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Mug Cake Monday

I had the best morning putting my love for healthy baking and breakfasts to good use by organizing a wellness event for my fellow medical students! One of the things that really struck me about my medical school (I go to Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine) is their strong emphasis on wellness. This is so key in the medical field, because burnout is such a prevalent issue in both students and providers.

I love that my school encourages students to find balance in our lives and practice wellness in all aspects. We go into medicine because we have an innate desire to help others, but sometimes that can cause us to prioritize the wellbeing of others over ourselves, and neglect our own needs and happiness. Something that we hear a lot is that if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t effectively care for others.

I knew that I wanted to be involved in wellness while in medical school, so I was very excited to join the Wellness Committee (our website is in progress, but I will add a link here once it gets up and running)! I am now the head of Wellness Programming, which makes me so happy because I love planning events, especially centered around wellness! I had the idea months ago to make a healthy breakfast event to encourage students to eat healthily and to provide a great social, community-building opportunity. It took a lot of logistics and planning, but I am thrilled that we finally pulled it off today! Hanging out with friends and loved ones is an important aspect of wellness as well, and can be hard when you spend most of your time studying! So I thought this would be a good way to bring people together and start off the day and week on a positive - and tasty - note!

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I love making mug cakes for breakfast (I have so many recipes - search "mug cake" to find some)! They are so quick and perfect if you are busy or on the go, you can vary the flavor by adding different fillings and toppings, and I came up with a simple, healthy recipe that is vegan and nut-free (as well as a gluten-free option). These qualities make mug cakes a perfect healthy, quick breakfast for medical students! And I love alliteration, so the title of the event is Mug Cake Monday! To provide a variety of flavor choices while also being allergy friendly, we chose to have berries (we got frozen berries and thawed them in the fridge), sunflower seeds, raisins, and allergen-friendly chocolate chips.

Thank you to my committee members for all their help for this event! It was so fun and I couldn't have done it without you!

My Wellness Programming Committee and I came to our student lounge last night to prepare large batches of the basic mug cake batter so that it would be ready to go in the morning! We set this up assembly-line style, with each of us adding a different ingredient, then passing the mixing bowl on. This was a very efficient way to make the batter and we were able to make enough batter for about 60 mug cakes in only 30-40 minutes! When I make individual mug cakes for myself, I often prepare the batter the previous night as well to speed up my morning. I have learned that you can prepare pretty much the whole batter in advance, but it is key to save adding the baking powder until right before baking!


Brief chemistry of baking explanation if you are interested:

(can you tell I majored in chemistry haha)

Baking powder adds volume and makes baked goods fluffy. It is like a ready-to-go baking soda - it is a formulation of an acid and base with a stabilizer keeping it inert until liquid is added! With baking soda, you just have a base, so you use it in recipes with something acidic. However, once you add baking powder to a batter with liquid, it will start to bubble and rise - so if you aren’t baking your batter for multiple hours, it can deflate and then you lose that nice fluffy texture.


Ratios of baking powder don’t always hold exactly if you are trying to scale up a recipe, so it is best if each person adds their own ½ tsp (or spoonful) of baking powder to their mug, rather than adding a large amount of baking powder to the full batter. To make this easier for a large scale group event, we realized that the spoons we were provided for people to mix fillings into their mug cakes are about a teaspoon size, so instead of the hassle of having to share actual measuring spoons among over 40 people, we instructed people to fill their spoon about half full with baking powder, then mix it in. This worked great!

This was a really great large scale wellness event to do, and we also were lucky to receive a generous donation of face mask samples from LUSH for another dose of wellness! I think making mug cakes is so fun and can be very calming too, and this could be great for a birthday party, school event, or something similar! I am including the large scale recipes in case anyone reading this is ever interested in planning their own Mug Cake Monday! Please let me know if you ever do use this idea, because I would be so honored and happy!


Here are the recipes and ratios for both individual, 5, and 10 mug cake batters. If you make the mug cake batter right before eating it, add the baking powder. If you are making the batter in advance as we did, add the baking powder before baking! Enjoy!


For one mug cake:

3 tbsp oat milk

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp vanilla

4 tbsp whole wheat flour

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp baking powder

For 5 mug cakes:

1 cup oat milk

⅓ cup maple syrup

⅓ cup olive oil

2 tbsp vanilla

1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour

2 tbsp cinnamon

*each person should add ½ tsp baking powder to the individual mug cakes

For 10 mug cakes:

2 cups oat milk

⅔ cup maple syrup

⅔ cup olive oil

4 tbsp vanilla

2 ½ cup whole wheat flour

4 tbsp cinnamon

*each person should add ½ tsp baking powder to the individual mug cakes

For one gluten-free mug cake:

2 tbsp oat milk

1 tbsp maple syrup/honey

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp vanilla

5 tbsp gluten-free all-purpose flour

1 tbsp flax meal

1 tsp cinnamon

¾ tsp baking powder

For 5 gluten-free mug cakes:

⅔ cup oat milk

⅓ cup maple syrup

⅓ cup olive oil

2 tbsp vanilla

1 ½ cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

⅓ cup flax meal

2 tbsp cinnamon

*each person should add ¾ tsp baking powder to the individual mug cakes


1. Mix the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. If preparing the batter in advance, do not add baking powder until right before baking!

2. If you are making the gluten-free version, I recommend mixing the dry ingredients first, then folding in the milk, then adding the rest of the liquid and whisk. This makes for the best texture (at least for the flour type I used).

3. Spray a microwave-safe mug with oil, and add ½ cup of batter to the mug (if making a single mug cake, just mix in fillings and add all the batter).

4. Once the baking powder has been added, mix in any fillings you like!

Before and after baking my mug cake! I added berries, chocolate chips, and sunflower seeds!

5. Microwave the mug for 1-2 minutes (we set it for 1.5 minutes). The cake should be completely cooked through the middle, and soft and spongy. Let cool and enjoy!


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