It’s a Picnic, So Let Them Eat Cake!

banana citrus bread -- HOrizontal -- lede

By Grace O

No one lives by bread alone. Every so often you need something delicious, like cake. I truly believe that eating well doesn’t mean sacrificing the foods you love or special treats. With an eye toward healthful ingredients and the right kind of recipes, you can make luscious desserts like cake work for you. Both of my cookbooks contain indulgent recipes that provide important nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins and fiber.

Now that it’s summer, I enjoy taking picnics to the beach or outdoor concert venues like the Hollywood Bowl. When it comes to dessert, you want something that will pack well and not wilt in the heat. That’s where my Banana Citrus Cake from my newest book, The Age Beautifully Cookbook, comes in. The recipe was inspired by my good friend, Ossie Forral, who helps out in the FoodTrients kitchen and is an outstanding baker and cake decorator. She’s famous for her marzipan and the gorgeous cakes she creates for friends and family. I had always enjoyed her Banana Citrus Cake and decided it was a good candidate for ‘FoodTrient-izing.’

I bake it in a loaf pan, but you can also make it in a Bundt pan. I did a few things to make this cake a bit more FoodTrients-worthy; first, I use fresh orange juice instead of concentrate. Instead of white, refined sugar, I use raw or demerara sugar, also known as turbinado sugar, which you can get at Whole Foods, Sprouts and even regular supermarkets. My version also specifies organic, free-range eggs and cranberries (instead of raisins) for an antioxidant boost.

Bananas have lots of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. Orange juice contains vitamin C, which helps protect skin from aging, and walnuts are a good source of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids.  The dark chocolate chips also contain antioxidants. Dark chocolate helps raise HDL (‘good’ cholesterol) and protects LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) against oxidation.

Banana Citrus Cake

banana citrus breadServes 8–12  


2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup raw or demerara sugar
2½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup mashed banana
1 cup fresh orange juice
½ cup melted butter or Smart Balance
2 eggs (organic, free-range, or Omega-3-enriched)
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ cup walnut pieces
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and line it with parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda for 30 seconds.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the bananas, orange juice, butter, and eggs. Pour into the flour mixture and beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.
  4. Fold in the walnuts, cranberries, and chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the batter into a loaf pan and bake for 35–50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
  6. Cool for at least 1 hour, slice, and serve. 

Ai -Anti-inflammatory
– Reduces the inflammation process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and lower the risk of long-term disease.

Ao – Antioxidant – Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.

Another delicious dessert that travels well is my Baobab Butter Squares. I have been eating and cooking with baobab powder for years. It’s made from the fruit of the baobab tree, which is native to arid regions of Africa, Madagascar, India and Australia. It has a knack for survival in extreme conditions and produces highly nutritious fruit that is loaded with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight infection and appears to guard against heart disease as well as protecting the skin from the aging effects of ultraviolet rays. Baobab contains a good amount of fiber, which helps with digestion and gut health. You can buy baobab powder on Amazon.

This recipe for Baobab Butter Squares is similar to lemon bars. The baobab is tart like lemon juice and zest. You can always substitute gluten-free flour for the wheat-based flour.

Baobab Butter Squares

Baobab squares horizontalYields 12 squares  



½ cup butter, softened
1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup Xylitol or white sugar
¼ tsp. salt or salt substitute


2 eggs (organic, free-range, or Omega-3-enriched)
¾ cup Xylitol or white sugar
4 Tbs. baobab powder
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. baking powder


2–4 Tbs. powdered sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Make the crust: In a stand mixer, combine the crust ingredients and mix on low speed until well blended. Spread evenly in an 8×8-inch baking pan. Press down evenly in the center with your fingers, but let the edges rise up along the sides of the pan just a bit, almost like a tart shell.
  3. Bake at 325 degrees for 15–20 minutes or until golden brown on top. The crust won’t be completely done.
  4. Make the filling: In a large glass mixing bowl, whisk the filling ingredients. Don’t whip or overbeat.
  5. Pour the filling over the partially baked crust. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until the filling is set (when you shake the pan, the filling should jiggle and hold, not run like water).
  6. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Garnish with the powdered sugar. Cut into squares and serve.


Ao – Antioxidant – Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.

F– Disease prevention– Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases like cancer and diabetes.

Both these recipes will travel well in a plastic container with the rest of your picnic meal. If you’re enjoying an outdoor summer concert or event, don’t be surprised if you catch people in the next box looking longingly at these delicious desserts!

About Grace O

Grace O has been cooking and baking professionally and recreationally all of her adult life. As a child in Southeast Asia, she learned the culinary arts by her mother’s side in her family’s cooking school. She became so well versed in hospitality and the culinary arts, she eventually took over the cooking school and opened three restaurants. She is widely credited with popularizing shrimp on sugar-cane skewers and being one of the first culinarians to make tapas a global trend. She has cooked for ruling families and royalty. Grace O’s move to America precipitated a career in healthcare, inspired by her father, who was a physician. Twenty years and much hard work later, she operates skilled nursing facilities in California. Grace O strives to create flavorful food using the finest ingredients that ultimately lead to good health. Her recipes, although low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, are high in flavor. Grace employs spices from all over the world to enliven her dishes, creating food that is different and delicious. She believes that food can be just as effective at fighting aging as the most expensive skin creams. And since she’s over 50 herself, she’s living proof of that.
What Do FoodTrients Do?
Ai Anti- inflammatories

Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.

Ao Anti- oxidant

Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.

IB Immunity Boosters

Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.

MB Mind

Improves mood, memory, and focus.

F Disease Prevention

Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.