What I love about coming up with a recipe, is that inspiration can strike anywhere. This past weekend, we were spending time with my husband’s parents as an early Easter get-together. My mother-in law, Sandra, had brought 4 brown bananas with her and asked me to bring pecans so that we could make banana bread. I mentioned that I wanted to make a carrot cake for Easter. Wait, I thought! What if we combined the two ideas and made one epic Banana Carrot Cake!
I found an awesome carrot cake recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie, a healthy recipe blogger fave of mine, and switched it up to include bananas and pecans. I have to say, the cake turned out so moist and flavorful! It is definitely like a banana bread and a carrot cake have merged perfectly to create an incredible cake!
This healthy carrot cake recipe is actually vegan. It can also be made with a variety of flours but I chose wholewheat flour to amp up the fiber content. Usually when you use wholewheat flour, you need to add more moisture to the batter, since the flour soaks up more liquid than your typical plain white flour. To help keep the cake moist, I added the mashed bananas. This is an awesome baking hack when you want to add moisture to a batter but don’t want the batter to be too runny. The bananas also added some yummy natural sweetness to the cake.
Since this is a Banana Carrot Cake, we need to talk about the carrots! I really like being able to see the carrots in the cake, so I used the largest size grate on a cheese grater. Of course, if you don’t want that texture in the cake, feel free to use a smaller size grate for the carrots. I also loved the crunch that the pecans add to the cake. It’s an awesome contrast to the moist, tender cake.
A must-add ingredient to both banana bread and carrot cake is ground cinnamon! There’s nothing like the comforting sweetness and subtle spiciness of cinnamon in your house when you’re baking. I really think you can’t have too much cinnamon, so I added 2 tsp to this cake. If you want to be more modest with the amount of cinnamon in the cake, 1 tsp should work just fine.
And now for the frosting! I wanted to do a healthier take on a cream cheese frosting for this Banana Carrot Cake. To do this, I used a low fat cream cheese aka neufchatel that was sweetened with raw agave and a little vanilla extract. This creates a perfectly spreadable cream cheese frosting… yum! I have also made a similar frosting but using Tofutti. This actually makes a really great frosting too and no one can tell that it is vegan!
I think the best thing about this cake is that it is really choc full of delicious fruit, vegetable and pecans. So not only is this cake delicious, you can feel good about having a few more servings of fruits and vegetables than in a slice of your average cake. That’s my kinda dessert!
This cake tastes better the next day, which makes it a perfect make ahead cake for Easter. Just store it in the fridge overnight, either with or without the frosting. Before serving, you can take it out of the fridge to come to room temperature or serve it cold from the fridge. This cake would go really well with a cup of coffee or tea too!
I really hope you try this Banana Carrot Cake! If you give it a try, please let me know. Post it on Instagram and tag me @nourish_with_renata and #nourishwithrenata on Instagram! I would love to see what you make!
- 1 packed cup grated carrots
- 4 mashed very ripe (brown or spotted) bananas, approx ¾ - 1 cup
- 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp stevia
- ¼ cup milk of choice e.g. almond milk, coconut milk etc.
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 1 8 oz package of Neufchatel
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup raw agave syrup
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8” round springform pan with baking spray of choice.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the carrots, banana, oil, apple cider vinegar and vanilla extract. Allow to sit on the counter for about 10 minutes.
While you’re waiting, in another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and stevia till well combined.
Add in the milk and carrot/banana mixture from Step 2, and stir till just combined. Do not overmix or this will create a dense cake.
Gently fold in the pecans.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Smooth over the top.
Bake for approximately 25-30 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake, comes out with no crumbs attached.
Allow to cool thoroughly before icing.
In a large bowl, add in the cream cheese, vanilla extract and agave.
Whip together with a handheld mixer till the ingredients are well combined and the frosting is smooth, with no lumps.
Spread the frosting over the cooled cake.
Sprinkle over extra chopped pecans, if desired.
Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.