4 cup xylitol = 1 cup erythritol), or mix erythritol and xylitol together for an even better sugar-free sweetening option. Keep in mind that xylitol will cause your blood sugar to rise, whereas erythritol and stevia will not. I like adding 2 Tablespoons of xylitol to the recipe below for an extra boost of sweetness. (*whispers* Find out why you need to combine sugar-free sweeteners in the Healthy Indulgences E-Cookbook!)

To make this paleo, simply swap out the sugar-free sweeteners for maple syrup or coconut sugar. 3/4 cup of maple syrup should sufficiently sweeten the creamer.You’ll want the Pumpkin Spice Creamer to be quite sweet since it’s a concentrated mix that gets diluted by coffee, so keep that in mind if you’re adding your own sweeteners. 

So, how can we make a PSL coffee creamer that tastes like pumpkin without any chunkiness from the pumpkin puree? I’ll show you how!


Almond Flour Biscuits + Pumpkin Apple Butter (aka Fall In a Jar!)

These paleo biscuits will rock your world.


 Slathered with Pumpkin Apple Butter, which tastes like a cross between pumpkin pie and apple pie, these biscuits will satisfy the fiercest of carb cravings.


Sugar-Free Pumpkin Apple Butter make your house smell the best it’s ever smelled, getting you in the mood for pumpkin spice lattes and color changing leaves and knit scarves and all of the other seasonal accoutrements taking over storefronts and Pinterest.


Healthier Ice Cream Bars and a GIVEAWAY! Banana + PB + Chocolate = Bliss. (Paleo, Low Carb, Dairy-Free, Vegan)

This post contains a product review, a sponsored giveaway, and affiliate links which generate commission for the blog if you click and purchase. Read more about Healthy Indulgences review disclosure policies here.

UPDATE: The giveaway is closed now, and the winners have been picked. Check your email to see if you’ve been selected for one of the NuNaturals stevia prize packages!

Paleo Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream Bars


Do you remember eating peanut butter n’ banana sandwiches as a kid?


An Easter GIVEAWAY + Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Egg Candies (a.k.a. “Better-than-Reese’s” Eggs!) for a Healthier Holiday

My name is Lauren, and I’m a Reese’s peanut butter egg-a-holic.


Earlier this month, I received a request from a reader, Deb, to create a healthier version of the highly addictive, seasonal candy that is the Reese’s egg. Knowing there are many low carb eaters out there who face the temptation to hoard these candies every Easter, I was determined to create a healthier alternative. It would be  dairy-free, soy-free, and paleo for my primal peeps and allergen-averse candy fiends.


Homemade Chocolate Candy Bark and my Kindle E-Book!

Boy oh boy, it’s good to be back in the kitchen! Back with a little something special for the holidays, of course. It’s sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate candy bark! Isn’t it purdy, lounging on a gold doily?


G-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s, baby!

Doilies are works of art, aren’t they? I see them as small, papery miracles. They make any food visually appealing. They make you feel like you have some sort of “eye” for decorating. They come in classic white, or SHINY!!! I’m a firm believer in their ability to make everything better. 

This festive candy is made with a smooth and sweet chocolate base that contains no milk, but all of the richness of traditional milk chocolate bark. This candy bark is one for your Christmas cookbook.


Announcing an E-COOKBOOK (!!!) and Instant Ice Cream and Hot Fudge Sauce for Sugar-Free Sundaes!

UPDATE: The giveaway winner for the Bento lunchbox is commenter #55, Suzie. Thanks for participating in the giveaway, everyone!


Pictured below is my instant strawberry ice cream with rich homemade hot fudge sauce that’s low carb and sugar-free. Both the ice cream and hot fudge can be made paleo, dairy-free, and vegan. You’ll be able to recreate allergen friendly sundaes that are every bit as yummy as those sundaes you’ve enjoyed at ice cream parlors. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the recipes…

With the end of summer comes the beginning-of-school-year scramble! New pens and pencils and binders are carefully arranged in book bags, and text books are purchased begrudgingly by students (hint: Amazon and are your friends). Wardrobes and hairdos and parking permits are revitalized and renewed!

