Apr 032010

You probably looked at the title of this post and thought, can carrot cake really be healthy? Well, to be completely honest, no. BUTTT this version is definitely a major improvement from your run of the mill carrot cake. It’s impossible and ridiculous to forbid yourself from eating any delicious Easter or Passover (or both if you’re me) treats. So why not healthify the treats we love so we can indulge with a little less guilt?

Since I, sadly, won’t be able to go home to Chicago to celebrate “Eastover” with my family this year, I’ll be celebrating straight up Easter with my boyfriend’s family (a close second). And obviously I can’t show up empty handed!!! I found this healified carrot cake recipe and though it would be perfectly festive (think Easter->Easter bunny->Rabbits->Rabbits eating carrots->carrot cake!).

I made them in a mini muffin tin because 1) everyone prefers mini things, and 2) inherent portion control.
I decided to put nuts in only half of the batch. And I decorated accordingly…the cupcakes with the chopped walnut birds nest complete with m&m egg have nuts, and the plain carrot ones are nut free.

Nutritional highlights: Carrot cake, as is, has nutritional benefits that other sweets lack. Sneaking carrots, nuts, and fruit into a delicious cake is a great way to get an extra serving of veggies to your kids (or boyfriends/husbands). This version also cuts back on the amount of refined flour and sugar that are often found in the cake. By using apple sauce in place of some of the oil, and whole wheat flour instead of the all purpose stuff, we’re decreasing the calories and increasing the nutritional value. And the delicious cream cheese frosting…um…I guess it’s a good source of calcium?? :)

At this point I’ve had 3 official taste testers who had no clue these were “healthy-ish”. Mission accomplished.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

adapted from Ellie Kreiger, Food Network


  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (i used sweetened cinnamon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/4 cups finely shredded carrots (for me that was 3 medium carrots)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 8 ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese
  • 1 and 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 mini muffin cups or 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift together the first 6 ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla and carrots. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fill half the muffin liners if you’re doing half nuts/half no nuts like I did. Then stir in 1/4 cup of the chopped walnuts to the remaining batter.

Fill the rest of the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 12 minutes for mini and 20 for full sized. Let cool.

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and lemon zest until smooth and creamy. Decorate and enjoy!!!