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5 Healthified Carrot Cake Recipes

By Sara McGlothlin

When Easter rolls around, it typically signals spring has sprung, which means whether you celebrate the holiday or not, ‘tis the season for carrot cake! I’m planning to make the below gluten-free vegan version for a family gathering, but I have included four other variations to enjoy in different shapes and forms. Not only can you feel good that you are incorporating a vegetable into your sweet treat, but carrots lend a natural sweetness that heightens the flavor of these desserts. 

Gluten-Free Vegan Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

When it comes to gluten-free vegan baking, I love to play around with different flour combinations. The below uses an almond flour blend. I have used brown rice flour and chickpea flour in the past, but I imagine any gluten-free flour with a similar consistency would work (not so much oat flour as it is thicker and more absorbent). When iced in the vegan cream cheese frosting, this cake tastes indulgent but is much more nutritious than the traditional recipe.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting {Gluten-free, Vegan}

A gluten-free and vegan version of the beloved carrot cake. With simple upgrades from the sweeteners to the flours, it packs more nutrition than traditional recipes. It's so delicious, no one will know it is healthy! Top with roasted pecans for a decorative twist.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Cooling Time 2 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 15 mins
Course Dessert

Equipment

  • 2 (8-inch) round springform cake pans
  • box grater
  • hand mixer or stand mixer

Ingredients
  

For the cake

  • 4 flax eggs 4 tablespoons ground flax + 8 tablespoons of water soaked for 10 minutes
  • 3/4 cup almond milk or dairy-free milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chickpea flour or quinoa flour or gluten-free flour of choice
  • 3/4 cups coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch or arrowroot starch
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut nectar or maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 3 cups grated carrots from about 3 large carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil room temperature
  • 3/4 cup palm shortening or vegan butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese room temperature
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch or arrowroot starch
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 2 (8-inch) round spring form cake pans with cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, prepare the flax eggs by whisking together the ground flax and water. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the almond milk and vinegar. Whisk and set aside.
  • In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix the almond flour, chickpea or quinoa flour, coconut sugar, tapioca or arrowroot starch, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Stir to blend.
  • To the bowl with the milk and vinegar, add the flax eggs, applesauce, and coconut nectar or maple syrup. Whisk until creamy.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour mixture, and while beating on medium speed, incorporate the melted coconut oil, continuing to beat until a batter is formed, increasing the speed as needed. Fold in the grated carrots and chopped nuts if using.
  • Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared cake pans, smoothing on top with a spatula until it reaches the sides. Bake for45 to 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or the internal temperature reaches between 200° and 205°F. Allow the cakes to completely cool in the cake pans for about 2 hours.
  • Make the frosting. In a large bowl, mix the coconut oil and palm oil shortening or vegan butter. Beat with a hand mixer or immersion blender with the whisk tool until fluffy, about 1 minute.
  • Add the vegan cream cheese and beat again until blended. Add the tapioca or arrowroot starch and beat again. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat until everything is combined, using a spatula to scrape down the sides as you need to.
  • Using a spatula, mix the frosting. Frost the cooled cakes immediately or transfer the frosting to the refrigerator for 10 minutes for a denser texture. Spread one-third of the frosting on top of one cake. Place the second cake on top and add the remaining frosting on top and around the sides.

Notes

Storage: Store the frosted cake in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 4 days or wrap unfrosted cakes tightly in plastic wrap and store them at room temperature for up to 3 days, then frost when ready to serve. The frosting can be made up to 4 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Stir before using.
Serving Tip: If serving on the same day, transfer the frosted cake to the refrigerator for 10 minutes to allow the frosting to set.
Keyword Dairy-free, Egg-free, Gluten-free, Soy-free, Vegan

Flourless Carrot Cake Squares

For this recipe, all you need is a food processor and 8×8 baking dish. No bowls! I imagine you could also make the recipe into muffins as well. With little added sugar, the natural sweetness shines through. Eat as is, or top with the vegan cream cheese frosting above to take it up a notch!

