Happy 1st Birthday to The Expat Dietitian!

Chocolate zucchini birthday cake

I love birthdays!!  And it doesn’t even have to be my own!  But now… I do have another birthday to celebrate each year: the birthday of this blog!!!  Can you believe it was one year ago today that I first hit that “Publish” button to bring “The Expat Dietitian” into being?

Friends, looking back on this [fantastic, amazing, sometimes frustrating, mind-boggling, sleep-losing, & ultimately rewarding] year of blogging has brought all sorts of thoughts & remembrances into my mind…

As absolutely terrified as I was to press “Publish” that first time, with the Banana Oat Cookies… I was even more terrified not to, know what I mean?  I’d been wanting this blog for so long that I felt like if I didn’t just do it, I may never, and would that lead to… what??… who knows, but probably a lifetime of procrastination and unmet goals!  Ha, for those of you who know me well, that prospect is unlikely, but it could happen.  So I put myself out there, and I was met by a warm and welcoming community- YOU- who have given me such lovely comments and encouragement that I cannot help but be motivated to continue.  Thanks for that.  It really does mean the world to me.

I’ve compared and compared and compared my blog to just about every other food & fitness blog out there.  (Kidding… maybe only 7 others.)  And it drove me crazy to think that I wasn’t doing enough, wasn’t posting frequently enough, and certainly didn’t have the most trendy content… but if I could only do better, I’d have advertisers out the wazoo, sponsored posts, and so many subscribers that I’d finally have to pay for MailChimp.

But then somewhere along the line I reminded myself that my list of lifetime aspirations doesn’t include making the “Top 10 Most Popular Food Bloggers of 2016” list.  Nor am I earning my living by it… oh joy!!  No, I write this blog for what my tagline says… “to inspire healthy living when home  is across the globe.”  But hopefully I also inspire some healthy living even when home isn’t across the globe!!  Maybe I should change that tagline…

As I browsed through the year’s posts, I found that my favourites and yours are roughly the same… imagine that!

The food…

Cheesy Kale Chips

Cheesy Kale Chips

Pumpkin Overnight Oats

Pumpkin Overnight Oats

Asian Salmon Salad

Asian Salmon Salad

and No-Bake Peanut Butter Oat Squares with Chocolate Glaze No-bake peanut butter oat squares





The workouts:

The Body Weight Workout

Body weight workout

10-20-30-40 Workout

10-20-30-40 Workout

The Ladder Workout

The Ladder Workout






And then, the ones just about my heart…

It’s Not (Always) About Food It's Not Always About Food

Why I Stopped Weighing Myself

and Vancouver Treasures

The view from our apartment's veranda

The view from our apartment’s veranda







Chocolate zucchini birthday cake

So what’s in store next year for The Expat Dietitian? More, I hope! More recipes that you truly want to make, with easy-to-find ingredients so you actually can make them… recipes that will not only taste delicious but also enhance your health.  More workouts that you can actually do using basic equipment you have at home, with simple exercises you can learn easily. More lifestyle posts about subjects long on my heart that stem from my own life experiences but that I think are common to many.  And… maybe an e-book… just for kicks!!  How’s that for aspiration?

Chocolate zucchini cake with coconut frosting

Meanwhile, I totally need to give you the recipe for this birthday cake, because honestly, it’s the best cake I’ve ever made in my life, and I’ve made a lot of cakes… Even better, it’s vegan, gluten free, & refined sugar-free.  So you can have your cake and eat it too!  Here you go, friends, my birthday gift to you.  It’s the Filipino way. Cheers!!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Coconut Frosting

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Coconut Frosting


    For the cake:
  • ½ c. whole wheat pastry flour (or GF flour blend)
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ c. quick oats (use certified gluten-free if necessary)
  • ½ c. raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • ¼ t. salt
  • ½ c. unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ c. honey (use maple syrup for vegan option)
  • ½ c. almond milk
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • 3 T. flax meal + 5 T. water, mixed together
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
    For the Coconut Frosting:
  • 1 small can (270 ml) coconut cream (not milk), chilled at least 6 hours
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1-2 T. vanilla almond milk (if needed)
  • 1 cup coarsely flaked coconut, to garnish


  • To make the cake:
  • Preheat oven to 180 C (350F.) Spray a large loaf tin or 9” springform pan with non-stick cooking spray, and line the bottom with parchment. In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, oats, cacao, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In a medium bowl combine applesauce, honey, almond milk, almond butter, flax/water mixture, and vanilla, and whisk well.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir to combine, making sure all the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips last. The batter will be quite thick at this point. Spread into prepared pan and bake about 35 min for springform, or 40-45 minutes for loaf tin. Test for doneness with a wooden pick. Remove from oven to cool before frosting with Coconut Frosting.
  • To make the frosting:
  • Open the coconut cream carefully and remove the thick cream on top- do not disturb the water on the bottom. Place in a large mixing bowl. Add 3 cups powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat (with electric beaters if you have them) on high speed, or with your whisk, until mixture is thick and fluffy, adding the remaining cup of powdered sugar and/or almond milk if necessary to achieve desired texture. Chill thoroughly before spreading on your cake. Cover with flaked coconut, if desired.
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Chocolate zucchini birthday cake








  1. Sarah Beuerle says

    So proud of you Rebecca! What an amazing year with such yummy food and inspiration….awesome workouts and great recipes!

