Whilst carrot cake contains the word ‘carrot’, in some cases it can be more of a health disaster than we are led to believe. Akin to the banana bread phenomenon. Such a common breakfast or afternoon snack these days and often slyly marketed as a nutritious choice. I remember once being hoodwinked, blissfully unaware of the copious amounts of sugar, and other non-ingredients that I was scarfing down. Just because the name makes reference to one healthy ingredient, it does not promise that the majority of the ingredients aren’t wreaking havoc on your health or immune system.
As for carrot cake, when I discovered the truth about its ingredients list, I was somewhat dismayed. I have fond memories of a respectable carrot cake with a virtuous thick, creamy frosting, filled with wholesome chunks of walnuts and that delicious mix of subtle sweetness and notes of spice. So I set about creating my own that would dance to the beat of its own drum and my tingle taste buds at the same time. Just because you may be intolerant to gluten or dairy, or you want to avoid sugar from your diet, it doesn’t mean that you need to miss out on delicious desserts. In fact, with a little bit of research, familiarity in the kitchen, and some creativity, it is amazing what recipes you can compose to suit your health needs.
This scrummy carrot cake really lives up to its name, containing no gluten, no dairy and no sugar. In fact, you can rest assured with every bite that you are bringing health and vitality into your body. It embodies everything that a carrot cake should be, yet still contains a luscious to-die-for lip-licking creamy icing. You won’t ever want to return to the old version.
If people ask you why it’s so healthy and what are the benefits of the ingredients list, you can point out to your family and friends while they devour this seemingly sugar laden treat that;
The superstar ingredient, the humble carrot, should never be underestimated for its amazing nutritional benefits. Carrots are a hearty vegetable that are easy to grow in a variety of climates; making them an ideal food to include in your diet on a regular basis. Carrots contain vitamins B, C, D, E, K and beta-carotene, and the minerals calcium, iron, phosphorous, chromium, magnesium, potassium and silica. Carrots are excellent for skin problems, and have been known to have great healing effects on ulcerous and inflamed conditions of the stomach and intestines. They have also been found to promote high quality breast milk and a healthy pregnancy.
The ‘creamy’ icing is actually comprised of coconut cream and raw cashews. Cashews are a nutrient dense ingredient containing heart healthy monounsaturated fats similar to olive oil, known as oleic acid. Oleic acid helps to lower cholesterol, and is great for diabetics and people with heart conditions. Cashews are also high in the mineral copper, which helps to generate bone and connective tissues, and so it is great in preventing osteoporosis, arthritis and joint issues. Coconut cream contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), providing an instant energy source, and boosting brain power, by converting MCT into ketones which are used by the brain as fuel. Coconut cream also boosts immune function due to its antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Nutmeg is a delicious, nutty spice used for both culinary and medicinal purposes in traditional Chinese, Malaysian and Indian cultures. The anti inflammatory properties of nutmeg have been found to reduce pain, and swelling associated with tooth and gum problems. According research conducted at the University of Wisconsin, nutmeg has been shown to also reduce internal, systemic inflammation.
Cinnamon is a deliciously sweet, aromatic spice and medicine. Cinnamon contains a powerful property called cinnamaldehyde, which has significant effects against harmful blood platelet clotting. It achieves this by inhibiting the release of a fatty acid responsible for the inflammatory response, known as arachidonic acid, from cell membranes. Cinnamon is therefore a wonderful anti inflammatory. Cinnamon also boasts wonderful antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
So guess what? You can have your cake, and eat it too, whilst imagining all of these wonderful reactions of health occurring with every bite!
Carrot Cake Recipe
Makes 1 cake
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour, or gluten free flour of your choice
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon stevia powder
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons butter, coconut oil or light olive oil
- 4 tablespoons coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cups (200 g) grated carrot
Creamy cashew coconut icing:
- 3/4 cup of raw cashews
- 1 300 ml tin of coconut cream
- The zest of one lemon, finely grated
- The juice of half a lemon
- 5 or 6 drops of stevia (to taste, according to your sweet tooth!)
Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease an 18 cm round cake tin. In a bowl place the almond flour, walnuts, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and stevia, and stir to combine. In a separate bowl put the eggs, grapeseed oil and coconut milk and whisk together. Add to the dry ingredients and fold through.
Squeeze the excess water out of the carrots (using your hands is best) then add them to the bowl. Fold in lightly. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed in the centre. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
For the icing, place all ingredients minus the stevia, including just half of the coconut cream into a food processor and blitz for a few minutes, slowly adding more coconut cream until the consistency is like crème fraiche (not runny, but not like thickened cream). You will need to blitz until the consistency is smooth. Add your stevia at the end, blitzing little by little, until you get the desired sweetness of your icing. Place into the coldest section of your fridge to thicken, until the cake has cooled. Alternatively, you can throw it into the freezer for 5-10 minutes and it will thicken it quicker. When the cake has cooled, spoon your icing all over the top.
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