Whole Food Plant Based Substitutions for Sweet and Salty Cravings


December is a shit time to go through the process of trying to eliminate junk food cravings because holiday cheer is basically another way of saying give mama sugar and alcohol NOW! And holiday cheer is fully supported, encouraged and busting at the seams this time of year. If you’re trying to stick to your plant powered ways and you seem to be teetering, I’m here on a rescue mission to help you. Give me your hand, I got you with a trusty list of plant based substitutions for sweet and salty cravings. I also have Duct Tape, some coconut aminos, a blender, some drill bits and my cat pants; just in case. You never know what could arise.

If you’re already tits-deep in cookies, cupcakes, cheese platters, wine, candy, and spiked cider, your cravings for these things are going to be a son-of-a-bitch to get away from because the pleasure center of your brain has already been swept away and taken to Disneyland for adults, where everyone is prancing around naked and partying in hot tubs filled with champagne and strawberries. Chocolate is the currency and everyone gets to sleep in before the next party starts.

If you’ve only dipped your toe into holiday cheer it will be easier for you to refuse a ticket to Disneyland for adults, but you’ll still need a backup plan because it’s a tempting place to go when you’re stressed out about getting every little thing done before the fam rolls into town.

The more sugar, junk food and alcohol you party with, the less appealing whole plant foods will be. That’s just the nature of your brain chemistry. So be prepared to stay strong, tell your cravings for junk food to fuck off, and choose foods that are going to help you instead of hurt you. You’re worth it and really, instant gratification lasts but a few minutes. The temptation and cravings are always more intoxicating than the execution.

Here is your new go-to list for when junk food cravings smack you upside the head. The next time it happens, tell those cravings NOT TODAY, SON and reach for one of the following whole food plant based options instead. Adult Disneyland might sound like a good idea, but if you’ve ever swam naked in a hot tub full of champagne with strangers, you know that it can go wrong very, very quickly.

If you’re having sweet cravings.

Craving: Cookies
Whole Food Plant Based substitution: apple slices + nut butter + chopped walnut + raisins

Craving: Ice cream
Whole Food Plant Based substitution: 1 cup unsweetened soy milk + 2 very ripe frozen bananas + 1 cup frozen blueberries + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 2 tablespoons raw cacao powder // place everything in your blender and blend until super creamy and smooth. This makes a very thick milkshake-like treat. You can either drink it with a very big straw or eat it with a spoon.

Craving: Candy bar
Whole Food Plant Based substitution: dried pitted date + almond butter + chopped pistachios

Craving: Donut
Whole Food Plant Based substitution: toasted sprouted bread + nut butter + toasted coconut + banana slices + minced dried apricots (instructions and pictures below)

Craving: Chocolate
Whole Food Plant Based substitution: small square of 85% dark chocolate or higher

If you’re having salty cravings.

Craving: Potato chips
Whole Food Plant Based substitution: Organic Air Popped Popcorn

Craving: Cheese
Whole Food Plant Based substitution: Cashew Cheese

Craving: Nachos
Whole Food Plant Based substitution: 7 Layer Nacho Dip

Craving: Pizza
Whole Food Plant Based substitution: sprouted English muffins + red sauce + sautéed mushrooms + cashew cheese. Stack everything on the English muffins and bake for 10 minutes in a 375°F (190°C) oven.

Craving: French fries
Whole Food Plant Based substitution: sweet potatoes cut into wedges and tossed with T-Crack. Toss everything together, place in a single layer on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake in a 425°F (218°C) oven for 15 minutes, flip and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until crispy. Serve with Garlic Paprika Dipping Sauce.

Okay, let’s bring this home and make it real. Tell me in the comments below what your holiday cheer has looked like so far and which of the options above is going to save you from the adult Disneyland walk of shame. #ouch

For when you’re craving a donut and you don’t want to go there…

Toasted Coconut Sweet Treat

Author: Molly Patrick


Toasted Coconut

  • 2 cups dried coconut, large flakes or shredded (about 115 g)

Toasted Coconut Sweet Treat

  • Toasted Coconut
  • Sprouted bread, toasted
  • Nut butter of your choice
  • Banana slices
  • Dried apricot, minced (can sub with any other dried fruit)


Let’s first toast up some coconut:

  • Heat a large skillet over low heat for one minute. Add the coconut to the skillet and spread out in a single layer. 
  • Cook for 4-7 minutes, stirring often, until the coconut gets nice and brown. Watch the skillet closely and stir often because the coconut will go from brown to burnt in a hot second. If you are using smaller shredded coconut, it will cook faster, so really keep an eye on it. 
  • Once most of the coconut is brown, turn off the heat and transfer to a plate to cool. 
  • When the Toasted Coconut is cool, transfer to a container and store on your fridge. It’s easier to make 2 cups of Toasted Coconut so you don’t have to do this every time you want some. 

Now let’s assemble the goods:

  • Toast your bread and then immediately spread some nut butter on the warm toast. Top with some Toasted Coconut, banana slices and minced dried apricots. Cut in half and nip that donut craving where it counts! 

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with showing holiday cheer who’s boss.


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Our Sweary Saturday Love Letters are written by our ex-boozer, ex-smoker, plant-loving co-founder, Molly Patrick.


  1. Rhonda on December 15, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    So far, I’ve held strong…not to say it’s been easy. “Free” food at work sucks. It’s a mind fuck for me. I usually go very easy on the higher fat wfpb foods (e.g. avocado, nuts, seeds), but, for the holiday season, I’ve told myself that as long as it’s wfpb no oil/low(er) salt/minimal sugar then I’m eating ALL the plants. So, on Friday the boss is treating everyone to pizza and everyone is bringing tons of crap to share. I’m bringing a cfdg chili and gaucamole to share. I’m very excited, LMAO! I’m also making the cfdg pumpkin pie filling (baking without crust) in ramekins to have for a holiday treat. I think the key (for me) is to plan for something special, maybe a little more fancy than normal and be excited for what I CAN eat rather than perceive that I’m missing out. Oh, and thanks for tge list of substitutions. Very helpful!

