Skinny Red Velvet Poke Cake

skinnyredHappy New Year, friends!

As today is the first day of the new year, I am sure most of you have some kind of resolution.  And I’m betting that one of those resolutions is probably to either eat better, lose weight, or both.  Maybe it’s because you’ve fallen off the kale bandwagon and have been eating more cheeseburgers than one would like to admit.  Maybe it’s because you are actually overweight and need to lose the weight in order to solve some underlying health conditions.  Maybe it’s because you’re lazy by nature and want to use this new year as a chance to get your ass in check.  Or maybe you’re like me and you’re somewhat of a combination of all of the above, plus sick of having a closet full of clothes that don’t fit.  Or you really need to visit the doctor for another reason but are too scared to see him until you lose twenty pounds since he tends to mention your weight CONSTANTLY {true story}.

“Uh, doc?  Yeah, my head is falling off.  See?  You can see my neck tendons and junk.”
“Well, Hayley, this wouldn’t have been an issue if you exercised more.”

“Yeahhhh I don’t think the fact that I slacked on exercise begets my decapitation, but thanks for your concern.”

Whatever your reasoning, I fully support you — go, us! — but I hope along the way you keep perspective.  Personally, I think perspective is one of the main things that separates bad from good, harmless from harmful.  But it’s one of those things that has been hard for me to understand, too.

In high school, I thought I was fat.  I wore size 11-13 jeans in juniors & size large in tops.  I’d always had wider hips and larger boobs.  And I ate senselessly, tearing into bags of chips, eating multiple meals a day, and guzzling soda like no one’s business.  I haven’t even told anybody this — it’s not a secret, I just feel gross when I think about it — but my habits were enormously unhealthy, and that completely mirrored the way I felt about myself as well.

I would usually eat something like Pop Tarts for breakfast and guzzle it down with a huge mocha from the school cafe.  For snack I’d eat a bag of Cheetos or Doritos.  For lunch I’d eat a Chicken Caesar Salad and a package of miniature chocolate donuts.  After school (mind you, just a couple hours after lunch) I would ask my grandma to take me through the local drive-thru and I would get a large box of popcorn chicken and fries from KFC or two double cheeseburgers and fries from McDonald’s.  I’d scarf those down, then have dinner — usually something equally unhealthy, like orange chicken, chow mein and fried wontons.  And lastly, I’d have some kind of dessert… usually an ice cream bar or even potato chips.  I repeated this behavior for most of my high school days and continued to pick at myself mercilessly.

I remember my best friend and I would go to a local waterpark practically every day each summer.  My best friend had an impeccable figure — easily a size two, but with gentle curves, tanned skin and lithe limbs.  She was beautiful!  And I was so jealous of her body and the attention it got her.  Here I was: a tall, curvy girl with milky white skin, a slight thigh jiggle and abs that’d been abducted (ha ha) by cheeseburgers.  There was a four-person ride we were particularly fond of, but since we only ever went together, we usually had to recruit strangers to ride with us.  Anytime I would walk up to a pair of boys or girls and ask if they’d ride with us, they’d say no or walk away.  But when she approached them, we always had another pair to ride with us.  Granted, this was around the time I had a HORRIBLE taste in makeup and thought it was cool to wear teal eyeshadow up to my eyebrows, so it probably had nothing to do with my body and more the fact that I looked like an alien than anything else.

And then I dated a beanpole.  No, really — dude made most Paris fashion models look obese.  He was skiiiiiiiiin & bones.  And you can imagine what amazing things that did to my ego!!  I felt like a freakin’ ogre when I was around him, squuuuueeeezing into my skinny jeans, clomping around him oafishly and easily being 50 pounds heavier than he was.  Mind you — that 50 pounds was distributed into my womanly figure just fine .. it gave me a nice ass and my boobs, and yeah, a little padding around the middle.  But because I was aware that he — a boobless, assless, fatless man was 50 pounds lighter — I began interjecting myself into a self-loathing marathon where I would constantly remind myself I was fat by pinching my tummy before I took showers or by reminding myself how gross I was when my denim jeans scraped against my thighs as I tugged them on.  But however much I bothered myself about my weight, I never altered my food choices.  I loved food — that was it.  And if I loved food I obviously could not be skinny.

