I first encountered the Persian love cake an Ayurveda and mindfulness retreat last year. In case you are wondering why I was eating cake at a retreat, all six tastes – sweet, salty, bitter, astringent, sour and pungent – are considered equally important in Ayurveda. So, the sweet stuff is allowed, unlike, say, at a detox retreat.
In my humble opinion, sugar is not the problem – it’s our relationship with it. Not only that, but many of us also choose to be ignorant of what we’re eating – by not reading the ingredients list, for example. Because if you did, you’d discover that sugar – in all its guises – is hidden everywhere.
Recently, just out of interest, I picked up a jar of pesto in the supermarket to check out its contents. It had:
Water, Basil (27%), Canola Oil, Cashew Nuts, Parmesan Cheese [Milk, Starter Culture, Salt, Firming Agent (509), Enzyme], Pecorino Cheese, Salt, Sugar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Flavours, Food Acid (Lactic), Fruit Fibre, Pinenuts, Thickeners (Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum).
Oi!!! There is no reason for sugar in pesto (or the many other crap ingredients listed.)
I reckon if we were to cut out most packaged foods from our diet, we could eradicate type 2 diabetes and have our cake and eat it too – as long as we baked it from scratch, to dodge the dodgy ingredients.
But who has the time to make food from scratch, I hear you say. I agree, we’re all so ‘busy busy’. In that case, know what’s in your food and how it was produced. That way you can choose trustworthy brands – brands that don’t just care about profits, but also, ethics, quality and have a regard for ‘what we feed the human race’.
I know, real food seems to cost the earth. But it’s the cheap imitations that cost us (and the earth) a whole lot more.
Sure, some in this country struggle to buy food and, generally, struggle to survive. But I think this quote from Michael Pollan in his book In Defense of Food sums it up nicely:
“While it is true that many people simply can’t afford to pay more for food, either in money or time or both, many more of us can. After all, just in the last decade or two we’ve somehow found the time in the day to spend several hours on the internet and the money in the budget not only to pay for broadband service, but to cover a second phone bill and a new monthly bill for television, formerly free. For the majority of Americans, spending more for better food is less a matter of ability than priority.”
To Pollan’s list of modern-day expenses you could add many other things, such as eating out and, ahem, shopping online for yoga pants.
The point is, the way you spend your money speaks volumes about what your priorities are. So the excuse of no time and/or money is superfluous.
Now, before this post becomes too bitter, astringent, sour or pungent, let’s balance it with some sweetness and a pinch of salt. I present you with the Persian love cake.
Persian Love Cake
Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller.
This cake is gluten-free. It will be dairy free if you replace the butter and Greek yoghurt with coconut oil and coconut yoghurt.
Serves 8 | Takes 50 minutes
- 360g (3 cups) almond meal
- 1 cup packed rapdura/coconut/muscovado sugar
- 120g unsalted butter, softened
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 250g Greek-style yoghurt, plus extra to serve
- 1 tbsp freshly grated/ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 45 gm (¼ cup) pistachios, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 180C, and line and grease a 24cm springform cake tin. I suggest lining the sides of the cake tin with baking paper too.
Then combine the almond meal, sugar, butter and salt in a bowl. Rub the mixture with your fingertips to form coarse crumbs.
Spoon half the mixture into the prepared cake tin, and gently press to evenly cover the tin base.
To the remaining mixture, add the eggs, yoghurt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy (you could do this step in a food processor if you prefer). Then pour over the prepared base and sprinkle the pistachios around the edge.
Bake until golden (~35-40 minutes.) Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Serve with extra yoghurt. The cake will keep in an airtight container for up to a week, if it lasts that long!