Healthy-ish Carrot Cake

Updated: May 24, 2020

Carrot cake is my all time favorite dessert. I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic, but that doesn’t take the place of delicious carrot cake with rich cream cheese frosting. And, don’t even come at me with carrot cake that isn’t loaded with nuts, pineapple, and raisins! Anything less is just not acceptable, in my opinion.

With each kid I’ve had - two with one more on the way - I’ve noticed that there are certain foods that I don’t handle quite as well. One of the main culprits for headaches, moodiness, afternoon exhaustion, and skin irritation has proven to be sugar.

I used to be a purist when it came to desserts. I would always say that I don’t eat dessert often, so when I did, I wanted it to be the real deal. Well, I’ve (sort of) changed my tune about that. Don’t get me wrong, I will eat the real thing, but shortly before this pregnancy, I gave up most dairy, a lot of gluten, and began to limit my sugar intake. I noticed a HUGE difference in how I felt. With pregnancy, though, comes a ton of food aversions, so some of that has gone by the wayside.

As I’ve gotten further along in this pregnancy, my aversions have subsided, which has been a blessing. But, my sugar cravings have NOT gone anywhere. Recently, a friend had some carrot cake questions for me, and ever since, I’ve been unable to get carrot cake off the brain, so I decided to come up with a new version that is a little healthier, and it does not disappoint!

What I love about the “healthy-ness” of this cake:

Dates: I used dates in this recipe, because I’ve been on a bit of a date kick lately. Also, they are full of lots of healthy nutrients like fiber, calcium and iron, as well as other vital minerals, like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. And they have vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, B6, folate.

Coconut sugar: I had never used coconut sugar before, but kept reading about the benefits of it since it is so low on the glycemic index. I was pleasantly surprised at how the cake turned out! It didn’t take away from the sweetness, but I also didn’t get the normal sugar crash I get when eating sweets.

Apple sauce: I subbed apple sauce in for some of the oil and it kept the cake nice and moist!

Whole wheat flour: I typically don’t use all whole wheat flour in baked goods, because it can sometimes cause the final product to be tough, dry and kind of mealy. That was not the case with this cake at all!

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting: I have seen recipes for this floating around for months, but was always too nervous to try it. I finally bit the bullet for this recipe, and I was SO pleasantly surprised! It had a nice, creamy texture and tasted downright delicious.

Some things to note:

I prefer to use the pineapple rings and dice them myself. I find that crushed pineapple creates too much moisture, and the pre-diced pineapple is too big. Dicing yourself gives you the perfectly sized pieces.

Coconut sugar is pretty dark, so this cake will look darker when you pull it out of the oven. Just make sure you take out of the oven right at the 25 to 30-minute mark and you’ll be good to go!

Remove the cakes from their pan about 5-10 minutes after they are finished baking. The cake pans will retain heat and the cakes will continue cooking. Removing them from the pan when they are still pretty warm will help keep them moist.

Do NOT. I repeat. DO NOT refrigerate this cake. I sometimes freeze my cake layers before icing, especially if I do a wedding cake, but once this one is iced, do not refrigerate it. For some reason the icing does not hold up well to refrigeration. It creates a strange skin on the cake, and is just not good.

Happy baking!

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