Citrus, Honey Nut Cake with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
September 12, 2013
Jacob Schor ND, FABNO
Some people would say I spend too much time on PubMed, the search engine of the NIH’s National Library of Medicine. I beg to differ, as without PubMed, how would a person be able to decide what to make for dessert?
Below is a recipe for a fruit nut torte adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe in the New York Times. With references:
1 small-to-medium orange:
Place the orange and the lemon in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and cool.
Once upon a time the excitement about citrus fruit was that they contained vitamin C, that anti-scurvy vitamin, but that’s a bit old fashioned. These days the interest in citrus fruit is as much about what is in the peel as the fruit itself. The outer peel, the stuff one might call zest contains d-limonene, a chemical that is being used to treat reflux disease,  cancer, gastritis,  intestinal parasites  and whiten the teeth of smokers. We might add that the peels of these fruits also contain citrus pectin and mention the multiple uses that the product Pectasol is being put to use for. In our practice our main use is to reduce risk of cancer metastasis. Doing so though would trigger a letter from our dear friend Issac Eliaz one of the co-authors of the paper just cited, who would point out that the pectin in Pectaol has been carefully modified by means more complex than boiling. Being the consummate salesperson that he is, he would also ask us to mention the potential this product has in treating cardiovascular disease.
6 ounces raw nuts.
Bake almonds 10 to 15 minutes in a preheated 325 degree oven. Walnuts cook much faster, check them after five minutes. Set aside to cool. When the nuts are cool, pulse them in a food processor until ground.
Once the nuts are toasted turn up the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9-inch springform pan.
Bittman’s recipe calls for almonds and they make a dandy tasting cake. I’ve started using walnuts instead based on the research published lately. Walnut consumption is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women.  The current issue of the Natural Medicine Journal contains a commentary that I co-authored with Dr Mona Morstein  on research that suggests eating walnuts is associated with longer life-span. Other recent studies using data from the PREDIMED nut and olive oil study in Spain, report that nuts reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, and walnuts in particular slow cognitive decline. For cancer patients it is worth noting that, “Walnut consumption protects rats against cisplatin-induced neurotoxicity.”  Whether they do the same for people isn’t known but they probably won’t hurt.
Costco is now selling almond flour made from blanched almonds. I have used this product for this recipe but my preference is to actually toast almonds myself, with their skins on, and then grind them in a food processor. Some researchers suggest that the benefit from nuts comes from the skin.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a decent sized bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together. You want a bowl big enough to mix all of the cake batter together in.
I know some of our readers will look askance to using flour for all sorts of reason, many of them are valid. If you don’t want to use flour, then don’t; add an extra cup of ground nuts and cross your fingers. I’ve thought about substituting cocoa powder for some of the flour but haven’t tried to yet. I’ve been adding ground flax seeds to the flour. Breast and prostate cancer patients should try to add as much flax meal to the flour as they can stand. Pure flax meal, used instead of flour, will make a cake that the patient’s family may not appreciate. Half flour, half flax meal is tolerable. A study from last April tells us that the enterolactones in flaxseed are inversely associated with prostate cancer.  The classic 2009 study told us that men, who ate flax seed between prostate biopsy and surgery, reduced tumor proliferation.  Another interesting study from this year reports that flaxseed interacts with the anti-breast cancer cell Herceptin so as to have a greater effect against breast tumor cells.  flax seed may protect the lungs from damage during radiation therapy, especially for lung cancer. So if you are undergoing radiation therapy, add the flax seeds.
When the citrus is cool, cut the lemon in half, and discard the pulp and seeds. Really do this as the lemon pulp tastes bitter after cooking. Cut the orange in half, and discard any seeds. Put the fruits in the food processor and process almost to a paste.
With the food processor running add in one at a time:
Then slowly, very slowly in a thin stream, pour in
2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
Bittman’s recipe calls for extra virgin olive oil and this is my first choice. Recall the PREDIMED data suggested that just switching from regular olive oil to extra virgin olive oil reduces risk of heart attack and stroke by almost a third in high-risk patients. Olive oil also seems to work synergistically with Herceptin.  As Herceptin is associated with heart damage, perhaps the olive oil will protect the heart.
Breast cancer patients might consider using half flax seed oil. Flax oil has been reported to hinder the growth of triple negative breast cancer. Flax oil also has a desirable impact on HER-2 positive breast tumor cells, so it’s a coin toss over which oil might be better.
At this point you’ve created a citrus tasting mayonnaise. Now to sweeten the cake. Bittman uses 1.5 cups of sugar. Don’t there isn’t anything good for you about sugar.
On the other hand there are no end of good things we might say about honey. Perhaps the most astounding study in the last year was that giving daily rations of honey to type 1 diabetics actually seemed to help control their disease. So while we have our cancer patients avoiding sugar and simple carbohydrates, this study perhaps gives at least a weak rationale to ignore these cautions when it comes to honey, at least in this recipe.
2/3 cup honey
Pour the honey into the running processor in a slow stream, just the way you added the honey.
At this point you might want to add some flavoring agents, for example vanilla, almond flavoring, amaretto or orange liquors.
Empty the glop from the processor into the bowl with the flour and nuts and gently fold the ingredients together. Turn the batter into the pan and bake for about an hour.
Try and let this cool all the way before slicing. Enjoy this cake in good health.
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