Seasonal food is generally fresher, tastier and has more nutritional value than food grown out of season. Eating with the seasons means that you can enjoy eating things at their best when the produce has had time to grow and develop nutrients and flavours. Often seasonal food is cheaper, as it is grown locally meaning there is likely to be a lot of it around.
During the month of October, some of the goodies to take advantage of are: Pear, Artichoke, Game, Squash, Aubergine, Mackerel, Lamb and Beetroot. Beetroot is rich in fibre and has been used for medicinal purposes for many years; primarily for liver disorders as it helps stimulate the liver’s detoxification processes. To preserve the beetroot's colour and nutrients, rinse and brush clean but do not remove the skin or root until after cooking.
As well as being a tasty addition to salads, beetroot can be used in sweets. Packed full of fibre, vitamin E, and antioxidants, this chocolate beetroot cake is healthier than your average chocolate cake but does contain sugar and fat. It also uses olive oil (a heart-healthy oil) as a substitute for butter. Enjoy it plain, with crème fraiche or top with your favourite icing – cream cheese is a great option.
Chocolate Beetroot Cake
- 85g dark chocolate
- 3 medium eggs
- 300g light brown sugar
- 220ml olive oil or melted butter
- 300g cooked beetroot - pre-cooked beetroot from the supermarket vegetable section works well.
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1tbsp vanilla essence)
- 40g cocoa powder
- 80g ground almonds
- 150g Plain flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
Step 1: Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease and line one 20x30cm (9x13 in) or a similar sized baking tin.
Step 2: Blend or mash the beetroots until smooth but still with some ‘chunks’ remaining.
Step 3: Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water or place the chopped chocolate in a bowl, cover and microwave on low for approximately 1 minute until the chocolate has just melted. Remove from the microwave; stir quickly to melt any pieces that are still solid.
Step 4: In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and olive oil (or melted butter).
Step 5: Slowly add the cooked beetroot puree, the melted chocolate and vanilla into the egg mixture - stir well to combine, but take care not to overwork the mixture.
Step 6: Sift the cocoa and plain flour and add this to the mixture along with the ground almonds, baking powder and salt.
Step 7: Fold until everything is combined. Again, don’t over mix the batter.
Pour the mixture into the greased and lined tin and bake for approximately 50 minutes.
The cake is ready when a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan.
Cream Cheese Icing
- 75g of light cream cheese
- Dash of milk
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 450g Icing Sugar
- Step 1: Combine the cream cheese with a dash of milk to loosen.
- Step 2: Add ½ tsp of vanilla.
- Step 3: Add icing sugar, beating until fluffy.
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