If you were having a bad day, and it was hot and muggy, and you were just kind of overwhelmed by life, you’d make a carrot cake, right (while you were also making Spaghetti Carbonara and grilled Brussel Sprouts)? You wouldn’t make the “regular kind of carrot cake that your family loves because that would be too indulgent on a week night. You would, instead, become fixated on an intriguing “rustic” carrot cake recipe from a very high profile blog that you love, which involved no sugar and called for whole wheat flour. Also none of the usual frills like coconut or pineapple. You would blithely disregard the warning of the recipe’s creator that”if you like your carrot cake delicate with a defined crumb, you’ll actually want to pass on this one.” You would toil in your increasingly swamp-like kitchen, mashing dates and bananas, and grating carrots by hand while sweat ran down your back and your hair curled up like Gilda Radner’s, and you would generally be having an organic and virtuous good time. The cake would smell wonderful, you would cool it and frost it with a mixture of organic cream cheese and agave nectar, and
I will now reveal that this is not a hypothetical situation; it is what I did last night. I have “takings,” sometimes, in which I get obsessed with something and make myself believe it is a fabulous idea. I read the carrot cake recipe in the course of my daily blog reading, loved the idea that I might get my customers to eat something tasty (cake!) in a form that offered fewer liabilities than the usual option, and considerably more benefits. Using a small windfall that was burning a hole in my pocket, I went out and bought enormously expensive ingredients including organic bananas, dates, and cream cheese, and a bag of whole wheat pastry flour. (Note: I am fully aware that neither the dates nor the bananas were grown in Michigan, but I made a “wild hair” exception for this project). As I mashed and ground and mixed, I nurtured a vision of my Green, Healthy family embracing the healthy life, asking for more sprouts on their sandwiches, and ordering their Pad Thai with tofu.
Instead, they hated it. Just hated it. (I liked it, actually, but I am a far more sophisticated and discerning creature than either of my male companions). What I learned from this episode is that this whole healthenating thing must involve baby steps. A family can’t be expected to get this for 12 years and be happy with a no-sugar substitute with no butter or powdered sugar in the frosting. I can switch the milk to organic, add a second green vegetable or a fresh fruit at every meal, and make two vegetarian meals a week instead of one, but I can’t make any sudden moves in an attempt to turn the House of Fried Meat into a vegan restaurant in Berkley.
If you are interested in eating a healthier diet, and would like a dessert that involves relatively little sugar and fat (although it is by no means “lite”), try this recipe. I find the finished product to be quite nice, and I’d almost prefer it as an un-frosted sweet bread along the lines of banana or zucchini bread. I like it that I can taste the ingredients over the sugar, and I like the wheat-y whole graininess of it. If you are still eyeing the deep fried Twinkies on a stick at the State Fair, you may need to begin the step-down program (starting with eating your Twinkies raw) before you attempt to prepare and enjoy a sugar-free, whole grain dessert.
P.S. I did get make the Spaghetti Carbonara with whole grain pasta, and they liked it. Shhhhh!