And theeeeen, after another boyfriend cheated on me with a homeless person (really) I got all sad and confused and stuff and began walking everywhere constantly.  I also began eating a lot healthier after discovering the awesome website, Hungry Girl.  I loved that Lisa, the creator of the website, LOVED food as much as I did.  And not the weird kale-spinach-and-lemon smoothies kinda food, but real 😉 food like chili cheese fries and onion rings and milkshakes.  She just altered her favorite foods to make them healthier — a concept I’d never even thought of.  Using applesauce instead of oil in cakes?  Crazy!  Using ground Fiber 1 cereal as a coating for chicken nuggets?  Genius!  I began adopting her cooking and eating tricks to make my own food choices smarter.  Combined with my walking (and excessive ponderings about why my ex cheated on me with a legit HOMELESS PERSON), I ended up losing 20 pounds that summer… and went from a size 11 to a size 5.  I did not step one foot in a gym, and did nary a crunch or push-up.

That time in my life was good for many reasons.  I learned that if ex boyfriends prefer to be with a psychotic homeless girl rather than you, you should probably let them go.  To never, ever wear teal eye shadow up to my eyebrows.  And that being skinny and food do have links (it’s true) but not as strong of ties as I’d thought.  Really, being skinny & food ultimately came down to perspective.  Perspective that, even if I ate some naughty fast food French fries, it didn’t mean I was “fat” or “bad.”  It meant I was normal, and that McDonald’s makes damn good fries.  I stopped beating myself up for enjoying food and focused on moderating what went into my body instead.  Most days I ate very well — lots of veggies, fruits and whole grains.  But some days I totally splurged — and I didn’t beat myself up for enjoying it, correlate any jiggle to that particular bite of orange chicken, or punish myself for eating it.  Perspective.

Now, I’m no fitness person or nutritionist or spiritual leader, but this worked for me.  I’m so wordy and analytical that having a method where I put things into perspective helped me.  Some people may work better being way controlling about what goes into their body.  Some people may shun all bad foods in order to get to their end goal.  Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  But for me, shutting up that fat talk in my head helped me overcome my chaotic obsession with criticizing myself and made me realize that ultimately, food is food.  It isn’t bad, it isn’t good, it’s just food.  If I couldn’t have a healthy relationship with MYSELF, if I couldn’t respect MYSELF, if I couldn’t appreciate all the jiggle, creases, curves and freckles, then I was the unhealthy one — not the food.

DSC_0102aAnywho, as you guide yourselves into 2014, just remember perspective!  And that cheat days are awesome.  And that anytime pizza is served, even if it’s the day after your cheat day, you MUST eat it because depriving oneself of pizza is basically sacrilegious.  The scary teal-eye shadow wearing alien Hayley said so.

Aaaaaand that cheater desserts RULE.  Like this Skinny Red Velvet Poke Cake!  I love cake, but I don’t love all the calories that comes with a typical slice… especially when it comes to traditionally gooey, sugary poke cakes.  Usually ladled with sweetened condensed milk and topped with whipped cream and tons of candy, it’s not exactly skinny-jean friendly.  But I tweaked a classic recipe and skinnified it.  Hardly any fat, but plenty of flavor!  You won’t believe this flavorful, fluffy red velvet cake is low-fat!!


4.0 from 3 reviews
Skinny Red Velvet Poke Cake
Recipe type: Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
Indulge in a sumptuous, fluffy red velvet poke cake without all the calories! This skinnified recipe has hardly any fat but PLENTY of amazing flavor!
  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 1 can zero-calorie ginger ale soda (or 7-up)
  • 1 container Yoplait Light Red Velvet yogurt
  • 1 tub Cool Whip Free, thawed
  • 4 Reduced-Fat Oreo Cookies, crushed
  • Chocolate sprinkles
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 13x9" baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and the soda -- ONLY these two ingredients! You are NOT using anything else like eggs, oil, or water -- just cake mix and soda. Let the foam subside a bit, then mix with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes or until blended.
  2. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared dish. Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until top is set and sides begin to slightly pull away from the pan. Cool completely.
  3. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, evenly poke holes throughout the entire cake's surface. Distribute the yogurt among the top of the cake, spreading it to fill the holes as best as you can.
  4. Top the cake with the Cool Whip. Then top with the crushed Oreos and chocolate sprinkles, if you'd like. Refrigerate the cake, covered, for at least 8 hours or overnight to let the cake set. Store airtight in the fridge.

