Guilt-Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Guilt-Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

You won’t believe this is healthy!

Want an orange-for-fall dessert that is something other than pumpkin? Try this healthy carrot cake with cream cheese icing! It’s free of refined sugar, white flour, and bad oils!

Don’t worry – you won’t even miss them! With maple syrup to sweeten the cake and sucanat and honey in the icing, you get just the right amount of sweetness without giving yourself a sugar rush or crash.

When I started baking with maple syrup as a sweetener, I was a little apprehensive. I worried the taste would overpower the recipe. Not the case. You don’t even notice it’s maple syrup doing the sweetening.

If you want to make this healthy, no Aunt Jemima allowed!!! It has to be pure maple syrup. Grade B maple syrup is better for baking than Grade A, according to Clean Eating Online. Real maple syrup also contains manganese and zinc.

The carrot cake recipe came from the Classic Carrot Cake from Amy’s Healthy Baking. I did not use her frosting recipe. Her frosting recipe sounds great, but since I was making this for my small group Bible study, I was hesitant to try anything out of the ordinary. Amy’s calls for ricotta cheese and Greek yogurt. Try it out for a lighter alternative to cream cheese icing.

For the icing on this cake, I used the No-Powdered-Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting recipe from Authentic Simplicity. It was amazing!

Classic Carrot Cake 
Before you get started, check out Amy’s tutorial on how to measure correctly. It will save you a lot of time and stress.
1 ½ c whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp salt (use sea salt to keep this healthy)
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ c maple syrup
¼ c plain nonfat Greek yogurt
¼ c nonfat milk (I used soy milk)
2 c freshly grated carrots (about 3 medium)
Cut Carrot Cake with a plastic knife

Cut cake with a plastic knife to lessen crumbs.

Visit Amy’s Healthy Baking for the instructions for the cake recipe. I coated the entire baking dish with coconut oil and this cake came out of the dish easier than probably any cake I’ve ever made. Coconut oil does not make your recipe taste like coconut. I let these cool completely and then cut with a plastic knife. I read somewhere, I think Facebook, a plastic knife makes a cleaner cut with less crumbs. The technique worked. Then, I iced the cake after I cut it but before I removed it from the baking dish. No crumbs in the icing!
I have also made this into carrot bread using the same exact recipe and instructions, except I used a 9×5 loaf pan greased with coconut oil and baked for 33 minutes.
Healthy Cream Icing

Try to ice the cake right before serving. Since it’s cream cheese icing, the cake should probably be stored in the refrigerator once iced. It is a very moist cake, but will dry out a little in the fridge.

No-Powdered-Sugar Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp sucanat (see note below)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (I didn’t have any so I used an additional 1/2 tsp of vanilla)
1 tbsp honey

Visit Authentic Simplicity for the instructions for this recipe. This will not be the stark white you expect from cream cheese icing due to the sucanat and honey. But who cares – it’s healthy!

Sucanat is healthier than turbinado (used in the original recipe) because it is unrefined and retains the molasses along with the vitamins and minerals – iron, calcium, vitamin B6, and potassium. It can be used as a substitute for white or brown sugar. Brown sugar is not a healthier form of white sugar. It is refined white sugar with the molasses added back in. Use sucanat instead.

This healthy carrot cake is a great alternative if you are all pumpkined out. The flecks of orange in this beautiful carrot cake make it a great addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table. If you feel like your fall treat has to include pumpkin, pin this for Easter when everyone is thinking carrots and bunnies!

Image courtesy of coward_lion at

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8 thoughts on “Guilt-Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

  1. Shannon @ Of The Hearth

    Maple syrup is my favorite alternative to regular sugar. I’ve never used it in carrot cake, but that’s likely because it’s been some time since I made carrot cake! I’m thinking I need to make some soon…maybe a dessert for Thanksgiving dinner…

  2. Amy

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake! It looks absolutely gorgeous. And those tips about cutting the cake with a plastic fork and cutting it before frosting to avoid crumbs — absolutely genius!! I definitely need to try that. :)

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