It goes without saying that I love good food. But, just what is “good” food?
Many would argue that good food is simply any fodder that brings us pleasure or comfort.
Philanthropists may maintain that good food must be sustainable and supportive of our natural and economic environments.
And gourmets might declare that good food should be fresh and seasonal, sourced from the best local producers and prepared with care by master chefs.
I am passionate about cooking and eating food for all of these reasons. But, perhaps I am most passionate about cooking and eating for our health.
We all have different health priorities, so what constitutes “healthy food” isn’t necessarily the same for everyone. For allergy suffers, healthy food must be free of certain irritants (whatever those might be). For diabetics, healthy food should be low GI and sugar-free. For vegetarians, the focus is on obtaining nourishment from plant-based foods.
Nutritionally speaking, good food is that which sustains us and keeps us healthy. In body, mind and spirit. So, healthy eating should never mean sacrificing taste, quality, principles or pleasure!
Where am I going with all of this? Oh that’s right, I’m attempting to be topical. For this week is National Nutrition Week; and the perfect opportunity for me to share one of my most popular recipes (it went inexplicably ‘viral’ on pinterest).
My Zucchini, Carrot and Apple Cake. It’s gluten, wheat and dairy free (and can also be easily adapted for vegans), lower in sugar than most cakes and packed with all the goodness of a veggie patch (I guess you could say it is a healthy sort of carrot cake).
It’s also a cinch to make, easy to modify to your tastes, tender, delicate and delicious!
So try it out for yourself, and enjoy the cakey goodness!
Makes: 1 good sized loaf / cake
Timing: About 1 hour
2 cups fresh zucchini, carrot and apple, peeled and grated (I used 1 small sized zucchini, carrot and apple to yield this amount)
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch (or tapioca flour)
1/2 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
(or you can substitute the 3 flours and the xanthan gum for 2 cups of a gluten-free plain flour mix, such as Orgran)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup light olive oil or coconut oil
3 free-range eggs, or egg replacer (1/3 cup liquid)
1/3 cup coconut milk (the coconut flavour is barely noticeable; however, if you are not a fan, soy or rice milk can be used instead)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon rind
2 teaspoons vanilla
Optional (‘naughty’) lemon drizzle icing:
1 cup icing sugar
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
- Preheat oven to 180C (350F) or 160C for fan-forced.
- Grease and line a 22cm x 11cm loaf pan or a 20cm round cake tin.
- Place the grated zucchini, carrot and apple into a sieve (suspended over a bowl), press down with a fork or your hands, and squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together the sorghum flour, tapioca starch, rice flour, xanthan gum (or gluten-free flour mix) baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and spices.
- Add the raisins to the bowl and toss through the flour mix.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the sugars and oil until thick (about 2-3minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between additions (or add all of the egg replacer and combine well).
- Add the coconut milk, lemon juice, rind and vanilla and mix well.
- Add the flour mixture in three parts, ensuring each ‘part’ is combined before adding the next (but, don’t over mix).
- Add the zucchini, carrot and apple and stir to combine.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top before placing in the oven and baking for 60 minutes, until the top is golden and firm (it should feel slightly springy to touch).
- Serve with a healthy cup of herbal tea. Or drizzle a little tangy, lemon icing over the top (but not too much!). For the icing, simply beat all of the ingredients together until smooth.
- This cake freezes really well. Why not cut it up into snack-sized portions, wrap them in cling film and pop them in the freezer. Defrost and warm up when you want a healthy treat with your morning cuppa or pop them in the kids lunch boxes.
- Although there is a lot of goodness in the skin of the carrot, it is best to peel them before use in any kind of cake baking. Unpeeled carrot tends to turn an unsightly, mucky brown colour when cooked.
- It is important to extract and remove as much moisture as possible from the grated zucchini, carrot and apple before adding to the cake mixture. Excess liquid in the fruit and veg is absorbed by the flours, and too much may result in a cake with a sticky, gummy middle.
Allergens: Contains eggs (however, these can be substituted for your favourite egg replacer, as stated in the recipe).
The Change Up:
If you aren’t overly fond of either zucchini or carrot or apple, simply omit the ‘offending’ ingredient and add more of the same amount of one of the other veg/fruit.
You can also leave out the raisins or add about a ½ cup of walnuts or pecans (or even dark chocolate chips if you aren’t being overly health conscious!) without altering the rest of the recipe.
This cake eats wonderfully on its own, but can also be served with a scraping of butter or margarine, a warm cuppa or a drizzle of devilish lemon icing!
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