Baking/ Recipes

Eat Your Veggies: Whole Wheat Walnut Ginger Carrot Cake

After all that talk about butter, let me reintroduce a (semi) healthy dessert into your life.

Please get past my horrid food photography, circa 2009, and see this cake for what it is: a delectable way to eat your vegetables.

Last night I got home around 9:00 from my Monday small group and had a hankering for carrot cake so naturally I stayed up until past midnight baking one for myself.It turned out beautiful and perfect and I went to sleep with visions of sugar coated carrots dancing through my head.

Actually that didn’t happen but sounded nice, didn’t it?

In reality I ate a nutella topped chocolate muffin and drooled over this recipe in the dark. This carrot cake was my birthday cake last year, when I turned twenty four. I baked it for myself, then my mom stuck candles in it and we all sang.

What? I have control issues?

Anyways, this carrot cake is actually on the healthy side if I do say so myself. It features whole wheat flour and….carrots. Duh. The frosting features coconut and….butter. It’s glorious. So glorious in fact that now, at seven in the morning, I kinda sorta want to run to the store and buy mass quantities of carrots. What really sets this cake apart from the rest though is the crystallized ginger. It gives a spicy little chew to the cake and the flavor works really nicely with the cinnamon spice of the cake. If crystallized ginger ain’t your thing, I suppose you could sub in pineapple. Just don’t tell me about it because I’m a little obsessed with the ginger in this cake. Thanks.

Whole Wheat Walnut Ginger Carrot Cake

2 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 cup milk

1/2 cup canola oil

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 cups grated carrot

Heat oven to 350. Grease two 8 inch cake pans. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix milk, sugar, maple syrup, canola oil and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to wet in batches. Mix together. Fold in coconut, carrots and walnuts.

Divide mixture between both cake pans and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Coconut Icing:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup coconut milk

2-3 tsp vanilla

4 cups powdered sugar

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add coconut milk and vanilla. Add powdered sugar and mix until smooth (use stand mixer and keep mixing for a solid 7 minutes). Add coconut and mix to combine.

Since I, umm, don’t have a good photo of this cake to show you I shall instead feature this fine man right here. He looks like he has gobbled down some carrot cake in his day.

Yeah…I’ll stop rambling now and you should probably just go make this cake. Like, stat.

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  • Maria @ Kale and Cupcakes
    August 31, 2010 at 7:33 am

    Semi healthy desserts still count as desserts in my book – especially when butter is a main ingredient. Delicious. I need to make this!

  • Amy
    August 31, 2010 at 7:34 am

    I would like to smoosh my face into that cake right now!

  • Evan Thomas
    August 31, 2010 at 7:38 am

    I would dive into a swimming pool of that. But I think there’s an error in the recipe. 23 teaspoons of vanilla for the frosting?

    • jenna
      August 31, 2010 at 7:40 am

      hahaha! That was supposed to say “2-3” thanks for catching it!!

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    August 31, 2010 at 7:42 am

    I love carrot, cake, but I might leave out the ginger. And then I’d go lick the cream cheese frosting’s bowl because, really, that’s why I eat carrot cake.

  • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete
    August 31, 2010 at 7:43 am

    I LOVE crystalized ginger! I’m so excited to make this b/c my husband loves carrot cake, but I didn’t grow up eating it so I had no idea where to start…until today. Thanks!!!

  • Angela
    August 31, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Oh my…I don’t even care that it’s only 9:30 a.m. I’m totally craving this cake now! Yum.

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    August 31, 2010 at 7:44 am

    i’ll take a carrot cake and a bulldog for my upcoming birthday please. that’s not too much to ask for, right?

  • Jasmine @ Eat Move Write
    August 31, 2010 at 7:46 am

    While baking my amazing oatmeal-raisin cookies the other day, it occurred to me that I needed to try to make carrot cake (I never have). And, now you’ve answered my prayers with a recipe. Now, if only I can convince my husband that carrot cake tastes good. He hates carrots! 🙂

  • monicanelsonfitness
    August 31, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Great Recipe! I have 2 English Bulldogs, GREAT PHOTO!! I think your right, he has gobbled mad cake in his day. 🙂

  • Tina
    August 31, 2010 at 7:50 am

    I typically have carrot cake for my birthdays because it is a favorite. This year I had lemon because pregnancy cravings reign, but that cake sounds great. And I love the healthier options too.

  • Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf
    August 31, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Crystallized ginger. Maple syrup. Whole wheat pastry flour. I’m in love!

    Seriously, I’m morally bound to make this in the near future.

