Chucking the chocolate


Here’s something I never thought I’d say: I’ve given up chocolate. I’m taking part in DECHOX, British Heart Foundation’s challenge to ditch the cocoa-based products during March. Yes, vegans can be chocoholics too. I eat a couple of squares of dark chocolate every day, sometimes more, depending on how fed up and/or hormonal I am. Not a huge amount, I know, but I’d like to prove to myself that I can survive without it. Going cold turkey on coffee, bread or wine (my other weaknesses) seems impossible but this I just might be able to do.

Now, obviously I’m raising money for a good cause, but I’m hoping it’ll benefit me as well. I’ve been feeling a bit chunky recently and I know it’s because I’ve been eating a little too much of the sweet stuff and not exercising. In my head, I think I’m going to wake up on 1 April a few pounds lighter but my appetite has other ideas. Apple strudel, Hobnobs and rounds of white toast with Vitalite and maple syrup (I was hungover, OK?) have been a regular feature this week. Surely I can’t be the only Dechoxer who’s struggling.

In all fairness, there are plenty of other sweet treats you can enjoy instead of succumbing to sugary snacks. I’ve been trying to curb the cravings with fresh fruit, especially as pears, apples and rhubarb are now in season. Dried figs and dates also hit the spot too you can’t go wrong with banana – try it mashed on wholemeal toast with peanut butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon or ginger powder.

I guess I just need to practice the art of mindful eating (I’m not talking mindfulness here; I’d never have the patience for that) and do more baking. There’s something so soothing and restorative about sieving and sieving your way to a teatime treat. Much better than demolishing half a box of Cinnamon Grahams (if you’re reading this, you beautiful box: you had me at hello) on a Monday evening. Baking is good for the mind and soul, plus a slice of cake is guaranteed to put a smile on someone’s face.

This weekend I’m going to bake this seasonal spiced rhubarb cake, which I first made a couple of weeks ago and it was just lovely. Because it’s flourless (I’ve used ground almonds instead), it’s gluten free as well as vegan and is light and fluffy. It’s low in sugar and isn’t overly sweet although if you can add more maple syrup if you have a particularly sweet tooth.

So if you’re off the chocolate (or even if you’re not), make the most of pretty pink rhubarb while it lasts and give this cake a whirl. While you’re at it, chuck a few pounds towards a noble cause, would you? You can sponsor me here.


Spiced rhubarb and apple cake



For the rhubarb

200g rhubarb

3 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon ginger powder

For the rest of the cake

200g ground almonds

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

3 small apples, grated

150ml almond milk

1 banana, mashed

4 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon ginger powder


Cut the rhubarb into small pieces and stew over a low heat with a little water and the sugar, cinnamon and ginger for 5 minutes. Sieve the rhubarb and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 170C (gas mark 3). Sieve the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and stir in the ground almonds.

In a separate bowl, grate the apple, then add the mashed banana, almond milk, rhubarb and the remaining spices.

In the bowl containing the dry ingredients, create a ‘well’ in the middle, the pour in the wet mixture and stir thoroughly. Grease an 8×8 baking tin with a little oil and pour in the mixture, making sure to spread it evenly.

Place on the top shelf of the oven a bake for 50-55 minutes. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes then enjoy!


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