Aug 02

150 Calorie Chocolate Protein Cake

Kitchen failures are no fun.


Especially when they involve the microwave – an invention that is supposed to make things easier.

I’ve tried to make a good microwave protein cake over and over.  And Over.  And Over.  My attempts failed repeatedly.  God knows how much money I wasted on protein powder.  But I’m stubborn (and obsessed with desserts), so I kept trying.



And, just like Dr. Seuss 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed, I did succeed!  Finally a winner!


My only requirements for this cake were that it must be low sugar, less than 200 calories, and have at least 20g of protein.  The spinach was just the icing on the proverbial cake.  One can’t live on green smoothies alone.



This ever-so-slightly green-tinted treat is light, fluffy, and wonderfully moist (yeah, I said moist).  It’s sweet and chocolate-y.  Not flavorless, dry, and/or oddly flat like some of my other attempts.


Here’s what I learned in my experimentation:

  • It will work with 2T of applesauce or 2T of pumpkin puree
  • It will not work with Xylitol, but Stevia is delicious in it
  • Use high-quality cocoa powder (the Kroger brand is terrible)
  • You may need to add another tablespoon of cocoa powder depending on your protein powder  
  • Make it vegan using a flax egg rather than egg whites… be warned that it won’t be quite as fluffy
  • It can  be made in advance and transported to work for an afternoon delight
  • Yes, the spinach is optional :)




Did I mention it’s under 150 calories and packs 24.5g of protein?  Can I get a gold medal?


Another pleasant discovery was the baking powder I used.  My training plan has me watching my sodium intake, and typical baking powder has a TON of it.  I was lamenting this fact when Sarena located this Hain sodium-free powder!  I ordered it online and was thrilled when it worked just as well as the full-sodium stuff.  (If you aren’t concerned with sodium, the standard stuff work too.)




Microwave Chocolate Protein Cake

  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (2T)
  • 1 C fresh spinach (optional)
  • 1 T cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp no sodium baking powder
  • 1/4 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 C egg white
  • 2 T applesauce (no sugar added, can also use pumpkin puree)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp butter extract (optional)
  • ~10 drops NuNaturals cocoa pure liquid stevia
  • Optional: vanilla protein powder, cherry on top


Place all ingredients in your blender of choice and mix until smooth.  If not adding spinach, there is no need for  a blender to mix.

Transfer to a large, greased (I use PAM) coffee mug and microwave for 3-4 mins (mine took 3:21).

Tip the cake out onto a plate and top as desired.  My cake was topped with a sprinkle of vanilla protein “powdered sugar” and a cherry.  I also really like to use melted cherries (cut into pieces and microwaved for 20 secs).

Makes 1 cake.

Approximate Nutritionals (will vary based on protein powder brand used; this is with Sun Warrior): 148 calories, 3g fat, 219.3mg sodium, 11g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 3g sugar, 24.5g protein.


I was blown away by the positive responses when I posted this on the Chick-fil-a controversy.  The Dean of the  Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business (my graduate alma mater) wrote a great op-ed piece for the New York Times on individual freedom.  I respect his oinion, and hope you will take a second to read his thoughts.  Click here to read.

What is your most memorable kitchen failure?

Have you reached microwave cake perfection?  Do share!



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  1. Danielle

    This looks amazing! I love microwave protein cakes! So easy and yummy!

  2. Laura @ LauraLivesLife

    You totally deserve a cooking gold medal – you had me at 150 calories and 24.5 grams of protein (and microwave)! This I will for sure make and I’ll let you know when I do!

    1. Laura

      Thank you, Laura! :)

  3. Lindsay @ Lindsay's List


  4. Lee

    That’s a great article and summarizes how I feel about the whole thing. What upset me more than anything was reading people’s facebook status updates about the whole thing yesterday. I know that some of my friends have different opinions that I do (I’m probably more liberal than most people I know) but some of the things people were saying were downright ignorant.

    Sorry, not trying to fill the comments with political stuff. The mug cake looks good!

    1. Laura

      I appreciate your political stuff. :)

  5. Alex @ therunwithin

    I love me some spinach, so not optional!

    1. Laura

      Right on!

  6. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean

    yummm i’ve been experimenting with microwave mug things lately too!

  7. Khushboo

    YUM! I feel like I overuse that word on your blog but I just call it as I see it ;)! Thanks for the baking power/sodium tidbit…I wasn’t aware! Biggest kitchen fail: chickpea blondies…yeah straight into the bin it went!

