Want to cut 500 calories per serving and lots of sugar from classic carrot cake? Give my healthy Carrot Cake Re-Mix a try. It’s made with wholesome ingredients like whole wheat flour, walnuts, carrots (of course!), and canned pumpkin with a vanilla Greek (or Skyr) yogurt frosting versus the usual sugar/cream cheese combo. And the portion is reasonable, so it’s satisfying but doesn’t leave you feeling ridiculously stuffed.
This is one of my most extreme makeovers ever!
I love nothing more than the challenge of taking a buttery, sugary, all-white-flour dessert and “fixing” it with slimmed down, flavor-filled, and nutrient-rich ingredients. That’s exactly what I just did with a classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting recipe sent to me by, my friend, Patty F., a mom of two.
Patty got the recipe from a friend and had a few ideas for how she could give it a makeover starting with swapping half the white flour for whole wheat. I hit the ground running, and after two tries and lots of healthy carrot cake later, came up with the following makeover strategy:
For the Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour => 1 cup AP flour + 1 cup whole wheat flour
Regular eggs => Omega-3 eggs
2 cups sugar => 1 cup sugar
1½ cups oil => 1/2 cup oil + 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
Add ins => Ground flaxseed + walnuts
For the Frosting:
The frosting recipe Patty sent called for a stick of butter, 8 ounces of cream cheese, and a one-pound bag of powdered sugar. Ouch. Did you know that one pound of powdered sugar equals 3¾ cups?
For my extreme makeover, I created my own frosting by straining vanilla Greek yogurt to thicken. While vanilla Greek yogurt contains some added sugar and some natural sugar from the milk, it’s a heck of a lot lower in sugar than what you’ll find in most frosting recipes.
1 stick butter + 8-ounces cream cheese + 1-pound bag confectioners sugar (3¾ cups) => 2 cups Vanilla Greek yogurt, strained (whole milk or low-fat)
Patty’s cake makes 12 servings, and here’s what you’ll get per slice:
760 calories, 44g fat (13g saturated), 580mg sodium, 91g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 6g protein, 100% vitamin A.
My cake has just 270 calories 🙂
And to give credit where credit is due, our three nutrition interns, Margo, Jennie, and Meghan helped with the recipe development, photos, and consumption of the cake!
- Serves: 15
- Serving size: 1 piece
- Calories: 270
- Fat: 13g
- Saturated fat: 2g
- Carbohydrates: 33g
- Sugar: 16g
- Sodium: 180mg
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 7g
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup ground flaxseed
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, beaten (we use omega-3 eggs)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup organic canola oil
- ½ cup canned 100% pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup low-fat milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 ounces carrots, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater (2 cups)
- 2 cups vanilla Greek yogurt (I use whole milk but to cut the fat further, you can use reduced fat. For an even thicker frosting, try a skyr yogurt like Siggi's)
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly oil or coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- Place the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, walnuts, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, an salt in large bowl and whisk until well combined.
- Place the eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin, milk, and vanilla in a separate bowl and whisk until well combined. Stir in the carrots. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.
- Arrange the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
- To make the frosting, you’ll need to start the process the day before you frost your cake. Place a coffee filter inside a medium-size sieve. If you have small filters, split 3 of them in half and use as your lining.. Spread the Greek yogurt evenly over the filter, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and place the sieve over a bowl. Refrigerate overnight.
- When you’re ready to make your frosting, pour off and reserve the drained whey and use later in smoothies, etc (I had about half a cup), scrape the yogurt from the coffee filter, and spread evenly over the cooled cake. Slice and serve. (Best if stored in the refrigerator.)