Beetroot Cake | A Healthy Hospital…


The bag is very heavy, big lush green – red leaves poke their heads out of the bag, there is nothing better than a bag of freshly picked fruit or veg and when they are twice the size of what I would generally achieve in our garden back in England and they are certainly more appetising.  They are a very generous gift from a friend at the hospital and picked from their “Shamba” /allotment close to St Mary’s Hospital.

We have come to St Mary’s Hospital to deliver a retinal camera.  Antony our guest carried it all the way from England (we never actually told him how much it was worth so it wouldn’t stress him out).  St Mary’s is the hospital we send all our eye patients to for treatment such as cataract surgery and they have been a fantastic example of high-quality with minimal means.

After having sorted all the wires and attached them in the right order we only felt the carrier of the camera should be the first to have his retinal images taken, thankfully no surprises at the back of his eyes. Next, the local eye surgeon had a go with great success.

After setting up the retinal camera we were shown the hospitals allotment by the main entrance. Cows were walking around near the entrance and not far the other side are rows of poly tunnels and green spaces filled with growing crops. I couldn’t help think what an example this hospital is. The hospital grows a lot of its own food and it is one of the most beautiful hospital’s I’ve seen. What an example to hospitals the world over: growing their own fruit and veg is not just more economically effective but it means the food served to patients and staff is not processed, highly nutritious and fresh.  Being able to offer the best food for their patients must have an impact on their recovery.  The contrast to the UK is stark. I remember vividly one evening when I was on call: the massive TVs were showing the news that NHS staff were very unhealthy, at the very same time I looked over at the coronary care ward to see a man who had unfortunately just had a massive heart attack, had already had two limbs amputated due to vessel disease, tucking into a plate of deep fried battered fish and chips! We are just upside down. How can a man be in a highly sophisticated unit with experts who have spent years training surrounding him, be served the very food that contributed to him to be in this position in the first place. One day we would love to instil a consistent message of health across the National HEALTH Service that promotes health at all levels. As we left at the gate, instead of a tuck shop the man was selling bananas, water melon and apples! Now thats what I call a hospital!


This retinal camera (the same one we use in our study) is the only one available for literally millions of people in the surrounding counties. We hope this will help the hospital prevent many people becoming blind over the years to come and it may also act as an income generating project for the eye unit providing a high-quality service to those who can afford it and subsidising treatment for those who can’t. We are delighted to be able to support such a good department and thank you to all of you who helped us raise funds for this.


So with all these lovely beetroot I was fully inspired to make this Harry Eastwood beetroot cake…

Recipe – Beetroot Cake


For the sponge
3 medium eggs
180g caster sugar
200g topped, tailed, peeled and finely grated beetroot

1 vanilla pod, scraped out
180g white flour
180g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
284ml buttermilk or yogurt
1 tsp red food colouring (I use a natural one)

For the filling
The original recipe uses Nutella, I used:

150g plain chocolate melted over hot water

150 mls yogurt stirred in

For the snow meringue icing
170g icing sugar
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
white of 1 egg
pinch of salt
1 squirt of vanilla extract


Pre-heat the oven to 160ºc and grease three 18cm loose bottomed sandwich tins. Line the bottoms with baking parchment and grease again.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together for 4 minutes until fluffy. Next beat in the grated beetroot, as well as the vanilla.

Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt, and whisk until well combined.

Finally add the buttermilk/yogurt and red food colouring. Whisk well and make sure everything is well combined.

Divide the mixture ‘evenly’ between three cake tins and place them in the oven for 30 minutes. They probably wont all fit in the middle of the oven, so make sure you rotate their positions in the oven.

When the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven, unmould and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Whilst the cakes are cooling make the snow meringue.

Place all of the ingredients in a big mixing bowl over a pan of boiling water.

stir for exactly two minutes to dissolve the sugar.

When the mixture is warm and the two minutes are up, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk for nine minutes until cool. You really won’t want to do this by hand! It should be fairly rigid in stiff glossy peaks.

When the cakes are cold, spread three tbsp of Chocolate-yogurt ganache between the first and second tiers.

Cover the whole cake with snow meringue icing.

A delicious cholesterol free cake!


St Mary’s Hospital


2 thoughts on “Beetroot Cake | A Healthy Hospital…

  1. Just had to comment on your thoughts on “healthy food” in hospitals. I’ve been appalled at the quality and the unhealthy options available in the hospitals I’ve been in (except for Haslar Hospital in Gosport – ex-military hospital and now closed), visiting various family members over the years – what an inspiration to see what St Mary’s is doing – it’s all so obviously the right thing to do (are your listening Jeremy Hunt).

  2. Pingback: Goat and Ugali Pie | Two long lost friends | 7 to go… | Eye Bake - Kenya

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s