Carrots for Dinner, Carrots for Dessert

Yep, that describes baby boy’s night last night!  Let me explain….  On Sunday (Mother’s Day — a great day), I decided I wanted to make a carrot cake.  Traditional carrot cake is deliciously terrible for you, as most recipes call for a full cup of oil and of course you MUST have homemade cream cheese icing.  Since my husband isn’t quite the dessert junkie that I am, I knew I’d end up eating the whole thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I would have found a way to justify every single bite (i.e. “it has vegetables in it!!”). 

So I decided to do some tweaking, as I often do in the kitchen.  With baking it’s not always smart, but I put on my mad scientist hat and hopped to it.  What I came up with is an adaptation of a great zucchini bread recipe I’ve made many times, courtesy of the Food & Wine website.  I turned it into a whole wheat carrot-zucchini cake and I have to say it turned out great.  Whole wheat flour is usually hit or miss with me, but this cake turned out super moist and didn’t taste like cardboard.  AND IT HAS VEGETABLES IN IT!  ha ha….  Here’s my version of the original recipe:

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional — I usually leave them out)

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour (I didn’t want to risk using all whole wheat, so I went 50/50)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon (more if you’d like)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar (original recipe calls for white sugar)

2 eggs

1/2 cup oil (I used canola)

1/2 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt (I just used a whole single-serving container, which is a tad more than 1/2 cup)

1 cup coarsely grated zucchini (1 medium)

1 cup coarsely grated carrots (about 3 small)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9×9 (square) baking pan.

Mix dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon) in a bowl and set aside.

Mix sugar, eggs, oil, and yogurt using a hand or stand mixer.

Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into wet, and when combined fold in the zucchini and carrots (and nuts if you choose to include them).

Spread in pan and bake until set, about 35 minutes.  I have a fast oven so you may need to go a little longer, or even a little less.  I started checking with a toothpick at around 30 minutes.  The 9×9 pan cooks quicker than a loaf pan.

Let it cool on a wire rack and enjoy!  If you don’t think you can eat the whole cake in a couple of days I’d suggest freezing some, because by day 3 it starts getting a little gooey on top (as most cakes without icing do).

Naturally this isn’t a perfect substitution for the rich, sugary, delicious carrot cake I love to wallow in, but it’s really good given the fact that it’s somewhat healthy.   My little guy is not a big sweets eater (perhaps he was switched at birth) but he did enjoy a piece of it last night and I felt halfway decent letting him eat that kind of cake.  It has veggies in it remember?!  He seems to gravitate only towards sweets that are khaki in color — graham crackers, etc. — so this cake is in the right color palette.  I can’t believe my child won’t eat anything chocolate.  It’s weird.

So carrots for dinner, carrots for dessert…  Since I had a bunch of leftover carrots and zucchini from my baking extravaganza, my sweet blue-eyed tot had a good old fashioned English muffin pizza last night.  We ALL ate those as kids so it was fun to put one together for him.  I grated up a small carrot, half of a zucchini, and chopped some spinach.  Sauteed the veggies to soften them, added some jarred marinara to the skillet, spooned the mixture onto a partially toasted English muffin, topped with cheese, and finished cooking it in the oven until everything was crispy on the bottom and melted on top.  It was devoured in a flash.  Another load of veggies down the gullet and he was none the wiser!

Here’s a little something to take with you courtesy of my Aunt, an English teacher…  Can’t remember if you spell dessert with one “s” or two?  Well, it’s TWO because you always want TWO desserts!  I never misspelled dessert after she told me that a million years ago.


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