Strawberry Apple Rhubarb Sweet Potato Cake – Low Sugar, Naturally Sweetened


On my recent trip to Minneapolis to meet my beautiful new granddaughter, I reconnected with a favorite cousin.  Like most of us, she loves sweet baked goods.  We were talking about the difficulty of baking a low calorie sweet treat.  I offered to try to come up with some low sugar treats, and asked her to text me a few of her favorite baked goods.

Rhubarb was on her list.  Inwardly, I groaned.  How on earth do you sweeten the tangiest of fruit/veggie (did you know it is considered by some as both a fruit and veggie?), without copious amounts of sugar?  In fact, I have avoided cooking  with rhubarb, for this very reason.

Okay, I can do this.  This recipe is what I came up with.  Instead of sugar, I used strawberries, apples and sweet potato.  Yes, I said sweet potato.  It is called “Sweet” for a reason.  I wondered if I could it could provide a sweet to the Rhubarb tart.  And it worked!  The only sugar in this recipe is the sprinkled topping.  The cake itself is naturally sweetened.  And it took a typical 340 plus calorie serving down to 192 calories.  And I’m not talking a little two inch square serving.  Those are a joke.  If a Barbie Doll ate a two inch square, she would burp politely and tell Ken to get her another piece.  This is a nice sized chunk, so you can feel like you ate something and feel good that a serving has less than 10 grams of sugar, compared to 38 – 40 grams of a typical recipe.

Top it with some sliced strawberries, and zap with a bit of whipped topping or sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.



So let’s make it!  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Dice 1/2 cup and steam for three minutes in microwave. This softens them and helps release the sweetness.


Dice 1 medium apple (use a sweet variety) and 1 cup of sliced strawberries. Combine with the sweet potatoes and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Apple pie spice would be nice, or you could add spice that sounds good.


Dice 2 cups of rhubarb, which was about two nice sized stalks.  Combine with the apples, sweet potato, and strawberry mix.


Beat one egg with one tablespoon of vanilla in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup softened butter and whisk. It will be lumpy, but give it a good beat!
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To egg mixture add 1 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt and 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce.


In a separate mixing bowl, combine 2 1/3 cups flour with 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a mixing bowl. Add the egg/yogurt mixture and beat by hand until well combined.


Batter will be thick. This does NOT look like a commercial boxed cake mix! This is full of healthy goodness you can taste with every bite!


I always opt for easy to clean, so I lined a 10 x 12 pan (or a 9 x 13) pan with parchment paper. You can always oil the pan but go lightly or you add calories.
Time for the topping. This is the only processed sugar in the recipe. Add 1 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or more if you like) to 1/3 cup sugar. Sprinkle over top of cake batter.  I forgot the cinnamon when I took this picture and ended up sprinkling the cinnamon over the top after adding the sugar and nutmeg.  The cinnamon adds deeper dimension.  Remember Cinnamon is also a good flavor substitute for sugar, as is vanilla.  It fills the mouth with flavor.  Adding sugar to the top of the cake (rather than in the batter) also gives a sweet flavor as the cake hits the mouth, and fools us into thinking the cake is sweeter. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, until knife inserted comes out clean and a bit moist.
Recipe makes ten generous portions. Each serving has 192 calories; 4.3 grams of fat; 32.2 grams of carbohydrates 9.8 grams of sugar and 5 grams of protein.  That’s a lot of protein in a sweet treat!



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Baking time is 45 – 55 minutes.  Serves 10.


1/4 cup butter

1 large egg

1 tablespoon vanilla

8 ounces plain non-fat greek yogurt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt (I use kosher)

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour

4 ounces unsweetened applesauce

2 cups rhubarb

1 medium apple

1 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup diced steamed sweet potatoes

1 tablespoon cinnamon, divided



Dice sweet potatoes and steam in microwave for three minutes.  Dice apples, rhubarb and slice strawberries.  Combine all and set aside.

Beat egg, vanilla and then add butter.  Whisk to mix (it will still be a bit lumpy); Add yogurt and applesauce.  Beat well by hand and set aside.

Combine salt, baking soda, flour and one teaspoon of cinnamon in a mixing bowl.  Add egg/yogurt mixture and mix well.  Batter will be thick.  Add mixture of apples, rhubarb, strawberries and sweet potato.  Stir well to combine.