    • says

      Sarah, thank you so, so much!! Your lovely comments and faithful reading mean everything to me. 🙂 You’ve been there since way before the beginning… that pretty much says it all! xoxox

  2. Amy Kerntke says

    Hi Rebecca!


    I have a cooking dilemma. I can’t find coconut cream. I purchased cream of coconut in the store thinking that it would be the same but when I googled it, I discovered that I was wrong. I had already baked the cake so now I am in a pickle in regards to preparing the icing. I am hoping to take it to a gathering in the morning. What ideas do you have for me? I have some coconut milk in the fridge (along with the cream of coconut) and some sweetened condensed milk.

    I look forward to your reply.

    Much love,
    Aunt A

    P.S. I am and always will be so so proud of you!!!! Plus, we have tried several of your newest recipes recently. (white bean avocado dip, strawberry salad, the salad nut mixture, etc.) All were winners! 🙂

    • says

      Aunt Amy, first of all, thanks for jumping right in and making the cake right away… I think you get the prize for making it first!! 🙂 You won’t regret it, I promise! And thank you AS ALWAYS for your kind words and unfailing encouragement… it really does mean the world to me.

      Now, let’s get to that frosting! Is the coconut milk in the can? If so, it’s possible that there is a small layer of thick cream on top… so remove the lid without shaking the can, scrape off the layer of cream, and cut the powdered sugar in about half. You won’t have as much frosting, but it will still work, just spread it thinner, & pile on the flaked coconut. Alternatively (it won’t be vegan of course,) ditch the coconut milk/cream and make a small recipe of regular buttercream (gasp!) Then cover it with the flaked coconut. 3rd option: if you still have time to go to the store and could find coconut “butter”, you could use about 1/4 cup of that to cream with the powdered sugar (amount in recipe), much like regular buttercream. Thin it out with a little of the regular coconut milk (1-2 T probably). Then it’s still vegan. 🙂 Let me know how it turns out!!

      Love you!

      • Sharka says

        Happy BD to your fantastic blog, Rebecca!
        Such a pleasure to read it!
        Looking forward to your future posts;-))
        Much love,
        P.S. I have a similar recipe for chocolate zucchini cake and honestly – mine doesn’t include the frosting and it’s still really good;-)))) I just cover it with a thin layer of dark chocolate….

        • says

          Ah Sharka… thank you SO much for your kind words and your ongoing encouragement! Means so much to me. 🙂 Ok, next time I’m gonna try the layer of dark chocolate on this cake, sounds heavenly! Love & hugs to you, my friend!! xo

  3. Amy Kerntke says

    WOW! Now THAT is what I call service!! A reply within the hour! Thanks so much for your prompt reply.

    You were correct about the coconut milk. When I got up this morning and opened it, there was a solid layer on top (about 1/3 of the can) that I was able to scrape off. Since I had two cans, I scraped the solid off of both and used the full amount of sugar. It whipped up to a lovely consistency and tasted yummy. I now how it in the fridge, chilling before I frost the cake. (Why do you recommend the chilling?).
    I am headed out the door to my spinning class and plan to frost the cake when I return. I will let you know how it goes. Thanks again for your help!!!

    Hope your Wednesday was wonderful!!!! Xoxo

    • says

      Aunt A, I’m soooo glad it worked and from the pic it looked like a big hit! 🙂 I’m thrilled. I’ve always chilled the frosting first because I think it helps it to set up a bit before spreading it on the cake. But in a cooler climate, it might not be necessary. Have a great day! Love you! xoxo

      • Amy Kerntke says

        The cake was a hands down winner. It even got the big YUM from Uncle Ken who is NOT a cake lover. Thanks for inspiring us to a healthier “sweet” stash!!! Love you!

  4. Mandi says

    Happy Birthday!!! Not only is this a blog worth celebrating, it is also a blog worth salivating about! Absolutely LOVE the posts and the great recipe ideas. Some of them are staple food items in my home! This cake will be our next project, and I already know it is going to become a family favourite. Thank you for being so brave and sharing that first recipe. It has been nothing but a delight and a decadent gift!

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