    1. Laura

      Yum can never be overused!!! I live for the yum. :)

  8. Kailey

    This is perfect when I still want a little something sweet after a meal, but don’t want to be hungry in an hour!!

  9. Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers

    Hmmmm… I am intrigued by this. :) I just had a recipe failure this week, but I’m not sure it qualifies as “epic.” My biggest cooking failure was my first attempt at protein powder muffins (still a newly wed and new cook at this time). Awful stuff… just awful.

  10. Alayna @ Thyme Bombe

    Nice job! That does sound really tasty.

    I think my worst kitchen failure was when I tried to make mac and cheese from scratch once and ended up with a pot of burnt cheese glue. We had to go out to dinner that night.

    1. Laura

      I can’t even imagine you having a kitchen fail… :)

  11. Katie @wishandwhimsy

    Yet again, another recipe I’m putting on my “Must Make NOW” list! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Laura

      Awwww… thanks Katie. :)

      Let me know what you think!!

  12. Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen

    I will happily give you a gold medal.

    With a side of spinach. :)

    1. Laura

      Maybe a green medal? ;)

  13. Tessa @ Amazing Asset

    I agree with everyone here and will happily give you a gold medal Laura! Love this idea, as a matter of fact, going to make this later today :)

    1. Laura

      You have to tell me how it was!!! :)

  14. Allie

    I did not know that about baking powder! Good info to have–And no wonder I love baking powder, haha. I haven’t mastered the microwave cake, but I loooove my microwave “bread”–although I feel bad “claiming” a recipe that only has four ingredients (http://forgottenbeast.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/breakfast-for-one/)

    1. Laura

      Annnnnd… bookmarked to try! Genius idea.

    2. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

      I’m totally trying that with quinoa flour! Thanks for the link girlie! :)

  15. Living, Learning, Eating

    I’ve made some great microwave protein cakes with veggies (my fave: http://living-learning-eating.blogspot.com/2012/01/wiaw-22.html) but whenever I try to translate them to the oven (my microwave broke) they taste disgusting and don’t turn out well at all! GAH. And I don’t do eggs, but flax just doesn’t give me the fluffy I want…I wish there were a great egg-less alternative!

    1. Laura

      Thanks for sharing. That muffin look tasty – and I love the veggies!

      Have you ever tried the energ replacer? I haven’t but see it a lot.

  16. Brittany

    My microwave muffins (come to think of it, ALL of my food actually…) looks like it got ran over. You make yours so pretty. I am definitely trying this. :)

    1. Laura

      Soooo many of my attempts looked like that!

  17. karina

    this sounds so good! I know it kind of defeats the purpose a little bit but do you think I could replace the 2 TBSp protein powder with 2 more TBSP of cocoa powder?

    1. Laura

      I don’t see why not. 2T of cocoa may be a bit strong though. I’d go 1T cocoa and 1 T of some other flour-y substance… maybe coconut flour? Let me know how it works!

  18. Balancing Sylvia

    You get bonus pts for attempting to make it look pretty :) I can’t wait to show this recipe to my roomie who is just starting to train for a figure competition.

    My biggest kitchen fail was also my first attempt at baking. I was 14 and decided to make banana bread. I thought olive oil could be swapped with reg canola (we were out). I also somehow managed to bake my spoon into the loaf. This wasn’t discover until I cleaned up shop though. :). I learned a lot though!

    1. Laura

      Thanks Sylvia!

      OMG – that story. Did you eat the bread?

      1. Sylvia

        Hah! I tried and it was a valiant attempt. The bread tasted terrible though and ended up in the trash :) I actually haven’t tried banana bread again since although I’m sure I could more than handle it now.

        1. Laura

          Awwww… you have a great story though!

  19. Heather @ Better With Veggies

    I wonder if adding some ACV to the vegan version of this would make it a little more fluffy? I’m not a master baker, but I’ve noticed a trend when I’ve used that in my baking. Just a thought (that might be 100% wrong!).

    I think my most memorable failure was my smore donuts, which I was so confident would be a success. I haven’t had a chance to recreate and fix them, but I will!

    1. Laura

      I have heard that… it would be a fun experiment!

      I wanted those doughnuts to succeed too. ;)

  20. Jenny (VintageSugarcube)

    Girll… I soo admire all the fun, healthy recipes you come up with. Loving all your instagram photos too! You would be great hosting a cooking show. Seriously!!

    1. Laura

      LOL! From your lips…


  21. Jody - Fit at 54

    OMG!!!! So gonna try with a few tweaks per your instructions! :-) What is the vanilla protein “powdered sugar”?

