A “Healthier” Carrot Cake

Sugar free carrot cake
We both love carrot cake. Who doesn’t. It’s a sweet tasting cake with creamy frosting and – best of all – it contains carrots! So in some strange way this cake must also be healthy!?

Well, it also usually contains large amounts of sugar, butter and flour, so healthy might not be the perfect word to describe it. Unless you replace these ingredients for more natural alternatives. We decided to try it.

So, we took a couple of our favorite carrot cake recipes, mixed them up a bit, removed the sugar, butter and white flour, replaced them with some ingredients that we found appropriate, whipped it together and put it in the oven. And our first try was a disaster! We used apple juice as sweetener and almost not any flour at all, which gave us a compact stonecake with absolutely no taste.

For our second try we sweetened it with bananas and dates (and some honey in the frosting), we used whole-wheat flour and a mild oil instead of butter. And this time it really turned out well. We also used a lot of dried fruit and quite large carrot grates, which made it really chewy and chunky.
Scroll down for the recipe.

Carrot cake 2
A “Healthier” Carrot Cake
Serves 6-8

3 eggs
1-2 bananas
10-15 fresh dates (without seeds)
6 tbsp sunflower oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cardamom
3-4 carrots (medium size, grated)
½ cup coconut flakes
½ cup walnuts (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup raisins

Glazing
200 g cream cheese
3 tbsp honey
1/2 lime (juice)

1/2 cup hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk the eggs in a medium sized bowl. Use a hand blender or a blender to mix bananas, dates and oil into a thick cream in another bowl. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and stir it together with the eggs and the banana-cream. Add grated carrots, coconut flakes, walnuts and raisins and stir it until it all comes together.
Pour it into a cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes. Try to stick a toothpick in the centre of the cake, when nothing sticks on it the cake is ready. Let it cool.
Whip together the cream cheese and the honey (bananas or dates would probably also work as sweeteners for the frosting). Add the frosting when the cake is completely cooled of. Serve with roughly chopped hazelnuts or walnuts on the top.