Oil or line with parchment paper a 10 x 12 or 9 x 13 baking dish.  Fill dish with batter and smooth to edges.  It will be thick.

Combine remaining cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.  Can add more spices to sugar!  Sprinkle over batter until well coated.

Bake 45 – 55 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serves 12 nice servings (192 calories) or 10 really good ones (230 calories)!


Last Day and it Went Literally Into My Bones – Rome Day 8

Day 8

Grim Greetings,

Gosh, this was our last day in Rome.  Tomorrow morning we hop the train to the airport and fly back home.  This is the part I dislike the most.  I’m so happy traveling and seeing new things.  There must be some gypsy in me.

This ended up being a bit of a strange day.  We were going to head to the Appian Way and ride our bicycles.  Sadly, George woke up with a new case of gout in his foot.  He hobbled to breakfast and confessed that he just couldn’t do it.  All he wanted to do was limp back to the room and get off his foot. Continue reading “Last Day and it Went Literally Into My Bones – Rome Day 8”

How Far Do You Need to Walk to Work off 50,000 calories in Rome? Day 7

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Using a Rome city map dated 1667, we were able to navigate our way to the Forum. The streets are teeming with history, no matter which way you turn.

Day 7


It was nice not to wake up at the crack of dawn and have to be somewhere.  So we woke up at the crack of dawn, anyway.  Creatures of habit, we staggered down to the breakfast room.  I am a wee bit tired of the hotel breakfast.  It is all meats, cheeses, breads, scrambled eggs and canned fruit.  Although today there was fresh fruit mixed with the canned fruit.  Every day I have the eggs and a slice of bread, plus fruit from our room.  I’m ready for something different.  Eating the complimentary breakfast saves money, and I’m also fond of spending more money.  Hotel coffee is amazing however, and I’m not a bit tired of downing the morning brew.

I was hesitant to tell George my desires of the day; I have drug this poor man all over Rome.  He wanted to ride bikes on the Appian Way, and today was penciled in for a nice bike ride.  But thunder and lightning was forecast.  I’m not wild about riding a metal bike in a thunderstorm.  Fortunately, George felt the same way, and we decided to go back to the fashion shopping district to pick up some gifts.  There were two historic sites that we hadn’t hit yet in the same general direction, and I tried to make George think it was his idea to go there.  Subtlety, however, isn’t my strong suit, so I finally gave up and said “Could we go to the Domus Romana and also see the bones of the Capuchin monks?”

George is a very amiable soul, and has agreed to every place I have wanted to visit.  He may walk at a snail’s pace.  Actually, it is possible that a snail might pass him, but he seems to get there.  We looked at the map, and decided to hit the Domus Romano first.

Continue reading “How Far Do You Need to Walk to Work off 50,000 calories in Rome? Day 7”

Caught in a Pottery Gang War but Ends on Palantine Hill – Rome Days 5 & 6

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View of the Forum from Palantine Hill. This must have been one busy place in its glory! It was a swamp drained by the Romans and then built upon. Much of it was stripped and destroyed to build the Vatican. It slowly returned to nature until it became a cattle pasture. The soil helped preserve and prevent further destruction.

End of Day 5


We took a relaxing train back to Rome from Ostia, and our plan was to take the subway back to our hotel. As we neared the transfer point, I realized that we were next to the Testaccio neighborhood. In ancient times this was the factory and warehouse area of Rome, and still remains a very working class area. Back in the Good Old Days of the Empire, it was the major manufacturing location for amphora. Amphora were pottery containers of all sizes used to store and ship olive oil, grain, wine, etc. Amphora did not have flat bottoms, and ended with a pointed or rounded bottom. You would never see shipping containers shaped like this today!  Amphora would sit in holes on racks in ships and it was quite efficient. They could stay upright on a swaying ship without tipping over. Pottery will break, of course, and two thousand years ago, they started piling all the broken pots and old rancid olive oil in one pile. And kept on piling in the same location century after century. It became so huge that it became known as Monte Testaccio, the 8th hill of Rome. It is enormous! I saw a TV show that said trendy restaurants had been built into the sides of the pottery mountain, and if you went inside you could see the walls were made of broken amphora.