    I agree with you on your Chick-fil-a comment.. plus if you eat there, the money will go to cause they support which means you know what.. yes, they have the right but this wave on hating going on in this country right now is not good…. THX for sharing!

    1. Laura

      Awesome – let me know what you do! :)

      The “powdered sugar” is just vanilla protein powder sifted over the cake. I was feeling fancy. LOL!

      thank you, Jody. :)

  22. Jed Gray (sportsglutton)

    Cooking with a microwave is a sin…period.

    On a serious note: I was thinking about you during my run today and figured if there was one person to ask what I should be eating afterwards it is you. What kind of “regular” stuff should I be eating after a 4-5 mile run?

    1. Laura

      You need to replenish – carbs and protein! A recovery protein shake, and a piece of whole wheat bread with some tuna or chicken are good choices. Try to limit the gluttony. ;)

  23. Choc Chip Uru

    Yay for success my friend, this looks do delicious!!! Microwave, healthy and chocolate? Rocking my socks!

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. Laura

      Now to stuff it in a banana like you did with you chocolate cake… ;)

  24. Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi)

    I haven’t done this yet. I bet I would love it! Can’t wait to try it out.

  25. Carol @ Lucky Zucca

    You persevere better than anyone I know!! This is quite interesting… I may have to try it! Except I don’t really like chocolate cake… so maybe not haha

    1. Laura

      How do you not like chocolate cake?! LOL!

      Maybe a vanilla version is in order…. I’ll get on that.

  26. Kris

    I love that you quoted Seuss, I love that you used spinach, I love that you are stubborn (I call myself persistent!) ;) and have kept on until you get it. I will be trying this one, spinach and all.

    I am playing catch up – just saw your thoughts on the chicken. completely agreed (I don’t eat chicken, but you know. those fries. I’d stop eating those). plus, I have several Eat More Kale shirts, and they are trying to say that guy stole their slogan, so I had issues with them before this ;)

    1. Laura

      Thanks Kris! I’m all about eating more kale, too. :)

  27. Alysha @Shesontherun

    I would definitely try this – I need to get some liquid stevia though!

    1. Laura

      You could sub in any sweetener you have on hand – I’m just not allowed much sugar on the training plan. :)

  28. janet @ the taste space

    Oooh.. awesome! I hate experimenting with expensive ingredients but looks like you have been gobbling down the protein with mostly great success. :-)

  29. Bonnie

    YUM YUM YUM! Pinned and making either tonight or as a pre-workout snack tomorrow morning! THANK YOU!

    1. Laura

      Sweet1 Let me know what you think. :)

  30. Ashley @ Freckles & Spice

    Gold Medal for best microwave protein muffin presentation for sure! It is the prettiest one I have even seen. And I know it tastes just as good.
    I also enjoy your precision on the microwave timing. I’ve had a lot of protein muffin fails too, can’t wait to try this.

    1. Laura

      Awwwww… even with it’s green tint? LOL!

  31. Baker Street

    150 calories?! You’re kidding right?! I could eat this everyday! Lol.

    1. Laura

      It’s a healthy #muffinmonday! ;)

  32. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen)

    Yay! I’m so proud of you for being persistent! I can’t get enough of my quickie protein muffins! Best night time treat ever! I have failures in the kitchen weekly…I eat them and move on. I can’t remember the last horrifying failure other than the forever dreaded “bug muffins”. They were a buckwheat muffin that Tony and the boys said tasted like ground up bugs. Yeah, they were that gross!

    As for the article, I loved how he put everything into perspective. I got a little irritated on “chick-fil-a appreciation day”. It made me realize the ignorance out there and really, it’s not a freedom of religion or freedom of speech topic, so no to all those out there that ate their chicken sandwiches that day, you are not supporting any kind of freedom by eating there…you are actually adding to the problem of less freedom for others. UGH. Ok, I vented. Thank you.

    1. Laura

      Thank you so much Sarena! :) I can only imagine those bug muffins… at least it entertained the boys!

      You are so right… I wish more people could see the point. But that article was ALL over FB, so hopefully some were better able to understand.

  33. Calee (@chimes)

    Can I kiss you? Because I happen to have all these ingredients on hand (there’s nothing “weird” aka that I can’t purchase at an Iowa grocery store) and this is gluten free!

    1. Laura

      Calee, you’re going to have to ask Heather’s permission. LOL! Let me know what you think!!!

