Another year, another birthday. Today I (Hayley) turn 26. Relatively speaking, yes, I know that is young. However, that doesn’t mean that I feel ready, or even excited to turn 26. There are many more things that have happened this year that are far more worthy of celebration than me turning one year older. In all honesty, a day of celebrating “me” isn’t really my idea of fun anyway. 25 was a great year for me, and the end of my 25th year was celebrated by Bill and I publishing a book, which was an amazing gift all in it’s own right. Being able to celebrate food, and health, create art work out of it, and be able to share it with the world is something I never dreamt I would be given the opportunity to do.
Now, of course being the paleo foodie/health fanatic/over-analyst of my own behaviors around food, I came up with a bit of a “birthday challenge” for myself, which definitely took Bill by surprise. After getting back from Los Angeles, and with the stress of getting the book off to print, we let our diets slip once again (FAILEO). Too much dried fruit and raw nuts, too much dark chocolate, and more indulgence in alcohol than we usually allow for ourselves, considering we rarely have a drink more than once a month. After spending the month of July extremely clean (I did not touch one raw nut, or piece of fruit), I was really able to see how even one bite of dark chocolate really spikes my sugar cravings, and makes it really hard to go back to avoiding it. This of course just starts a mental battle in my head of wanting it, letting myself have it, and then hating myself for it. Bill has similar feelings regarding sugar, however since he is a boy who has never had emotional issues with food, he just recognizes that he doesn’t feel as well when he eats it, and he has more cravings for it. He (unlike me) doesn’t beat himself up about it.
My challenge for myself is to give up sugar completely for an entire year. When I told this to Bill he almost wrecked the car (we were driving). Now, at first glance this may seem extreme, but I have good reasoning behind it, and here it is:
1. Sugar is not part of the paleo diet anyway.
2. Sugar makes me feel awful, gives me anxiety, and makes me depressed.
3. Sugar makes me eat more sugar.
4. No matter how long I go without sugar, the moment I indulge in it again, I want more and more of it.
5. Sugar is not part of the paleo diet… did I mention this one already?
Sugar is addictive. I don’t care where the sugar source is coming from, whether it is a candy bar, or a date, it is addictive. I’m not going to fool myself into thinking that I’m doing something beneficial by eating a few dates and pecans rather than peanut m&m;’s. Now, is dried fruit a better option than an ice cream cone, yes, but it is going to make me crave more sugar, just like any other dessert. I do think that every person is different, and maybe others have more self control than I do, but I know that I look/feel/perform/and most importantly think much better when those “paleo approved” foods are not part of the equation. I also know my body well enough that going one month without it is not enough. I need to get to the place where I choose to feel good, rather than taste something good, without having to talk myself out of the sweet stuff. I have done this with processed foods, artificial sweeteners, grains, and gum, and I have complete confidence that I will do it with sugar as well.
I came to this exact same crossroads in December with gum. Gum was my sugar fix, I would chew a ton of it to try to keep myself from eating something sweet. The end result was a sore jaw, and a strong feeling of disappointment in myself for eating so much artificial sugar. It wasn’t the act of eating gum that upset me, it was the intention behind it. I wasn’t just chewing a piece to freshen my breath, I was chewing it to the point where my jaw got sore because I wanted to taste something sweet. Bad news bears. In December I decided that “was NOT who I am”, so I pitched the gum, went through a few weeks of craving it, and then it went away. It’s been 8 months, and I could care less if I ever see gum again. The end. I made that sound fairly simple, it wasn’t that easy. Some things have been easier for me to get rid of in my diet, and some have been harder (you couldn’t pay me enough to take a bite of grains, but sugar?) Sugar is always hard for me, and no matter how long I give it up, the moment it touches my lips again, the roller coaster ride starts all over. So, what do we always say about this lifestyle? If you don’t feel good when you eat it, you shouldn’t be eating it-right? Well I’m finally going to take the hint that my body and mind have been trying to tell me for years.
SO, with all of that in mind, I bring you to todays post, cake! Haha. I’m really not a fan of “last meals”, because I think that puts the wrong energy out there for what you are trying to accomplish. However, it was my birthday, and Bill being the amazing man he is decided he was going to support me and do the no sugar thing for a year also (which is not so easy for him either-we are pretty much the same person, except he’s not OCD with food). Bill’s birthday isn’t until November, and I felt pretty bad that he would be missing a cake because of my crazy challenge (I guess it’s his fault for opting to do it with me!) I figured we might as well make a cake worthy of TWO birthday celebrations, and end the treat posts on the blog with a bang! We had mentioned wanting to make a German Chocolate Cake for our book, Make it Paleo, and we never got around to it. I didn’t really want to make something extremely complicated, so on our way to Whole Foods, I figured out a recipe that would have all the flavors of German Chocolate Cake, but was simple to make.
So before I give you all the recipe, I will add this. When eating this dessert, or any dessert when following a healthy lifestyle, do not proceed unless you have the right intentions with it. Indulge because you simply want to, not because something else is bothering you and you are looking to the “good stuff” to fix it. Even more importantly, allow yourself to enjoy it. This is something that I am always missing. If you let yourself have it, at least allow yourself to enjoy it.
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup pasture butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
- 2 heaping tablespoons palm shortening.
- 1 cup chopped pecans
Whipped heavy cream and flaked coconut frosting
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- Preheat oven to bake at 350.
- In a large mixing bow, combine eggs, maple syrup, pasture butter, and vanilla. Blend with a hand mixer until smooth.
- Add coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda to the bowl, and continue to blend until batter is smooth.
- Lightly grease a spring-form cake pan with butter, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper for easy removal.
- Pour batter into the pan, and smooth the top with a spatula (this is a thick batter, so you will have to work with it slightly.)
- Bake chocolate cake for 30-35 minutes, and remove from oven to cool.
- Melt chocolate chips on low heat, stirring often.
- When chocolate is completely melted, add in the palm shortening, and stir until all is combined.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Whipped Cream Frosting
- Whip heavy cream in a kitchen mixer until stiff and fluffy.
- Fold in the coconut flakes.
Final Cake Assembly
- Once the cake has cooled, remove from pan and place on a platter.
- Slowly pour the cooled ganache over the cake.
- Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
- Place the cake in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to harden the ganache, while you make the whipped frosting.
- Remove cake from fridge, and top with the whipped frosting.
- Garnish with a drizzle of left over ganache if desired.
- Keep refrigerated until served.
This cake was definitely worthy of two (or more) birthday celebrations. It was absolutely delicious, and definitely made me not want sugar for a LONG time. Proceed with caution on this one, and make sure you have many people to share it with…
As always, enjoy!
Past Birthday Cakes
Hayley, 2010: Dark Chocolate Coconut Cake
Bill, 2010: Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache