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

89 Comments

  • susanna
    Hi, what if we DO want to use butter instead of sunflower oil? How much would we use? Thanks! (I am not opposed to butter, just sugar!)
  • Alissa
    Will this work if i leave out the nuts, coconut and raisins? Or o i need to change the proportions? I'd like to make it for my son's second birthday but he doesn't like chunks of anything in cake/bread, so i'd like to keep it a bit simpler. Thanks!!
  • Stacie
    Is there any way to make this without eggs? Thank you!
  • Alejandra
    Yesterday I made this recipe with a friend and it was delicious! Thanks!
  • Anna
    Thank you for such an awesome recipe. I used equal amounts of all purpose and almond flour, reduced the quantity of spices, used only 2 eggs, did not use oil at all, and added more coconut and a teaspoon of honey to the batter. The cake was moist, sweet, and delicious. That walnuts give a nice crunch. Blending bananas and dates for sweetness is a great idea.
  • Olechka1812
    Hi, I recently discovered your blog through a link on the Golubka blog and tried this recipe this very morning - it's amazing! So delicious and healthy, packed with goodness, and it's quick and easy to make. Thanks a lot, I'll definitely be trying more of your recipes. This blog has beautiful pictures by the way. Lots of love from France!
  • Prajakta
    hey...loved ur recipe..a cake without sugar, butter and white flour..what else one needss!!! gonna bake this cake this weekend..m very new to baking world..so have basic query..the oven i have at my home has max temperature as 250..will that work? how long i should put my cake for baking with this temperature?
  • Luise and David, I have recently found your blog and in the past enjoyed your recipes featured in The Guardian magazine - I am absolutely in love with your recipes, vision, blog, photography and website! Last night we had the beet burgers, they were amazing :-). I love your recipes, but I am unsure about the 'cup' measurement. I tend to work in grams and don't know how much a cup is! It is something that often puts me off making delicious sounding recipes from the net. Can to you give me a translation please, into grams, so that I can make this scrummy sounding carrot cake for my husband's birthday? Thanks a million, Katie
  • Lynsey
    Thanks for this recipe, it's so nice to make a cake without sugar and butter!! My 3 year old also loved it :-) I used coconut oil instead of sunflower, so delicious!! Looking forward to trying some other recipe of yours Lynsey
  • Kristina
    I really like this cake! Good flavour, nice texture, and a glazing to die for. Well done - definitely a remake :) I had no sunflower oil, so I used half olive oil and half rape seed oil, and that worked fine. I also replaced 2 eggs with flax seeds and water. Creative cooking when the kitchen cupboards are empty :) /Kristina.
  • 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!
  • 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?

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