I love chocolate.
That’s a well known fact among my friends. There’s no doubt that if I had no self-control whatsoever, I would be eating chocolate at every meal, every single day . Luckily for cocoa lovers like myself, there are loads of healthy alternatives to a chocolate bar which will still help satisfy that craving.
One of my favourite chocolate-inspired recipes comes from a great blog that features amazing photography and drool-worthy creations (www.joythebaker.com). The vegan chocolate avocado cake is so delicious that even those turned-off by the mere mention of “vegan recipes” will change their minds in an instant!
This past week, I decided to bake this cake with my campers. They were at first, like many, a little hesitant to try it – the combination of avocado, cocoa, and vinegar sure sounds anything but appetizing. But thank goodness for some brave souls who believed in me (thanks, Alice, Janna and Keri!), the kids and staff tried it and ended up savouring every bite. Hooray!
Besides the fact that I love chocolate (did I mention that already?), this cake is a favourite of mine because it can so easily be converted into a healthier recipe. Swapping the white flour for whole-wheat, reducing the sugar to half ( or to taste), and throwing in some ground flax-seeds instantly adds a wholesome kick to this cake.
Avocados are gaining momentum in the field of nutrition due to their healthy fats, among other incredible properties. A rather recent study conducted in 2013, published in The Nutrition Journal, found that according to various 24-hour recalls, diet histories, as well as other data of given subjects, those consuming avocados regularly displayed better quality of diet, as well as better nutrient intake, therefore resulting in healthier blood lipid values and improved overall health (Fulgoni, Dreher, & Davenport, 2013).
Additionally, an interesting study was published in The Journal of Nutrition which focused on, not solely on the beneficial fats, but rather, some unique micronutrient interactions which occur between avocados and other fruits and vegetables. The study found that consuming avocado (or avocado oil) will increase the body’s ability to properly absorb the lutein, α-carotene, and β-carotene of given fruits and vegetables (Unlu, Bohn, Clinton, & Schwartz, 2005). How can avocados assist in the absorption of these micronutrients? Avocados contain 15% MUFA-rich oils (Monounsaturated fatty acids) – these are indeed the oils which assist the body to properly absorb carotenoids(Fulgoni, Dreher, & Davenport, 2013). It is The benefits of consuming avocado are evident in this study, as nutrient interactions should be considered and avocados are positively correlated with an increased absorption in the human body of certain micronutrients.
If those studies aren’t enough to convince you to start incorporating avocados into your diet, then why not give this cake a chance, and see for yourself how delicious these little green wonders can be!
Chocolate Avocado Cake
*Adapted from Joy the Baker, Vegetarian in the Middle East
3 cups whole-wheat flour
6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar (*Note: it is possible to reduce this to 1 cup – the cake will be less sweet, but still delicious!)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Medium avocado, very ripe, mashed
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F / 175 degrees C. Grease desired cake pan/ mould.
Stir together dry ingredients, except for sugar (set aside).
Combine wet ingredients (includes avocado). Be sure to mash avocado until very smooth – avoid chunks!
Incorporate sugar into wet mixture and stir well.
Mix wet and dry, stir well until smooth. Recommended: use a whisk for a smoother texture!
Pour batter into your greased cake mould. Bake for 35 minutes, check at 30 – cake is finished when inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool cake on rack for approx. 15 minutes prior to frosting.
Avocado Buttercream Frosting
from Alton Brown
8 ounces of avocado meat, about 2 small to medium, very ripe avocados
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Choosing the ripest avocado, peel and pit – easiest to scoop out the meat with a spoon. Avoid any brown areas on the avocado, to keep the frosting from discolouring.
Mash avocado by hand until very smooth, or whisk with electric mixer. Add lemon juice and whisk for approx. 3 minutes. ooth, about 2-3 minutes.
Incorporate powdered sugar, little by little. Vanilla extract added to taste.
****Special thanks to Alice Mutter for taking photos of me baking with the campers!****
III, V. L. F., Dreher, M., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008.
Unlu, N. Z., Bohn, T., Clinton, S. K., & Schwartz, S. J. (2005). Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil. The Journal of nutrition, 135(3), 431-436.