This winter has been restful and nourishing. I’ve been sharing incredible meals with my house mates and community, sleeping long and well, getting weekly massages, taking beautiful walks in the snowy woods, reading books, journaling, dancing, spending quality time with friends, and making the most incredible whole food cakes. I’ve even been doing cake drops, making many mini cakes and delivering them to my friends and colleagues.
Acadia University kindly asked me to attend their Nutrition Career Fair today, where nutrition students can learn about the field of nutrition and dietetics. I know most people would expect me to go to a Nutrition Career Fair with a lovely assortment of sprouts, shoots and raw seed pates, but today I’m bringing cake. I had second thoughts about arriving with cake, I wondered if people would think I was a fraud. I only had to think about it for a few minutes though to realize that bringing cake is a gesture that in many ways sums up how I practice nutrition.
Firstly, if I’m going to ask someone to change their eating habits, I think It’s only fare to entice them with incredibly tasty and beautiful food that is even better than what they already know and love. I want my clients to see that they don’t have to make a sacrifice to give better care to themselves; what I’m asking them to do is make a lifestyle upgrade. Not only is the food I’m recommending tastier and more beautiful, you’ll also feel great afterwards. No need to sacrifice your well-being for dessert.
Secondly, food is meant to be celebrated and shared. It’s a vital part of feeling connected and supported by a community. I’ve heard a number of people bemoan the distance they feel from loved ones when they try to make healthy changes to their diet. Food is a social event and I hope it always will be. When trying to make changes for the better sometimes it means distancing yourself from social occasions that don’t support your health goals. That being said, eating with other people is one of the most life enhancing things you can do.
I like using cake to bridge the gap between lifestyle choices. Over the winter I’ve been making many variations of cheesecake style (gluten and dairy free) whole food cakes, which I have never written. People keep asking me for the recipe but unfortunately it’s just something I’ve learned to improvise with whatever nuts, seeds and whole grains (not flour!) I have on hand. One day I will get around to standardizing it, but in the meantime I’d like to share this moist crumb cake recipe. I’ve used it for years and always have great results; winning friends and influencing people wherever I take it. There are many substitutions that can be made to account for dietary preferences and budget.
So to the Nutrition students I say, let them eat cake!
Chocolate Black Bean Cake
Yields 16 servings (1 large cake or 2 layers).
Preheat oven to 350°. Line the bottom and sides of a 10” spring form cake pan with parchment paper.
- 4C. cooked and rinsed black beans (Soak dry beans overnight and rinse thoroughly before and after cooking)
- 4 Tbsp. vanilla (or coffee for a darker flavor)
- 3/4C. coconut oil (or organic butter)
- 2 cups of pitted dates (or organic cane sugar in a pinch) (soak dates in boiling hot water for 15 minutes or until soft. Drain off all water before using)
- 3/4C. organic Fair Trade cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. baking powder (non-GMO if possible)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1.5 tsp. sea salt
- 10 local free range eggs
- In the food processor, pulse the beans and vanilla until evenly chopped. Put aside in a bowl.
- In the food processor blend the coconut oil and dates until smooth.
- In a small bowl combine the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a large bowl beat the eggs, for 2 mins, until light and fluffy.
- Combine everything in the large bowl and stir until uniform.
- Bake for at 350° for 20-45min or until a clean knife inserted comes out clean. Time depends on whether the cake is a single or double layer.
Enough for one cake. Double if using for filling on a double-layered cake.
- 2 cups pitted dates
- ½ C. Melted coconut oil or butter
- ½ C. Organic Fair Trade cocoa powder
- ¼ C. Boiling hot water
- ¼ C. Raw honey
- Soak the dates in boiling hot water for about 15 minutes, or until soft. Strain the water off them and purée in a food processor. When more liquid is needed, add hot water and honey.
- Add cocoa powder. Blend till smooth then drizzle in oil. The mixture should be creamy and smooth.