Photos by: Johanna Frenkel

93 Comments

  • sandra
    I love your blog, it's very inspiring! I'll try to make this beautiful cake tomorrow. I have gluten intolerance so maybe I can replace the flour with coconut four or almond flour, what do you think? Thanks /Sandra
  • Georgia
    I was wondering if I could leave the dates out of the recipe? Also wondering, are you able to use Almond Meal for the flour? Thank you!!
  • virginia
    I will be giving this a try today....... Looks wonderful. Just for your information though, look up Sarah Wilson - I Quit Sugar..a fantastic read and eye opener as far as where the "baddies" lie in all that we consume...... You will be very interested to see that you still have quite a lot of sugar in this recipe - bananas, dates and honey - all just sugar in a different form - I'm going to try and use Stevia and will let you know the outcome! Keep up the healthy conversions though - every little tweak helps! :)
  • Lorraine Hennessy
    Thanks a lot for this recipe!! I already fell in love with it while mixing all the ingridients! You're page is awesome and can't wait to order your book! Lotsa love from Frankfurt, Germany! xxLorraine
  • Neelvdh
    Have been looking for the best carrot cake recipe for a while already, and will try this one soon. I was just wondering if the bananas could be replaced with avocado or some other ingredient? I cant stand the taste. Or are they just in there for structure etc.? Great website and app! Thx
  • Penny f
    Hi! Thanks for sharing. I want to bake this cake 'cause I think is amazing, but how can I replace the dates? It's very difficult to find those in lima-Peru... We are very lucky and have a lot of products but dates are hard to find! Thank you!!! :)
    • Hi Penny, maybe you can use dried fruit instead, like prunes? Or applesauce? Happy baking /Luise
      • Dawn Meyer
        Could you substitute almond meal instead of flour? If so how much?
  • Bel
    Tried the recipe yesterday for the first time and it was amazing! I didn't have fresh dates so used dried ones, and the result was still really good. Next time will soak them as Luise recommended. Btw, I love the green kitchen app for iPad...it is not only beautiful, but also makes following the recipe much easier. Well done!
  • Chinky
    Hi! Do the coconut flakes in the recipe refer to fresh coconut meat or dry desicated coconut flakes, the ones that you use in making macaroons? And what can I use as a cardamom substitute? Thanks!
    • Youngmin
      I think the recipe is definitely referring to dry coconut flakes and it should be fine if you leave the cardamom out!
  • k.e.s.
    Hello! I was wondering about possibly substituting applesauce for the fresh dates. Do you think this is a possibility? If so, how much do you think would be good to use? Any other suggestions? I have a feeling my grocery doesn't carry fresh dates unfortunately. Thanks; I can't wait to try this recipe!
  • Pardon, but I had a question while viewing this recipe on the app: what size cake pan do you recommend?
  • Tess
    This is a fantastic recipe. It was rapidly eaten by my family who didn't even notice it was a healthy version of their favourite treat. Highly highly recommend! Now I wouldn't even consider another carrot cake recipe. This is my first recipe from this great site and it has given me inspiration to try more. Thank you for providing such delicious healthy recipes!
  • Irma
    I just made this carrot cake. I was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Thank you for all of your tasty recipes. :)
  • Na
    Hi! I love your blog - I was wondering what how I can replace the dates since they are hard to get around here ... :)
  • Irina
    this looks so healthy that I am tempted to divide the mixture into muffin cups and eat the carrot cake muffins for breakfast (maybe I would make the cream cheese frosting into a filling... hm...). I found your blog yesterday and it is absolutely beautiful! I really appreciate that you find ways of making healthier versions of desserts. They really don't have to be so sugary to be delicious. I'm feeling very encouraged to try experimenting with all the alternatives you suggest for white flour, like your spelt-flour pancake-cake. It looks incredible too!
  • Amanda
    If I was to use dried dates (because that what I have in my kitchen) would I need to put some....maybe juice or applesauce because of that. Im not really familiar with fresh dates.
    • Hi Amanda, you have to soak the date first if you are using dried dates. Happy baking Luise
  • Jeanette
    For everyone looking for an egg substitute...the version most common on most vegan blogs is to use a 'flax egg.' As near as I can tell, this is just soaked flaxseed formed into an egg-shaped ball. I have never tried this method myself, however. For myself, when I substitute eggs I use about 1/4 tsp each baking soda and powder (sometimes rounded if I want the recipe extra fluffy) and 1/2 cup of any liquid (milk, juice, apple sauce...whatever works with your recipe). An egg provides moisture and a rising agent so you have to make sure to replace both elements. Happy cooking!
  • Laura
    This was my first cake ever and my boyfriend devoured it! I used spelt flour, mascarpone and a little ginger since I had those ingredients at home. Delightful. Thank you so much!
  • Nal
    Hi! Keep up the awesome effort on this "Blog with a difference"! Btw, I was wondering about making this cake without eggs, as a LOT of people here in India consider Egg as Non-Vegetarian... Any suggestions on egg-substitutes? Thanks a bunch! Nalini
  • My boyfriend wants a carrot cake for his birthday. Maybe this is the way to go!
  • Philippine
    What à divine carrot cake this is! Vw. Because I forgot to add the coconut in the cake mix I decided to add THE coconut flakes in the glazing for which I used mascarpone. And some extra flakes on top iso nuts. Also à nice alternative! Thank you for sharing your food passion!!! Beautiful app as well :-)
  • Kat
    It's my first time making something from your blog and it turned out great! I was amazed at how sweet it tasted without any sugar. I made a couple of minor alterations though - i used spelt flour instead of wholemeal, i added half a grated apple and used sultanas instead of raisons. Next im going to make the Pistachio Falafel!
    • Renea
      Kat, you and I are the same page with the spelt substitute. I want to do the very same thing. Question, did you use the same measurement -1 cup- as the spelt?
  • p.s also wanted to say that you have clearly put a lot of love and effort into creating this recipe - you can feel the good energy while putting it together. Thanks for sharing your passion of making lovely and healthy food.
  • I have just put this together, ready to go into the oven. This is the most fun and thoughtful recipe I've tried so far in my short baking career - I fell in love with it whilst making the banana and date cream. I have added a lot of love into the mix and I'm looking forward to sharing it with my family this evening. M.x
  • Anne
    This looks great! I love any kind of carroty dessert! I'm a big time "healthy" substituter, and this recipe is looks dang reasonable to me. I don't have any dates on hand unfortunately, and I'm on a personal mission to "clean out" my cupboards and shelves before I buy more baking goods etc. So I was thinking of replacing the dates with dried figs... what do you think? I don't think it would change the consistency very much, or at least this is what I choose to think (: I'll let you know how it goes! Thanks for the awesome looking recipe! Anne.
  • kla.
    you can easily make it vegan by not adding eggs (plus I put a whipped soy cream on top). I tested it and have to say that this is a really delicious cake!! thanks for a great receipt!!
    • Anne
      Hello there, I'm vegan and curious as to whether you took out the eggs all together or used any kind of egg substitute?
  • Ginger
    Oops, typo, her name is Tamasin.
  • Ginger
    I just discovered your blog a few days ago and really enjoy it! We made the blackberry chocolate cake last night and loved it! I'm going to try this recipe tonight and while I was looking it over realized it looks very similar to one that Lamasin Day-Lewis included in her book "Supper for a Song." There are a lot of great recipes in her book as well. Thanks again for your recipes!
    • Christy
      Ginger I'm surprised at your comment about it being a similar recipe to that of Tamasin's. Her recipe is full of butter and sugar!
  • I tried this recipe last week and loved it - thank you! I divided the batter into a dozen muffins and they turned out great. I love a treat-like recipe that uses wholemeal flour and fruit for sweetening. :-)
    • dacha
      Hello Cindy, I realize that your post is a few years old but I hope you get this. YOu said that you "divided the batter into a dozen muffins " May I ask at what oven temperature and for how long did you bake the muffins until done? With thanks. Anyone else who also did the same, please let me know. Thanks in advance!
      • Kyra
        I made muffins too. Devided the batch into 12 muffins and baked them at 350 for 30 minutes.
  • I have just this minute found your blog and I LOVE it! Beautiful photos and great recipes. I am going to bookmark it now. Merry Christmas from New Zealand! Emma
  • Fabulous! Perhaps now I can eat more carrot cake. Thank you for experimenting and finding a nice healthy version for us.
    • I am always trying to havs a healthier diet. But my work as food photographer it makes everything a bit mote complicated. With tones of delicious unhethy food commisioned from th magazines I shoot for. But I would love to try this cake. Yout blog is really cute.

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