Chocolate Cupcakes with Beets and Kale + Sugar Savvy Resources

Chocolate Cupcakes with Beets and Kale + Sugar Savvy Resources

Chocolate Cupcakes with Beets and Kale + Sugar Savvy Resources

To end our 28-Day Sugar Savvy Challenge on a delicious note, my daughter and I made a video demonstrating how to make vegan, gluten-free, chocolate cupcakes. They are sweetened with coconut sugar and include beets and kale, which are definitely unexpected ingredients in a dessert. This adaptation of a Yum Universe recipe has become a go-to treat in our house, and I’m really glad that Sophia had a snow day so could make them with me.

You’ll find the recipe below. But, first here’s how the challenge went down. Every day for 28 days, Leslie, our creative director and nutrition enthusiast, posted a check in and some resources on our closed nutrition group just for military spouses. As you might expect, there was more enthusiasm for the challenge toward the beginning when everybody was ready for a change after eating lots of sweets over the holidays. But, our main goal for the challenge was to help our community truly become Sugar Savvy by learning all of the names of sugar, paying attention to labels, fighting cravings, and becoming educated on what sugar does to the body.

Here are the resources we created or referenced during the challenge:

Sneaky Sugar Names

Sweet comparisons: How much sugar is in that drink?

21 Day Sugar Detox Recipe Roundup

10 Reasons to Quit Sugar: An Infographic

Eight Ways to Fight Sugar Cravings

Revised Food Labels Still Won’t Tell the Whole Story

Added Sugars Add to Your Risk of Dying from Heart Disease

9 Shocking Facts You Need to Know About Sugar

Conserve Your Willpower: It Runs Out

Sugar-Free, Homemade Marinara Sauce and Ketchup

Is All Sugar “Bad”?

Fluffy Cinnamon Plantain Pancakes

Teach Every Child About Food

Sugar and Your Immune System

12 Deceptive Words Food Manufacturers are Using to Trick You

How Sugar Affects Gut Health

Three Sugar-Free Homemade Salad Dressings

The 1950s Sugar Diet Was Ridiculous

100 Days of Real Food: No Refined Sweeteners

From Detox to Elimination Diets, Skipping Sugar May Be the Best Bet

Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

From Campfire to Haute Cuisine: How Food and Flavor Drove Human Evolution

Sugar Free, Homemade, Quick & Easy Lettuce Boats

Lowfat Milk May Not Be As Healthy As We Thought, Says Harvard Expert

21 DSD Banola Recipe

My nutrition challenge is over…now what?

And now for the cupcakes! Using alternative sweeteners like coconut sugar, honey, and maple syrup doesn’t offer a free pass to just eat all the treats you want. So, as a challenge to myself, for the 28-Day Sugar Savvy Challenge, I avoided all added sweeteners and just stuck to fresh fruit. Making these cupcakes at the end was a big treat! So why would anybody want to add ingredients like beets and kale to cupcakes? The answer to that is easy for me. I want to choose foods that offer me some kind of nutritional benefit in addition to pleasure. Beets may help lower blood pressure and boost stamina, and they contain anti-cancer properties. Kale contains protein, folate, omega-3, and an outstanding amount of vitamin K which helps regulate inflammation.

Hats off to Heather Crosby at Yum Universe for coming up with the original vegan, gluten-free Cocoa Kale & Beet Cupcakes with Vanilla Coconut Cream Frosting. She’s a genius! Be sure to head over there for lots of beautiful photos of the process and some additional baking tips. I adapted the recipe some, so rather than listing out all of my changes, I’m sharing my own take on this recipe.

I was intimidated to make this recipe at first, so if you are too, my daughter and I recorded the making of these cupcakes so you can follow along with some guidance if you need a confidence boost. 

 Chocolate Cupcakes with Beets and Kale

adapted from Yum Universe

makes one dozen



  • coconut fat from 1 can of full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight or 1 can coconut cream, refrigerated for 30 minutes

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • your choice of sprinkles - try unsweetened shredded coconut, a little cocoa powder, cinnamon, or toasted nuts


  • 1 cup steamed diced beets

  • 2-3 large leaves kale, stems removed and very finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds

  • 1/2 cup warm water

  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

  • 3/4 cup almond meal

  • 1 cup sweet sorghum flour, or oat flour

  • 1 cup coconut sugar

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt


  1. Refrigerate coconut milk overnight, or if using coconut cream, place in the refrigerator when starting to prepare the cupcakes.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  3. Line 12 cupcake tins with liners. Place your scoop nearby so you’re ready to get the batter into the tins very quickly after folding the wet and dry ingredients together. Speed is the key to fluffy cupcakes!

  4. Wash, peel (optional), and dice the beets. Steam until soft, about 30 minutes.

  5. Place chia seeds, warm water, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and lemon juice into the jar of a blender and set aside. The chia seeds need time to soak.

  6. Rinse kale and slice away the thick stem in the middle of each leaf. Chop the leaves finely until they resemble dried parsley.

  7. Add cooked beets to the blender with the chia mixture and blend on low until completely mixed.

  8. In a medium bowl, sift together the almond meal, flour (sweet sorghum or oat), coconut sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and sea salt. You’ll have bits of almond skins left behind. Just dump those into the sifted mixture.

  9. Stir together the flour mixture and the kale together. Quickly but gently, fold in the beet mixture.

  10. Immediately scoop the batter into the cupcake liners, leaving a little room at the top.

  11. Place in the oven and bake for at least 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t open the oven door during baking.

  12. Remove from the oven and cool in the tins for 10 minutes. Then, transfer to a cooling rack.

  13. In a medium bowl stir together the coconut milk or coconut cream with the vanilla. Place back into the refrigerator until ready to frost.

  14. Use an offset spatula or a butter knife to thickly swirl the frosting onto the cupcakes. It’s rich so you don’t need a super generous amount.

  15. Decorate with the sprinkles of your choice.

  16. Store in the refrigerator.

Have you ever tried to reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet? How did it go?