This Best Healthy Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is a fantastically healthy moist carrot cake recipe without lots of extra sugar, fat or white flour! This vegan cake recipe relies on a trusted, natural ingredient to make a lower fat, low-calorie version of the classic carrot cake. This healthy cake has a surprise ingredient!
Is Carrot Cake Healthy?
The average store-bought carrot cake is relatively unhealthy because it’s made with tons of sugar, fat, and white flour.
However, rating the healthiness of a recipe requires a special skill: understanding a spectrum. Imagine a long, horizontal line.
On one end of the line, you’ve got a healthy carrot. 🥕
On the other end of the line, there’s the most decadent cake you’ve ever tasted. 🍰
Creating an easy healthy carrot cake recipe requires determining where on that line your cake will land. You can make a cake so healthy that it’s devoid of any decadence. Or, you can create a cake that’s so decadent that you cannot with good conscience use the word healthy next to it.
I’ve experimented with other healthy cake recipes. Take, for example, my vegan chocolate avocado cake. That is one impressive cake and it’s made healthier thanks to avocados. 🥑
Who knew that avocados could be good in something besides guacamole?
Healthy Carrot Cake with Applesauce
I absolutely love a good carrot cake, but the big question I had was this: could I make a carrot cake recipe healthy? Or at least healthier?
One of the ingredients I used to make this healthy carrot cake a little healthier is applesauce. I love using applesauce in a healthy cake recipe to add extra moisture. Because one way of making a super delicious cake is adding lots of fat…usually in the form of oil.
Using part applesauce and part oil makes this recipe a tad bit healthier than the average cake recipe
No-Sugar Carrot Cake
For this healthy carrot cake recipe, I’m using Swerve instead of sugar. I’ve had a reputation for having a sweet tooth. But there are ways to incorporate sweets in your diet without all the added sugars.
In addition to using Swerve, I also reduce the total sweetness of the cake too. This concept comes from Jane Brody’s “Good Food Book,” where she mentions that most recipes can have the sugar reduced by at least half and still be very good.
It’s not hard to make a delicious carrot cake. I established that in my Vegan Carrot Cake recipe. Here’s how I describe this dessert: “A carrot cake recipe is really just a spice cake in disguise. All you have to do is make a spice cake batter and add shredded carrots. Voila. You’ve got a carrot cake.”
The trick, however, to making a low sugar carrot cake recipe is to reduce the overall sweetness while at the same time using just enough sweetness (combined with the carrots) to create a delicious flavor.
Moist Carrot Cake
We’ve all been there. Eaten a healthy dessert and been left feeling like we just finished off a piece of iced cardboard.
In addition to applesauce, the carrots add a lot of moisture to this healthy carrot cake. That’s important because I’m using whole wheat pastry flour to add more fiber. Any time you add more fiber to a cake, it can easily get heavy.
How to Make Healthy Carrot Cake
Another thing I love about this healthy carrot cake uses a lot of everyday ingredients. Here’s what you’ll see in the recipe ingredients below.
Use these ingredients:
- whole wheat pastry flour
- Swerve (sweetener)
- peanut butter powder
- ground cinnamon
- pumpkin pie spice
- baking soda
- vegetable oil
- unsweetened applesauce
- apple cider vinegar
There you have it. All the ingredients used for this recipe. And to be honest, you could stop there. You don’t even have to make the cream cheese frosting. But, you know, frosting can be the best part of a cake.
Use these steps to make this healthier carrot cake recipe:
Step One: Combine Dry Ingredients
In a mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, Swerve, peanut butter powder, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda. Stir together and set aside.
Step Two: Toast the Walnuts
Toast the walnuts by placing them on a baking sheet and putting that in a preheated oven for 5 minutes. This is an important step as it brings out the full flavors of the walnuts.
Step Three: Combine the Wet Ingredients
In a smaller bowl combine the oil, applesauce, water, vinegar, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
Step Four: Pulse the Carrots
You can grate the carrots by hand, but I prefer to use a food processor. Add chopped carrots and pulse for several seconds until “grated.”.
Step 5: Combine Ingredients
First, add the grated carrots to the oil mixture. Then pour this into the flour mixture to create the carrot cake batter. Stir until combined and then pour batter into prepared cake pans.
Bake the two round cake pans full of batter for 35 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Once the cakes are done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes (set a timer — it helps). After 10 minutes, run a butter knife around the edges of both cakes to separate the cake from the pan. Top each one with a plate and then invert, causing the cake to come from the pan and onto the plate.
Cool the cakes completely before frosting.
Best Carrot Cake Recipe
I think this is the best healthy carrot cake recipe you can find. In fact, I like this recipe so much I made some carrot cake muffins. Cakes? Muffins? Cupcakes? There’s more in common than what separates them.
However with this recipe, the frosting really is a distinguishing factor. Here are the ingredients for my delicious, healthy carrot cake frosting:
- agar agar
- vegan cream cheese
- chia seeds
I know. Cauliflower is a little off-putting as a frosting ingredient. I was a little tentative about it myself. But it really works. When you steam broccoli, it takes on what I would call a benign flavor. That means you can use it in baked goods to add healthiness without too much plant flavor.
Use these expert tips and tricks to make this healthy carrot cake recipe perfect every time:
- If you don’t have peanut butter powder on hand, feel free to substitute an equal amount of almond flour.
- Add some raisins or dried mango bits for added flavor.
- Add more or fewer walnuts based on your preference.
- You could add some crushed pineapple to the cake for added sweetness and moisture.
- I think adding chopped pecans or nuts to the top of the frosting would be a beautiful touch.
- If you want a grain-free carrot cake, substitute almond flour for the whole wheat pastry flour. Your cakes will not have as much rise, but they will still be delicious!
- This vegan vanilla frosting can substitute for the cream cheese frosting.
I love the idea of including pineapples in a carrot cake. Of course, I’m careful to include a minimal amount so the pineapple doesn’t overshadow the carrots.
However you bake it, be sure to serve this healthy vegan carrot cake with a cup of my favorite Green Tea Hot Cocoa. It really hits the spot!
Healthy Carrot Cake
- 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup Swerve*
- ⅓ cup peanut butter powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup walnuts
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 cup cold water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups chopped carrots
- Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup cauliflower florets
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 8 oz container vegan cream cheese
- ½ cup Swerve
- Additional walnuts for garnish
- Heat your oven to 350°F/175°C. Spray two round cake pans with vegetable spray. You can also place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of the pans and spray the sides with vegetable oil.*
- Combine in a large mixing bowl the flour, Swerve, peanut butter powder, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda. Stir to combine. Set aside.
- Place walnuts on a baking pan and toast for 5 minutes. Be careful not to cook too long because they will burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before chopping. Stir walnuts into the flour mixture.
- In a smaller bowl combine the vegetable oil, applesauce, water, vinegar, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- Add the chopped carrots to a food processor and pulse several times to shred the carrots. Pour the shredded carrots into the vegetable oil mixture. Stir to combine. Pour this into the flour mixture. Stir until combined.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto plates. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
- In the meantime make your Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting. Place cauliflower florets in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until tender. Add the hot, tender florets to the bowl of a food processor, and add the vegan cream cheese, Swerve, and chia seeds. Pulse until smooth (chia seeds will still be apparent). Set aside to allow the chia seeds to thicken.
- Ice the top of one of the cakes. Place the second cake on top. Cover the top cake with frosting. Optional: Garnish with chopped walnuts.
- Store this cake in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap or foil in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.