mom’s apple cake, healthified

This is my mom’s old fashioned apple cake. Sans the 2 ¼ cups of sugar. She made it earlier this season and we gobbled it up, oh yes… but no one can feel good about ingesting that much refined sugar. So I decided to do something about it.

In my version, winter squash puree replaces the shortening to keep it moist, sugar is reduced to just 1/3 cup, accompanied by erythritol—a natural (calorie-free) sweetener—and vanilla protein powder, whole wheat flour replaces the white, and an egg yolk is omitted to reduce cholesterol. *check my notes at the bottom for simple vegan substitutions.

It’s basically a balanced meal in itself. Squash = fiber and vitamins; Apples = more fiber and vitamins; Whole wheat flour = whole grains, more fiber; Eggs + milk + protein powder + nuts = PROTEIN! And that’s my excuse for eating a big ol’ slice for dinner ;)  Try it, I dare you.

^Check out that original recipe….. got enough sugar?!

Autumn Apple Cake

  • ½ cup pumpkin or winter squash puree
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup erythritol*
  • 1 t nectresse*
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 egg + 3T egg whites, or 7 T egg whites
  • 1 cup buttermilk (make your own by adding 1T vinegar to a cup measure, and fill the rest with milk)
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup vanilla protein powder – mine is sweetened with stevia
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 4 cups apples, peeled & chopped fine


  • 1 T granulated maple sugar
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t ginger
  • ½ cup walnuts/pistachios/pecans, chopped


  • Erythritol is a natural, calorie-free granulated sweetener. You may replace it with cane sugar or other granulated sweeteners.
  • nectresse is a natural sweetener made from erythritol + monk fruit. 1/4 tsp = sweetness of 1 tsp sugar, so to replace with sugar use 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp
  • To make vegan: use 2 flax eggs (combine 2T flax meal + 6T water), and almond or soy milk for buttermilk
  • No protein powder? use ½ cup more flour, and you may want to increase the sugar/sweetener by 1/3 cup
  • If you’re one who fears a butterless cake, replace half of the squash puree with butter / earth balance (that would be ¼ cup). But I promise, the squash keeps it just as moist!
  • Want an even more appletastic cake? use applesauce in place of squash puree.

Heat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13” baking dish or two 8” round cake pans (I actually used one 8” round pan plus 2 mini-loaf pans… you have many options..) Cream together earth balance, squash puree, brown sugar, erythritol and salt. Add eggs and mix. Add flour, protein powder, soda and spices, alternating with buttermilk and mix until just incorporated. Stir in apples. Spread batter into pan(s), combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over top. Bake for 30-40 min or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool, slice and enjoy.

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