As for me, I’m still stuck in summer mode. Sure, I have my schedule for courses set, my books ordered, and the prospects of new faces and intellectual discovery (shout-out to all my nerds out there!) getting my mind a’buzzing with possibilities. It’s an exciting time, every semester, you know? It’s the thrilling feeling of anticipation that comes with new beginnings, with novelty, with plunging headlong into the unknown.

It all sounds a little dramatic, you say? Well, I have to keep myself excited during my extended undergraduate education, hah! To all you people who knew what you wanted to do with your lives when you were 18 – “congratulations and you suck,” in the immortal words of Marina Keegan, God rest her beautiful soul.

That same feeling—that sense of anticipation—is the one I’ve been getting for the past four years blogging, constantly revising recipes in my messy test kitchen, trying this plate, that camera angle for food photoshoots, and opening my email inbox to new questions that pose new challenges to navigate in the kitchen. The wonderful people (that means YOU) who have given me tips and left helpful comments on the site and Facebook page are the other, more important, reason I’ve kept blogging. Thanks to your encouraging words and donations this website lives on!

After receiving numerous questions from you about sugar-free baking and substitutions, I decided to work on tidying up all the information on this blog into one project. The culmination of this summer’s efforts is the Healthy Indulgences e-cookbook! It’s finally ready, and will be posted for sale on the redesigned website on Monday, August 19th is posted for sale here!

Healthy, Homemade Granola Bars (pssst… they’re Sugar-Free!)

Quick announcement: Healthy Indulgences now has a Twitter indulgehealthy (add me, er… follow me?) 


These are not your typical granola bars. What’s so special about ’em? Look closely…

Healthy, Homemade Granola Bars

You don’t see any oats, do you? Or sugar. I know you can’t see there’s no sugar, but I promise you it’s not there (okay, so there’s 1 tiny teaspoon of honey in the whole recipe!). Low carbers and gluten-free eaters, take heart. These snack bars are sure to satisfy your craving for this formerly forbidden treat.


Healthy Homemade Creme Eggs… Move Over Cadbury!

First things first: My rewards code is NIN467. Thank you to BkBabe and the other readers who clued me in about this! Use it for your first purchase, and get a $5 discount.


It’s that time of year. That time when convenience stores have Easter candy displays set up. Even the most devoted healthy eaters can get nostalgic, seeing the colorful displays of packaged marshmallow and chocolate confections. Reminiscent of childhood candy baskets on Easter morning, these toxic frankenfoods certainly still have an allure for me. The single most tempting treat is Cadbury Cream Eggs, hands-down. As much as my tastebuds have adapted to subtle sweetness and natural sugar substitutes, I could still probably down a package of those goo-filled overpoweringly sweet candy eggs.

With a healthy dose of natural saturated fats and antioxidants from the organic cream, butter, and unsweetened chocolate, these homemade candies will allow you to have your seasonal treats while maintaining your healthy diet. I seriously cannot believe the power sugar holds over us at times. I believe due to biochemical individuality, it’s only certain individuals who are cursed with getting that “jolt” of happiness every time they eat sweet, carbohydrate-rich foods. The evolutionary adaptation that helped us to identify energy rich foods back when we were chasing around saber toothed tigers can be tortuous in this processed food-filled day and age!

My homemade almost sugar-free take on these well loved confections does not taste exactly the same, but is every bit as delicious and satisfying. The simple filling is light but rich, with buttery undertones. I even made a vegan version for you dairy-free folks! The combination of stevia and honey contributes just the right amount of sweetness to the creamy center, minus the gloppy powdered sugar/corn syrup consistency and cloying quality. My testers certainly gave these the thumbs up!

Now let’s compare these treats with the store bought sugar bombs…

Original Creme Eggs:
28 grams net carbs!

Healthy Creme Eggs:
6 grams net carbs!

Pretty crazy, huh? The little bit of really sugar in honey works really well here. I did not try a version with erythritol because a) I’m out, and b) I’m guessing there will be a cooling effect/grittiness that would be unpleasant in the creamy filling.

Now go buy some egg molds off of ebay ($5 including shipping!), and get candy making. Happy early Easter!


