Monday, October 19, 2009

An Unlikely Story

I doubt you'd believe me if I was to tell you I wasn't always a foodie. In fact, not only was I not particularly interested in new and unusual meals and menus (God forbid I let anything like sushi past my lips), but I was a bone fide case of the meat + pasta + butter and cheese for dinner crowd. Vegetables, if they had to grace the plate, were smeared with butter or doused in cheese sauce or salad dressing. I did like fruit, however, which probably saved me from a childhood of scurvy, but the thought of sleep did not come for me as a kid unless there was a "bedtime snack" involved. If we were lucky and Mom had made some sort of cookies or cake for a school bake sale (or if she was just feeling nice) that was left over, a veritable slab of indulgence would fit the bill. At the very least there would always be something like ice cream in the freezer or Nutella and peanut butter in the cupboard for me to make a sandwich. I needed my chocolate - and to this day that hasn't changed.

What did change, though, was how I approached my love of food, and in turn developed a love for myself. At the goading of my parents, I signed up for a gym membership at the small club they went to managed by a friend of the family's named Louise. Louise was the first die-hard nutrition, exercise and general health "freak" I ever knew. Not only did she run grueling fitness classes 6 nights a week and keep the gym open almost 24 / 7, she was a certified personal trainer and nutritionist! She would preach the benefits of kale, beets, tofu and spinach for dinner (pasta was the Devil, white rice equally so!), drinking brewed, roasted chicory instead of coffee and doing away with any milk products (horrors!), and even the notion of this chocolate cake made with PRUNES. I thought she was absolutely nuts! Today, I still think she was a bit nuts, but I'm more like her now than I ever thought possible. I make it a point to go to my gym class every week if at all possible, and I sorely miss those days I don't. I eat more healthfully now than almost anyone I know (more a necessity than a wish, sadly), and even enjoy those previously dreaded nemesis foods from my childhood.

It was from a crumpled scrap of paper that I made this loaf cake recipe spring back to life, and I think Louise just might be proud of me for doing it. That is, if she believed it was me behind the scenes.

Louise Cake
Serves 12
6 oz pitted prunes (about 1 cup)
Boiling water
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup oil (you can use applesauce as well, to make it low-fat)
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup fat free soymilk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease a large loaf pan.
  2. In a small bowl, combine prunes with enough boiling water to cover. Let stand 20 minutes, then drain.
  3. In a food processor, add the prunes, bananas, oil, vanilla, soymilk, and lemon juice. Puree completely smooth.
  4. Add sugars, cocoa and salt to the processor and puree well.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda and baking powder.
  6. Pour in the wet puree mixture and stir well to combine thoroughly.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes, until tests done.
  8. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes before turning out onto a rack and cooling completely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 288.3
Total Fat: 9.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 16.1 mg
Total Carbs: 49.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.8 g
Protein: 4.4 g


  1. Food is such a strange thing, really. People get all moralistic about it, turn it into something it's not, and then it's no fun any more, they're criticizing everybody else, and all of a sudden they're not people you want to be around. Sigh.

  2. I bet the prunes keep that cake so moist. I think for a lot of us it takes growing up to be really experimental with food.

  3. That's another great bread recipe from you. I know exactly what you mean but I believe you know yourself now than anybody else. That's what matters most.

  4. looks delicious and healthy - must try it as I love any cake with prunes and chocolate


Thanks for the feedback!