Healthy Quinoa Carrot Cake

Healthy Gluten-Free Carrot Cake made with quinoa & almond flours!

Last week I turned 26. Twenty-freakin-six!

I’m not a big birthday person, don’t like being the center of attention and definitely don’t want people to make a big fuss over me, but I do always make sure I do something for me.

This year that meant cutting out of work early and going for a hike with my pup. That evening I also enjoyed a glass (or two) of rose on the porch with my parents and then we went out to a local restaurant that serves great farm-to-table food.

Oh, and I also baked myself a birthday cake :)

Healthy Carrot Cake made gluten-free using quinoa flour & almond flour!

I’m visiting my parents right now in Vermont and when they figured out that I actually made my own cake, they were kind of mortified.

You’re not supposed to bake yourself a birthday cake, but since it’s me, my mom just rolled her eyes knowing that baking is something I love to do, and this was just another excuse for me to try a new recipe.

It was tough trying to decide what to make. I could have gone the dark chocolate route, or the vanilla cake route, or even something with fresh fruit (likely blueberries), but something about carrot cake was pulling me in.

And of course, I wanted to recreate it and give it my own healthy spin.

Healthy Carrot & Quinoa Cake made gluten-free using quinoa flour & almond flour!When I was a little girl, I always used to have carrot cake on my birthday. I’m not sure if it was because my parents thought it was healthier (there are veggies inside of course), or if it was just what my dad enjoyed baking (he’s the baker in our family), but either way, my birthday cake was usually a carrot cake topped with homemade cream cheese frosting.

At the time, I wasn’t the biggest fan. I think it was the name that got me; I didn’t want to be that girl that always had the healthy food. I just wished my parents would make me a vanilla cake out of a box like all the other kids. It was so much more normal.

But now I realize that traditional carrot cake recipes really aren’t that healthy. And that just because something contains a vegetable in it’s name does not make it good for you.

In fact, I’d venture to say that carrot cake is almost worse than many other cakes. Loaded with vegetable oil, sugar and white flour, and then topped with a mixture of cream cheese, butter and sugar…yikes. Just thinking about it makes me ill.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake - remade healthy using quinoa & almond flours

The flavors that go into carrot cake are what I love the most. I’m a sucker for anything with cinnamon in it, and I can’t resist tossing in a sprinkle of nutmeg and ginger to spice things up a little more. Plus, a baked good with chopped nuts? I love the crunch!

To make this healthy carrot cake, I started with nutritious flours. The cake is a blend of almond flour, which is low in carbs and packed with healthy fats and protein, and toasted quinoa flour, which is also high in protein and vitamins. Unlike other gluten-free cakes, there are no starches or rice flours.

For the fat, I used coconut oil. I love the flavor, the texture and the fact that it’s high in medium chain triglycerides which have been shown to help increase calorie burn, assist in weight loss and support cardiovascular health.

And finally, for my sugars, I went with something less refined – a simple blend of honey and maple syrup. I love the flavors of both, and really enjoyed the level of sweetness they brought to the cake.

What is most special about this cake is the texture. It’s perfectly moist, has a soft texture, a slight crunch from the walnuts and a warm, comforting flavor that you come to expect from a decadent cake such as this.

Healthy Quinoa Carrot Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 1 cake (12 - 14 servings)

Ingredients

    for the cake:
  • 2 cups blanched almond flour (almond meal will not yield the same results)
  • 1 cup toasted quinoa flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.)

  • for the dairy-free "frosting":
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons water (depending on desired texture)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a bundt pan with coconut oil and set aside.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a larger mixing bowl, beat coconut oil, honey and maple syrup until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add dry mixture into wet in three additions, mixing well after each.
  5. Fold in carrots and nuts.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan, tapping on the counter to release any air bubbles.
  7. Bake on center rack for 35 - 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in pan for 15 - 20 minutes. Carefully flip over and release. Let cool completely before slicing.
  9. When ready to serve, whip up the icing by mixing together all the ingredients until smooth. Add liquid 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
http://www.simplyquinoa.com/healthy-quinoa-carrot-cake/

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  • http://www.simplyquinoa.com Suan Broughton

    I recently discovered your site and I am in love ! It is so -o-o user friendly and easy to navigate. Love the presentations of your recipe ideas…
    And needless to say… I also adore quinoa.
    It’s so to easy to print off the recipes …Can’t wait to try them out.

