Healthy Lime and Olive Oil Cake

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I feel like I probably ate an entire cow over the holiday season. Not to mention a whole pig, most of a goat and much of a plump turkey. Forget about the potatoes, pastas, cheeses, phyllo-wrapped pies and syrup-drenched Greek confections I also consumed. Believe me, I’ve got the spare tire and double-chin to prove it.

But I’ve started this first week of the new year off well: eating lots of green salads, cabbage salads, roasted vegetables and no-meat dishes like gemista. I’m determined to lose some weight this month. You see, I’m two-and-a-half years into my thirties and I’m starting to notice a sizeable difference in my metabolism … it is definitely not as fast as it used to be. Never a dieter, I always ate freely (yet consciously) and never experienced any fluctuation in my weight. Not the case now! I currently weigh what I weighed at 4 months pregnant during both of my pregnancies. And it’s not just about what I look like but what I feel: tired and achy with much less energy to do everything I am used to doing in our household. It’s not pretty.

So I am implementing some changes in our everyday dishes and my everyday habits. Although we’ve always eaten lots of vegetables, we’re going to be eating even MORE. Although there is always fresh fruit in the house, I will actually start eating some instead of just giving the kids their daily servings and never consuming a portion myself. And although I’ve always cooked relatively healthy dishes in the past, I will be even more diligent about limiting my pasta/potato/bread intake and avoiding sauces that may seem innocent but are actually full of fat.

One thing that isn’t so easy for me to do is go cold turkey on the sweets: I have to have something sweet around (I can’t cut a little dessert out completely … just like that!). So, yesterday I came up with this low-fat cake to snack on with my mid-afternoon coffee.  There were some egg whites hanging out in the back of the fridge the other day (leftover from a cake I’d made a week prior) and some limes that were on their last leg, so I did a quick search on Epicurious and found a recipe for a low-fat cake in which I could use both. I made some health-conscious changes to the original recipe making it, in my humble opinion, even less fattening: I substituted the vegetable oil and butter in the original recipe with olive oil; cut the sugar used by 1/4 cup; and reduced the milk used to 1/3 cup by increasing the amount of fresh lime juice instead.

I’m extremely happy with the outcome of this simple cake. Its crumb was perfect: moist, slightly sweet, citrusy and a bit tangy. And the kids loved it too. Oh, and don’t be afraid to use olive oil in your baking–trust me, there was nothing oily or greasy about this Lime and Olive Oil Cake. In fact, it was one of the most delicate cakes I’ve made in a long time.

Healthy Lime and Olive Oil Cake
Adapted from a recipe on

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 5 to 6 small limes)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk

Powdered sugar and whole cranberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with shortening or margarine and set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine. Place the olive oil and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until light in color. Begin adding the egg whites, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lime juice and vanilla extract. Begin adding the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with flour, and beat until well combined. Pour the batter into the loaf pan.

Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer pan to rack. Cool cake in pan on rack for about 20 minutes then turn cake out onto rack and cool completely. Garnish with powdered sugar and whole cranberries and serve.

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16 Responses to “Healthy Lime and Olive Oil Cake”

  1. Ivy says:

    Happy New Year Maria. The cake sounds wonderful and light. I’ve never made a cake using only egg whites but I do love olive oil cakes and haven’t made one for a while. I am still preparing myself psychologically to start a diet soon :)

  2. Peter says:

    We still need dessert, and some of the other small indulgences in the world. We’ll be perfect tomorrow.

    In the meantime, put the coffee on and pass some cake around!

  3. Rosa says:

    Very healthy indeed! It looks delightful too.



  4. theoni says:

    Yeah! Exactly what Peter said Maria. I can smell that coffee brewing and the citrus aroma of your cake!

  5. Stamatia says:

    Sounds like a healthier coffee companion than the loukoumia I just had! The only think I haven’t got is some limes, which is easily rectified. Saving this one for later!

  6. Joan Nova says:

    Cake looks great and good for you for making it lighter!

    Happy new year!

  7. Happy New year Maria! And what a great start..this looks divine and I love how you made it even healthier…bravo! I want to make this! Thank you and good luck with the healthier eating!

  8. I love the looks of that cake; it looks so delicate and light! I like the citrus flavor a lot. The only thing I might do to it is switch to a different sweetener, maybe molasses or honey. Otherwise it is a perfect cake to start the year with. Cheers!

  9. Wow, can’t believe you made a cake look this good, and it’s healthy. You’d never know it. Plus, it looks super moist. Wonder if this can be made vegan…Hmmmmm.

  10. Mmmmm I love olive oil cakes and lime – I will have to try this one out for sure. Good work on your new healthy diet.

  11. deeba says:

    Happy New Year…and thanks for the wonderful beginning to 2011. I love the sound of the cake, and have bookmarked to try it soon! It’s gorgeous!

  12. Love the photos! This sounds so delicious :-)

  13. Olena says:

    It looks delightful! We’re big citrus lovers, and this cake sounds like a must-bake.

  14. Olena says:

    Hi Maria,

    I just baked this cake. It turned out very pretty but, unfortunately, heavy as a brick inside. What’s the secret? The only thing I can think of blaming is tetra-pak egg whites.

  15. admin says:

    Heavy as a brick? Really? I’m sorry it turned out that way but it was light as air when I’d baked it a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps it was the egg whites … the only other thing I can think of is, perhaps, the flour since I use unbleached flour. But I use it in all recipes and it has never made a difference before. I don’t know what else it could be!

  16. Ruby says:

    Looks lovely and light – refreshing after the over-indulgences of the holidays! I love using olive oil in sweet dishes – this actually kind of reminds me of a ‘pompe a l’huile’ from Provence, but that is breadier. I’m bookmarking this!

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