Updated: Nov 20, 2022
As summer is ending and school supplies are being gathered, it’s nice to have one last summer cake to bring all those wonderful summer fruits together. Feel free to use whatever fruit you have or can get locally. Fresh berries like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries or raspberries and stone fruits like peaches, nectarines, or plums or any combination would be excellent in this cake. Feel free to experiment with different flavors. I imagine chocolate pudding with strawberries or lemon pudding with blueberries would also be amazing. Keep in mind that this recipe is not a sugar-free or keto friendly dessert and should be enjoyed in moderation; here it is:
Let’s talk about the benefits of the fruits in this cake. Berries are nutrient dense foods. Red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables like berries and stone fruits contain phytochemicals called anthocyanins. While their role is not fully understood, their effects on health and wellness have been seen in many studies. These phytochemicals have been shown to counteract oxidative stress, perform antimicrobial functions, and counteract the onset and progression of many chronic diseases like cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and metabolic diseases as well as reduce the risk for certain cancers.
These phytochemicals are antioxidants that can help reduce systemic inflammation and free-radical damage to our cells. Systemic inflammation has been linked to many chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, metabolic disorders, obesity, and cancer. Phytochemicals have also been shown to influence the composition of the gut microbiome, increasing the beneficial species such as Bifidobacterium, Lactobacilli, and Actinobacteria. By improving our gut health, we can reduce “leaky gut” and inflammation throughout our body.
Neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis have been linked to oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals. Eating a diet full of processed foods, fast foods, and high sugar/carbohydrate content, as well as sedentary behaviors increase the risk of these neurological diseases. Consistently eating a diet full of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (we are talking vegetables and fruits), can potentially reverse the damage done by poor dietary choices including processed foods, fast foods, and too much sugar.
These fruits (with the skin on) also contain vitamins like A, C, E, and folate, as well as fiber. The fiber helps to lower the sugar spikes from fruit, which is why the whole fruit is healthier than fruit juice. Combining fruits with protein or fat can also lower the blood glucose spike that can happen.
So, as usual, the recommendation is to have ¾ of your meal as vegetables, with some protein and fat. Avoid processed foods and fast foods; try to stick to whole foods whenever possible. Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, or buckwheat can be eaten a few times per week (unless your body demonstrates a sensitivity). Occasional treats like this Vanilla Icebox Cake with Summer Fruit can be enjoyed in moderation (1 to 2 times per week) and are best shared with others. It really is possible to change the way you eat and think of the food as medicine for your body. It really is amazing what these phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals can do for the body!
Are you ready to PIVOT to functional health and wellness?