DSC_0103ANormally, red velvet doesn’t rock my socks — I’m more of a vanilla girl myself.  But this cake was SO moist, SO fluffy and SO insanely flavorful!  It doesn’t taste like it’s been made with cheater tricks, like using zero-calorie soda in place of the traditional eggs, oil & water, or using fat free yogurt instead of sweetened condensed milk.  No one will be able to tell that this sinful, rich cake is skinny!

Have a fantastical day!!  Stay tuned for some more tasty, skinnified recipes this week!

xo, Hayley



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  1. Oh my gosh..I actually got to taste this and it was amazing. I had a tiny bite because I have been eating so much sugary food lately and the bite was scrumptious! I did not know it was a light recipe!!
    Thanks for the inspiring post..I needed it after falling off my exercise and healthy eating routine over the holidays!

  2. Hayley, thank you sooo much for sharing! I love how you talked about perspective and girrrl you KNOW I love you!

    and you know I agree with you on red velvet, so if you tell me this is pretty good-I’ll believe you!

  3. I am also a huge fan of hungry girl! I use a lot of hers and WW tricks I learned in making real food I love healthier. Cake is something that works really well with little to no fat. I LOVE this recipe, think I may try it, super easy too! YUMMMM!

  4. I loooove this recipe. And I really, really love your perspective!! 🙂

  5. What a great way to make a skinny version of the poke cake! Sharing tomorrow on FB! Now i need to go make one! Happy New Years Hayley!

  6. I think you have a fabulous perspective on this – I’d love to have the same attitude! Working on it 🙂

    You also make fabulous cakes, but I’m sure I told you this already 🙂

  7. Thanks for your thoughts! I think people have a tendency to go overboard with dieting, but then they can’t keep it up. We shouldn’t bet ourselves up when we splurg a little and just try for a little more moderation.

  8. This is perfect! My son has been asking for red velvet cake for his birthday, will definitely try this recipe!

  9. I loved reading this post Hayley! You are spot on with your perspective AND this cake! What a fabulous way to make a cake that you can actually feel good about eating – love it! Pinned!

  10. I love your thoughts, lady! They are my very own, too. I am making this cake so I can have dessert (what’s life without dessert?!) and not feel horrible about it. Genius!

  11. hi Hayley! This is my first time to see your blog and I soo love it! The cake looks delicious that I wanted to try making it too! I just wanted to know what’s the purpose of the soda?

    • thedomesticrebel says:

      Hi Mythe! The purpose of the soda is to bake the cake! Instead of using the regular cake ingredients (eggs, oil, water) you use the diet ginger-ale instead to make it super low-cal! 🙂

  12. Looks great! Can someone tell me how many calories in it? I can’t seem to find that.


  13. Would love to make this for the residents at the assisted living facility where I volunteer but can’t seem to find the suggested yogurt. Do you have a substitute suggestion? What size container or quantity of yogurt is needed. Thank you.

    • thedomesticrebel says:

      Hi Nancy! I bet the residents would LOVE this cake 🙂 the Red Velvet flavored yogurt is by the brand Yoplait, and it’s one of those single-serving sized yogurts, typically about 6 ounces each. If you can’t find the Red Velvet flavor, feel free to substitute with vanilla, cheesecake, or even a chocolate-flavored yogurt in equal amounts (approx. 6 ounces, or one single-serving container). Thanks for writing in, Nancy!

  14. Charlotte from AZ says:

    I too, am a Hungry Girl follower…Got my book today! Yeah!
    I am definitely going to try this cake…sounds so easy and so lite!
    Thanks for sharing and btw…love your blog!

    • thedomesticrebel says:

      Charlotte, I picked up my copy, too! Of the new diet one? Can’t wait to start!

      And thanks so much! Expect to see some skinny, YUMMY desserts coming soon! 😉


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