The Testaccio district has historic slaughterhouses, and if you want to eat an offal dish (as in organs and intestinal based foods), this is the place to go.  I wonder if our word “awful” came from “offal?”  Rome is known for their ox tail stew, which was created here.

Continue reading “Caught in a Pottery Gang War but Ends on Palantine Hill – Rome Days 5 & 6”

Ostia, Men’s Underwear and There are No Shortcuts – Rome Day 5

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View from the fourth floor of an apartment house in Ostia Antica. Looking down at George standing in the street below. No penthouse living in the olden times. Poor folks lived on the top – no fire escapes, plus hot in summer, cold in winter.


Today was such a gift – we didn’t have to get up and meet anyone at a certain time. The guides have been great, and we have learned much more than when we did it on our own, but it can be a bit rough getting up in the morning.

Today we go to Ostia Antica, which I have wanted to do for at least 15 years. It was located on the mouth of the Tiber River and was both a military protection location (keep sea invaders from coming up the river to Rome) and a commercial port to provide goods to Rome.

Ostica is very well preserved. The harbor of the Tiber River had silted in over the years and gently buried the city in mud. Which preserved it very well, indeed. This working city of 60,000 is all there. Roofs are gone, and the interior goods were looted and/or removed, but you can walk the streets, go through residential neighborhoods and get a real feel for an authentic ancient city. Let the imagination run free and it is easy to feel like an ancient Roman. In the Middle Ages, squatters lived in the shells of the old city, in parts that weren’t yet buried.

Continue reading “Ostia, Men’s Underwear and There are No Shortcuts – Rome Day 5”

I Just Might Pee on a Gladiator – Day 4 in Rome

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Oh.  Oh.  Oh.  This was a magical morning.  We went to the Colosseum and The Forum today.    Ten years ago, we went to the Colosseum by ourselves.  We did not understand at the time that you are only allowed on a couple of levels, unless you are with a guide.  There are different types of guided trips (depending on what you pay).  The most deluxe tour gets you a trip to the underground where the gladiators and wild beasties lived, and also to the topmost tier of the nosebleed section.  We figured out what we had missed the first time, and were determined to see the whole thing this time.

I had booked a small group tour of six people.  Our guide, Michele (Italian for Michael) holds a masters degree in history.  He was simply amazing and could answer every question posed to him.  He took us through the Forum, which was the heart of ancient Rome for  more than a thousand years.  I was in total hog heaven.

I won’t bore you with the historical details, but Oh. Oh. Oh.  I had one of the best days ever.  Okay, I will bore you with one detail.  Rome at its height had over a million people living in it.  After the empire toppled and the Popes were rising in power (we are talking Middle Ages here) the population fell to around 60,000 – possibly as low as 40,000.  Would this not be the weirdest thing?  This giant, amazing city of marble, inhabited by so few. 

Continue reading “I Just Might Pee on a Gladiator – Day 4 in Rome”

I Hear a Ghost, Meet the Bathroom Nazi and Hit a Bucket List Goal – Day 3 in Rome

The Villa Borghese museum. Although it was called a villa, it was never lived in. Cardinal Scipione Borghese commissioned it in 1613 as a showplace for his art. It is considered one of the very earliest art museums in the world.


This was a totally amazing day; the sun was shining with a high of 77 degrees. Perfection! It is crazy what a bit of sun can do for heretofore dampened soul.

I almost royally screwed our day up this morning. My little OCD heart has a penciled list of Calendar of Events; each date listed with ideas, suggestions and commitments. I thought today was our tour of the Colosseum. Oops! It was actually our day to see the museum at the Villa Borghese. It is mandatory to purchase advance tickets, as they are always sold out.

Before we left on this trip, George decided we should schedule events for early in the morning so we could have the rest of the day to whatever we want (loosely translated: he can take a nap). This morning, poor guy was tired and his feet were aching. “Whose idea was it for us to get going so early in the morning?” he demanded, totally forgetting. Of course, I didn’t miss an opportunity to throw him under the bus, and I let him know it was him.  Should have kept my mouth shut, because he soon got even.

Continue reading “I Hear a Ghost, Meet the Bathroom Nazi and Hit a Bucket List Goal – Day 3 in Rome”