Healthy Homemade Creme Eggs

Makes 8 large eggs

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted organic butter
1/4 cup organic heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey (add an extra teaspoon for a very sweet filling)
1 fresh organic egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (scant) good tasting pure stevia extract
Pinch unrefined sea salt


Heat butter, cream, and honey, stirring over over low heat until butter is completely melted. Whisk in egg yolk and cook over medium-low heat until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (should take 3-5 minutes). It will leave a trail when you drag your finger across the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and add vanilla and stevia. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Taste and add a tiny pinch more stevia if necessary. If when cooking the custard you start seeing little tiny cooked pieces of egg white, immediately pull from the the heat and strain mixture. It will still be good. Chill until cool to the touch.

~4.2g net carbs per 1/8th of a recipe


Dairy-Free/Vegan Filling

Makes 8 large eggs

1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup coconut cream (from canned coconut milk)
1 tablespoon honey (add an extra teaspoon for a very sweet filling)
Tiny pinch xanthan gum OR 1 fresh egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (scant) good-tasting pure stevia extract
Pinch unrefined sea salt


Store coconut milk in the refrigerator for a few hours. Remove the lid gently, and scoop out the solid upper layer of coconut cream. Heat shortening, coconut cream, and honey, stirring over over low heat until butter is completely melted. If using xanthan gum, simply add the tiniest pinch you can hold between your fingertips, and whisk for a minute. It will thicken a little bit in the pan, but will become even more viscous upon cooling. Less is more here. It’s better to add too little xanthan then have it turn slimy because you’ve added too much. You can always add more when the mixture has cooled. If using egg yolk, whisk it into the warmed coconut cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat until it coats the back of a spoon (should take 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and add vanilla and stevia. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Taste and add a tiny pinch more stevia if necessary. If when cooking the custard you start seeing little tiny cooked pieces of egg white, immediately pull from the the heat and strain mixture. It will still be good. Chill until cool to the touch.

Sugar-Free “Milk” Chocolate Egg Shells (or Chocolate Chunks)

Makes 8 egg shells

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Ghirardelli)
2 tablespoons powdered nonfat milk (I use Organic Valley)
2 tablespoons xylitol or 3 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
2 teaspoons nonhydrogenated shortening (Spectrum Organic)

Ensure all utensils and working bowls are completely dry. Powder sweetener and powdered milk with the flat blade on a Magic Bullet, or your coffee grinder. Whir for at least one minute until it becomes an extra fine powder. Do not open canister immediately in order to allow the powdered mixture to settle. In a large microwave safe bowl, break chocolate into chunks, and add shortening. Heat chocolate mixture for 35 seconds on HIGH and stir. Heat in 10 second intervals, stirring each time, until melted and smooth. Dump in powdered mixture, and fold around the bowl with a spatula until smooth. It will look clumpy and thick at first, but you will be able to smooth it out. Reheat in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Fill molds, spreading chocolate up the sides with your fingertips or the back of a tiny measuring spoon. Chill in freezer, and repeat, only spreading chocolate around the top edges (which tend to be too thin since the chocolate sinks into the middle of the molds. Don’t worry if the inside looks messy–the outside will still look perfect. Smooth the top edges of the chocolate shells to ensure that they’ll fit together. Chill again. Pop out of mold using gentle pressure on the backs of the wells, along with rapping the plastic tray on the counter. Fill one egg half with filling. On another egg half, paint a thin line of extra chocolate along the top edges. Stick the second half over the first, pressing firmly to seal. Let set for five minutes. Eat!

For dairy-free chocolate shells, omit milk powder and decrease shortening to 1/2 teaspoon.

If making into chunks, pour into a pan lined with parchment and spread flat. Chill until firm, then chop into chunks.

~2g net carbs per 1/8th of a recipe




Check out this week’s Real Food Wednesday over at Kelly the Kitchen Cop for more information on healthful fats!

Healthier Chocolate Ice Cream (Vegan and Dairy-free!)

Creamy, Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream (Sugar-Free)

It’s too chilly outside to walk to Whole Foods, and it’s so convenient shop on campus with our dining points. As luck would have it, two of my healthy cooking staples-coconut milk and extra dark chocolate–happen to be available at the coffee shop by my dorm building. I decided to make a comforting treat using truly “local” ingredients. With the swipe of my student I.D. card, I stocked up on my favorite Lindt 85% chocolate and canned coconut milk and pondered the possibilities.

