So I keep going back into the fridge with my spoon, opening the container and scooping out more sinlessly decadent chocolate icing and popping it into my cake hole.
I think this is a guilty pleasure that most of us can relate to. The tempting siren call from the refrigerator, reminding and beckoning us to indulge – or over indulge if you are of my persuasion – in whatever particular treat sits unfinished within its cool preserving embrace.
The gentle hum of the motor seems to whisper hypnotically, “eat me, eat me, eat me”.
We find ourselves unwittingly before that great stainless steel barrier, our only protection from what lies within and then, our hand reaches out, almost against our will, fingers caressing the cool smooth handle. In that moment any remaining strength drains from our body and we give in to the sweet, smooth richness, licking it off our lips and savoring the lingering flavor. That extra slice of cake or scoop of ice cream that was supposed to be for next weekend or after we got on the treadmill to balance out the calories; that empty space on the fridge shelf is now magnified in the glare of the accusing electric light.
Quickly we shut the door and retreat to the living room only to be caught out when our husband or roommate calls out, “hey, I thought there was a piece of cake in here!” Oops.
You might note however that at the beginning I took the liberty of describing my icing indulgence as “sinless”. This is because, unlike other times, Paul and I are in the middle of a cleanse of sorts. A whole-foods, all plant-based, low fat, oil-free, sugar and added sweeteners – free cleanse (click here to read about what we ate during week one). Problem is, I have a BIG sweet tooth so I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to make it through. The whole-foods, plant-based part wasn’t a stretch cause that’s how I usually eat, but cutting out oils and eating low fat (aka no nuts or avocado and “sniff” no chipotle flavored Veganaise!) was going to be a challenge.
Fats are one thing, sugar however has been likened to crack cocaine in terms of addictive properties. In January 2013 I eliminated all processed, refined sugars from my diet and only ate or baked with pure maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar as well as fruits and fruit juices. As one of my friends likes to point out, yes, they are still “sugars” and interact in your body like sugars but when you limit yourself to only these sources of sugars, it is amazing what you cannot eat and even more shocking how many canned or processed foods have one or more forms of sugar listed in their ingredient lists. The result is a significant reduction in one’s consumption of sugar and considering that the average North American will consume the equivalent of an industrialized sized dumpster worth of sugar in a lifetime, that’s definitely a good thing!!
I managed to eat free of processed sugars for a whole year and a half without feeling deprived in the slightest. Sure, I had to make and bring my own desserts with me but thankfully I enjoy being in the kitchen so it wasn’t that much of an adjustment; plus, just like when I switched to a plant-based diet, my new diet forced me to become creative and discover an endless array of wholesome yet delectable desserts.
In fact, deprivation was not my struggle but rather self-righteous smugness as I sat having my cake and eating it too.
But oh how the mighty are fallen!! In the late spring of 2014 I was visiting the city with my best friend and decided to “treat” myself at restaurants with regular, sugar-laden desserts. Let me tell you, I paid the price for those indulgences, my stomach churning like a washing machine on agitate. But that’s all it took; despite the pain and obvious protests of my body, I had opened the door to the sugar monster and there was no getting her off my couch and out of the house. Most of the time I tried to ignore the sugar monster, walking around it as I went about my day but this monster was more like the angel of light than the red pitch fork devil so eventually I found myself spending a bit more time giving in to the invitation to have just that “one” thing, until eventually it took longer to stretch out my pants before being able to wear them and my favorite jeans got stuffed in the back of my closet because I didn’t feel like wearing them anymore (ok, ok: they were too tight).
I really wanted my old-new friend to leave but I didn’t know how to get Sugar out the door. I knew it would hurt; I would miss Sugar and I wasn’t sure if I liked my old jeans all that much anyway.
I can’t really say where the motivation came from. I really didn’t think I would launch into a cleanse, let alone a sugar-free cleanse right now. We were in the middle of house renos and painting, getting ready to sell our house to move and I was interviewing for a new job, plus all the other regular life stuff that makes being married, working full-time and parenting so busy. But then something just snapped. I packed Sugar’s bags and bid her farewell. It’s crazy and amazing at the same time but I can honestly say that I don’t even miss her; maybe it’s because just over a week later my favorite jeans and I reunited. Sure, I need to wear them with a flowy top to hide what won’t completely fit inside – hahaha – but we are friends again and that feels good.
Meantime, we were invited to a BBQ this weekend and I knew I needed a dessert that would satisfy my sweet tooth when confronted with my old friend Sugar, who was sure to be invited too. It’s times like these that I am really thankful for the internet. I searched “vegan desserts no nuts no oil no sugar” and voila, I found this rich, decadent chocolatey banana cake complete with icing that fit the bill!! Score one for the whole foods vegan. Poor Sugar; she was sulking in the corner. This recipe also happens to be gluten-free and I am delighted to say that all my omnivore friends, including my seven year old’s non-vegan friend, loved it. In fact, there is not one piece left; just a container of extra icing in the fridge. In fact, I think I will need to publish this now because I think I hear a sweet siren call coming from the fridge and it’s a call I need to answer.
Note: I didn’t have any rice flour so I substituted oat flour in the cake base (just take whole oats and process in a high powered food processor until they are a fine flour); I substituted buckwheat flour in the icing (you can also easily process buckwheat into a flour in a food processor). I think you could use either of these flours or try another GF flour of your choice in either the cake or icing. I used cocoa powder because that is what I had and I omitted the lemon juice from the icing as I am not a huge fan of how too much lemon juice can potentially negatively flavor foods.
I will definitely be making this again … probably next weekend in fact!!
If you make this cake, post a picture and let me know how it worked out!!
PS – I do understand that the majority of calories in a Medjool date comes from sugar, so while it is a whole fruit and comes with other nutritional benefits in Medjool dates that help to balance the sugar content, they should, generally speaking, be eaten in small quantities infrequently if one is trying to be conscious of their sugar intake.
PSS – this cake was not consumed with moderation in mind; it is just too good, so let the consumer be forewarned!!!