Enter, the nutritionally dense vegie cake! Earlier this year we had a glut of zucchini's as my partner tried his hand at gardening for the first time (very successfully!) and unleashed his inner farmer.
The thing with making your deserts nutritionally dense is that they contain a lot of fibre, they are naturally sweetened with fruit and don't give you the same quickly absorbed blood sugar high that plummets as soon as you've consumed it. Think kids having a meltdown after a birthday party.
Adding in some superfoods, good fats or protein sources also keeps the release of sugars into the bloodstream at a reasonable level and most importantly satisfies the principles of cake. Celebration and reward, love and sharing! This is the recipe I based the chocolate zucchini cake on. Have a play with variations yourself – this is what I ended up with 🙂
As the original recipe says:
It turned out like actual, edible zucchini bread. It doesn’t fall apart, it’s not too dry, and not too soggy.
Dark Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake
- 1-1/2 cup blanched almond flour
- 1 cup of chickpea flour (also called besan flour, this has quite a strong flavour but you can't taste it over the dark chocolate flavour of the cacao – you could also use buckwheat or any gluten free/nut flour)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 tablespoons vanilla protein powder
- 4 tablespoons raw cacao (or cocoa powder – the raw stuff does have more antioxidants, however)
- 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
- 2 tablespoons pepitas (the green kernels from pumpkin seeds are high in zinc!)
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons shredded coconut
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 4 tablespoons stewed apples (you could also use a ripe banana, I just happened to have stewed apples!)
- 12 dates, chopped
- 1 large zucchini, grated (unpeeled)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
- Mix wet ingredients in with the zucchini and pour in dry ingredients, a little at a time. Stir through until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated.
- Line your loaf tin with baking paper and pour the mixture in, smoothing over with a spoon. You could possibly also use the mixture to make cupcakes/muffins.
- Bake for 60 minutes until the middle is set and a fine skewer comes out clean.
Remember that raw cacao, like chocolate and coffee, contains plant chemicals that are stimulating for sensitive people. This is great if you want a mood enhancing pick me up during the day but like all stimulants, they are best avoided in the late afternoon and especially if you are being extra careful with your sleep routine.
This gem is great served with a cuppa at afternoon tea time and is gluten-free to boot! Enjoy 🙂
So, why do we need a refined sugar-free, gluten-free, chocolate zucchini cake?
Sugar and white flour are two ingredients that are generally considered some of the not so healthy imaginings of modern living and also two of the essential ingredients in cake. Cake, as a word is layered with associations – celebration, reward, sharing, milestones, comfort, hospitality, as mentioned above. It could mean a catch up with some special friends, your nephew's fourth birthday, dessert for a special guest, some time to grieve or soothe your tensions away in a world that sometimes offers very little real comfort. It is a word accompanied by love.
Natural medicine or what we call naturopathy in many ways works its magic by manipulating the ways we eat, how we move, the times we choose to sleep and how we think about our lives, to make a difference to our health and happiness. Taking the supplements, the herbs, the vitamins in little bottles, these are also part of a naturopath's dispensary and do make a difference to help us get on track, but it's the things that we can do for free – choosing to eat vegies every day, going for a walk, sleeping more and hanging out with people who love and inspire us, they are the long-term cures to most of our modern ailments. And we know this. We've tried it out, read the studies on vegan diets, listened to our mothers but somehow, with all the knowledge, it seems harder than it looks on paper.
Good nutritiously dense food, needs to edge out the processed foods – but it's one step at a time, and we need something to replace it with!
We all know that health is not handed to us on a platter (or maybe it is – depending what's on the platter!) and for the vast majority of us, we'd have to admit, our current habits require revision. It does take some work to look after this wonderful organism we walk around in, and it is worth it. Even the six-fingered man from the 80's spoof classic, ‘The Princess Bride' was advised,
Get some rest. If you haven't got your health, then you haven't got anything.
I couldn't agree more. Still, wrestling with a chocolate, mint-slice, gummi bear addiction can mean that cake is now one of the bad guys. But what about all the things that make cake meaningful? Does this mean no more celebrations, no more comfort, no more love? I really don't think it can. Cake is a part of the colour of life and if you're not celebrating life, then we might need to prescribe some cake to get you back on track. Oh my, a naturopath just prescribed cake!
In my opinion, there are two types of cake eaters. Those who can do moderation and those who eat the whole cake. Personally, I have to confess, I'm on the ‘eat the whole cake' end of the spectrum. Following which I'd be wrestling with cravings tempting me to further fuel my delicious sugar bender every day for the whole next week… If only it were a health food, *sigh*.
So, if you can do moderation, have your cake, eat it even 😉 Maybe this looks like ordering a half slice, sharing it with your friends, eating a couple of bites and (gasp!) leaving the rest. All good options for the moderate cake consumer. Order the dessert, share it, celebrate it, savour it. You know already it's not a major food group.
If you can't do moderation, the alternative can seem like an eternity of misery, particularly when you're in the throes of a sugar addiction denial. However, when you've come to terms with said sugar addiction, misery is going back to being riddled with anxiety, itching all over, and foregoing sleep to drive to the shops at midnight because you can't stop thinking about cake. I remember the feeling and truly, this is what keeps me looking for alternatives to the seductive temptations concocted of white sugar and flour. That's why we definitely need zucchini chocolate chip yumminess!