“Yeah, but I’d rather eat that than cardboard.”
A couple of weeks ago, my son and I enjoyed a visit to a science museum where I was surprised by a new exhibit. They had created a room filled with information about healthy eating with a couple of hands-on activities for the children looking at skeletal bones and experimenting with food.
As we left the exhibit, we found ourselves behind a group of teenagers and overheard their conversation. One of the girls commented about the display that talked about how bad sugar was for our bodies, and one of the boys responded with, “Yeah, but I’d rather eat that than cardboard.”
I understood what he meant. Too often the “healthy” desserts don’t match up with our expectations for taste, and unfortunately, once someone’s had a negative experience, it turns them off to trying again.
Recently, my high school daughter had a couple of friends over, and they wanted something “sweet”. Since I don’t like to serve “junk”, I thought about what I could make, and carrot cake came to mind. The problem is that carrot cake in its traditional form is so utterly bad for you, despite the carrots. The fat content is really high because of the butter in the cake, the traditional use of nuts, and the cream cheese frosting, and to keep carrot cakes moist and binding, you use a lot of eggs.
I didn’t want to give up on this dessert, though, so I decided to work on a snack cake version, something without frosting and which would be considerably lighter in texture, taste, and calories — and of course, I wanted to eat it, too, so I made it allergy friendly for my allergies to wheat, dairy and nuts, making sure to add some flours higher in protein and fiber and minimizing the use of white refined sugar.
The result? My daughter, who has never actually liked carrot cake, loved it, and one of my daughter’s friends said it was the best carrot cake she’d ever had in her life. While I take that as the hyperbole it was, it is a reminder to me that if we continue to serve good tasting food which also happens to be healthy, then maybe, just maybe, we’ll find a way to reverse the trend of obesity, diabetes, and heart attacks….
Chocolate Chip Carrot Snack Cake
1 1/2 cup gluten free brown rice flour blend (I used Authentic Foods)
3/4 cup gluten free oat flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips
20 oz container crushed pineapple in its juices only
3/4 cup agave
3/4 cup safflower oil
1 cup egg whites
2 cups loosely packed shredded carrots
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp agave
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper.
2. Mix together the brown rice flour blend, the oat flour and the sorghum flour with the baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and salt. Add the chocolate chips. Mix well, and set aside.
3. Drain the crushed pineapple and remove 1/2 cup of the crushed pineapples. Reserve the remaining pineapple. Puree the 1/2 cup pineapple in a food processor until it’s smooth.
4. To the pureed pineapple add the agave, safflower oil, egg whites, and shredded carrots. Mix well.
5. Add the carrot mixture to the dry ingredients with the apple cider vinegar. Blend just until everything is incorporated together and the dry ingredients are moist.
6. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the oven until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It took about 25-30 minutes for me, so I suggest setting the timer at 25 min and then checking.
7. While the cake is cooking, take the remaining crushed pineapple and mix it with the agave, cinnamon and ginger. You can put it into the fridge if you want it cold.
8. When the cake is done, serve slices of the cake with dollops of the spiced crushed pineapple.