  • Shari

    Somthing’s wrong with your “frosting”. First of all it says 1-2 water. I assume that’s tablespoons. Second of all there is nothing but liquid, oil and cinnamon. Are we perhaps missing powdered sugar?

    • http://www.simplyquinoa.com Queen of Quinoa

      Thanks for the note, Shari. I fixed the issue with the water ingredients, but the rest of the recipe is correct – no powdered sugar needed! The only sweetener used in the frosting is honey. Once you start to work with coconut butter you’ll see that you don’t need any dry ingredients.

  • Helen MacAndrew

    Hi!
    Just wondering if there is anything that can be used in place of the almond flour – for those with nut problems?

    Thanks,
    Helen :)

    • http://www.simplyquinoa.com Queen of Quinoa

      Hi Helen, unfortunately without some testing I can’t say what would work to replace the almond flour. Blanched almond flour is very particular and I’m afraid your ratios would be off if you substituted it for another flour. You could try creating a seed flour (pumpkin perhaps?), you’d just have to make sure it’s ground up really, really, fine.

      • Helen MacAndrew

        Thank you :)

  • Katy

    Sounds delicious!
    What would you recommend using in place of a bundt pan?

    • http://www.simplyquinoa.com Queen of Quinoa

      I think you could really use any type of pan, your baking times just might be a tad bit different. If you’re using a sheet pan, I’d go with about 25 minutes and check every five minutes after that. Same goes for small round pans (if you wanted to make a layer cake). Hope that helps and hope you enjoy it :)

  • Nikki

    Hi,

    Looks yummy (as expected!) but can I use an egg replacement like flax or chia eggs?

    Kind Regards
    Nikki

  • Dana

    Thank you thank you thank you. Son is celebrating his 21 on Saturday. Carrot cake is his all time favorite but he hates to eat it because it is a “fat bomb”. He will be so thrilled and surprised!!!

  • Coley

    Coconut oil upsets my stomach. Any suggestions for a replacement? I really want to give this recipe a try!

    • http://www.simplyquinoa.com Alyssa

      Any other light flavored oil should work – light olive oil, grapeseed, melted vegan butter, etc. Enjoy!

  • Js

    Can I substitute brown rice flour? Maybe add some nutritional yeast?

  • Shakti

    Yes, those eggs, flax or chia or egg replacer (have any Americans tried the one from Ireland at any one time, things change!) but the replacements are always American and we cannot get them!
    I think because of the international sharing that recipes should now have one or two notes at the bottom so those with other challenges can meet them and not miss out pleasures like carrot cake.
    It seems early BUT xmas cakes are made months ahead and a recipe with different additions would be really appreciated!

  • http://www.EatMoveBe.com Darren

    Wow, this looks delicious. Kudos to you for coming up with a way to re-make such a traditionally sweet cake. I wonder how low you could reduce the honey (even skip the syrup?) as an experiment. Just an idea: you could add pure pumpkin puree and cut back on the sugar. Not that it’s bad… just the creativity of your recipe has got me thinking!

    • http://www.simplyquinoa.com Alyssa

      Would love to hear if you ended up trying a lower sugar option. I think you could get away with reducing it slightly, but to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of cake with little sweetness ;) Still, most certainly am interested in hearing your take if you give it a try!

  • sophie

    do you think this would work with ALL almond flour?

    thanks…and Happy belated Birthday!!!!!!!

    • http://www.simplyquinoa.com Alyssa

      Honestly, I’m not quite sure. I think it should with the support of the eggs, but you might want to up the proportions. Quinoa flour absorbs more liquid, so you might want to start with an additional 1/4 cup of almond flour, see what the batter looks like and add more if needed (1 tablespoon at a time). Hope that helps! Let me know if you end up trying it :) xo

  • Anna Macal

    Hi! What a cool and informative blog!! All of your food looks delicious. I love carrot cake and your recipe sounds awesome! I will have to try it :)

    • http://www.simplyquinoa.com Alyssa

      Thank you!! And welcome, Anna :) Glad you found me and am thrilled you’re liking the looks of the recipes. Would love to hear if you try the cake – it’s one of my favorites!

  • sayingout

    I think I will love it, have to do egg substitute so here is hoping it works!
    There is so much controversially around coconut oil. Some swear it is really good for us and others it is murder in a plate type of thing.
    As a result I have. An untouched jar in the fridge door and. Just have not got there so any information is marvellous. Thank you allyson!

    • http://www.simplyquinoa.com Alyssa

      Let me know how it works out sans egg. I’m afraid it won’t be the same texture, but either way, I think you should give it a try :)