Guilt-Free Chocolate Cake: Low-Fat, Low-Sodium AND Vegan!

Healthy cake?

I’d be lying if I said I started out with that in mind. I don’t typically gravitate towards healthy desserts, unless I’m truly desperate. But sometimes in baking, as in life, things magically fall into place.

A couple weeks ago, a friend posted a recipe on Facebook. She wrote, “this looks yummy and so easy.” I clicked it and took a look. Hmmm. A chocolate chip snack cake I could bake in less than an hour AND IN THE PAN (meaning no cleanup). Oh yeah; I’m in.

I adapted the recipe to meet my sodium restriction, eliminating the salt and adding twice as much sodium-free baking soda as the “regular” kind. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I used white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose.

If you’ve never used white whole wheat flour before, go buy a bag!  Unlike hard red wheat flour – the kind used in most whole wheat bread, white whole wheat flour is super mild in flavor. So mild, in fact, you can hardly tell the difference between it and regular all-purpose flour. It has all the health benefits of whole wheat (nutritionally it’s the same as red wheat), but with a lighter texture and taste!

I’ve been sneaking it into everything and my kids haven’t caught on. I was a tiny bit worried the cake might be too heavy, or the flavor would be off, but it smelled incredible and when I tasted it I knew.

The cake was good. Really good – and so honking easy it was unbelievable. We ate the whole cake that night. And because it was so easy, I made a second one the next day. Then, a third. I should probably be embarrassed telling the world what a pig I am, but as the cake tally grew, I started thinking about how to further improve the cake nutritionally. Sure, it was packed with heart-healthy whole grain. It was super low in sodium AND vegan. But could I make it low-fat, too?

I substituted applesauce for oil.  The batter now needed to be mixed in a bowl instead of conveniently in the pan.  BUT I now had a cake every bit as tasty as the original, with a fraction of the fat.  And my family and I all like the low-fat version even BETTER than the original!  I’m not joking!  The applesauce renders the cake even moister than before.

So there you have it.  Cake that’s truly good for you. Whole-grain healthy. Low-fat, low-sodium and vegan too. Moist, dense, chocolate-laden pleasure with absolutely ZERO guilt.

Adapted from Simply Klassic Home.

Serves 16.

SODIUM CONTENT: 1 mg per serving


1 2/3 c. white whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur brand)
1 c. brown sugar or granulated sugar (both work well; your choice)
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
2 t. Ener-G sodium-free baking soda (available online at
1 c. water
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get out an 8-inch square baking pan and spray lightly with oil. (NOTE: I used a glass (Pyrex) pan and it worked perfectly.) Set aside.

Measure the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk together.

Add the wet ingredients to the pan and mix until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the batter.

Place pan on middle rack in oven and bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Cool briefly before slicing and serving.

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12 Responses to Guilt-Free Chocolate Cake: Low-Fat, Low-Sodium AND Vegan!

  1. Jenn A says:

    looks delicious! I’ll definitely be trying this!

  2. Christy says:

    Wonderful, Jenn! Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!! 🙂

  3. I have to try making this for my wife…
    she loves all things chocolate, and I’m sure this would absolutely make her day!

  4. That thing is gorgeous. When I saw the first picture, my heart cried out, “Stop low-carbing! Give in an eat an entire bag of chocolate chips between now and bedtime!” And then I remembered that I actually already ate rice pudding for lunch. BUT STILL. I want that.

  5. cherylK says:

    Wow…I am making this, for sure! I love how you made a great cake even better. You’re a genius.

  6. Amber says:

    We’re celebrating my sister’s birthday this weekend and I’m thinking this will be a great birthday dessert.

  7. Christy says:

    Inky, make this for your wife, she’ll be so happy! (Tell her how healthy it is afterward.) hahhah

    Katie, you are sweeter than chocolate cake covered in rice pudding.

    Cheryl, wins Sweetest Prize #2!

    (Please, keep it coming.)

    Amber, for a birthday treat you may even want to frost it. The cake I made yesterday for the photo above – last night I ended up frosting w/ vanilla buttercream. I added coconut too. SO GOOD.

  8. nicole says:

    What about the vinegar? The original you linked to calls for vinegar. I made the cake per your recipie and it tasted…healthy. my kids won’t eat it. I am going to try with regular flour and the vinegar tomorrow.

    • Christy says:

      Hi Nicole, sorry to hear your kids didn’t enjoy it. The vinegar doesn’t make a difference in the leavening. I tried it both ways and omitted it because it’s unnecessary. As for taste, if you’re looking for something more traditional, follow the original recipe using unbleached all-purpose flour and oil instead of the white whole wheat flour & applesauce. You could also try frosting the healthy cake or sprinkling with powdered sugar and see if that improves it for your kids. Sorry again; my family absolutely loves this cake. I make it all the time.

  9. Kellie says:

    My grandpa’s birthday is coming up soon and he wants a chocolate cake, this is perfect since he’s on a low-sodium diet. The only concern I have is the applesauce, he’s never liked it, nor have I ever used it in my cakes. Is it noticeable?

    • Christy says:

      Hi Kellie! As long as you use applesauce without chunks you should be fine – the sauce will simply “dissolve” into the batter without a noticeable taste or texture. If you’re making this for a birthday cake then I’d definitely recommend frosting it. It’s a tasty snack cake as is, but for a real event you’ll want to gussy it up. Good luck!

  10. Carissa Winslow says:

    Could you substitute mashed avocado for applesauce?

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