Flourless Carrot Cake Squares {Grain-free, Vegan}

A lower sugar, yet naturally sweet and easier to make take on carrot cake! Throw all the ingredients into your food processor, pour and bake. Grain-free and vegan.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Cooling time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Servings 9 squares

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • 8×8 baking dish
  • box grater

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup all-natural creamy almond butter or nut or seed butter of choice
  • 1 cup grated carrots from about 1 1/2 large
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or coconut nectar
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoon arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup raisins

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  • In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except for the raisins. Process until a smooth batter is formed.
  • Add the raisins and pulse to blend until they are fully incorporated into the nut butter carrot mixture.
  • Using a spatula, transfer the batter into the baking dish. Dough will be sticky! If you need to, wet the back of the spatula to evenly distribute the batter to all four sides.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the edges have started to turn golden brown and pull away from the sides of the baking dish (a toothpick inserted should come out clean). Allow to completely cool in the baking dish, about 1 hour, before removing from the baking dish and slicing into 9 squares.

Notes

Storage: keep squares in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days. 
If icing with vegan cream cheese frosting, allow the squares to cool for at least 2 hours before icing. 
Keyword Dairy-free, Egg-free, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Paleo, Soy-free, Tree Nut-Free Option, Vegan

Raw Carrot Cake Balls

I once had raw carrot cake muffins in a juice bar in Chicago and it was love at first bite! I have recreated them as muffins in the past, but thought turning them into energy balls would be best for this round-up. These are perfect for an on-the-go snack, post-dinner sweet treat, and great for kids as well!

Raw Carrot Cake Energy Balls {Grain-free, Vegan, Raw}

Enjoy as a healthy snack or post-dinner sweet treat. No baking required! Packed with natural energy and real food ingredients. All you need is a food processor and pair of hands! Grain-free, vegan, and raw. A more nutritious way to enjoy the flavor of carrot cake.
Prep Time 15 mins
Passive Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Dessert, Snack

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • box grater

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup raw pecans walnuts would work too
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots from about 3 large
  • 10-12 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

Instructions
 

  • Place raw pecans in a food processor and blend until the consistency of course sand.
  • Add the remaining ingredients except for the melted coconut oil. Start to process again, slowly incorporating the melted coconut oil as the mixture blends. Continue to process until mixture becomes a sticky dough (add another tablespoon of melted coconut oil if you need to until dough starts to form a ball in the food processor).
  • Roll the dough into energy balls of desired size (I suggest 1 1/2 – 2 inches in diameter). Place on a plate, in a shallow dish, or cutting board. Transfer the energy balls to the refrigerator to set, at least one hour.

Notes

Storage: Keep energy balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. They can be frozen for up to 1 year. 
Keyword Dairy-free, Egg-free, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Paleo, Raw, Soy-free, Vegan

Carrot Cake Bread

Not in the mood to bake a cake? How about bread? Pouring the batter into a bread pan seems to simplify the process in my mind. If this sounds more up your alley, check out the recipe!

Carrot Cake Banana Muffins

Fruits and sweet vegetables, whether whole or in puree form, come in handy in Healthified gluten-free and plant-based baking. Not only do they add extra nutrition, but also a natural sweetness and texture that positively impacts the end result. Purees in particular add moisture and act as binders when eggs are omitted. This recipe bas both carrots and banana, which combine to create a delicious breakfast or dessert. Spoon some melted coconut butter or nut butter of choice for extra flavor and healthy fat.

Banana Buckwheat Muffins {Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free}

These muffins are made with a buckwheat, oat, and almond flour blend, providing a nutrient-dense base while remaining gluten-free. Moist and delicious. Great for both kids and adults for a quick breakfast option in the morning.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 22 mins
Cooling time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 7 mins
Course Breakfast, Snack
Servings 8 muffins

Equipment

  • hand mixer or stand mixer
  • 2 bowls
  • muffin tin

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana equals about 1 large
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with liners or coat with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the almond flour, buckwheat flour, oat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Stir to blend.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg, mashed banana, applesauce, coconut nectar or maple syrup, and vanilla extract until creamy.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour mixture and beat until a batter is formed.
  • Transfer the batter to the muffin tin, filling each about 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool in the baking tin for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.

Notes

Storage: keep muffins in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Muffins can be frozen for up to 1 year. 
 
Keyword Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Oil-free, Soy-free

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