Introduction: Healthy AND Delicious Chocolate Cake

Picture of Healthy AND Delicious Chocolate Cake

This is an amazing cake: it contains no fats such as butter, cream, shortening or oil, and no eggs. In spite of these limitations,  it tastes better than any cake mix and than most other chocolate cakes made from scratch.

Spread jam between the layers and decorate with powdered sugar, for a fat free, cholesterol free birthday!

Step 1: Ingredients and Equipment

Picture of Ingredients and Equipment

1 large beet
1/2 to 1 cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour  (alternate: 1 cup whole wheat & 1/2 cup white flour)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

You will need a blender or a hand held stick blender like the one in the picture.

Step 2: Instructions

Picture of Instructions

Peel and dice beet into 1/2" cubes, and boil until soft. Drain the beets and puree in the food processor with 1/4 cup fresh water.

Preheat oven to 325°F

Put pureed beets into large measuring cup and mix in enough apple sauce to get 2 cups of beet and apple puree. Add vanilla, vinegar, and 2 tbsp water.

Sift all the dry ingredients together then combine with the beet mixture.

Pour in a greased 9" by 13" pan or two 8" round layer pans and bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick pricked into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Step 3: Decoration

Picture of Decoration

I have a great recipe for butter icing enriched with egg yolks -- but it has no place here in the "Health by Design" contest. To keep this cake fat free (OK, OK, almost fat free. Cocoa powder does contain a small amount of fat) you can spread your favorite jam between the layers, then decorate with powdered sugar (which also goes by the names confectioners sugar, caster sugar or icing sugar).

Make a paper doily . Lightly place the pattern over your cake (no need to press down, that will only make it harder to remove) and powder the sugar over the doily. Carefully lift off the paper to reveal your beautiful cake.

One word of warning: powder your cake just before serving. The sugar pattern will be absorbed by this wonderfully moist cake and disappear completely if you decorate it ahead of time.

Step 4: Epilogue: a Cake With Nothing in It

Picture of Epilogue: a Cake With Nothing in It

I thought it would be amusing to try to make a fat, egg, gluten AND sugar free cake. My first test, replacing the sugar in this recipe with xylitol was, literally, a flop. Cakes involve very delicate chemical reactions, and granulated sugar has properties which aren't so easy to mimic.... I'm still planning on attempting a gluten free version though, when my kids get over the disappointment caused by this inedible cake.

To learn more about some other things I make, check out Make Anything and Make Anything Pop-Up.


CatAuror19168 (author)2014-12-15

I love that powdered sugar design on the top of the cake. It's beautiful

Renee! (author)2012-11-23

This looks pretty nice. I wonder if sugar- free strawberry preserves would work instead of the beets?

belsey (author)Renee!2012-11-23

I'm not sure, but it's worth a shot. A "safer" approach might be to just use more apple sauce if you don't want beets.

Renee! (author)belsey2012-11-24

Yes, I think I'll try that instead. The preserves would work better maybe as a filling for the cake. Still, I guess I could try the beets. You never know what you might like ;)

TheJenx (author)2011-07-21

Awesome idea! I kind of loathe beets and I made a half batch of this to see if I could still taste them in the finished product... alas, I could. Do you think this would work substituting strawberries for beets? Is the texture similar enough? They're at least as sweet as beets and still quite healthy, but I wasn't sure if there was another reason you had for using beets.

Substituting Kumara (Sweet Potato) for the beets will work great, and it has a smoother texture also. The use of the beets or vegetable is usually to make up for the fact that there is no eggs, or fats in the recipe..I'm thinking strawberries have way too much water content to work. Would be an awesome accompaniment though.

TheJenx (author)TheJenx2012-01-12

Aeons later, just putting it out there that canned pumpkin makes a good substitute for the beet.

belsey (author)TheJenx2011-07-21

It's worth a try -- but I think strawberries are much more juicy than beets, so it might not work. Substituting ingredients in a cake can be tricky, it's a pretty delicate chemical balance. Maybe cooked carrots?

