Niagara Gazette

November 11, 2012

APRONS READY: Applesauce, fruit make for a much healthier cake

By Jennifer Grier
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Have you ever been diligent about eating healthy only to have someone else sabotage you? Have you heard comments like “Just one won’t hurt you”? For most people, it takes hard work and dedication to maintain a healthy body weight.  

One of the goals of Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play is to encourage healthy options and how to deal with temptations. 

During the 2012 Niagara County Fair held here at Cornell Cooperative Extension I was working in the front office when one of the vendors came in and asked if it would be OK if he sent over some of his food. 

Everything he was planning on sending to us was deep fried so I asked if he could send it over after 2 pm. My shift was done at 2 p.m. and I knew that I would not be able to resist. The vendor said that would be easier for him also. Win-Win.

Thankfully the fair is only once a year but what about every day obstacles? What if you are running late in the morning so instead of grabbing something healthy, you go through a drive through or hit the vending machine at work? How about the weekly staff meetings with donuts? They look so good, how can you resist?

One way to combat the high calorie snacks at work is to adopt a healthy meeting policy. This means that the donuts are replaced with granola bars, breakfast bars, low fat muffins, fruit, and water. 

You can also start celebrating office birthdays once a month and bring fruit or a “healthier” version of a birthday cake. Make it a challenge to see who can make the best low calorie dessert. There are many recipes on line for low fat cakes and desserts.

Healthier Cake

To make my “healthier” cake, I use a regular boxed cake mix but substitute the fat/butter/oil with an equal amount of applesauce. The rest of the ingredients stay the same and I bake according to the package. By baking the cake in a Bundt pan it leaves the center open to fill with fresh berries. To add a little more fun and decoration I use fruit leather that I cut into shapes. I use a regular can of frosting because it’s still a birthday cake but I could have used a fat-free whipped topping. Recipes for low fat/low carb frosting can be found on-line. The cake made with applesauce is very moist and I serve it with extra berries for anyone who wants more. The cake mix that I use makes 10 servings but to keep the calorie count manageable including the frosting and berries, I cut it into 12 servings. No one knew I had removed most of the fat from the cake and it was very moist and delicious. But remember “It’s not healthy; it’s just healthier than a normal cake. “

The following recipe is delicious, easy to make and by placing the Energy Balls in cupcake papers, they are easy to grab and eat on the go. At 110 calories each, they make a healthy alternative to a sugary snack. Try one with a glass of low-fat or skim milk.

Peanut Butter

Energy Balls

¼ cup reduced fat peanut butter

¼ cup honey

½ cup dry powdered nonfat milk

1 ½ cups corn flakes cereal


Mix peanut butter, honey, and powdered milk until no clumps are present. Mix in 1 cup of corn flakes until evenly distributed. Roll into 8 ping-pong size balls. Crush remainder of corn flakes in a bowl. Roll balls in corn flakes to coat outside. Place balls in plastic wrap or air tight containers.

Refrigerate if you want them chewy, store at room temperature if you want them softer.

Yields about 8 servings 

Nutrition: Calories 110, Calories from Fat 25, Total Carbohydrates 18g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Protein 4g, Calcium 6%. Source: Eat Fit (University of California Cooperative Extension)

For a sample copy of a “Healthy Meeting Policy” contact Creating Healthy Places at 433-8839 ext. 243 or email

Jennifer Grier is an administrative assistant for Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play, a 5-year grant funded by the NYS Department of Health to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County.