Recipe: Pistachio, rose and cardamom cake

Sometimes, a celebration calls for cake; without it, the event wouldn’t feel complete. On these occasions, many people might expect a nutritional therapist to frown at the suggestion of consuming a sweet, icing-encrusted dessert. However, we need to recognise the importance of these events, and that celebrating with family, friends, and colleagues is fundamental to our sense of belonging and community – and a cake is a traditional centrepiece of many of these occasions!


I suggest we continue to celebrate with socially bonding delicacies, while also considering the nourishment we can provide to our loved ones – as much as pleasing their taste buds!

Dress this Middle Eastern-inspired cake with a sophisticated drizzle of pink icing, some chopped pistachios, and dried rose petals. Pistachio nuts are associated with the delightfully rich green colour of the inside of this cake, disguising the presence of spinach (for any vegetable-phobic guests who may be put off by the idea!). As a bonus, this recipe is suitable for vegans, and can easily be made gluten-free. 

Happy celebrating!

A Middle Eastern-inspired celebration cake


  • 60g coconut oil
  • 160g raw unsalted pistachios
  • 300ml almond milk (or your preferred plant-based milk) at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 30g fresh spinach
  • 100g coconut sugar 
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract 
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 180g wholemeal spelt flour or gluten-free flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder (aluminium free)
  • 1/2 tsp natural sea salt

For the topping (optional):

  • 120g golden icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of rose water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tsp beetroot powder
  • 20g raw unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped.
  • 1 tbsp of dried rose petals 


  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (fan 160 C). 
  2. Grease a cake tin with coconut oil.
  3. Pulse the raw pistachios in a food processor until the consistency is similar to flour. 
  4. Add 180ml of almond milk to the food processor, along with the coconut oil, cardamom, spinach, coconut sugar and vanilla extract. Blend until smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix the apple cider vinegar with the remaining almond milk. Set aside. 
  6. Next, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add this to the vinegar mixture, followed by the spinach cake mix from the food processor.
  7. Fold together gently until it forms a smooth batter. 
  8. Pour into the prepared tin and place in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. 
  9. Check it’s cooked by inserting a toothpick into the centre – if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked). Once cooked, set aside to cool. 
  10. While the cake is cooling, mix the icing sugar with the rose water and lemon juice in a small bowl or jug. Drizzle over the cake and top with chopped pistachios and rose petals.

The healthy bit

Understanding how blood sugar levels can influence your energy levels, mood, and sleep is often key to knowing how to make healthier food choices that won’t leave you feeling tired and craving more. Eating protein, healthy fats, and fibre when you consume sugary and carbohydrate-rich food can help to reduce the rush of sugar into your bloodstream, and provide a more gradual release of energy. 

Pistachios are a fantastic source of protein, and combined with spelt flour, they make this cake a high-protein alternative to the usual birthday cake. Pistachio nuts are also naturally cholesterol-free and contain primarily mono-unsaturated fats, similar to olive oil and avocado, which have anti-inflammatory properties. These fats have been found to help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Pistachios are rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, and plant polyphenols, protecting cells from damage. They are also notably high in vitamin B6, supporting efficient energy production. 

Both pistachios and spinach are excellent sources of fibre, an essential element to a healthy diet, and supporting gut health and detoxification – as well as helping you feel fuller for longer. Spinach is also a super nutritious source of antioxidant vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and calcium. 

So, it is possible to provide nourishment and delight for those social occasions that call for a sweet treat centrepiece! Will you be trying it?

This article was published in Happiful Magazine (Issue 84). You can order print copies online, or read the e-magazine for free on the Happiful app.

Looking for more inspiration? Visit our Recipe hub.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Halesworth IP19 & Beccles NR34
Written by Rebecca Leonard, BSc Hons, BA Hons, NTPDip, mBANT, mCNHC
Halesworth IP19 & Beccles NR34

I offer one-to-one nutritional therapy consultations helping people to improve their health and find ways in which they can manage specific health conditions. Some of the health conditions that can be supported with nutrition and lifestyle changes include gut health issues, immune issues, thyroid conditions and hormonal imbalances. 

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