Sometimes, only a piece of cake will fill the little empty spot in your tummy. There is nothing wrong with that. But sometimes, that desire for cake marches along side a goal to drop a few pounds. The cake gets in the way of the weight loss and the weight loss ruins the taste of the cake. But there is a way to keep the two opposing desires walking in step.

This is very easy. Choose a box of cake mix. No particular brand is better or worse for this, and no flavor suits it better than another. Boxes of cake mix vary in price from about eighty-nine cents to about a dollar and nine cents. The calorie-per-serving count varies between 170 and 190 for the dry mix alone. This is for twelve servings, so if you can divide the cake into smaller pieces, multiply the calorie count by twelve and then divide it by the number of servings you eventually have.

Next, choose a can of diet soda. This matters a little more than your choice of cake mix. Diet Pepsi is right out because it doesn't work for this. Diet Coke or Coke Zero work well for chocolate cake mixes. Another good choice for chocolate is Diet Cherry or Diet Vanilla Coke, as is Diet Dr Pepper and Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper. Diet Sprite or Diet 7Up are good for yellow cake mixes. Diet Ginger Ale works for spice cakes.

Choices made, repair to your mixer with your box of cake mix and your can, your twelve ounces, of diet soda. Pour the mix and the soda into your mixing bowl, and let the beaters run for two minutes. Find a suitable cake pan and spray it with canola oil cooking spray. Bake the cake at 350 degrees fahrenheit, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Frosting this cake will ruin all of its low-caloric virtues. Regular frosting has 145 calories for two tablespoons, which is a portion that will thinly cover the top of a cupcake. What you can do is find yourself a fat-free or sugar free non-dairy whipped topping, which has between twenty and forty calories for two tablespoons, and frost whatever shape cake you have baked. Wait until the cake is very cool before you frost, or the topping will melt and run off the cake.

This is not a carte blanche to eat the whole thing. A piece of this cake, assuming you prepare according to these instructions and divide the cake into twelve portions, has the same calorie count as a large apple and a cup of grapes, but doesn't have the same fiber profile and certainly doesn't have the recommended daily allowance of anything. But a piece of regular cake has about the same calories as a moderately sized dinner, and again doesn't have the nutrients and has much more fat and sugar than the average person needs.

This cake is a better choice, when cake is what you want. Making better choices makes a healthier life, during which you can enjoy a bit of the real thing now and again.


Editor's note: please don't try this with sodas containing Nutrasweet (aspartame); cooking temperatures break this artificial sweetener down into various substances that might make this treat rather less healthy than you'd hope.