Classic Chocolate Zucchini Cake {GF}

I found out the night before my birthday that I must 100% stop eating gluten. This bombshell came in an email from my doctor. For about three years now I’ve been suffering with a host of debilitating symptoms. I had seen doctor after doctor, most of them telling me there was nothing wrong with me or insinuating I was crazy, until I went to see Dr. Cureton.

She quickly diagnosed me with a litany of issues from underactive thyroid to lyme disease (and several other tick borne illnesses) to viruses and gut issues and food sensitivities. She told me I had food sensitivities to gluten, eggs, corn, soy, dairy and nightshade vegetables but didn’t bother restricting me because my body was so f*cked up she didn’t know if I had a true sensitivity or if it was due to the bacteria-less state of my stomach.

It was the humiliating poop test I had to do at home and send to a laboratory that identified antibodies activated by gluten. My doctor said she had never before seen someone have as high of antibodies as I did and I must stop eating gluten. It took me a while to come to terms with the diagnosis and then I stopped eating gluten while not realizing I was still eating gluten. I didn’t realize food had to be labeled gluten-free for it to truly be considered gluten-free. I thought if I didn’t see “wheat” in the ingredients list I was home free. And then sometimes I didn’t think to check the ingredients list for wheat. Like did you know that red licorice has wheat in it? WTF.

So I have been truly gluten-free for a few days now and have been experimenting going no gluten for almost the last month. I am trying to eat mainly whole foods like lean meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, rice and beans, etc. Incredibly, I learned that there are a variety of quality gluten-free products on the market these days. I’ve found bread that when I toast it just seems like a smaller version of normal wheat toast. They sell gluten-free crackers that look like dried out Ritz crackers. You can get gluten-free breaded frozen chicken tenders and fish. Some cereals (Lucky Charms!) are naturally gluten free.

And, of course, there are gluten-free baking products out there that can help you turn your favorite recipes gluten-free. So the other day when Sis suggested we try making our mom’s zucchini cake recipe with gluten-free flour I was all-in.

What I’ve noticed about gluten-free cakes is that they don’t rise as much as the gluten-full variety. They are more dense and seem to take longer to cook. I told Sis it worked out well in this instance because, in my opinion, the cake can turn out too dry at times. This cake turned out moist and delicious, albeit not as tall as it normally does.

For this recipe I used cacao powder instead of cocoa because that’s all Sis had. I would have used cocoa powder if I’d had it. Cacao powder definitely has a different flavor but it also has a bunch of health benefits.

Safflower oil has a high heat point and a mild flavor. It’s also supposed to have health benefits. I used Nutiva shortening because I’d previously bought it for a different gluten-free recipe.

This recipe comes together fast; the most time consuming part is grating the zucchini. If you don’t have to be gluten-free you can try the regular version of the recipe found here.


  • ½ c. safflower oil (sub canola or vegetable, if necessary)
  • ½ c. organic shortening
  • 1-⅓ c. organic sugar
  • 2 organic, cage-free eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ c. organic buttermilk
  • 2-½ c. GF all-purpose flower
  • 4 T. cacao powder + more for the pan
  • ½ tsp. GF baking powder
  • 1 tsp. GF baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 c. peeled, shredded zucchini (pack the cups and try to squeeze out as much water as you can)
  • ½ c. organic chocolate chips (more if it suits your preference)
  • ½ c. chopped walnuts (more or omit if it suits your preference)
  • powered sugar, for garnish


  1. Cream shortening, oil, and sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla and beat well. Combine all dry ingredients. Add buttermilk alternately with flour mixture. Stir in zucchini.
  2. Pour in 9 x 11 pan greased and floured with additional cocoa powder. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts evenly over top of cake.
  3. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until done.
  4. Allow to cool and finish by sprinkling powdered sugar over the top (optional).

Recipe rating: 

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