The reality is, we’re all going to eat cake sometimes. Thank goodness, right? Celebrations are some of the best parts of life and should be savored. But they also (can) entail heavy, super sugary and processed foods packed with food coloring. Think white grocery store cake. Just like our workouts, having a plan and being in front of the inevitable sugary treat can minimize harmful ingredients while still enjoying something special with friends and family.

I’ve been making this recipe for four years now. In fact, the other day I made 97 mini-cupcakes to have on hand for our September celebration month (my family’s three birthdays and four birthday parties). While the ingredients are healthier than many options, there are other reasons why I like it, too:

  1. It’s made all in one bowl.
  2. I always have the ingredients on hand.
  3. It can be made in to mini-cupcakes or a layer cake.
  4. Mini cupcakes can be frozen and used later, either before or after frosting them.

Hyatt Training healthier chocolate cake recipe

Whole-wheat chocolate cake

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (winter white whole grain recommended)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • Butter or spray coconut oil for greasing pans


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray or grease your pan(s). This recipe works great for making two nine inch round layer cakes. I’ve also used flat cookie sheets to make a sheet cake, and our favorite shape is mini-cupcakes made from silicone pans. They make a perfect-sized and satisfying treat without over-doing the sugar. If you are using a traditional cake pan and planning to invert the cakes for layers, cut a parchment paper liner for the bottom of the pan to make removal easy.
  2. Choose a large bowl that all ingredients can fit in and mix together easily. Whisk together all the dry ingredients.
  3. Make a space in the center of the bowl. Add all the wet ingredients. Whisk by hand until everything is well blended.
  4. Add batter to pans of choice, creating equally sized items. Baking times vary by size of your item. 18-20 minutes is general baking time for two nine-inch pans. Leave in oven until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Inspired and adapted from, who adapted it from Williams-Sonoma.

Cream cheese frosting

This frosting tastes great with the chocolate cake. I like it because I never need as much powdered sugar as the recipe calls for. My recommendation is to add 1/2 the sugar and then taste. Add only what you feel like you need.

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons/1 stick of butter, room temperature, cut into several chunks
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Add cream cheese and butter to electric mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix until smooth and well combined, scraping down the sides a few times.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar. Begin testing sweetness after around half of the sugar is added. If is seems okay, go to next step.
  3. Gently mix in the vanilla. Re-test for appropriate sweetness. Add more powdered sugar if desired.

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s cream cheese frosting recipe.

Hyatt family eats are occasional posts devoted to sharing some of the things our family is cooking. We believe in a whole-foods, minimally-processed approach to nutrition that is realistic for a busy family of four. We’d love to hear about what you’re eating too! Email us at