I’ve been on and off a diet to lose weight since I was 11 years old. Back then my Mother counted calories for me, as well as for my Dad and herself. She made it easy for us and we always had tasty meals. In the 40+ years since then I’ve been on countless diet plans or programs.
A few years ago though a new wrinkle emerged in my dietary needs. I became lactose intolerant. It has been a challenge to navigate the world of American food where cow’s milk is a staple ingredient.
In the whole scheme of life though, being lactose intolerant is small potatoes compared to what other folks I know have to deal with. Gluten intolerance, diabetes, nut allergies, and on and on…these dietary needs make life much more of a challenge and I must give credit to families for all they go through to provide healthy and tasty meals for themselves and their children.
My daughter-in-law, Jessi, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the spring of 2011. She had two surgeries, had to go on a low-iodine diet, and then endure a radioactive iodine treatment (complete with days of isolation) to get rid of the cancer. When she was pronounced cancer-free, it was a high-five-supercalifragilisticexpialidocious kind of day!! Now just over a year later, she is back on the low-iodine diet again to prepare for a low-dose radioactive iodine scan to confirm her cancer-free-ness. We are confident for a good report, but once again we are exploring the world of low-iodine cooking.
It’s pretty obvious that on a low-iodine diet she can’t have iodized salt. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that all sea salt and sea food from the ocean, as well as all dairy products and most soy products are also not permitted on this diet. She can have the insides of a potato, but not the skin; an egg white, but not the yolk. It’s very interesting and challenging to say the least. The use of salt in pre-packaged foods is universal and since we don’t know if the manufacturer uses iodized salt or not, none of them are permitted.
So Jessi and Greg are making everything from peanut butter to tomato sauce to chicken stock from scratch. They are making some wonderful recipes, but it’s a lot of work. I give them lots and lots of credit for all that work! They are good cooks, but like most of us, they’re not used to making everything from scratch. Yet, here they are doing it and doing it well.
We were happily surprised when, in the Low-Iodine Cookbook from ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, what should we find but our family’s absolute favorite made from scratch cake recipe!!! It’s the very first recipe my Mother taught me to make and I taught it to Emily and Greg when they were kids learning to bake. We call it Crazy Cake. The Low-Iodine Cookbook calls it Wacky Cake. Either way, it’s so delicious and so easy to make. And it’s low-iodine!!! Woo-hoo!!! Here’s the recipe:
3 cups flour 2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups sugar 2 tsp vanilla
6 tablespoons cocoa 3/4 cup oil
1 tsp salt 2 cups water*
2 tsp baking soda
Sift the cocoa to get rid of any lumps. Combine all ingredients by hand using a large whisk. Don’t over mix. Spray 9 x 13 pan with non-stick spray or grease & flour pan. Bake at 350º for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean. Don’t over-bake.
*To enhance the chocolate flavor, I use one cup water and one cup strong brewed coffee. This is a recently added option.
If you want to turn this cake out of the pan, be sure to use parchment paper on the pan bottom in addition to the non-stick spray.
This cake is delicious dusted with powdered sugar. Almond flavored buttercream icing is also really good!