Adopting a healthy lifestyle often means giving up a lot of your favorite guilty pleasures. For Annie Oliverio of An Unrefined Vegan, that meant eating foods that were unrefined and processed and completely animal-free.
But you won’t find her complaining. In fact, she’ll tell you that she’s healthier and happier than ever. So, what does she indulge in when she’s craving something “bad”? Plenty — and it’s never refined. Here are her favorite healthy finds.
1. Soy Curls
Even vegans enjoy a “meaty” bite now and then. Luckily, we can satisfy that craving easily with Soy Curls. These whole food chunks of dehydrated soy are delicious in soups, chili, or casseroles. They do a spot-on imitation of chicken. Marinated and baked, they’re smoked jerky’s animal-free doppelganger. Nothing funky in these bad boys, either. They’re 100 percent soybean. No oil, no preservatives.
2. Ginger syrup
I gave up refined sugar, but that doesn’t mean I gave up my desserts! To fill sugar’s place, I use stevia. It’s a sweetener derived from the leaves of a plant that are sweeter than sugar itself. Oregon-based NuNaturals has a wide range of premium stevia products, including powders, extracts, and liquids. My current favorite is their ginger syrup. It’s the perfect way to sweeten smoothies while adding the refreshing zing of fresh ginger root.
3. Healthy crackers
At about 3 p.m. every day when that craving hits to shove my hand deep into a bag of salty chips, I make a healthier choice with my favorite crackers. Mary’s Gone Crackers are whole grain, gluten-free, nut-free, and oil-free. They also healthfully satisfy my need for some crunch. With robust flavors like herb, black pepper, onion, and caraway, they taste fantastic on their own. They’re even better spread with a creamy cashew cheese.
4. Vegan chocolate
Why do I love Lily’s Sweets chocolates so much? Because both the vegan chocolate bars and the vegan chocolate chips boast deep, dark, rich flavor. An added bonus: They’re sweetened with stevia, so I can enjoy top-quality chocolate without the refined sugar. Even better? Lily’s Sweets donates a portion of their profits to organizations that support childhood cancer survivors.
5. Noodle soup
My go-to quick and easy dinner is an Asian-inspired noodle soup: vegetable broth, copious amounts of grated ginger, garlic, black pepper, a generous scoop of miso paste, whatever veggies are hanging out in the fridge, and a couple of packages of udon noodles from Meister’s Gluten-Free. I buy them in bulk so they’re always on hand in a mealtime pinch. They look, feel, and taste like freshly made noodles. They also contain only a few ingredients.
6. Coconut oil-based body butter
Being vegan isn’t confined to the kitchen. It’s a lifestyle choice that means shunning anything that contains animal products or that’s tested on animals. That’s why making Ellovi coconut oil-based body butters part of my self-care routine was a no-brainer. Their silky-smooth butters contain only six ingredients, and none of them are unpronounceable. Plus, they smell so amazing you’ll want to eat them. (But you should try not to.) Try key lime, chocolate mint, or vanilla. To avoid inducing hunger pangs, go with their original or blossom scent.
7. Charcoal-based facial
Recently I jumped on the charcoal trend. I’m not talking about what fuels the grill in the backyard: Finely ground charcoal is a detoxifier. Every night I scrub with an intoxicating liquid facial wash by Destiny Boutique named — fittingly — Charcoal Facial Detox. Do I look 10 years younger? No, but I love the creamy bubbles, the light peppermint scent, and the fact that it’s cruelty-free and doesn’t have any artificial or weird ingredients.
Annie Oliverio is a food blogger, recipe developer, and the creator of An Unrefined Vegan. She describes her lifestyle as unbleached, unprocessed, and cruelty-free, with unrefined, plant-based, and whole food recipes to nurture body, brain, and conscience. She has a special weakness for desserts and sweets, but her love of food is far-reaching. Find her on Instagram.