Healthy Carrot Cake

The word “healthy” can be fraught with confusion.  We all strive to be healthy, and healthy living is certainly an attribute.  We try to make “healthy” choices during the day.  Call me “healthy” and I’ll react with pride.

But call my cake “healthy,” and I might wince.  For whatever reason, when healthy modifies a recipe – and especially a dessert – my first instinct is to shy away from it.  For whatever reason, the word “healthy” seems strongly pejorative when it’s the adjective in front of a meal.  Call my food delicious or creative or inspired, but please don’t call it healthy!

So, when Caitlin suggested we make this “Healthy Carrot Cake,” my first reaction was “Can’t we make a good carrot cake?”  Which, of course, she found very upsetting.  So I relented, pulled the whole wheat flour down from the shelf, and readied the oven.

And to my pleasant surprise, I really enjoyed this carrot cake.  It was moist and soft, with a good nutmeg flavor, and a light carrot taste.  Here’s how we made this

Healthy yet and Delicious Carrot Cake

Recipe adapted from

PREP TIME: 20 minutes
COOK TIME: 30 minutes
YIELD: 12 servings

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups shredded carrots
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons low-fat milk


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9 by 13 pan, and dust lightly with flour.  Tap out any excess flour.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

3.  In a large bowl, beat the egg, egg whites, brown sugar, and oil with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add the carrots, and mix until combined.  Add the buttermilk and pineapple, and mix until well incorporated.

4.  Working in batches, add the flour mixture to the carrot mixture, mixing until well-combined.

5.  Scrape the batter into the pan, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack.

6.  Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla over medium-high speed until smooth.  Add the milk, a teaspoon at a time, on medium-low speed.

7.  Spread the frosting on the cooled, uncut cake.  Cut the cake and serve cool!


10 responses to “Healthy Carrot Cake

  1. Great recipe! Thanks for sharing, I’m always looking for a healthy carrot cake.

  2. I recently made a carrot cake recipe with no added sugar, and I totally loved it! Mine looked exactly like yours, so I thought it might be the same recipe, but it’s not. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. Is it still healthy if I eat the whole thing? 😉 It looks great! Thanks for the recipe.

  4. Absolutely! Healthy desserts entitle you to double-up on the portions!

  5. carrot cake = one of my favorite things in the world. this one looks soooo good!

  6. oh i love carrot cake! looks so yummy

  7. Pingback: Vegetables and Diet « Kelly Flannigan's Blog

  8. I’ve seen so many recipes lately for carrot cake! So far, I think yours must be the best! The other one I really like is Scott’s Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting - – What do you think? Happy Baking!

  9. Where are the nutrition facts on this recipe?

  10. Sorry. I don’t compile nutrition facts.

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