I just returned from the most glorious week of cooking! I helped my wonderfully creative Aunt Nancy cook for a silent meditation retreat at Insight Retreat Center near Santa Cruz, CA. The menu was all vegetarian and we made variations on dishes to accommodate other dietary restrictions and needs like gluten-free and dairy-free–there was even a yogi sitting the retreat that was Primal! It was such an amazing change being able to cook more nutritionally balanced and health-focused meals, especially for a group of such insightful and loving individuals! I also managed to get out for a few hikes in the beautiful redwoods. I am so thankful for this amazing opportunity–my soul is fully charged and inspiration high! I am very much looking forward to the several catering events I have coming up and am already trying to figure out a way to get back up North for another retreat.
A calm and quiet kitchen at 6am–just before the breakfast rush
De La Veaga Park, Scott’s Valley, CA
Came upon this precious scene on my hike through Henry Cowell State Park
Aunt Nancy and I took a little trip the Santa Cruz Boardwalk…boy was that a lot of stimulation in comparison to the tranquil retreat center
All of the meals we cooked were focused around the seasonal organic produce that came from local farmer’s markets and even the on-site garden and orchard–what a dream come true! So my Aunt and I got to talking about different uses for zucchini one day and I remembered the chocolate zucchini cake I had seen in the Food Network Magazine just before I left. With the abundance of food and goodies to be created, we never got around to making the zucchini cake so I obviously got right back in the kitchen at home on Sunday and made a Primal adaptation for all of you. This cake is so incredibly easy and the perfect answer to a chocolate craving. Not to mention it is full of the vitamins and nutrients from fresh organic zucchini. Taste it for yourself!
Chocolate Zucchini Cake (Adapted from Food Network Magazine) (Difficulty-Easy; Serves 6)
- 1 1/2 c. almond meal
- 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/4 c. plus 1 tsp. raw honey
- 1/4 c. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large cage-free organic eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 medium organic zucchini, grated and squeezed dry
- 1/2 cup plus 1/3 c. semisweet vegan chocolate chips
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a small 8×6 pyrex dish or other small cake or bread pan with all natural cooking spray. You can also make this into cupcakes with a muffin pan.
Mix the 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup olive oil, the eggs and vanilla in an electric mixer on low speed until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes. Add the almond meal, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda allspice and nutmeg and mix on low to combine, about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and beat until combined, about 2 more minutes. Fold in the 1/2 c. chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
Make the glaze: Combine the remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon olive oil and the honey in a metal bowl. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Turn the heat off and set the metal bowl over the boiling water and stir until the chocolate is melted. Be sure to use a potholder to hold the bowl steady as it will become hot quickly. Spread over the cake with a spatula.