    • Molly Patrick on December 17, 2018 at 10:42 am

      You are kicking SO much ass. High fives from me, seriously!
      Keep rocking those plants, my dear!

  2. Cathy on December 15, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Can I get an “amen!” Holy Mary Mother of God!! So much amazing feel-good food that’s actually good for me!! Bring it, baby!! Thx so much Molly!!

    • Molly Patrick on December 17, 2018 at 10:41 am

      Heck yes!
      Luanne was craving ice cream two nights ago and I made her the ice cream sub from this list.
      She ate it and it totally hit the spot for her. No ice cream needed 🙂

  3. Shana on December 15, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    5 stars
    I made the YUUGE mistake of joining the Facebook group called Vegan Trader Joe’s. It’s all about the vegan junk food at TJ’s, especially all of the seasonal items they have right now. Well, I went in there and bought ALL of the vegan junk! My plan was to save it to share with my omni family over Christmas. Ha! If it’s in my house, it’s in my mouth. First step is leave that Facebook group. And no more TJ’s until after the holidays. Thanks for the pep talk and suggestions Molly!

    • Molly Patrick on December 17, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Damn, TJ’s will do it every time!
      I do miss TJ for their great deals on nuts and nut butters but that place is like a vortex of super affordable and delicious snacks.
      I always used to walk out of there with a bag full of things I didn’t need.
      Oh well, it’s never too late to get back on the whole plant food train, I’m here waiting for you.

  4. ELISABETH COLLINS on December 15, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    Just saying my tree looks just like yours, Molly. I would say we have the same supplier, but our homeless population doesn’t push Christmas trees.

    • Molly Patrick on December 17, 2018 at 10:38 am

      Ha! I’m so glad I’m not the only one.
      Our trees might be small but it’s all the cheer we need.

  5. Betsy Wyatt on December 15, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    5 stars
    I am toeing the line. I allowed stress of my MIL and anxiety over a goal get to me. So for 2 days I have had too many sweets but I am here to stop it. Love all these ideas ♡♡♡

    • Molly Patrick on December 17, 2018 at 10:38 am

      You GOT this!!!!

  6. Mary Ann Scanlon on December 17, 2018 at 11:23 am

    I’m struggling after my omnispouse’s Birthday last Friday and subsequent celebrations at my in laws on Saturday night. I ate cheese on a veggie burger with a side of truffle oil French fries at his birthday dinner followed by a huge slice of 4 layer chocolate cake from Costco (cake on both Friday and Saturdaynight). Now there is 1/2 of said cake on top of the fridge. I thought he was going to bring the rest to work today. It’s still there! I did have Friday nights dinner from the plan for breakfast this morning and it was delicious. Had to get that out there.

  7. Judy on December 17, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Definitely going to try the tiasted coconut sweet treat, withe my 3 yr old grandaughter and her mum! Also, the sweet potatoe wedges and sauce!
    Would like to find a christmas spice baked something or other baled recipe, for the Christmas kitchen aroma. Perhaps a candle will suffice.

  8. Colleen on December 28, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    I, too, have been holding strong against the seemingly-everywhere crap. Every day at work there is more crap for taking but what has helped me is to remind myself how I FEEL after I eat crap ?The bloating, lethargy, & mind-fog isn’t worth it.
    I made some dark chocolate, raw nuts & dried fruit bark to have on hand because I knew I would want something special and I wanted to know exactly what was in it. I did really well with it, too -only had a couple small pieces.
    Bring on 2019! ? ?

    • Molly Patrick on December 28, 2018 at 6:34 pm

      Great job, Colleen! I do that as well sometimes.

  9. Denise Edgell on August 24, 2019 at 10:27 am

    “The more sugar, junk food and alcohol you party with, the less appealing whole plant foods will be. That’s just the nature of your brain chemistry.”
    What do you mean by ‘nature of brain chemistry’?
    Why would it go to sugary foods when plants are what keeps us healthy ?
    And I keep reading about eating a little of this or a small piece of that-that type of thinking has me wanting it all! Seems a bit contrary.
    Thank you ~

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on August 30, 2019 at 11:34 am

      Hi Denise, Check out Molly’s interview with Dr. Doug Lisle, a clinical psychologist, that helps explain this phenomenon. The book, “The Pleasure Trap”, written by Doug Lisle and Alan Goldhamer is a good resource to read. Another resource is a book titled “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” written by Michael Moss. Thank you for stopping by. ~Karen

  10. Vikki on May 29, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    Do you ever get past cravings?? I’ve been WFPB for 3 yrs now and still I get them. I don’t crave junk, but I do crave something full of dates and cashews, probably blended. Something mixed with crunchiness… maybe oil free granola. Maybe it’s a flapjack, maybe a chia pudding, maybe something cakey… or is it a biscuit? But I can never satisfy those cravings. It’s like nothing hits the spot. And actually I don’t really like creamy sweet stuff. Why do we crave stuff we don’t actually like, or need? Silly body!

    Love this site btw! Recently discovered it and it feels a bit like a community!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl - Steph on May 29, 2020 at 1:02 pm

      Cravings are rough! Everybody is different and we always want you to feel empowered to do what works for you. There’s some resources you may find helpful in Plant Fueled Life. If you’re interested, sign up for the free trial to check it out. Reach out to us here if you have any questions. xo

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