TheJenx (author)belsey2011-07-21

Oooh, point. The cake was already fantastically moist-- I didn't fancy the taste but you did a spectacular job on the texture. If I do strawberries I suppose I'd have to cut out the extra water and maybe have to add a bit more cornstarch to balance it. Cooked carrots is a good thought too, though! Perhaps I'll try two tiny batches, one with each, and see what happens?

Yeah, I've done a lot of traditional baking but I'm just now getting into crazy substitutions so I don't have a great grip on the chemistry yet. Hence I was trying to figure out why beets so I knew what properties to look for in a substitute. Sooo... why beets?

belsey (author)TheJenx2011-07-27

I love beets, but I'm the only one in my family who does, so I found this way to disguise them. Though they won't eat beets, my kids will devour this cake... In addition to liking their taste, they give the cake a beautiful, rich color....

cjreeve (author)2011-11-21

I really enjoyed the cake thank you. I made one slight modification though, which was to replace about a third of the flour with ground nuts (mostly walnuts). I also added a little more sugar and lemon, which probably was needed because I didn't have enough apple source and I used arrowroot instead of cornflour. Was fabulous and I plan to make it again and include tasty sun dried cherries. :)

NinjaSloth (author)2010-05-24

i understand not using butter, cream, shortening, or oil, but why no eggs? is this suppose to be vegan or what? if i wanted to uses eggs to make it extra goey how could i mod the recipe?

ebeccarayray (author)NinjaSloth2011-06-16

Also, a lot of people have digestive issues when they eat eggs (IBS).

belsey (author)NinjaSloth2010-05-24

 If you are trying to reduce your cholesterol you want to avoid eggs (or at least egg yolks). I would recommend trying this recipe as it is before modifying it... the texture is really quite good, you won't miss the eggs. 

NinjaSloth (author)belsey2010-05-24

oh... i never thought of that. and yeah, i'll be sure to try it b4 i mod it, i was just wondering :)

gralan (author)2010-09-23

One of the things that recipes like this assist in is helping people who have food allergies begin to realize that there are ways to eat more foods than they originally feared they were stuck with.

I'm totally in agreement also that the chemistry of cooking is often overlooked by many who labor in the kitchens around the world. I've gone to internet archive to find some old cookbooks to help me in that regard.

Thanks again for this recipe.

jazpa (author)2010-06-06

I just thought you would like to know, icing sugar isn't known caster sugar. Caster sugar is a fine sugar between icing sugar and granulated sugar commonly used for baking.

belsey (author)jazpa2010-06-07

You are right, I am glad to know... I thought caster sugar was a British word for the same product, and I'd never heard of a sugar between granulated and powdered. Thanks for the info!

PlastBox (author)2010-05-27

Please do not post health-related information (like nutrition) if you don't know what you're talking about. People are misinformed enough as it is, so please just post your awesome recipe without all the non-scientific very-much-political bs.

Eggs have been cleared of all charges and for the last 20 years have been called "Natures Vitamin Pill". Having high cholesterol has never been proven to have any link to heart disease, statistical or otherwise. In fact, people with high cholesterol and a good ration between HDL and LDL show a very clear statistical tendency for living longer.

With regards to fats.. You know what the only macronutrient the human body has evolved to burn without first converting it is? That's right, saturated fats. The fuel on which the heart muscle works best? Saturated fats. What every cell membrane in the entire body is made of? Saturated fats (and cholesterol).

If you want to make healthy choices I suggest you read book by Dr. Michael R. Eades and his wife Mary Dan Eades who have been in the field of bariatrics for decades and have treated thousands of patients with LCHF (low carb, high fat) diets. The book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes is a solid piece of work with loads of scientific citations and references, and considering the sheer number of deadly ill patients he treated anything Atkins wrote is probably gold.

