Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Very Special Celebration

This weekend was my son's first birthday party. It is hard to believe that he has only been in our lives for a single year as I can hardly imagine life without him. Not that this past year hasn't been without its ups and downs but there is little in this world better than when he snuggles in for a kiss or learns something completely new and celebrates with a huge grin.

Parenting is filled with decisions that you may or may not get right every single time but I figured, since I am a dietitian and all...I had better get food "right". So far, I feel proud of what a good eater my little guy has turned out to be. He eats pretty much anything I put in front of him; from spinach and plums to black beans and steel cut oats. Today he even shooed away a sandwich in favour of grilled sweet corn rubbed with lime and smoked paprika.

So when it came to choosing a birthday cake for him, I had some decisions to make. I initially was going to go the sugar free route with a cake from my Organically Raised book but the amount of labour required to do the purees and all the extra ingredients I would have to buy were a little off-puting considering all the other preparations for the party. When my mom brought over her Quinoa 365 Cookbook, we decided to make the carrot cake. Using quinoa flour, the cake is gluten free, doesn't contain too much sugar, has plenty of carrots and was absolutely delicious. My son ate every crumb of his portion and I didn't have a sugar wired mess on my hands afterwards. I had purchased a more standard cake for the party as well and I pleased to say that in a crowd of very diverse appetites, the quinoa carrot cake ran out first.

The finished product....all ready for the candles!

At the requests of my guests, here is the recipe:

Carrot Cake
Excerpted from Quinoa 365 (Whitecap Books) by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming and used with permission.

Discouraged by the high-sugar, high-fat content of carrot cake? This recipe will satisfy your carrot cake craving without all of the empty calories.


2 cups (500 mL) quinoa flour
2½ tsp (12 mL) ground cinnamon
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
2 tsp (10 mL) baking soda
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) ground nutmeg
1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup (250 mL) white or cane sugar
¾ cup (185 mL) vegetable oil (I used organic canola oil)
4 large eggs
1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
3 cups (750 mL) grated carrots


One 8 oz (250 g) package light cream cheese, softened
1⁄3 cup (80 mL) butter, softened
2 tsp (10 mL) fresh lemon juice
1½ cups (375 mL) icing sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch (3.5 L) baking pan or spray with cooking oil. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. This will make for easy removal of the cake.
Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the pecans. Set aside.
Whisk the sugar and oil in a medium bowl. Whisk in the eggs, applesauce and vanilla. Stir in the carrots.
Blend the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Pour into the pan and bake on the center oven rack for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely to room temperature.
Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the lemon juice and icing sugar until smooth and creamy.
Spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cake and sprinkle with the nuts. Cut into 16 portions and serve. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 1 week.

(Desiree's note: you may want to omit for a children's party in case of allergy)
Here's to celebrations....whether big or small!


Marianne (frenchfriestoflaxseeds) said...

I love that cookbook! I haven't made their carrot cake, but I have made the moist chocolate cake (for my own birthday cake last year actually), and it is also delicious. If you have a celebration and need a gluten-free chocolate cake, I highly recommend that one, simply drizzled with melted dark chocolate and served with some fresh berries. Yum!

Connie the Cookie Monster said...

hey desiree! i came across your name in the website for dietitians canada. im studying at ubc right now and im hoping to become a dietitian as well. though the qualifications required to make it into the program look daunting, people like you give me inspiration!

if you don't mind me asking, did you attend the dietetics program at ubc?

Desiree Nielsen RD said...

Thanks Marianne!

I looked at that recipe but was a little worried at how the texture would work out using whole quinoa but a few people have tried it an loved it! It will definitely be next on my list.

Desiree Nielsen RD said...

Hi Connie,

Thanks for your kind comment! What I love about being a dietitian is that you have the skills to do whatever you want; there are so many really just is up to you!

I went to UBC; it was a great program!

Anonymous said...

Yum! I'm going to have to check that book out. I love finding new ways to use quinoa. Thanks!!