Make this moist, healthy carrot cake recipe and you’ll never miss the extra sugar, fat or white flour! You’ll see why it’s our favorite. This recipe relies on a trusted, natural ingredient to make a lower fat, low calorie version of a typical carrot cake. And that icing has a super secret surprise ingredient!
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 you have the most decadent cake you’ve ever eaten. 🍰
Creating a 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 conscious 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
One of the tricks 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.
However, we are in the process of reducing the amount of oil we use in our food. That’s one reason using part applesauce and part oil makes this recipe a tad bit healthier than the average cake recipe
No Sugar Healthy Carrot Cake
It’s not hard to make a carrot cake. I established that in my Vegan Carrot Cake post. As I said in that post, “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.”
For this healthy carrot cake recipe, I’m using Swerve instead of sugar. I’m new to the Swerve scene, but I’m enjoying it so far. I’ve always had a reputation for having a sweet tooth. But what I’ve learned after backing off of refined sugars is that I’m actually quite sensitive to the stuff.
It’s another classic case of being drawn to the very thing that hurts you the most.
But once I’ve stayed away from most refined sugars (not including the sugar in semi-sweet chocolate chips…and sriracha!), I find I feel much, much better.
So, Swerve has been a way for me to get a little sweetness in my life without that sickening sweet feeling. However, in addition to using Swerve, I also reduce the total sweetness of the cake too. This concept comes from the Jane Brody “Good Food Book,” where she mentions that most recipes can have the sugar reduced by at least half and still be very good.
I think she’s right.
Moist Carrot Cake
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.
We’ve all been there. Eaten a healthy dessert and been left feeling like we just finished off a piece of iced cardboard.
Refer to my ratio above: I’m going for a balance between delicious and healthy. You’ve got to have a little bit of both and to me, moisture is the key.
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 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.
Carrot Cake Ingredients
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:
- 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!
KISS (keep it simple, silly) Carrot Cake
I love playing around with my recipes and encourage you to do the same. Here are some wayss I’d change this healthy carrot cake recipe:
- Add some raisins or dried mango bits
- Add more or less 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.
I got the idea for including pineapples in a carrot cake (listed above) from this delicious award-winning carrot cake recipe via the Food Network. I’d be sure 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!
You know, we hope you love these Healthy Carrot Cake as much as we do. If you decide to make the recipe, snap a photo and share it with us using #namelymarly on Instagram or SnapChat (I’m @NamelyMarly). We LOVE seeing your photos!
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 350F. 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 - 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 - 5 days.