      1. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

        Back up off my woman Calee! I saw her first! ;)

  34. Kammie @ Sensual Appeal

    Woooo this is awesome, finally a protein microwave cake that is low calorie! I’m totally gonna be making this… maybe even today? <3 thank you!

  35. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

    Oh my gosh, I’ve GOT to order some of that baking powder! Tracking/limiting my sodium intake is something I’ve been doing for years now…and it helps motivate me to make my own creations instead of trying to lean on processed foods when I’m feeling lazy! ;) I almost ALWAYS choose baking powder over soda in my recipes because the sodium content is MUCH lower, but to have none at all? Hell yeah!

    I have had SUCH a hard time with microwave muffins. I’ve never tried to create one of my own, but I’ve made a few from other bloggers…the only one that ever amounted to anything was one of Smoothie Girl Deb’s, but I still needed a little “sauce” of some kind since it was a bit dry. I swear the microwave sucks the moisture out of everything. For that reason, I canNOT eat microwaved scrambled eggs…I don’t care HOW short on time I am, they are going in a skillet! Can’t wait to try this…and my jaw totally dropped when I read that it’s under 150 cals AND has that much protein! #winning

    1. Laura

      This is the first recipe I’ve used it in, but I really liked it! Once I started tracking sodium, I was amazed at how much in packaged foods.

      That was my problem with a lot of the test batches. Especially the one where I forgot the milk. LOL! Just do’nt nuke this one too long ad I think you’ll be pleased. :)

      1. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

        Omg, I bet THAT one was um…interesting? Was it even edible?

        And yeah, I felt the SAME way when I started looking at labels…I always opt for the no-salt added canned goods when I can and if I buy canned beans, I only get Kroger’s organic ones (they have like 1/3 of the sodium of regular), but still some things sneak up on me some times…even some protein powders would surprise you!

        1. Laura

          I ate it… I didn’t want to waste… it wasn’t fun though.

          YES on the sodium in protein powders. The egg and soy protein I was sent ot sample have >400mg! I need to just give them away. :(

          1. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

            Holy crap! I have noticed a lot of egg protein powders have high sodium, but that’s RIDIC!!

            …at least they were free, right? ;)

  36. Brittany @ Delights and Delectables

    Yumm!!! I have been making protein muffins a lot lately too! :)

  37. Hannah

    This makes me miss having a kitchen.

  38. Meg

    I’m seriously so impressed, sweetie! great recipe!

  39. Hannah R.

    Yum I just made this for dessert tonight and smothered it with peanut flour sauce. It is absolutely delicious. Thanks for working so hard on this one;]

    1. Laura

      That’s awesome! I’m so glad you liked it, and thank you for letting me know. :)

  40. Ana

    Just discovered your blog and am really enjoying it! I will try it today as it looks awesome and I never find protein cakes I like.
    I have a question though, why it didn’t work with xylitol?

    1. Laura

      Hey1 Thanks for stopping by. :) I have no idea why xylitol didn’t work… I love it in baked goods. Worked like a charm in amy granola cookies.

      1. Ana

        Ha, that is funny!! Well, the chocolate protein is already sweetened with stevia, and since I find the powder to be too sweet I am sure I won’t need to add any extra sweetener to the cake anyways. I will try and let you know how this turns out! It looks and sounds delicious!!

  41. jeff

    I tried out this recipe, Laura. I did not include spinach (no blender), and I used 1% milk instead of the almond milk. The cake was actually pretty good, BUT it boiled over during the cooking process so, about 3/4′s of it ended up on the bottom of the microwave instead of in the cup. Do you have any suggestions? Lower power? Higher minutes on defrost?

    1. Laura

      I’m not sure… nuking it on lower power seems like a good solution. I use a big mug for mine. :)

      Let me know if the power thing works!

  42. Adam

    Thx for the recipe its tastes much better then the dry protein cakes i used to make

  43. Kat

    Do you know how many grams of protein powder? I use growing naturals, but I think my scooper is much larger than 2T….or would I use a full scoop of that one?

    1. Laura

      Yes, theirs is a larger scoop. I’d do 2 T or about 20 grams. Let me know how you like it! :)

  44. Anna

    I just tried your mug cake for the first time and it was fabulous! I specifically wanted one for a mid morning snack at work, so I’m glad you mentioned it could be made in advance. I used Garden of Life chocolate protein powder, dark cocoa powder and cut the baking powder in half for high altitude. It turned out great! I’m happy to have a new snack.

    1. Laura

      Thank you so much for trying it, and for the feedback! I’ll remember the altitude tip with I do visit my CO friends. :) Have a great week!

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