Happy 100th post & happy bday to me! A FABULOUS grain-free, dairy-free organic chocolate birthday cake! (GF, DF, paleo, whole, organic; easily AIP & vegan accomodating)

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Well, today is my 100th post on my humble little blog. A few months ago, I began documenting my journey into health and wellness. I am really passionate about this new direction my life has taken, keeping myself well and taking care of my family in the best way I know how. In the last year, I have embarked on a journey of eliminating foods that, like most everyone, I grew up eating, loving, and the idea of giving them up was truly unthinkable. I’ve read about why these changes should be made, have come across sometimes conflicting or confusing information, and am always reading and trying to learn more. Overall, I have been enlightened and seen such positive results in my life from making these changes. I’ve always loved cooking and I love some good problem solving, so I’ve enjoyed the challenge of cooking foods that taste good but also keep in my line with my ever-evolving nutritional parameters. I’ve had some major successes and some epic fails, but it’s all a journey!

I am so humbled by the fact that people actually follow my blog! Sometimes you folks even like my stuff and comment! Crazy business! Photography is obviously not one of my strong suits and I so aspire to eventually master those magazine-worthy shots. Hopefully I can get there – or at least enlist some of my photographer friends to help! In the meantime, thank you for following my blog and joining me in my nutrition & kitchen adventures. It blows my mind and I want you to know that you help keep me on track and inspire me to continue trying new things.

Today also happens to be my birthday. What’s also cool about this day is that it marks almost a year that I’ve made these lifestyle changes. Over the past year, I wasn’t quite ready to commit fully on things like holidays and special occasions. I didn’t want to be a bother, didn’t want to let go of traditions and comfort foods, and also thought, well every now and then can’t hurt. Whereas in the past I totally would have seen my birthday as a reason to “treat” myself and just have a regular cake, I don’t see it that way anymore. Eating foods that make me feel poorly just isn’t really a treat, is it? To make matters more complicated, I am currently grain-free and legume free as well. This is new; I’ve been doing that for almost a month now, and so the jury is still out for me as what I will choose to do long term (still reading all the varying info out on this stuff), but for now, I don’t want my birthday to be a reason to break that choice either. So a gluten free cake is one thing, and certainly doable at some bakeries, but an organic grain-free, dairy-free, non-refined sugar-free, whole foods unprocessed cake is a tall order (believe me, the hubs and I have tried to find one!) sooooo….what’s a girl to do but bake her own birthday cake!

Without further adieu, here’s the unbelievably fabulous, delicious, doesn’t even taste “healthy” moist, rich chocolate cake that I tested out for my birthday. It is not just gluten-free, but free of all grains (this means no gluten-free mix here!). It is also dairy-free, soy-free, not processed, not from a mix, and has no refined-sugars. This cake is a freaking winner! What I love so much about it is that it’s not a “this is a pretty tasty healthy cake” cake– it’s just a damn good chocolate cake. My kid can’t get enough, and in the words of my husband, “Why can’t I stop eating this?!”. Seriously, I am beyond psyched. And no cheating on the frosting either. All the same rules apply but it is equally fabulous.

The inspiration for this cake came up during a bout of internet sleuthing for grain-free recipes. I stumbled upon some gorgeous photos and thought well, I have to give that a try! I changed things up a bit, but I still really have to credit For Chic Sake for this incredible cake recipe! It was my inspiration and I am so happy to have found it! For their original recipe, click on the link. My adjusted version is below along with my own frosting recipe.

Grain-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Cake
2 cups shredded organic zucchini*
1 1/2 cups creamy organic almond butter
1/2 cup organic maple syrup (or raw honey)
1/4 cup organic coconut sugar
2 organic, cage free eggs (for an AIP or VEGAN adjustment, leave out eggs and add in 1/2 cup organic, no sugar added, whole applesauce) 8/19/14 I’m not sure this would work. I just tried to create a similiar cake without eggs and it fell totally flat in the oven. To be continued…
2 1/2 tspns organic vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup organic raw cacao powder
1 1/2 tspn pure baking soda
1/2 tspn sea salt

* I’ve since done some experimenting on the zucchini texture. If you want a light, airy cake keep the zucchini a bit chunky as is pictured above. If you want a dense fudgey cake, then blend the zucchini into a liquid (as if you were making a smoothie). How cool that this one ingredient pulls together such an awesome cake and is so versatile, to boot!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line cake pan with parchment or baking paper. Mix all ingredients and pour batter into cake pan.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Cool cake (ideally overnight) before frosting

Chocolate Frosting
4 ounces organic 100% cacao bar
1/4 cup almond milk
3/4 cup coconut cream
8 large medjool dates
1/4 cup maple syrup or raw honey
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 tspn sea salt

Remove pits from dates. In Vitamix or blender, blend pitted dates and almond milk until smooth. It will be thick with a little texture but not overly chunky.

Melt cacao bar in double boiler or microwave. Remove from heat and add maple syrup or honey. Stir until glossy. Add this sweetened ganache mixture to the almond milk and dates in the Vitamix or blender. (At this point, feel free to transfer the dates/almond milk mixture to a standing mixer to do the rest if you like but I like to minimize dirty dishes!) Also add the almond butter, sea salt, and coconut cream. Blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and place in refrigerator to set up, ideally over night. It will be the consistency of typical chocolate frosting when it’s ready.

The following day, remove your cooled cake and firm, creamy frosting from the fridge. Frost, enjoy, and try not to eat the whole thing at once!

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Update: The original cake recipe was a prototype I tried out the weekend before my birthday. For the actual bday cake I decided to add a strawberry coconut cream filling and some berries. Filling recipe here.

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