Insulin promotes inflammation and fat storage. Chronically high insulin levels cause insulin resistance, which in turn increases the amount of circulating insulin. Inflammation is the primary villain behind/agitator of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, arthritis and many more of the so-called life-style diseases. Insulin resistance causes obesity and diabetes type 2, which is often treated with insulin injections, which make the patients even more resistant and obese.

Know what causes your body to produce insulin..? Carbohydrates. Period. Fats aren't bad, proteins aren't bad, cholesterol isn't bad, in fact, they are all vital for our very survival! Carbohydrates though make your body produce insulin which makes you fat, diabetic, insulin resistant and at huge risk of heart disease, stroke, etc. Insulin from fast carbs (like candy, rice, potatoes, soft drinks, pasta, etc.) also makes your blood sugar crash, which tends to make you ravenously hungry and lusting for more sugar.

belsey (author)PlastBox2010-05-27

 OK, OK, keep your pants on. I would like to point out that just because I posted a cake recipe which contains no fat and no eggs does not mean I advocate a strict no fat diet and that I consider eggs evil (check out my lemon tart recipe). My philosophy when it comes to nutrition is very much influenced by Michael Pollan ("Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants"). Although I was not aware that the link between high cholesterol and heart disease is disputed by certain groups, I am perfectly willing to accept that today's accepted dogma can, and probably will be disproved tomorrow. Which is why I try not to follow fads or diets. In this step of my eczema instructable I go into more detail of the general rules I follow. 
In conclusion, I do not make this recipe because it contains no fat or eggs, but because I find it delicious. As for calling it a "healthy" cake.... well, I know that's a stretch, but I wanted to make sure I would get accepted into the "Health by Design" contest because my kids are quite desperate for me to win the wii. Even though you might think it's all hogwash, plenty of people and their doctors are trying to reduce their fat and cholesterol intake -- for them this cake is as healthy as a cake can be. 

PlastBox (author)belsey2010-05-27

It's not about "some groups disputing the link between cholesterol and heart disease". The function of cholesterol in the body is well known, in fact cholesterol is vital to the building and maintenance of every single cell in the body. Also, people with high cholesterol live longer.

For further proof, the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Association have spent the last 40 hears throwing billions of dollars at research trying to prove the so-called lipid hypotheses (that saturated fat raises cholesterol, which in turn gives you heart disease). And you know what? To date, there is not a single piece of reliable research that shows this hypotheses to be in any way valid.

The science is all there. If you study history as Gary Taubes did before writing his book you'd see that we all knew these things up until the 1960-70'es. This is around the time where Ansel Keys and his fat-phobic peers released the "7 countries study" in which they studied the relation between fat intake and heart disease in 22 countries. Turns out, there is no link at all, so Dr. Keys did what any reputable scientist would do. He discarded data from 15 of these countries so his "data" showed a perfectly clear connection between fat and heart disease.

I'm not ragging on your cake (I'm sure it's delish!), but the fact that you put "no fat, no eggs" and "healthy" in the same text helps carry on the misconceptions that have lead to a society where a staggering amount of people are obese and overweight, have diabetes, cancer, strokes, Alzheimer's, ADD/ADHD and such. In case anyone wondered, all of these "lifestyle diseases" were almost non-existent up 'til the point where governments and corn-insdustry backed "experts" started pushing the low-fat/high-carb lifestyle..

Again, not trying to be an asshat but as a type 1 diabetic who has spent 8 years trying to live by government nutrition guidelines and failed regulating my blood sugar at all, who is now doing low carb with one insulin shot a day (down from morning, night and every meal) and keeping my blood sugar almost perfectly stable... As someone with a keen interest in what makes my body tick because frankly, if I don't study and learn and instead follow the established "rules", I'll die. That is, after going blind, amputating my legs from the pure, burning pain of neuropathy, and perhaps a couple of excruciating, temporary kidney transplants.

