How to Make a (Somewhat) Nutrient-Dense Cake


Parenting picky eaters is no easy task. I have two kinds: an actual picky eater and a picky eater by association (aka because big sister said something is yucky). So I find myself constantly concerned with the quality and variety of food that my kids eat.

Additionally, I am not the greatest cook. I am resourceful though. And I do love a good research project.

Through incessant seeking, I have learned how to pack as many nutrients as I can in the things that my littles do eat joyfully. It is a very simple formula, really.

I basically add chia seeds, hemp seeds, cooked quinoa, almond butter, fruits, and/or veggies wherever I can. This is extremely easy to do with baked goods.

How to Make a (Somewhat) Nutrient-Dense CakeEnter my (somewhat) nutrient-dense cake.

My kids love cake! Who doesn’t?

Through (a lot of) trial and error, I have devised a way to bake a cake that looks and tastes like a “normal” cake but really packs in the nutrients. I then serve it as part of the family’s snacks.

I start with the cake recipe from the box (you did not think this is a made-from-scratch recipe, did ya?).

  • cake mix
  • eggs
  • oil/butter
  • water/milk

Then I add 2-3 of the following ingredients. The quantities in the recipe at the end take the cake’s nutrient content (fiber, protein, iron, potassium, omega-3, antioxidants) to another level without sacrificing the cake’s “cakiness”:

  • bananas
  • chia seeds
  • hemp seeds
  • cooked quinoa
  • almond butter

(Pro tip: This can also be done to recipes for muffins, cupcakes, and pancakes. There is not one baked thing coming out of my oven that does not include at least one of these ingredients).

I add up to about ¼ cup extra of milk to keep the cake from baking too dry or too dense. Adding too much extra liquid, though, results in a cake that does not fully cook at the center. So I add very small amounts at a time as I mix the ingredients until I reach the right consistency.

This is also why I mostly stick to bananas. I have found that most fruits have too much water content. The same goes for spinach, beets, and zucchini. It is possible to use them, but I have a much harder maintaining the cake’s integrity.

And if you are wondering why I utilize almond butter instead of the much more common peanut butter, it is simply because of allergies in our household. I think peanut butter would work just as well. In fact, any nut butter should do the trick. I have successfully used both sunflower seed and cashew butters before.

Feeding my family feels like a monumentally daunting task sometimes. But having simple solutions like this nutrient-dense cake in my toolbox makes it manageable . . . on most days.

Also, for help on feeding picky eaters, check out Jennifer’s blog. She provides a plethora of knowledge and resources in her blog and IG account.

Recipe for a (Somewhat) Nutrient-Dense Cake


  • 1 box cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ cup oil/butter
  • ½ cup milk + ¼ cup
  • 2 ripe bananas (optional)
  • ¼ cup chia seeds (optional)
  • ¼ cup hemp seeds (optional)
  • ⅓ cup cooked quinoa (optional)
  • ¼ cup almond butter (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a baking pan and set aside.
  2. Add the milk to a blender with the optional ingredients of your choice (ideally 2-3).
  3. Blend until the mixture reaches a smooth consistency.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, oil/butter, and milk blend with a mixer on medium speed.
  5. Incorporate the cake mix and continue to mix at medium speed.
  6. Add milk as necessary to attain the perfect cake consistency (not too runny, not too thick).
  7. Pour the batter into the baking pan.
  8. Bake according to the times listed in the cake mix box. The cake is ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool before manipulating.

Originally published January 2022.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of El Paso Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


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