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Healthier Birthday Cake Recipe

April 13, 2011 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked with regard to my diet is whether or not I miss eating certain “restricted” foods. When addressing this issue I always begin by clarifying that I can eat anything I want. However, I choose to avoid certain foods that I think are counterproductive to my good health. It’s a fine distinction, but an important one. It emphasizes a personal decision or will power rather than simply adhering to a defined restriction or following a dogmatic rule lockstep. Getting back to the initial question, yes, I do occasionally crave foods from my past which I now choose to avoid. And I’m not the only one. Recently, I noticed that Mrs. Healthy Fellow had been longing for something special that we both hadn’t indulged in for a very long time – cake. It just so happened that Mrs. HF had a birthday this past weekend. The following is the exact birthday cake I made for this glorious celebration.

If you’re a new visitor to this site, allow me lay my cards out on the table. Every recipe I post on this site sticks to certain principles. Nutrient density is chief among them. I also avoid using select ingredients, such as artificial colors and flavors, glutenous grains and sugar, which I believe are detrimental to good health in general. But there’s another factor that needs to be considered when implementing any of my recipes into your wellness program: proper context. The birthday cake recipe I’m about to share with you is very rich and calorically dense. My intention is for it to be enjoyed on special occasions and not as an everyday dessert. After all, the term “birthday cake” was coined for a reason.

A primary difference between this cake and most others is that I use almond flour or meal as a substitute for wheat flour. Almonds are a much better source of fiber, healthy fats, nutrients and phytochemicals than refined wheat flour. Recent publications in prestigious medical journals reveal that regularly consuming almonds can reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol concentrations by up to 19%. These tree nuts are also loaded with cardioprotective substances including arginine, an amino acid, as well as copper, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin E, all essential minerals and vitamins. What’s more, adding almonds to your daily routine may help reduce subsequent food intake by decreasing blood sugar levels and increasing the sensation of fullness or satiety. (1,2,3)

Healthy Fellow Yellow Cake Recipe
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 cup Truvia (stevia)
5 organic, omega-3 eggs
4 oz organic butter
4 oz organic cream cheese
the zest of 1 organic lemon
1 1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract
1 tsp non-aluminum baking powder

Allow the butter and cream cheese to soften at room temperature. Place both ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add the powdered stevia (Truvia) and vanilla extract. Use an electric mixer to cream the ingredients. Then add the eggs and continue to mix until fully blended. Pour the dry ingredients, the almond flour and baking powder, into the wet ingredients. Finely grate the peel of the lemon into the bowl and mix everything together, once more using the electric mixer. When the batter is fully integrated and smooth, transfer to a greased, non-stick and/or parchment lined 9″ cake pan. Bake at 350° for approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean from center of the cake. It should be nicely browned on top.

No birthday cake is complete without frosting. I decided on a cream cheese, vanilla frosting for the lemony cake. I began by placing one 8 ounce package of organic cream cheese (softened) into a clean mixing bowl. To that, I added: 2 oz of organic heavy cream, 1/2 cup of Truvia and 1 tsp of organic vanilla extract. Use the electric blender to cream the ingredients until silky smooth. Taste for sweetness and adjust accordingly. Refrigerate if you don’t use immediately. Frost the cake when cooled.

Nutritional Content: Calories: 340. Protein: 8 grams. Fat: 33 grams. “Net” Carbohydrates: 6 grams. Fiber: 2 grams. Servings per cake: 10.

Lemon Polyphenols May Suppress Diet-Induced Weight Gain

Source: J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008 November; 43(3): 201–209. (link)

An unfortunate reality about many common fruits is that some of their best parts, namely the peels or rinds, are often discarded without being used. Citrus fruits provide an excellent example of what’s often lost in the compost bin or trash. Modern science informs us that the rinds of grapefruits, lemons and oranges are incredible reservoirs of antioxidant potential. Substances such as ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), carotenoids, flavonoids, phenolics and reducing sugars are largely responsible for the free-radical fighting activity attributable to citrus rinds. But there’s even more to the lemon peel story than that. Certain valuable components of lemon rinds, such as d-limonene, possess anticancer potential and are quite special in that they tend to find their way into the fatty tissue of the body. This may be of particular value in managing breast malignancies “that are comprised of a significant fat fraction”. In addition, lemon polyphenols have been shown to discourage body and liver fat accumulation, and weight gain in animal models of obesity. All told, this illustrates a solid justification to incorporate citrus peels in recipes wherever possible. (4,5,6)

And lastly, I have a confession to make. I was really quite nervous about how this recipe would turn out. My goal was to make a gluten-free, low-carb cake that would compare favorably to the birthday cakes of Mrs. Healthy Fellow’s past. It would have been mortifying if the cake had turned out to be a disappointment. So, as a back up plan, I also baked a flourless chocolate-pecan cake. Thankfully, both cakes were received very well by my wife and the whole family. Of the two, the yellow cake was the bigger hit. It reminded everyone of a traditional birthday cake. The fact that it was considerably healthier than the dessert it was based upon was just “icing on the cake”.

