This is my ultimate favourite dessert, made healthier! This healthy carrot cake is sweet and moist with hints of spiced cinnamon and nutmeg. And I love the thick Greek yogurt frosting. Best of all, it’s super easy to make (coming from someone who rarely bakes), in only one bowl and without fancy equipment. I know you’ll love my version of a healthy carrot cake, as everyone I have made it for does!
Whilst I don’t love using the word ‘healthy‘ to describe foods (sometimes I feel it’s borderline labeling foods as good or bad, which I don’t like), I do love that I’ve used quality ingredients in this recipe that will actually provide some nutritional benefits – hence being ‘healthier’ than a traditional carrot cake.
What I love about these ingredients
I used almond meal to replace refined white flours, making it a gluten free and a lower carb alternative that won’t spike blood sugar levels. Almond meal is simply whole almonds including the skin (unlike almond flour, which is blanched almonds) ground into a flour-like consistency and can be used for baking, crumbing, etc. Almonds are a good source of protein, heart healthy mono-unsaturated fats and antioxidant vitamin E, which is also great for skin health and immune function.
I’ve also substituted sugar that would normally feature in a carrot cake for stevia, a plant-based sweetener alternative that contains almost zero calories (but who’s counting) and negligible affect on blood sugar levels. For me personally, I prefer using stevia to sugar where possible as my body doesn’t respond well to lots of sugar. However be mindful of stevia products containing added sugar alcohols like erythritol, which may cause digestive discomfort in some people if consumed in large amounts. I’ve left some links in the references below for further reading for you.
Carrots are a rich source of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. It’s a fat soluble vitamin (along with vitamin D, E & K) which requires fat to properly digest and absorb (lucky there is healthy fats in this cake!). Vitamin A is essential for eye health, tissue growth and repair, thyroid function and iron mobilisation.
I always use Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) in my cooking instead of vegetable oils or butter as a healthy alternative. A high quality EVOO is simply the juice squeezed from fresh olives, whereas other oils have been refined. EVOO is rich in natural antioxidants, polyphenols and mono-unsaturated fats. Studies have shown EVOO to be beneficial for heart health, weight management, inflammation and protection from aging.
A note on balance
Don’t get me wrong, there are times I enjoy an occasional treat or dessert that has nothing to do with nutrition or health, simply for enjoyment. Life’s about balance after all. But I love that I can create desserts and treats for myself and others to enjoy that just so happen to be good for you too!
Recipe notes: You could use this recipe to make Healthy Carrot Cake Muffins instead of cake too!
For vegan, replace eggs with flax or chia eggs and omit frosting or use a cashew cream frosting. P.S. I haven’t tested the vegan version as yet.
Healthy Carrot Cake with Lemon Yogurt Frosting (gf / sugar free)
- 2 cups almond meal
- 2 cups carrot, grated
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped + extra 1/4 cup finely chopped for decorating
- 4 tbls Nuvia Natural Sugar Free Sweetener
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 3 eggs, beaten
- ¼ cup + 1 tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I use Cobram Estate Light for baking)
- 1/2 cup coconut milk (full fat from a tin, not the UHT coconut milk)
- 200g Greek yogurt
- 1/4 lemon, zest & juice
- 1-2 tbls Nuvia Natural Sugar Free Sweetener
Preheat oven to 170°C and grease a 18-24cm cake tin with butter (I prefer organic grass fed butter).
- Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Place eggs, coconut milk and Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a separate bowl. Whisk until well combined, then add to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Pour mix into the cake tin and smooth down the top with the wooden spoon.
- Transfer to oven and bake for 30-35 mins until cooked through (tip: to test, insert a skewer into the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean it’s done). Remove from oven and transfer to a rack to allow it to completely cool.
- Meanwhile, combine the frosting ingredients, adding enough Nuvia sweetener to taste. Refrigerate until ready to ice the cake.