Even though NC has been cold enough to make me long for the dearth of seasonal weather that is southwest Florida, ice cream sounded really good yesterday afternoon. It may have had something to do with my friend wanting to stop at Ben and Jerry’s after a quiet dinner out at a delicious Mediterranean restaurant. I was pretty full that night from meat skewers with tzaziki and baba ghanoush, but for old times sake, we went into the colorful ice cream shop. I ended up getting a tiny Kid-sized scoop of their sugar-free ice cream, just to try it. A little processed food once in a blue moon when you’re out with a good friend can’t hurt.

The Ben and Jerry’s experience was honestly a bit of a disappointment. The texture of the No Sugar Added Vanilla Fudge ice cream was grainy (because of the lowfat milk I’m guessing), had an aftertaste from the Splenda, and worst of all, caused the telltale tummy “rumbling” associated with maltitol. Fortunately, the scoop I had was small enough not to cause any side effects, but I was truly worried for a moment there. After tossing out the little paper cup and feeling cheated out of $4.50, I hatched a plan to make my own healthy ice cream. Without Splenda, skim milk, artificial flavorings, maltitol…. or an ice cream maker.

This sugar-free, dairy-free chocolate walnut ice cream turned out much better than I ever could have expected. You just whip it up and freeze it in a dish… no ice cream machine required! It’s rich, creamy, scoopable from the freezer, and pleasantly sweet. Forgo storebought low-carb ice cream and make up a batch of this. It’s even lower in carbs than the prepackaged kind because of the use of my favorite natural sweetener, erythritol (instead of sorbitol and maltitol which are higher on the glycemic index).

The coconut milk imparts creaminess and a subtle flavor, while the coconut oil makes for a smooth mouthfeel. The fresh organic egg yolk emulsifies the whole mix into ice cold dairy-free bliss. I added homemade low carb chocolate chunks that melt in your mouth as you eat the ice cream instead of staying cold hard bits (which always ruins the fun of chocolate chip ice cream for me). The walnuts add crunch. There’s also a spoonful of rum to make the ice cream stay soft enough to scoop. You can’t taste the alcohol, though. If you don’t mind your ice cream freezing very hard, simply leave it out. I must say that the rum was by far the most accessible ingredient since there are people turning 21 every day in my dorm hall!

Dairy-Free Rich Chocolate Ice Cream (Sugar-Free, Vegan)

Dairy-Free Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes five rich scoops

2 ounces 85% cacao chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt)
9 tablespoons erythritol or 7 tablespoons xylitol
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
2 cups full fat coconut milk (preferably Thai Kitchen brand)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum or vodka (to keep ice cream soft and scoopable)
Pinch unrefined sea salt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 recipe ice cream chips (see below)


1 fresh, organic egg yolk

Melt together chocolate, erythritol, coconut milk, sea salt, coconut oil, and microwave on HIGH for 30-40 seconds until chocolate and coconut oil are melted. Blend with stevia, rum, and vanilla until smooth. Add the egg yolk and blend once more. Pour into a glass dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Freeze for one hour, then remove from freezer and whisk vigorously. Stir once more after another hour, adding in the walnuts and chips. I let mine freeze overnight. You could also just pour the mix into an ice cream maker and freeze per your manufacturer’s instructions.

~35g net carbs for the whole batch (with walnuts and chips)

Melt-in-your-mouth Ice Cream Chips:

Makes enough for one batch of ice cream

1 oz 85% cacao chocolate
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon erythritol, or 1 tablespoon xylitol
1 teaspoon nonhydrogenated shortening or coconut oil
Pinch good-tasting pure stevia extract

Powder erythritol or xylitol in coffee grinder or magic bullet. Melt chocolate with powdered sweetener and shortening. Stir in a pinch of stevia and taste for sweetness. Spread in a thin layer onto a sheet of wax paper or aluminum foil and freeze until set. Chop into small square chunks. Keep chilled.

~5.5g net carbs per batch

Warning: Not a single serving size! It was even more delicious shared with four friends. 🙂
Healthy Dairy-Free Chocolate Ice Cream

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