Be well!

JP

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10 Comments & Updates to “Healthier Birthday Cake Recipe”

  1. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    I remember back in the 40s, my g-grandmother who was born during the Civil War, loving her citrus. She always saved the citrus peel which she would later eat, but would wait until the peel dried. She loved chewing on hard tough food. She never had a cavity but before she died she wore her teeth down to the gum and they all became infected and had to be extracted.

  2. kapu Says:

    can i use xylitol in place of the truvia?

  3. JP Says:

    Iggy,

    In our home, my mom used to make homemade orange marmalade – which included orange skin in the mix. Delicious.

    Be well!

    JP

  4. JP Says:

    Kapu,

    I’m not sure how it would turn out with xylitol. I rarely use xylitol in my baking recipes so I’m not sure about how it handles in comparison to the erythritol/stevia blend found in Truvia.

    If you do try it out, please let us know what you think of it.

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Nina K. Says:

    Good morning, JP :-)

    Looks delicious! Well done!

    here delayed ;-) : HAPPY BIRTHDAY to MRS. HEALTHYFELLOW, my best wishes, that all your dreams come true ☺!

    Nina K.

  6. JP Says:

    Many thanks, Nina! I’ll pass along your good wishes to Mrs. HF! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Kathy Says:

    I created a protein cake with body building protein powder. I eat and diet the low carb way and enjoy this recipe with carrots and cream cheese frosting. You may want to substitute some organic ingredients, but feel free to use it. Its a little liquid but will set up after you bake it. It is a dense cake, so it is filling. It reminds me of Betty Crocker snackin’ Cake, but more filling and non-weight gaining.
    http://mizzy-izzylite.blogspot.com/2010/11/special-spice-carrot-cake.html

  8. JP Says:

    Thank you for sharing your recipe with us, Kathy. Much appreciated!

    Be well!

    JP

  9. Helen Says:

    Bravo, and well done! I am always trying to find such recipes. Actually, I try to steer clear of milk as well since I have a slight allergy, and since pasteurized homogenized milk is known to be devoid of the enzymes that you need to digest milk. This is the reason so many people end up with milk allergies and/or lactose intolerance. Unfortunately, I love milk, and sometimes I will have things like aged cheese or yogurt which are supposed to be easier on us. Aged cheese has less or no lactose. Yogurt has some good probiotics. Anyway, I rarely see recipes that go to this level of really trying to make even a cake nutritionally valuable. So, once again bravo :o )

  10. JP Says:

    Update: A good reason to include almonds (or almond flour) in your recipes …

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4330049/

    J Am Heart Assoc. 2015 Jan 5;4(1):e000993.

    Effects of daily almond consumption on cardiometabolic risk and abdominal adiposity in healthy adults with elevated LDL-cholesterol: a randomized controlled trial.

    BACKGROUND: Evidence consistently shows that almond consumption beneficially affects lipids and lipoproteins. Almonds, however, have not been evaluated in a controlled-feeding setting using a diet design with only a single, calorie-matched food substitution to assess their specific effects on cardiometabolic risk factors.

    METHODS AND RESULTS: In a randomized, 2-period (6 week/period), crossover, controlled-feeding study of 48 individuals with elevated LDL-C (149±3 mg/dL), a cholesterol-lowering diet with almonds (1.5 oz. of almonds/day) was compared to an identical diet with an isocaloric muffin substitution (no almonds/day). Differences in the nutrient profiles of the control (58% CHO, 15% PRO, 26% total fat) and almond (51% CHO, 16% PRO, 32% total fat) diets were due to nutrients inherent to each snack; diets did not differ in saturated fat or cholesterol. The almond diet, compared with the control diet, decreased non-HDL-C (-6.9±2.4 mg/dL; P=0.01) and LDL-C (-5.3±1.9 mg/dL; P=0.01); furthermore, the control diet decreased HDL-C (-1.7±0.6 mg/dL; P<0.01). Almond consumption also reduced abdominal fat (-0.07±0.03 kg; P=0.02) and leg fat (-0.12±0.05 kg; P=0.02), despite no differences in total body weight.

    CONCLUSIONS: Almonds reduced non-HDL-C, LDL-C, and central adiposity, important risk factors for cardiometabolic dysfunction, while maintaining HDL-C concentrations. Therefore, daily consumption of almonds (1.5 oz.), substituted for a high-carbohydrate snack, may be a simple dietary strategy to prevent the onset of cardiometabolic diseases in healthy individuals.

    Be well!

    JP

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