Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cake is your enemy...apparently

Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide. – Marcus Tullius Cicero 

Public enemy no. 1: Chocolate cake

There is an attack on cakes going on in Nova Scotia. Not only cakes, but cookies, pies and squares as well. Did you know?

I had a few recipes I could have chosen for today, but they were pre-empted by what I read in today's Chronicle Herald Op Ed pages. So instead I’ve opted for posting an old cake recipe. It’s my way to counter the “black or white” nature of governmental policy makers.

You see, I have this “thing” about food. Good homemade food, what I hope is healthier food, in moderation. We need all nutrients supplied in food, not just some. The trick is to use some common sense in your choices. There are “bad foods,” don’t get me wrong. But they certainly aren’t a slice of pie or cake. A whole pie every day, yes – a slice once a month, no.

In Nova Scotia, the baby has been tossed out with the bath water. It all has to do with the “Nova Scotia School Food & Nutrition Policy.”

In part, it states:
The promotion and sale of healthy food and beverages in school reinforces the nutrition messages taught in the classroom and at home. When food and beverages of limited nutritional value (i.e. those that are high in sugars, sweeteners, fat, salt, and caffeine) are available or promoted to students at school, it becomes increasingly difficult to limit intakes.

Of course, this policy came into existence to limit access to pop, chocolate bars, chips and low nutrition foods from cafeterias and snack machines in our public schools. You know, those items that were available to students within school walls on a daily basis. They were the norm, rather than the exception and something did have to be done.

I am in complete agreement. Students should have limited access to low nutrition foods in schools. They should be the exception. That's why we call them "treats" and not "steady diet." It holds true at home as well. 

This is where the OpEd gets up my nose. It’s excessive. In the newspaper there is a well articualted attack on anything that isn’t a carrot or glass of water. I was going to say milk, but it would have to be skim milk.

To see what bent me out of shape read here

The health policy police have levelled their steely gaze at things like bake sale fundraisers. These – at least in the country – are where parents bake goods at home that are then sold at special school functions to raise money for extracurricular activities. Most purchasers are adults. They are very popular and raise a lot of money.

Anything in excess is unhealthy, even the drive to be healthy, if you know what I mean. But bake sales held one a year? Come on...

From the “Fundraising with Healthy Foods and Beverages” publication:
Many traditional fundraising activities rely on the sale of food and beverages high in calories, sugar, and fat and low in nutrients—particularly chocolate, cookies, and pop. This practice sends confusing messages, such as when athletic programs, which promote physical activity, sell nutritionally poor items as a means of support. Fundraising that involves selling less nutritious items can also send the message that schools are more concerned about making money than helping students to maintain healthy habits.

I found page 10 particularly illuminating. That’s where they outline alternatives for healthy fundraisers. One is “Create an exploratory basket featuring vegetarian items such as tofu, soy milk, beans, nuts, seeds, tahini, and include healthy and tasty recipes.” That’ll bring them in droves.

Another wasn’t even a fundraiser. It said (and I agree) schools should start vegetable gardens and include parents and the community. That would promote exposure to healthy choices, but raise money? How?

“Everything in moderation, including moderation,” Oscar Wilde said. And it’s true. Excess in anything – including regulating to death eating habits – is a bad thing.

So one of the great culprits to the wellbeing of future generations is a piece of cake or cupcake bought at a school fundraiser once a year. It sets a bad example, so they say. Regulation run amok.

Our local school has been read the riot act in this regard and will have to toe the line on Department of Education policy. It’s a shame that there never seems to be much – dare I say it? – common sense in governmental policy.

The hold of healthy habits taught at home is so tenuous in our children that they need to be protected by our educational system from every vestige of dessert, via the Department of Health. Cookies are evil.

Yes, they’re evil, if you eat them as a steady diet. That’s where moderation comes into play.

Healthy habits do have to be taught in school and at home, but not to the extent that things like bake sales have to be, in essence, outlawed.

There’s plenty of blame to be handed around in relation to our obese children. How about the prevalence of unhealthy, inexpensive pre-packaged meals in grocery stores? Or the lack of time parents have to prepare healthy food? Or perhaps the sedentary lifestyle of children – glued to a myriad of screens throughout their day – including at school?

Choice is they key. Avoid heavily processed foods high in salt, trans fats or unhealthy amounts of other fat, or sugar. Choose to get up off your a** and do something active. Once again, common sense and moderation...

When I was growing up a piece of cake wouldn’t push us over the dietary cliff. We “worked it off” by playing outside with other kids.

In the end, it is the responsibility of parents to teach healthy habits, and moderation, by example to their children. It isn’t the responsibility of governmental committees and policy writers to regulate out of existence something as harmless as a once a year bake sale.

If you visit the OpEd link, you’ll see every commenter agrees with me. Or at least they did when I looked.

I know some of you won’t agree with me. Perhaps we can discuss it, over a piece of cake.

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Pink Clove Drizzle
Prep: 15 min  |  Cook: 45 min to 1 hour
1 tbsp cocoa mixed with 1 tbsp white sugar
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp instant coffee
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Combine 1 tbsp cocoa with 1 tbsp sugar. Grease a bundt or other tube pan with butter and dust the inside with the cocoa sugar mixture. Shake out any excess and set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the milk, yogurt, instant coffee, melted butter, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Mix on low. Add the eggs one at a time and beat for 2 minutes. Then add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat well after each addition.

Then slowly add in the remaining dry ingredients. Once combined, turn the mixer to medium and beat the batter for a further 5 minutes.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a cake needle inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Depending on the pan you use, your time will vary. Start testing for doneness at 45 minutes just to be safe. If using layer pans, start testing at 30 minutes. (The pan I used took 1 hour 5 minutes.)

Allow the cake to partially cool on a wire rack before glazing. While cooling, make the icing and drizzle it on top of the cake. If you glaze it hot the drizzle will just run off.

Pink Clove Drizzle
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp white corn syrup
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
water and food colouring

Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl. Start with 1 tablespoon of water and continue adding a little at a time until you reach the consistency you want, then tint with red food colouring. Only add a drop or two of the food dye at a time and beat well to judge the final colour.


You know, I really like comments... I really do.

Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks? Just ask! I’ll answer quickly and as best as I can. If you like this post feel free to share it. If you repost, please give me credit and a link back to this site.


  1. I agree 100%, I'm sick and tired of this kind of BS in the school system. Now you've just made me a bit ugly this morning! :)

  2. Hurray for a plea to return to some sort of common sense, instead of politically correct group-think. I'll join you in that piece of cake, thank you, and be glad I don't have kids in this addlepated school 'system'.