Eat Well Jan. 23. 2018

The Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Recipe

Jan. 23. 2018
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Happy birthday to Nutrition Stripped — which is a day to celebrate you, too! You’ll love this spongy classic vanilla cake topped with a fluffy chocolate frosting.

I’m sharing this delicious birthday cake recipe inspired by the cake recipe found in the NS Cookbook to commemorate Nutrition Stripped turning 5 this year! Ah, can you believe it!? I have so much to say and I’ll share in another blog post here, but thank you. Thank you for all your incredible support, love, and making up this incredible global community we have — I’m so grateful for you! To celebrate, we’re making a delicious cake!

There’s something about making a homemade birthday cake that’s deeply special — maybe the secret ingredient is love or the extra time spent decorating it — whatever the magic ingredient is, is worth the effort. I’ve disclosed this many times before, but baking doesn’t come as natural to me as cooking, so when I bake something, it’s gotta be simple. This vanilla cake with chocolate frosting is just that. Baking a birthday cake is the most enjoyable patient waiting game, from the baking to the cooling, icing, and celebratory eating. I hope this recipe will bring you joy in many birthday celebrations to come!

As I shared in the 2017 Annual Letter to the Community, we have so much to celebrate here at NS. Stay tuned for an exciting giveaway later this week to keep the celebrations going and thank you for being a part of our exciting journey!

I hope you try this recipe so you can celebrate with me and the team! So, if you try this recipe, please take a picture and post it on Instagram — be sure to tag @nutritionstripped and #nutritionstripped so the community can celebrate with us too.

xx McKel




Studies have shown us that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is rich in healthy antioxidants. These potent antioxidants, polyphenols, flavanols, catechins specifically, have been studies to prevent bad cholesterol and lower cholesterol because they work to slow down the oxidizing nature of bad cholesterol. Chocolate also contains minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, zinc, selenium, and phosphorus.

Healthy Fats:

Thanks to the raw cashews and full-fat coconut milk in the chocolate frosting, you’re also enjoying a boost of healthy fats that will keep you feeling fuller longer. Also, since fat takes longer to digest, it can help give us more sustained energy when eaten alongside carbohydrates — less sugar crash.

Optimizer Option:

The obvious optimizer option is to include birthday candles to truly kick off the celebration! If you’re looking to add more nutrient density to a cake, you could add bee pollen, goji berries, shredded coconut, and cocoa powder to the top as “sprinkles” like pictured. You may also add powdered medicinal mushrooms to the frosting like reishi to offer natural stress relief and boost overall wellness. Reishi is a very dynamic adaptogen, so start small and mix in about a teaspoon the first time you’re trying it. Other adaptogens like ashwagandha have a stronger taste, so you’ll want to be cognizant of the flavors you’re blending into the cake.

The Recipe

Serves 8-10



For the vanilla cake:

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup almond flour

2 tablespoons AP gluten-free flour (or use oat or brown rice)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

3 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate frosting:

1 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours and drained

2-4 tablespoons filtered water

2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup maple syrup, adjust to taste

Pinch of sea salt


Step 1

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line the bottoms of one 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper or use a silicone cake pan — grease either option with coconut oil.

Step 2

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Step 3

In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer on medium speed or a blender on low, beat the coconut sugar and oil for 5 minutes, or until fluffy and combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix on medium until combined. Gently pour the flour mixture into the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir until a batter is formed.

Step 4

Pour the batter into the greased cake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, check with a toothpick inserted into the center and comes out clean. Then let the cakes cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan on a rack before turning the cake directly on the cooling rack for at least an hour.

Step 5

For the frosting: in a high-speed blender, combine all frosting ingredients and blend or beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Pour into a small bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready to decorate the cake.

To frost, the cake spread the chocolate frosting evenly over the top, then garnish it with optional decorations, sprinkles, berries, and a candle. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


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