So yeah, cut the carbs, keep the good fats! =D

AZ Girl (author)PlastBox2010-05-27

And here you go again with 5 more paragraphs.  You might give good information but you should tell where you got the information you write about.  After said "DO NOT post health-related information!!  And again you are doing just that.  How is anyone to know that 'you' are giving correct information and not leading one down the wrong path?

PlastBox (author)AZ Girl2010-05-27

I meant it was perhaps a bit thoughtless to post health-related info in a food recipe. However delicious that food is, the reasoning behind it supposedly being healthy just isn't there.

As to the length, yeah, my fingers get away from me. I did post several thousands of pages worth of references for my argument though, please re-read my first post if you actually want the facts instead of attacking me with straw man arguments. I am a type 1 diabetic, so yes, when it comes to nutrition my level of knowledge easily rivals any of the 50-60 year old doctors and nutritionists I have been to who just keep on regurgitating the same old misinformation they were thought in med school all those decades ago.

If you want to learn a bit from someone far more known and reputable than myself, check out the documentary "Fat Head" (with many, many expert statements) and the following talk -Big Fat Lies- by Gary Taubes:

Good evening, hope you take this opportunity to learn something instead of carefully crafting another reply based not on the facts I present by rather my lacking skill with the English language or some other completely irrelevant, insubstantial part of my posts. =)

AZ Girl (author)PlastBox2010-06-01


You still did not get the said:  "DO NOT post health-related information!!". But then that was what you did. 

Guess in your opinion you 'are' allowed to do it but 'no one else' is.  Not exactly fair!  We all know 'fact' about health.  And we can 'all' share and the receiver needs to research out what is right for them.  Just because 'you' say so does not make it 'so'!!!  Perhaps you need to get younger doctors and nutrition specialist !!! 

PS...I did not say you had bad English Language.  Just stop telling everyone that 'you' know best and keet your nutritional stuff to yourself.  I am diabetic also.....and what works for you does 'not' work for me!  By-the-way...the cake was excellant and I will continue eating it and I was advised by my nutritional advisor that is is okay for me.  Give it a try....doubt it will kill you.

PlastBox (author)AZ Girl2010-06-01

First of all, please quote me correctly instead of stooping to even more straw man arguments. What I said was "Please do not post health-related information (like nutrition) if you don't know what you're talking about.". The author, by her own words, put "healthy" in there mostly to win a Wii and from what she writes I can only assume that by "healthy" she means "no fat, no eggs". If you read what she writes, there is no reason to assume otherwise.

Now, health is an important issue so I might come on a bit strongly when I see someone spouting this 40-50 year old misinformation (although that probably wasn't the point of the instructable).

If you cared to even read what I have posted, I have provided several links to the material I draw my knowledge from. Had you bothered, you would at least have checked them out (one is even a free lecture, one click away from expanding your horizons and knowledge). But alas, this isn't about facts or health for you, it's about arguing against me using points that have nothing to do with what I wrote.

As to cutting carbs "not working" for you as a diabetic.. That just says it all. Carbs are the one thing we cannot process without hard-to-manage medications. To say that having less carbs in your diet "doesn't work for you" just shows you're simply out to bicker instead of talking facts.

belsey (author)PlastBox2010-06-03

 Hope this picture reply isn't too "carefully crafted" for your taste. Or am I responding to a completely irrelevant and insubstantial part of your post?

belsey (author)PlastBox2010-05-27

 Surely you don't dispute that the mainstream, current thinking is that high cholesterol is linked to heart disease? And that most doctors recommend cutting down on bacon, eggs and the likes while increasing consumption of leafy greens as a way to lower cholesterol? Whether you agree or not, you can't deny that this is the dominant theory these days. At least your second comment helps me understand the reason for your anger -- it must be frustrating to be convinced of a theory which is not widely accepted. I'm sincerely glad that your high fat low carb diet is working for you, but I do think it is a bit of an over simplification to blame the obesity epidemic, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's ADD/ADHD, etc on a low fat high carb diet.

