Leonor’s Healthy Carrot Cake (Gluten-Free)
With the weather starting to change here in Vancouver, BC and Canadian thanksgiving coming up, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect fall recipes! I’m thinking of the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. And no, I’m not sharing a pumpkin pie recipe just yet! (But I’m developing a great one to share with you soon).
Today I want to share with you my ultimate healthy carrot cake recipe! I love carrot cake but when I started looking into making it at home, I was astonished at how much sugar and fat goes into it! I would trick my own mind into believing I was having healthy vegetables and overlooked the processed vegetable oils and sugars.
But it’s so easy to make a healthier version of your favorite carrot cake! This recipe is moist and has 75% less fat than traditional carrot cake. It satisfies your sweet tooth and craving for carrot cake but you can feel good about sharing this with family and friends this Thanksgiving.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 large cup organic dates (200g)
- 4 cups shredded carrots (500g)
- 1 cup organic applesauce (326g)
- ⅓ cup organic coconut oil (70g)
- 2 cups gluten free flour (see notes)
- ¼ almond meal
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon + all spice (see notes)
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cups organic coconut sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla and pinch of salt (optional)
- 16 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 cups dates
- 4 tbsp maple syrup
- Two 9 inch cake pans
- Large mixing bowls
- Food processor
- Parchment paper
- Hand-held mixer or stand mixer with a whip attachment
- Rubber Spatula
- This recipe works well with gluten free and regular flour. For regular flour use 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour. For gluten free option I used Bob’s red mill gluten all purpose flour.
- Feel free to adjust the amount of spices in your carrot cake. I like 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1 tsp of allspice (or combine nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon) but by all means add more! You can also add ginger if you like!
- You can use pecans instead of walnuts. And if you don’t like nuts or are allergic, you can just leave them out.
- Preheat oven to 350° F
- Grease cake pans with coconut oil and parchment paper
- Using a food processor or a hand grater, grate 4-5 carrots to get 4 cups of grated carrots. (No need to pack the carrots. If you do, 3 cups would be enough.)
- In a food processor, blend dates until a sticky paste forms. Add applesauce, vanilla, salt and melted coconut oil and process until well combined
- In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices and set aside
- In a large bowl, beat eggs until double in size and slowly beat in coconut sugar
- Add date mixture to eggs and stir well
- Add dry ingredients and stir until well combined
- Fold in grated carrots and walnuts
- Pour batter evenly between the two pans
- Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
While cakes are baking and cooling, we can start making the frosting.
It was hard to find but I got organic cream cheese at my local store. I really recommend looking for one without modified milk ingredients and other additives.
- In your food processor, blend the dates until a smooth paste forms. Add in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and processor until well combined
- With an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add in date mixture and blend. Adjust texture and sweetness with more maple syrup
- Once the cakes have cooled, frost the first layer of cake and add the second layer on top. Add the rest of the frosting and cover the whole cake
- Serve right away or keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
This recipe is so good, I would never make a traditional carrot cake again. The frosting is sweet from the dates and maple syrup and tart from the cream cheese. It packs serious flavour in a thin layer!
I’ve replaced a lot of the oil in traditional recipes with applesauce to give you that moist texture. You could replace all the oil completely with applesauce but the texture would be a bit more dense. Plus I use coconut oil which is wonderful for your health so don’t feel bad about adding a bit more in there! In most of my cake recipes, I try to substitute the sugar with dates and coconut sugar. I prefer the taste and they are much healthier alternatives.
Dates are nature’s candy. They are sweet and fudgy, and irresistible! Although they are high in sugar and carbohydrate, they are a great alternative to processed white sugar in cooking and offer more nutrients and fiber. And did you know that they have calcium? In just one date (about 24 grams) you get 15.4 mg of calcium!!
In one date you’ll also get:
- 167 mg Potassium
- 14.9 mg Phosphorus
- 13 mg Magnesium
- 2.4 mg Choline
- And trace amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B5, Betaine, Iron, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.¹
And they are low in sodium!
Just like how AlgaeCal Plus is a whole food calcium source that offers a lot more than just calcium, dates are a whole food alternative to sugar. They offer a lot more than traditional processed sugar would!
This carrot cake also has loads of carrots for your daily serving of Vitamin A. And it’s high in fiber and healthy fats from the walnuts and coconut oil! So please give it a try this fall season and let me know how you like it in the comments below 🙂
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- USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, USDA SR-21.
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