A healthier recipe for carrot cake

Lilly Higgins: There’s so much to like about this cake that’s packed full of goodness

We’ve recently started to get a vegetable delivery and it’s fantastic to have fresh produce dropped right to the door. It also gives me no excuse not to cook lots of healthy food as I know I’ll eat it if it’s in the house. Another aspect that I hadn’t considered was that it has cut down massively on packaging. In shops, organic produce is usually packaged in plastic with stickers all over guaranteeing you of its organic status. The organic vegetables and fruit being delivered are all loose in a box and it’s really cut down on our packaging waste.

We have had to adjust our shopping though, I still find myself automatically buying the same things such as potatoes, bananas and carrots. As a result we have a wealth of carrots. So it was about time I made a carrot cake to brighten up the end of January.

You can use half a parsnip or beetroot to change this cake up a little

This is a lovely cake packed full of goodness. Plenty of ground almonds, grated carrots and it’s quite low in sugar. Feel free to add whatever nuts or dried fruits you’d like to this substantial cake. I love adding chopped pineapple or dates that caramelise and become sticky in the baked cake. This cake keeps really well un-iced so I sometimes make it and serve the icing on the side. It’s a cream cheese frosting that’s not too sweet and is equally delicious on pancakes or toasted brioche. This is a great cake for kids to help bake; there is plenty of peeling and grating involved as well as mixing.

You can use half a parsnip or beetroot to change this cake up a little. In summer use courgette, well drained to remove excess water. I am always looking for ways to encourage my kids to eat more vegetables but I find the most effective way is to get them involved in the kitchen and the garden.


I was delighted to discover trays of kale and broccoli sprouts at Midleton Farmer Markets grown by Greenfield Farm. Having grown cress from seed I know it's one thing my kids always love to eat scattered in sandwiches, on soup or through mashed potatoes. The little sprouted seeds are incredibly rich in nutrients. The Happy Pear also sell sprouted alfalfa and mixed sprouts in little trays nationwide.

Carrot cake

Serves 12-14

200g cream cheese
2 tbsp thick Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey

175g wholemeal flour
300g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bread soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
120g soft brown sugar
100g raisins
80g crushed walnuts
120ml maple syrup
3 eggs
160ml light olive oil
420g grated carrot

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Line a 22cm round cake tin with baking paper.

First make the icing. Combine the cream cheese, yogurt, honey and vanilla together until smooth. Cover and place in the fridge to firm up.

Place the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bread soda and spices in a bowl. Add the brown sugar, raisins and walnuts. Mix well using a whisk.

Whisk the eggs in a jug, add the olive oil and maple syrup. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Add the grated carrot and pour over the egg and olive oil mix. Fold gently until well combined with a spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for one hour or until a skewer comes away clean from the cake.

Turn the cake out to cool on a rack. Once completely cooled spread the cream cheese icing on top of the cake just before serving. Scatter poppy seeds, walnuts or dried marigold flowers over the top.