PlastBox (author)belsey2010-05-28

Why is it an over simplification exactly? All these diseases/symptoms (especially overweight) were almost non existent and at a very stable level up until the point where low-fat/high-carb became the "accepted dogma", at which point they exploded. Obesity went from a stable 12-13% to over 30% of the population in two or three decades. Ok, "Correlation does not imply causation" yada yada, but the science to explain it all is there, the macro effects of insulin on the body is so simple a 5th grader could easily comprehend why eating carbohydrates makes people fat. Also, ask your grandparents. They all knew potatoes and bread made you fat, humanity has always known this until a few "experts" 40 years ago suddenly bet everything on the "lipid hypotheses"...

..which brings me to my next point. 40-50 years and billions of dollars thrown specifically at research aiming to prove any link between high cholesterol and heart disease. On the other hand there is tons upon tons of research (oh, and common sense and logic) that shows we aren't made for excessive carbohydrate metabolism. Applying the Scientific Method (since, this is science after all =P ) the "lipid hypotheses" is on extremely shaky ground. Scary part? Millions upon millions of people base their lives on the assumption that the "lipid hypotheses"-pushing AHA/ADA/ACA/goverment is proven fact.

belsey (author)PlastBox2010-05-28

Let's just say that when your opinions are not part of the mainstream, it is best, for your own good, not to get so wound up when you come across people whose opinions differ from yours. Your zeal leads you to make false assumptions (belsey published a no fat recipe therefor she has a secret political agenda and is advocating a strict no fat diet) and it also clearly makes you shut your mind to counter arguments ("yada yada" as you say). In fact everybody should be a bit more laid back when discussing differing views, but it's especially important if you are in the minority, or you will spend all your time getting angry and creating conflicts -- which is not particularly healthy (stress,  ulcers... or are those also caused by carbs?).  Perhaps the fact that I am not overweight and I am in perfect health despite my regular pasta consumption can be explained by the fact that I prefer to discuss ideas rather than argue about them.... So long as my interlocutor has an open mind... otherwise I'll just end the conversation. That and scratching my dog's ears keep my stress level down. Adieu!

AZ Girl (author)belsey2010-05-27

Good Come back 'belsey'!!!!  Stick to your guns!!!  You not only make good receipts but you have a talent for writing!!!

AZ Girl (author)PlastBox2010-05-27

Dear PlastBox, 

You start off by telling 'belsey'...."please do not post health-related information" and yet you go on for 6 paragraphs doing just that.  Just what makes you an authority?  Do you have your Dr's degree?  Are you a Doctorate Degree in Nutrition?

Belsey did a great Instructional here and it sounds terrific!  Can't wait to make it and serve it to a group of people.  Sounds like you really research out things and go through the 'flops' in getting to a good receipt.  Thank You for doing that.

Potroast (author)PlastBox2010-05-27

I don't know much about that, but I've lost 53 pounds over the last 6 months by eating a lot of fat, protein and fiber, and avoiding foods with a high glycemic index.  I think the word is getting out that we eat too many processed carbs.  Having said that, I am interested in the beet & whole wheat combo as some novel ingredients to a cake recipe.  Kudo's for thinking outside the box, and good luck with your quest to replace some sugar, too!

koekkoek (author)2010-05-27

So, the fact that this is milk free- added the cocoa you buy has no milk added into it, that is amazing : ) So for people like me, who stay away from dairy products the fact that there is no cream, or butter, or milk is AWESOME. And not all baking recipes call for eggs, so who cares anyway? This sounds like an awesome recipe, and IS healthy for those other people..... for whom eating all that lactose is not healthy.

