A Healthy King Cake Recipe For Mardi Gras Doesn’t Exist. Nor Should It.

what is king cake

Bad news: There’s no such thing as a healthy King Cake recipe for Mardi Gras. Vegan King Cake recipes are easy to find, and I even found a blogger who’s mastered a gluten-free King Cake. You can eat your cake and have your dietary restrictions, too, but you just can’t have a cake–or celebrate FAT TUESDAY–with a dessert that’s anything but a totally gluttonous, bad-for-you blend of sugar, fat and food coloring.

What Is King Cake?

If you’re not familiar, King Cake is traditionally made to celebrate Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday), that consists of cinnamon roll dough topped with icing or sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, purple and gold. Some are stuffed with cinnamon, praline, strawberry or cream cheese. Some varieties feature chocolate icing and coconut filling, and various bakers have experimented even further. But a signature of the dessert is a plastic trinket–for Mardi Gras, it’s usually a small, plastic baby Jesus–that’s hidden in the cake, and designates its finder King or Queen for the day (and traditionally, it also designates them the host of next year’s Fat Tuesday party).

Why Can’t King Cake Be Healthy?

We post healthy dessert recipes on Blisstree all the time, and I’m all for enjoying desserts that don’t involve ingredients that make you feel crappy, or even trying to find sweets that are actually good for you, too. But occasionally–in fact, especially when there’s an occasion involved–tradition trumps healthy alternatives, because healthy alternatives just aren’t the same. (And come on, people: What is Fat Tuesday if not a time to indulge in the full-fat, full-sugar, unmoderated version of whatever dessert recipe, drink, or dinner menu you’re serving.)

If you’re adhering to a really strict diet right now, more power to you (but here’s a tip that could save you a lot of agony: don’t click on anything about healthy versions of really unhealthy foods again until you’re ready to loosen up).

But if you’re just trying to balance eating healthy foods with allowing yourself to indulge in moderation, then eat the freaking King Cake already! The whole point of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday is to indulge, and enjoy it, to prepare for a sobering (literally) period of abstinence from things like frosting and cinnamon roll dough.

If it’s not a tradition you grew up with or care about: No pressure. There are most likely plenty that you feel compelled to celebrate at other times of the year, and you  can eat and drink your heart out then, too. But every once in awhile, enjoying a bad-for-you-by-definition tradition like King Cake is–dare I say–a healthy way to let go of your routine and enjoy life outside of raw, agave-sweetened, spirulina-stuffed truffles.

Photo: Shutterstock

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    • Peppercorn

      Couldn’t you at least try to use natural food coloring? Artificial colors would be my biggest concern with this. Turmeric for yellow, blueberry or blackberry for purple, Matcha green tea powder for green?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessica-Weber/1149485644 Jessica Weber

        OMG you missed the point.

      • Peppercorn

        …Just trying to be helpful for people who want to simultaneously enjoy their traditions and not get cancer… changing the color’s not really changing the nutritional content, anyway. :/