Vegan? Nutritious? Caroline, where's the butter and sugar I came here for? I guess that stuff is alright, but really? How about I just slip out and come by next week...
Noooo, don't leeeeave meeee! (Insert image of me clutching your shirttail while digging in my heels and making skidding noises across the floor like in the cartoons).
Okay, you still there? Promise? Because you see, this cake is actually pretty terrific. I recently started working with the amazing Alice and Nina, two undergrads here at Harvard who founded The Holistic, a healthy foods start-up. One of their main products is this lovely Feel Good Cake, which they were kind enough to let me sample and photograph.
I first met Nina sometime freshman year, very briefly in the communal kitchen of the Matthews dorm. While I was gleefully working a hunk of butter into some scone dough (these scones, I think), she was making raw vegan brownies that she sold to people on campus.
In the past two years, Nina and Alice have expanded The Holistic (while travelling the globe with a toaster oven, baking cakes, how cool is that??), doing catering events and retail, and perfecting this Feel Good Cake. It's an all-natural, gluten-free, vegan chocolate cake, made from things like chickpeas, avocado, and almond flour (and has no refined sugar!). While I won't lie and say it tastes exactly like butter and sugar-based chocolate cake, it is delicious, rich, and moist, indulgent without being too heavy.
I don't approve of the gluten-free or paleo fad (or rather, going gluten-free when you don't actually have a wheat allergy), but I do believe in eating healthy (really guys, I do!), being aware of what we eat, and knowing where it came from. Nina and Alice have created a cake that really is good for you, and isn't just masquerading as healthy under the guise of being "gluten-free." That doesn't mean you should go and eat a whole cake and call it dinner (I believe moderation is just as important as healthy eating), but it is made with ingredients that are naturally healthy and nutritious.
Nina and Alice are looking to expand The Holistic outside the Boston area, and launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the funding. (So hop on over to their page if you think this cake looks amazing and you want to get your hands on some.)
They were also kind enough to allow me to share their vegan chocolate pudding recipe with you today. If anything, it's better than traditional chocolate pudding, richer and more chocolate-y. This pudding gets its creaminess from avocados, and is ridiculously easy to make (easier than its egg and cornstarch-based counterpart!) It's a perfect afternoon snack to have on hand and might just keep you from reaching for the junk food.
So give this pudding a try, and check out The Holistic's Feel Good Cake. It's not the end-all be-all to healthy eating (I have some issues with the "super food" idea too), but it's a good start. And, you know, delicious.
Vegan Chocolate Pudding
From The Holistic
Yields: 2 servings
1 medium ripe avocado
1/3 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey (or to taste)
5 tablespoons cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
1/4 cup water* (see notes)
Peel the avocado and remove the pit. Place in a blender with the maple syrup (or your sweetener of choice). Blend well until smooth.
Add the cocoa powder and water, and blend again until smooth.
Pour into serving cups and serve at room temperature, or chilled. Decorate with fruit, if desired.
*You could probably sub in almond or rice milk here, or coconut milk for some extra richness.