Carrot cake has always been a favorite recipe of mine. And the cream cheese frosting that’s usually smeared on top of the carrot cake isn’t so bad either!
But despite what having carrots in a cake might suggest (it’s healthy, right?) carrot cake is typically filled with tons of fat, sugar and calories.
Until this recipe came a long.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been making this lower fat version for so long, I don’t really remember when I started making it or where I found it! I’ve had to rewrite the recipe card a few times because I’ve made this carrot cake so much that the cards became faded and worn.
All I can tell you is that it’s moist, dense and just plain good. And you can thank me now, because the cream cheese frosting is lower in fat too. You’re welcome.
No Oil Required
Similar to my low fat blueberry muffin recipe, this delicious cake recipe swaps buttermilk and unsweetened applesauce for oil.
That, coupled with the juice from the pineapple, and my recent addition of a little non fat greek yogurt, really keeps this cake moist and packed with flavor.
If you’re not a nut lover, you can certainly leave those out. I like a few in the cake and then a few more sprinkled on top of the low fat cream cheese frosting.
The Best Way To Bake Carrot Cake
Since the real point of this recipe is to allow you to have your cake and eat it too, I suggest baking this carrot cake in a 9×13 pan and then cutting it into 18-20 pieces. Remember, this cake is dense so a smaller piece is not going to leave you deprived.
I’ll be anxious to hear if you give this recipe a try. And if it makes you feel better knowing you’re getting some of your daily veggies in with your dessert, your secret is safe with me. That’s what friends are for! 🙂
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 6 egg whites (egg substitute will not work)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup buttermillk
- 1/4 cup plain non fat GREEK yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1- 8 ounce can crushed pineapple in its own juice (do not drain)
- 2 cups shredded carrots (a more coarse shred is better…fine shred will become too soggy)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- If raisins are desired, 1/2 cup will work
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray 13x9x2 baking pan with non stick spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix flours, spices, and baking soda together. Set aside.
In a different bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Then continue to mix while slowly adding in sugar. Then continue to slowly add the applesauce, buttermilk, yogurt and vanilla.
Use a spoon to slowly mix in by hand the flour mixture until just combined. Then stir in, one at a time, the pineapple(with juice), carrots, walnuts and raisins (if using). You don’t want the weight of all of these ingredients to weigh down the batter, so doing this one at a time, gently, is the best practice.
Put the batter in the prepared 13x9x2 pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting with Low Fat Cream Cheese Frosting.
Of course, there is no way you can enjoy carrot cake without a good spread of cream cheese frosting on top!
A traditional cream cheese frosting tends to use cream cheese AND butter AND a whole box of powdered sugar.
I make a few no bake desserts with just cream cheese and powdered sugar and thought it could be the consistency of a frosting, no butter required.
And I thought I was a genius when I tried it and it really worked…especially when I subbed in 1/3 less fat cream cheese!
That’s when I went online to see how others made their low fat cream cheese frostings, only to discover that MY recipe was the same thing everyone else was making too!
I will say that I do think there is a difference between store brands and Philadelphia Cream Cheese (and not just because I live in Philly!). The store brand I tried (a few times) made the frosting a bit more runny. And totally fat free cream cheese didn’t work well at all.
So, my Just Jill tip is to use Philadelphia 1/3 less fat cream cheese for best results. I think you’ll really be surprised how well this cream cheese frosting recipe turns out!
Lowfat Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 8 oz. block Philadelphia 1/3 less fat cream cheese
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Bring cream cheese to room temperature. In small mixing bowl, with electric mixer, whip the cream cheese, then add sugar and vanilla. Blend until smooth. This will make enough frosting for the top of a 13x9x2 cake, or about 2 dozen cupcakes.
How Many Calories In This Carrot Cake?
One of the things I’m planning on upgrading to on my blog is a nutrition calculator for all of my recipes. I know that it’s important to a lot of you for both wellness and health reasons.
Until then, I did enter the ingredients for both the cake and the frosting. And for a cake that is cut into 18 pieces, one frosted slice came in at about 200 calories and about 9 grams of fat. In comparison, a full fat version of carrot cake and cream cheese frosting would be a whopping 700 calories and over 35 grams of fat! Yikes!
That’s really why I love this carrot cake recipe. I get to enjoy the cake I love, with decadent texture and flavor, and without a lot of guilt. The recipe doesn’t give me permission to eat it every day, but I know it’s a better option when I want to splurge!
Please let me know in the comment section below if you give this recipe a try and how you like it! I love feedback and the challenge of making things better!
Enjoy every bite!
From my kitchen to yours,