Why I Choose To Eat Healthy
Earlier this year, I changed my eating habits – largely because of my 29 year old sister’s diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer.
Facing a no sugar future for her to aid in her treatment; I have been looking for ways to limit and completely reduce the refined sugar intake I and anyone who wants to eat better needs to do – which has not been easy. When it comes to baking especially, finding anything that is healthy – low or no sugar, has no white flour etc has not been easy. It’s been really hard as most things taste horrible (for obvious reasons!) But given what we know about sugar – and it’s ability to help cancer cells grow – eating sugar like I had for 33 years was no longer an option.
I tried so many sugar free recipes and honestly most of them were bland or had an aftertaste because of other natural sweeteners – it was like fighting an uphill battle! And I love chocolate cake – so finding a healthy version just seemed impossible.
That is until I started using dates – the most underrated food on this planet.
What Are Dates & Why Should You Use Them In Baking?
Dates are easy to use and not overly expensive. They also last for long periods – so you don’t have to eat them straight away. They are high in sugar – but as they are a fruit, they have natural sugars, rather than refined and are therefore low GI and high in fiber. Blood sugars rise steadily not fast after eating them – a major reason for why diabetics can eat them and why dates are viewed as a naturally healthy option for sweetening many things. As an alternative, I have also been using Stevia or Natvia – which is also a natural sweetener. But, you can definitely taste the aftertaste of Stevia and Natvia – especially in baking, which makes them very hard to eat and enjoy. This is not the case with dates at all.
There are so many positives to eating dates, but more than anything they make things taste great.
I am in no way a nutritionist. I won’t even mention calories or nutritional information within the recipes I post, because to me if you’re cooking from scratch and using ingredients that are deemed unprocessed, unrefined and healthy – you really don’t need to keep track of numbers. No good diet will ever work if that’s what you’re doing anyway. That’s why I love this healthy chocolate cake recipe. It’s full of good ingredients which are what you should be eating if you’re trying to be healthier. And if you need to add chocolate to it – which I do, then stick to being at or above 78% dark chocolate. Anything that has 18g (4.5 teaspoons) or less of sugar per 100g is a good rule of thumb to live by if you’re attempting a sugar free lifestyle.
I make this cake most Sundays and eat it everyday for lunch with strawberries or have it as an after dinner snack instead. Hot tip: this chocolate cake tastes best warmed up for about 20-30 seconds in the microwave when eating it across the week because the chocolate melts a little and it’s just really yummy.
Best of all, my sugar loving friends and family love it too – so I know this one is a winner no matter who is being healthy and who is not. We all eat it.
Healthy Chocolate Cake
Square or Rectangle Cake Tin
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spray
3/4 cup cashews
3/4 cup of pecans
1 1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
2 small ripe bananas
6 un-pitted mejoul dates (I buy mine single, rather than in a packet so i can pick the freshest ones)
1/3 cup of milk
*Optional 1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
*Optional 75g 78% dark chocolate (or higher)
Spray your tin lightly with extra virgin olive oil and place the baking paper in the tin. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Place 3/4 cup of cashews, 3/4 cup of walnuts and 3/4 cup of pecans into a food processor. Grind up until it is crushed up into small flour like granules – don’t grind it up too much though or it will become a butter!
Empty the nut flour into a bowl. Place 3/4 cup of walnuts into the food processor and pulse it a few times. Alternatively break the walnuts into smaller pieces and add to the nut flour mixture. This will allow for walnut pieces to be in the cake, sort of like what a brownie mixture has.
Cut open the top, pit the dates (take the pit out) and break the skin into strips then place them into the food processor. Cut up 2 bananas and place these into the food processor. Mix them until the mixture is a thick paste.
Add 1 egg, 1/3 cup of milk and vanilla essence to the mixture and blend until mixed through. It will be more liquid in consistency rather than a paste now.
Add the coconut, baking powder and cocoa to the flour and walnut mixture and stir through. Add the banana and date mixture to it stirring through until all dry ingredients are mixed in really well.
Spoon half the mixture onto the tray which is lined with baking paper, spreading right to the edges.
Optional Step – Break up 3-4 squares of the lindt chcocolate block and place them just into the cake batter so they are siting in it. Carefully spoon the remaining mixture over the top and flatten with a spatula – be careful not to move the chocolate when doing this, or some pieces of cake when you cut it later won’t have any chocolate pieces.
If you don’t add chocolate, just spoon in the whole mixture into the tray. Cook until the mixture is cooked through – test it with a metal skewer or utensil. For me, it’s usually around 25-30 minutes.
Once cooked, I let it cool down on a wire rack and remove the paper once cool.
You can leave it without a topping, but I melted 2 blocks of the Lindt 78% chocolate and crushed up 1/4 cup of cashews and placed it on top. Make sure you refrigerate the cake so the icing sets.
After it has set, I leave the cake in a cake tin and cut pieces off as I eat it.
Usually warmed up – with strawberries.
Let me know below if you make it and how it turned out. I will be making more date recipes in my baking as I try and find more recipes that I like…and are actually edible!
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