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Vegan at Zia Valentina Cupcakes, Los Angeles Farmers Market

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My husband and my dad have a great relationship and often go to events without me.  They were early for a small entertainment industry event, so they stopped at the Los Angeles Farmers Market to pick up some grub.  Eric noticed a new cupcake stand and saw that they offered vegan cupcakes, so he very thoughtfully stopped and bought me one.  Eric mentioned more than once how friendly and approachable the employees/proprietors were.

Eric got a card from them, so I did a little research and checked out the Zia Valentina website, which is not yet complete.  They boast “fresh and natural ingredients, with no preservatives, no sugar,” which is always good.  The website lists the following vegan options: espresso drinks with non-dairy milks, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal coconut cookies, vegan cupcakes, and a vegan oatmeal coconut chai frosting sandwich.  They actually list 6 different types of vegan cupcakes – take that Sprinkles!  There’s red velvet, s’mores, chocolate coconut, chocolate banana, vanilla chai, and carrot.  However, there’s one major issue.  While kindly telling Eric all about the vegan options, it came out that the red velvet cupcake is vegan except for the frosting.  Apparently, the frosting for this particular cupcake has egg in it.

Eric was assured that the vegan s’mores cupcake was actually vegan, so he brought it home at the end of the night.  After hearing about the problem with the red velvet cupcake, I was a little concerned about the s’mores cupcake, but I took them at their word and tried it out.  It was hands down better than Sprinkles’ yucky red velvet cupcake (found in the same place).  The cake wasn’t dry at all, despite sitting in the car for a few hours until Eric got home and the frosting was thick and creamy.  My only complaint was that the “s’mores” flavor was very faint.  Had I not known that it was supposed to be s’mores, I don’t think I would have realized what flavor it was.

Zia Valentina | A Vegan in Progress

I would definitely stop by the Zia Valentina cupcake stand on a future visit, but I have a few concerns that I hope they address in the meantime.  I applaud their effort to provide healthier cupcakes and other treats, especially vegan ones.  I would just encourage them to do a little more research into the restrictions involved in the vegan diet so that they can truly offer legitimately vegan desserts.  I’m worried that, if the vegan red velvet cupcake has egg in the frosting, the s’mores cupcake may have gelatin in the marshmallow frosting or honey in the graham cracker crumble.  Once they get a good understanding of the vegan diet, I’m sure they will be great competitors to the nearby Sprinkles booth.

On a side note, I still prefer No Udder Desserts and I’m glad that they are the closest to my home.

Vegan at Sprinkles Cupcakes, The Grove, Los Angeles

The Grove and Original Los Angeles Farmers Market is one of the great, atypical places to take out-of-towners or to spend a leisurely Saturday.  There are tons of upscale stores to peruse, including the American Girl store, which is one of my favorites.  If you haven’t heard of them, they are great historical fiction books and dolls that are age-appropriate for elementary school kids.  I wrote an entire term paper for my Children’s Literature class about the flaws (specifically gender and racial inequalities) in these books and I still think they are great, so that says a lot.

Anyway, Eric and I were at the Grove for a free screener of Homefront, starring Jason Statham and James Franco.  You basically get exactly what you expect walking into that movie.  The actress who played Jason Statham’s daughter was great, though.  After the movie, we stopped at the tiny Sprinkles Cupcakes booth so I could try their famous vegan Red Velvet cupcakes.

Red Velvet, Sprinkles Cupcakes | A Vegan in Progress

First of all, if you are going to offer one vegan option – why not more than one?  I know that seems like I’m asking a lot, but not everyone likes Red Velvet.  I found the frosting to be very fragrant – almost smelling like a sugar cookie.  However, it tasted oddly of coconut.  Eric got another cupcake with a cream cheese frosting (not a vegan one) and it also tasted of coconut.  To me, that is both weird and gross.

Red Velvet, Sprinkles Cupcakes | A Vegan in Progress

The cake itself tasted a little dry.  Nothing about the cupcake left me thinking I should stop by Sprinkles more often.  After trying a non-vegan cupcake, Eric said that he wasn’t a fan either.  He prefers Crumbs Bake Shop, which also has several locations, but sadly no vegan options.  I highly recommend No Udder Desserts over Sprinkles.  They only have one location, but offer many more flavor choices as well as different desserts in addition to cupcakes.  The taste is far superior to Sprinkles.  Sprinkles Red Velvet fans – you don’t know what you’re missing!  Definitely give No Udder Desserts a try.

No Udder Desserts, Woodland Hills

Located directly behind The Vegan Joint in Woodland Hills is No Udder Desserts.  It’s a small place where, if you want a lot of cupcakes or a whole cake, you’ll have to order ahead.  It’s no problem for me because Eric and I usually stop by on a whim once a month or so to pick up a cupcake each.  They are always yummy and moist.  Eric’s preferred desserts are cakes and cupcakes and he likes No Udder’s cupcakes regardless of him not being vegan.

Take a look at the website for a sampling of their selection.  I’m a chocolate devotee, so I haven’t tried anything else.

I snapped this photo of the display case last time we were there.  Stop by if you’re ever in the area and support a vegan small business!

No Udder Dessers, Woodland Hills | A Vegan in Progress