I absolutely love carrot cake… but I’m also very picky about it. I usually don’t order carrot cake when we’re eating at a restaurant because you never know what you’re going to get. Is it going to be dry or have a stringy texture? Is it going to be so filled with nuts and raisins that you don’t even get to enjoy the cake? Is it going to be so packed with sugar and warm spices that you can’t taste the carrots?
Can you believe that I’ve never made carrot cake at home?
This week is #RecipeMakeover, our celebration of better-for-you recipe alternatives. Carrot cake already contains some healthy ingredients, but I thought, how can I make it even better for you?
If I can eat cake without feeling guilty, I’m on board!
I challenged myself to make this recipe without any refined white sugar, but still packed with lots of flavor. This was a lot easier using products from our #RecipeMakeover sponsor Barlean’s.
In the cake itself, I used Barlean’s Digestive Blend, which worked perfectly to replace some of the flour. It also added a very subtle pumpkin flavor. Barlean’s Digestive Blend is an organic mix of ground flaxseed, chai seeds, quinoa, unsweetened shredded coconut, and a propitiatory pumpkin blend. In addition to using it in baked goods, you can also sprinkle it into oatmeal, salads, smoothies, and more.
In the cream cheese icing, I used Barlean’s Butter-Flavored Coconut Oil, which is a non-dairy alternative to butter. I dislike coconut, so I usually don’t like frostings make with coconut oil… but the butter flavor in Barlean’s coconut oil changes the game! It has no coconut flavor at all. I think it tastes like movie popcorn butter.
What I love about this cake is that it has a very strong carrot flavor, with just the right amount of sweetness. The cake is very moist and dense, and the frosting is silky-smooth. I like my carrot cake without raisins, but you could throw a few handfuls in the batter if you like them. I won’t judge you. Too much.
You could also add nuts to the batter itself if you’re a nutty type of person. I just added a layer of chopped pecans to the icing between the layers and a few pinches on top of the cake, but go nuts if you love ’em. See what I did there? “Go nuts”? I’ll be here all week.
Now, this cake isn’t necessarily a health food, but you can have a small slice without completely derailing your diet.
If you want to try out Barlean’s products yourself, you can get them at the links above or you can enter our #RecipeMakeover giveaway, which as $200+ worth of yummy prizes, including both the digestive blend and the coconut oil. Enter here now.
Here’s the printable recipe to try this carrot cake at home.
This is a better-for-you alternative to traditional carrot cake. It uses no refined white sugar in the cake or frosting, and adds a digestive blend in place of some of the flour.
- 2 cups white or whole wheat flour (or use a combination of coconut and almond flour)
- 1/2 cup Barlean's digestive blend (or an additional 1/2 cup flour)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup agave or 1/2 teaspoon liquid stevia
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 ½ cups freshly grated carrots
- 2 8-ounce blocks of cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup coconut oil (I used Barlean's butter-flavored coconut oil for a buttery taste)
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, digestive blend, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
- In another bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla, yogurt, honey, agave/stevia, and milk. Add the melted coconut oil last and whisk quickly to prevent it come cooling into large clumps.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, then fold in the grated carrots.
- Pour into 2 greased 8-inch circular cake pans. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cakes to cook in pans for 10 minutes, then remove to cool completely on racks.
- To make the frosting, beat cream cheese, coconut oil, milk, and honey on highly until well-combined and fluffy.
- Spread icing over the first cake and sprinkle with pecans, reserving a tablespoon or two for the top of the cake. Top with second cake and frost the top and sides. Sprinkle with reserved nuts.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
I use whole milk, bu you can substitute the milk in this recipe with any milk-like product (skim milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc.)
Do not use pre-shredded carrots. The are too dry and thick. Grate the carrots immediately before making this recipe.
While this recipe doesn't use any refined white sugar, it does us honey and agave or stevia. Carrots also naturally contain a lot of sweetness. If you are diabetic, keep in mind that this is still a cake that contains a lot of sugar and you should indulge sparingly.
Want to see what my fellow food bloggers are cooking up for #RecipeMakeover? Here are the other recipes that have been posted today… stay tuned for even more!