Proud owner of both a KALE sweatshirt and an “Oh Kale Yeah” tote bag, it’s clear that I like vegetables (but not just kale as my wardrobe might suggest). Case in point, I’m currently writing this post with a half-empty bag of shredded purple cabbage at my side. But I’m not going to pretend that I never go a whole day without eating something green (although I do feel horribly guilty about it when I do) or that I don’t suffer through the same struggle as everybody else come Girl Scout Cookie Season. From an early age, my parents said they’d find me tottering back from our neighbor’s garden with a head of already nibbled on cabbage or eating bell peppers like apples. But then there are the vegetables that I absolutely detest or times when I can’t be bothered to eat anything that grew in the ground, so I treat myself like a toddler – one that didn’t necessarily like her fruits and vegetables – and I hide things in my food. People accuse me of trying to be tricky – is this a freaking piece of ZUCCHINI in my chili?! – claiming that they need not be duped. To be fair, I sneak things into my own food, too, and it’s a point of pride that I am able to fool myself.
Since I can’t be that weirdo that just eats kale salads all the time, most of my food gets this sneaky treatment: I put turmeric in everything savory, cinnamon in all things sweet, pureed spinach in soups and sauces, zucchini in my chili, and I firmly believe that it’s not an apple a day that keeps the doctor away, but a handful of berries. Even when those berries aren’t in season – like right now – you’ve got to get them somehow. Enter Acai Roots and their plethora of acai berry products.
When I can’t get fresh berries, I make my own puree out of frozen ones or crush the dehydrated version into a fine powder to mix into smoothies, oatmeal, and various baked goods. I’ve been stuck with the run-of-the-mill berries – your strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries – but was recently introduced to Acai Roots and their acai berry powder. Also known as the super berry thanks to its ridiculously high antioxidant count and impressive nutritional stat sheet.
While the acai berry shines best in equally healthy recipes – like a good ol’ kale smoothie – sometimes you just can’t stomach another stupid kale leaf. Good thing this stuff works just as well in not-so healthy recipes, like this Blueberry Acai Cornbread Cake. I could give you a thousand excuses for why this breakfast cake is good for you – blueberries are fruit, cornmeal adds fiber, milk and eggs equal protein – but let’s be honest, the acai berry really carries its weight (and then some) in this recipe.
When mixed with the blueberries, the acai powder creates a lovely marble in the cornbread batter, making this cake look much more decadent than it really is. Sneaky sneaky acai berry.
Along with a love for fruits and vegetables – and the tricks for rendering them inconspicuous in other dishes – my parents taught me to always tend to a sick friend or neighbor with something homemade from the kitchen. While most people bring something like soup, thick with body curing chicken fat and fragrant garlic, or something a bit healthier like a giant bowl of salad as my good friend Nan always does, I’m more of a baked good girl. So my get-well-soons need to employ a bit of this sneaky ingredient stashing.
The recipe for this cake makes two loaves, one for you and one for a friend in need. If you want to be completely honest, you can bundle it up with a bit of twine and a little jar of additional acai berry powder so they can continue to get well long after the cake is reduced to crumbs.
Blueberry Acai Cornbread Cakes
makes two small loaves
1 cup blueberries (if frozen, set out to thaw)
1-2 heaping tablespoon acai powder
3/4 cup sugar (or honey)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted (or coconut oil)
1 cup milk (could use coconut milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, acai powder, 1/2 cup sugar, and the lemon juice. Simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture has thickened and sticks to the back of a spoon. Using the back of a spoon or the tines of a fork, mash the blueberries. Set aside.
2. Set the oven to 350 degrees and line two small loaf pans with parchment paper.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
4. In smaller bowl, combine the melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla, whisking to combine. Make a well in the cornmeal mixture, add the liquids, and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
5. Divide the batter between the two small loaf pans – tapping the pans on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Spoon dollops of the blueberry-acai mixture on top of each loaf. Using the sharp end of a knife, swirl each dollop to create a marble effect. Place the pans into the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven and let the cakes cool in the pans. Best served warm with a bit of butter or additional fresh fruit and a cup of tea.