Adder Twist (author)koekkoek2010-05-29

Out of curiosity, are you lactose intolerant, or A1 intolerant? There's two types of milk protein; the more digestible, more natural, and sadly rarer is A2, which comes from jerseys and gurnseys. Over time, more heavy milk production was the focus of selective breeding, and the common dairy cow now produces A1 milk, which a lot of people can't drink/can't digest.
Just, you know, in case it turns out that you can't drink A1 but you can A2. c:

koekkoek (author)Adder Twist2010-05-30

Well considering there is no "official" practical way of testing, I have no idea. But yes, when I drink milk, it does not agree with me whatsoever. Lactose is not my friend, and I have become that way just in the past year. Lactose intolerance is common. Just the taste of it makes me want to vomit. I do like old stinky cheese though, go figure. The older it is, the less lactose, and lactose free chocolate is amazing.

Adder Twist (author)koekkoek2010-05-31

You can buy A2 milk, though it's a bit more expensive, but if you don't like the taste then rock out, you're better off not paying the crazy expense of A2 vs A1 anyway.
(Mmmm. Proper Roquefort. Proper red Castello.)

widgetwarlord (author)2010-05-23

Just wondering what the cocoa should be - a powdered drink type cocoa, the kind you add hot water or milk to for a hot cocoa drink? or actual dark cocoa, nearly pure cacoa beans?

The cake looks interesting by the way. Will give some more feedback when I make it

belsey (author)widgetwarlord2010-05-23

 Actual dark cocoa, the unsweetened bitter stuff which will make you gag if you eat a pure spoonful.

cornflaker (author)belsey2010-05-24

It doesn't make me gag... it isn't exactly easy to eat because it seems to absorb all of the moisture in your mouth but it doesn't make me gag at all...

belsey (author)cornflaker2010-05-24

I stand corrected! Still a whole spoonful would be very hard to down.

maceacme (author)belsey2010-05-27

 Totally makes me gag, no matter how dark a chocolate I like.

Thanks for the cool recipe, it's a great thing to try!

cornflaker (author)maceacme2010-05-27

 Really? Maybe I'm just weird then lol

maceacme (author)cornflaker2010-05-28

 Totally not weird.  Just different! Enjoy!

gralan (author)2010-05-27

 For myself,  I've found it healthiest to choose where my fats, proteins, veggies, and fiber come from.

I'd rather eat a healthy version of cheesecake with fiber added to the crust than to eat a 1/4 pounder with cheese meal deal.

Choose your fats, etc.  You'll enjoy it alot better. I enjoyed this recipe idea.  I've been using applesauce, fat free yogurt and bananas to sub for oil and eggs, usually 1/2 and 1/2, for baked good with great success.

Without sacrificing good eating.

Btw, I'm not anything-free.  Well, I don't exactly enjoy eating crow or have a bunch of unmentionables shoveled onto my plate.


belsey (author)gralan2010-05-28

 Couldn't agree more. Healthy eating is not about banishing any particular "bad" food but about finding the right balance. That and moderation.

amyswhimzyfl (author)2010-05-27

I'm glad I read the comments. I was going to substitute Xy. for the sugar. Thanks for mentioning that!

scoochmaroo (author)2010-05-23

I cannot WAIT to try this.
If I love it. . . . you're getting crowned Genius of the Century.

allen (author)scoochmaroo2010-05-27

I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I liked it quite a bit but my wife is the real sweet tooth in the family and she said it wasn't "chocolatey" enough. So, the next time we make it'll have more cocoa.

belsey (author)scoochmaroo2010-05-23

 You won't be disappointed -- unless of course you do something silly like replace the sugar with Xylitol...

AngryRedhead (author)2010-05-25

This reminds me of cakes from the 1990s when fat-free diets were all the rage, and fats were replaced with breading, sugars, and/or salt depending on the product.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a paper engineer, writer, maker and chemist wannabe. In addition to pop-up cards I design and build furniture, lights, costumes or whatever I ... More »
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