Holiday treats don’t have to have junkie ingredients to be delicious! This healthy carrot cake recipe works for paleo, primal, and GAPS diets and is both nourishing and delightful. It’s shared from the cookbook Nourishing Holiday.
Several years ago when my family undertook the GAPS diet to heal various issues like PANDAS and lyme disease, we were faced with a conundrum at the holidays: take a break from healing to eat foods that would end up making us feel sick or feel deprived while we watched friends and family eat foods we couldn’t have.
Thankfully, there was a third door, and behind it, the option to feel both satisfied and nourished: re-creating all of our favorite classic holiday recipes with GAPS-compliant ingredients. This led to the release of my holiday cookbook, Nourishing Holiday, which has become a reader favorite for recipes like dinner rolls, stuffing, brown butter turkey, and, of course, all the treats like gingerbread man cookies, coconut kefir cake, and this healthy carrot cake recipe.
Truthfully, holiday baking starts in October, when we make Mr. Incredible’s favorite treat for his birthday. You guessed it: carrot cake! Over the years, we’ve made every iteration: whole wheat carrot cake, gluten-free carrot cake, paleo carrot cake… but this GAPS-friendly carrot cake is by far our favorite, + the most healthy carrot cake recipe I’ve devised to date.
Is carrot cake the healthiest cake?
I mean, it has vegetables in it, so… yes? Truth be told, any recipe is as healthy as you make it. You can make carrot cake with gluten, sugar, and so forth, and it would not be very healthy at all.
In this case, we keep things grain- and sugar-free so that you can stick with your gut-healing protocol during the holidays and still enjoy cake.
Does carrot cake count as a serving of vegetables?
Who am I to tell you no?
If you really want me to justify it, observe:
What vitamins are in carrot cake?
Well, for starters, carrots are high in beta-carotene, an anti-oxidant which is a pre-cursor for vitamin A, good for skin and eye health.
This particular healthy carrot cake recipe also has good fats, fiber, and a fair amount of protein.
For more healthy holiday recipes
If you’re excited to have your (grain-free) cake and eat it too, you’ll love the rest of the recipes in Nourishing Holiday, my GAPS-, paleo-, and primal-friendly holiday cookbook. You’ll find recipes for staples like meat stock and cashew milk, as well as all the holiday favorites you’d expect from sides to the main event (the turkey), and of course, pies, cookies, and even warm drinks.
Without further ado… the Healthy Carrot Cake Recipe you’ve been waiting for!
GAPS Diet Carrot Cake
- 8" Cake Pan
- Unbleached Parchment Paper
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- 3/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup avocado oil
- 1/2 cup honey (may sub maple syrup if desired)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 cup walnuts, divided
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup cream cheese (homemade strained yogurt or kefir, store bought organic cream cheese, or dairy-free cream cheese options are all fine)
- 1 cup butter, softened but still cold
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Grease an 8 inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
MAKE THE CAKE:
- In a large bowl, combine coconut flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt then stir.
- In a separate bowl, mix eggs on high with a hand mixer until they become foamy. Add the honey, avocado oil, and vanilla then mix until combined.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix on high.
- Fold in raisins and ½ cup walnut pieces.
- Pour into cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until browned on top and spongy.
MAKE THE FROSTING:
- Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix on high with a hand mixer until smooth.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
- Using a long, sharp knife, cut the cake in half horizontally to create two layers.
- Use a frosting spatula to spread a generous layer of frosting on the bottom cake layer, then place the second layer on top of it.
- Frost the rest of the cake then carefully press walnut pieces onto the side of the cake, all the way around.