A new, healthy spin on carrot cake just in time for Easter

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 22, 2016

KANNAPOLIS – Carrot cake may be on the menu for upcoming Easter celebrations, but you’ve probably never tried a carrot cake that has no butter, no flour and no granulated sugar.

Aubrey Mast, Extension associate in nutrition at N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute, shares her original recipe for Raw Carrot Cake.

The cake base, which is assembled without baking, consists of carrots, raisins, Medjool dates, coconut and the perfect complement of spices that (aside from the carrots) define the flavor of a carrot cake. She even offers a maple walnut frosting to replace the traditional cream cheese topping.

Allergy aware, based on her own family’s needs, Mast’s carrot cake rendition offers a gluten-free, dairy-free alternative to the traditional baked good.

Medjool dates may be an unfamiliar ingredient, but they are the natural sticky goodness that holds the recipe together and provides the sweetness to the flavor profile. These are large dates that are found in the produce section of the grocery store, usually near the more exotic fruits.

They are quite soft when fresh or they can be slightly dehydrated if they aren’t as fresh. Dehydrated should not be a deterrent, as they can easily be soaked and softened for recipe preparation. The dates do have pits that must be removed, or you may find them de-pitted and packaged near the raisins.

Raw Carrot Cake with Maple Walnut Frosting

Cake

2 cups carrots, finely chopped (approximately 8 carrots)

1 cup raisins

¾ cup Medjool dates, pitted

⅔ cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

½ tsp fresh ginger, zested

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Ingredients-Frosting

½ cup walnuts, soaked

1 cup cashews, soaked

4 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

¼ tsp vanilla

pinch of ground cinnamon

Use the food processer to chop the carrots. Add the pitted dates and coconut, processing until the mixture is sticky. Use processor to fully incorporate ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add and blend in raisins as the final ingredient. Scoop mixture into cupcake pan (with liners). Pat down to compress the cake base, and set aside. Makes 6 regular size cupcakes or 16 miniature cupcakes.

After soaking the walnuts and cashews for two hours, discard the water and combine with maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and cinnamon in a blender, processing until smooth. Spread over top of carrot cake base. Chill and serve. Will keep for 2 to 3 days in refrigerator.

The Raw Carrot Cake recipe is just one example of how Mast encourages rethinking how to enjoy flavorful foods without the damaging effects of ingredients that contribute to chronic disease symptoms.

She will be offering the Healthy Living Cooking Series again this spring. The  three-part series focuses on disease prevention and healing through food choices and preparation methods. It will be held Thursdays, 9 to 11 a.m., March 31, April 7 and April 14.

Because cooking demonstrations and sampling are part of the series, the classes will be held in the Community Kitchen at Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA), 300 Mooresville Road, Kannapolis. The series is free and open to the public, but space is limited, so registration is required. Reserve a spot by calling 704-250-5400 or emailing phhi_info@ncsu.edu.

Mast incorporates research-based information about food crops studied at the Plants for Human Health Institute and the health-related findings of her colleagues. Topics covered include prebiotics and probiotics, gut microflora, inflammation, pH, preservation and fermentation.

Each week will include a lecture, discussion and a cooking demonstration and tastings using whole food ingredients. Participants will take home recipe cards and samples of the prepared dishes.

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