Mint Choc Cupcakes – gluten free, vegetarian,

Women's Health July/Aug 2013, build a better cupcake

Women’s Health July/Aug 2013

I saw this Build a Better Cupcake article in Women’s Health Magazine, and got very excited at the thought of making some ‘healthier cupcakes’.  It is right up my street.  As you’ve probably gathered, I like to tweak recipes, particularly making them healthier.

I presented these at work as a healthy cupcake, and was asked if there is such a thing.  Well, read on and make up your own mind!

Mint choc beetroot cakeI remembered a cake article from Women’s Health Magazine April/June edition.  I enjoyed the nutty orange cake, but I wanted to try the beetroot chocolate cake.  Perfect, two recipes rolled into one.  In the current edition there is also an article about ice cream – and the mint choc chip one caught my eye.  The idea just grew until I HAD to do some baking this weekend.  Sorry, I didn’t sub out the eggs for a vegan alternative, I stuck to the recipe in that respect.


anything that contains chocolate can’t be all bad 🙂

So what makes this cake a healthy cake? Where do I start?


The cake is flour-free and gluten-free made with ground almonds.   It’s a well touted fact that people who eat nuts are slimmer than those who shun them, the high-fibre and omega 3 fatty acids are thought to control appetite and lower cortisol (the stress hormone which increases abdominal fat. A study from Harvard School of Public Health found people who ate lots of high-fibre foods including nuts increased their weight loss by 3lbs over four years.  Every little helps.

Cacao powder

The raw powder of the plant which produces chocolate.  Cocoa flavanols provide antioxidant support and have been linked to blood pressure lowering and may do this by dilating blood vessels.


Beetroot increases oxygen flow in the body and can improve exercise endurance by 16% according to a study from The University of Exeter.

Coconut oil

I switched out the oil in the recipe for coconut oil.  Coconut contains medium-chain fatty acids (FCFAs) which are easily digested meaning they can be used as energy rather than stored as fat and are thought to stimulate the body’s metabolism.


According to the article in Women’s Health I used avocado for the icing instead of butter.

avocado icing, Women's Health July/Aug 2013Often thought to be a dieting enemy, avocado actually is a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. People who eat avocado tend to be have lower body weight, body mass index, and waist circumference, and higher HDL or “good” cholesterol levels”

However, I do have to note that the study was funded by the Hass Avocado Board :-/


And there is also fresh mint for good digestion.  Phew!

Healthy Mint Choc Beetroot Cupcakes
Makes 22 mini cupcakes

flour-less beetroot chocolate cakes

flour-less beetroot chocolate cakes


For the cake:

  • 300g cooked beetroot (not in vinegar!), pureed
  • 4 eggs (or vegan equivalent)
  • 4 tbsp brown rice syrup (honey is fine here)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil

For the icing:

  • 1 1/2 large ripe avocado (about 250g)
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 4-5 sprigs of mint, leaves only
  • Mint chocolates for decoration
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Make sure the beetroot is pureed in a food-processor.  Add in the eggs, honey, vanilla, cacao powder, salt and gluten free baking powder, and give it a whizz to combine.
  3. Meanwhile melt the chocolate and coconut oil over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  4. Stir it into the beetroot mixture, and fold in the nuts.
  5. Evenly distribute the mixture into cupcake cases (I made 22, but you could make fewer bigger ones)
  6. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until the cakes are cooked, and springy to the touch.  You can try the cocktail stick method.
  7. Meanwhile, wash out your food processor, and add in all the icing ingredients (except the mint chocolates – unless you want some minty chocolate pieces in there, that’s fine by me)
  8. Decorate the cakes as desired.

topped mint choc beetroot cakesThey went down well amongst friends, but Ben said he wasn’t keen.  He is always the first to be suspicious about my cooking (with good reason to be honest), and thinks a cake should always be a cake.  Though at no point before eating did he ask what was in it, so at no point did I have to be dishonest 🙂

Have you tried putting vegetables in a dessert?  What have you found which works?


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