Are Baked Goods Paleo?
Almost daily, I hear people debating about whether or not baked goods are “Paleo”. Of course traditional donuts, cookies, cakes, and muffins made with wheat and refined sugar are obviously not. Less obvious, is that most “gluten-free” treats sold in bakeries and grocery stores (even health food stores) are loaded with grains and other toxic ingredients ranging from refined to processed to genetically modified and beyond. If you ask me, there is no cookie or cake in the world worth the amount of inflammation that results from eating these so-called “foods”!
In contrast, goodies made from all natural, Paleo-friendly ingredients such as almond, coconut, and tapioca flour are a different story altogether. The sweeteners used in many Paleo recipes are unrefined ingredients like honey, bananas, blended dates, and coconut nectar, which are (ideally) used sparingly and don’t spike people’s blood sugar levels the way refined and processed sweeteners do. Not all cookies and cakes are created equal!
As a Paleo nutritionist, I work with people who are just starting down the Paleo path as well as folks who have been eating this way for years. Over and over, I’ve witnessed far greater success with individuals who allow themselves an occasional indulgence, versus those who attempt to banish all forms of treats from their pristine Paleo lives. It seems to me that the people who try to be perfect and refuse to eat anything that’s not a meat or vegetable, are the first ones to fall off the wagon, and the last ones to get back on it. Those who enjoy an occasional sweet treat are the ones who are more likely to stick with Paleo for the long-haul. For these reasons, I wholeheartedly believe that Paleo baked goods can be a delicious, nutritious, and diverse addition to a modern-day Paleo or Primal diet.
Sweet Paleo is Not an Oxymoron…It’s a Must-Have New Cookbook!
I was happy to hear that my opinion is shared by the author of the recently released cookbook Sweet Paleo: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Delights. In her book, Lea Hendry Valle explains that “it is far easier to stick to a restricted diet when you know you can have the occasional piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party or pancakes on the weekend. There is nothing wrong with the occasional Paleo baked good or treat, especially if it helps you maintain your eating plan without any major lapses that can damage your overall health.” Lea understands that “even for the most steadfast Paleo dieter, there are special occasions when life calls for something sweet and celebratory.” I couldn’t agree more Lea!
Lea came to the Paleo diet after being sick for several years, and within thirty days of eating Paleo, she experienced dramatic improvements in her health and energy. Her own radical healing coupled with her passion for baking led to the creation of Lea’s brilliant new book, Sweet Paleo. Her recipes use all natural and unrefined sweeteners accompanied by other nutrient-dense ingredients, and I love that she’s made it a point to only use enough sweetener to maximize the flavor of the other ingredients. An extra bonus: many of the recipes in her book can be adapted to exclude nuts and eggs, plus she’s included tons of helpful tips throughout her book that will guide you in baking like a Paleo pro!
Confessions from a Paleo Bake-a-Holic
Ok it’s confession time. When I first went Paleo, I was a bake-a-holic. I baked goodies daily, and way overdid it on the almond flour to the point I was having flares of my autoimmune diseases. During my year-long bake-a-thon, I tried every Paleo baked good recipe I could hunt and gather off the internet and from the library. Therefore, I feel qualified to say that Lea’s recipes are some of the best out there. I’ve already made several recipes from her new cookbook Sweet Paleo: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Delights, and they are hands-down the tastiest Paleo baked treats I have ever made! Not only that, they are just as yummy on the eyes as they are on the taste buds; her creations are classy and elegant, and don’t crumble apart or mush together like many other Paleo recipes I’ve tried.
Well Paleo peeps, we are all in for a real treat today, because Lea has been kind enough to share with us a phenomenal recipe from her new cookbook: Spiced Harvest Cake with Maple Cashew Glaze (actually, that’s two recipes!). I had the pleasure of making her version of a carrot cake, and I’m slightly ashamed to say that I loved it so much, I hid the last piece from my fiancé so he couldn’t eat it! Seriously, it was that amazing, and I’m grateful to Lea for allowing us to use her incredible recipes here on our blog. So now without further adieu, let’s have our Paleo cake and eat it too! :)
Recipes by Lea Hendry Valle, from her fabulous new cookbook
(Picture credit: my mom, Alicia. Thanks mom!)
Spiced Harvest Cake
Recipe makes 1 (8-inch) two-layer cake
- 1 ⅛ cups (140 g) coconut flour
- ½ cup (64 g) tapioca flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- 6 large, moist Medjool dates, pitted
- ¾ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup apple or orange juice
- 6 large eggs
- ½ cup liquefied coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup grated carrot
- 1 cup grated zucchini
- 1 cup cored, grated apple
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use coconut oil to grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
 Weigh the flours and sift together with the spices, baking soda and salt into a medium-size bowl; set aside.
 In a food processor or high-speed blender, puree the dates with the maple syrup and apple juice until you have a smooth paste, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary.
 Separate three of the eggs and place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow them to come to room temperature.
 In a separate large mixing bowl, place the three egg yolks along with the three remaining whole eggs, add the date puree, oil and vanilla and stir until combined.
 Add the dry ingredients to the date mixture. Stir in the carrot, zucchini and apple.
 In the stand mixer, using the whisk attachment on medium speed, whip the three egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to whip until you have firm peaks.
 Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter and continue folding until well combined, taking care not to overmix and lose the airiness of the eggs.
 Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. It will be thick. Spread it out evenly.
 Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to continue cooling. Frost or glaze as desired when completely cool.
Maple Cashew Glaze
Recipe makes about 1 cup of frosting
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight, then drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup coconut butter, heated
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoon liquefied coconut oil
- Pinch of finely ground sea salt
- Filtered water
 Place the cashews along with the coconut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil and salt in a food processor or high-speed blender and process until smooth and creamy (this will take several minutes), scraping down the sides as necessary.
 Add a tablespoon of filtered water at a time until you reach your desired consistency for either frosting or glazing.
On behalf of our team at Paleo Plan (and all of the taste buds that will delight in this tantalizing Harvest Cake recipe), I’d like to extend a huge THANK YOU to Lea Hendry Valle for sharing her divine Paleo baking skills with us all, and also a huge CONGRATULATIONS on the release of her fabulous new cookbook: Sweet Paleo! Lea
also writes for the popular blog Paleo Spirit, and you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram too. I’ll leave you all with a photo of possibly the most delicious Paleo baked treat I have ever eaten: Double Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti. I never knew making biscotti was so easy, and I’m pretty sure that these are the tastiest biscotti on the face of the planet. For the recipe (and over 90 more incredible recipes), check out Lea’s new book Sweet Paleo: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free Delights. I highly recommend buying a copy to own; this is definitely one you want in your Paleo cookbook collection!
In good health,
Kinsey Jackson, LMP, MS, CNS®