  • Cassie
    August 31, 2010 at 7:53 am

    This sounds incredible. I love carrot cake, it’s possibly one of my most favourite desserts. When people say they don’t like carrot cake…I don’t like them. (SLIGHT exaggeration there!)
    I may make this and veganize it/”un-refine” the sugar. Stupid intolerance(s).
    But this..this sounds more than worth the extra effort.
    Speaking of which, do you know of an unrefined alternative to powdered sugar? I can’t have anything even from a cane plant…but I think honey would ruin the texture of the icing.

  • Allie (Live Laugh Eat)
    August 31, 2010 at 7:54 am

    I definitely drooled over this last year and the other times your mom made it/you ate it. I remember this cake like it was a major milestone in my life ha!

    I made carrot cake for my own birthday this year too.

  • elleneatsbeets
    August 31, 2010 at 7:54 am

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE carrot cake. Hands down favorite dessert. This will have to be the recipe I use next time I make one. I love the idea of spicy ginger in it. Yum!

  • R @ Learning As I Chop
    August 31, 2010 at 7:56 am

    I love the idea of baking your own birthday cake. My birthday is in September and I want to do that for my party.

  • Seglare in Copenhagen
    August 31, 2010 at 7:57 am

    The cake looks so yummy! I think it will go to my to-bake-list, which I hope to complete by my 100th birthday… 😉

    I don’t care for buttery frostings (or the vegan versions for that matter), but I’m sure it would taste amazing with just a basic icing with powdered sugar and lemon, coconut milk, vanilla, or something similar.

  • M
    August 31, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Hi Jenna!

    Once in a while can you give us a few daily eats?

    That would be awesome,cheers!

    Also love to hear a bit more about what’s up in your yoga world etc

    Love your blog whateve you do 😉

  • Heather @ Side of Sneakers
    August 31, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Veggies + dessert = best possible combo ever 🙂

  • Erica
    August 31, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Perfect timing with this recipe! My dad’s birthday is coming up and carrot cake is his favorite. I will be making this very soon. Thanks!

  • Lauren
    August 31, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Semi- healthy and easy to veganize…I am all ears! This sounds delicious.

  • Chelsea (Chelsea's Chew and Run Fun)
    August 31, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Jenna, this sounds like an amazing recipe as per usual. I just bought a massive bag of carrots that are as thick as a baseball bat, so I might just put them to good use with this delectable recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  • Katherine
    August 31, 2010 at 8:16 am

    crystallized ginger?! Only one of my favorite things ever! Not a huge carrot cake fan but if I were to make one, it would be this one.

  • Lauren at KeepItSweet
    August 31, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Semi-healthy desserts just make you feel better when eating them so I think it counts:-)

  • Sarah for Real
    August 31, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Carrot cake is my second favorite cake ever! Yours looks like it actually contains some carrots too! I hate it when something is called “carrot” cake, but it’s really just cake-cake with a couple shreds of carrot.

    I really just eat carrot cake for the frosting, who am I kidding…

  • Mary
    August 31, 2010 at 8:29 am

    decently healthy and decadent 🙂 I’m going to have to try this.

    ps. cuuuuute pup!

  • Coley
    August 31, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Delicious! Love the puppy… what a cutie!!

  • Alyssa
    August 31, 2010 at 8:47 am

    I absolutely adore carrot cake! Coconut frosting would go amazingly well with it 🙂


  • Lindsey
    August 31, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Mmmm i LOVE carrot cake. That looks so delicious

  • Caitlin
    August 31, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Carrot cake is my favorite! I can’t wait to find an excuse to make this. My boyfriend is visiting today, perhaps I should bake one for him to take back to his apartment?

  • LindseyAnn
    August 31, 2010 at 9:07 am

    I want to go cuddle with that dog.
    Oh, and the cake sounds fantastic, too. OK, so I’ll eat some cake and then cuddle with the dog. 🙂

  • Maura
    August 31, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Can this be my wedding cake please?? Now, I just have to find someone who will agree to that! Carrot cake and Pumpkin spice lattes, for all!!!

  • Jess @ MTL Veggie
    August 31, 2010 at 9:20 am

    I love how you made your own birthday cake. I did the same a few years back for my 20th birthday. Coincidentally, it too, was Carrot Cake and everyone raved about it for days!

  • Jil @ Peace, Love & Munchies
    August 31, 2010 at 9:22 am

    That cake sounds absolutely wonderful!

  • jessica @ how sweet
    August 31, 2010 at 9:40 am

    That coconut icing sounds divine and you know… I have to eat that cake because if you haven’t heard – I despise vegetables!

  • Laura @ Backstage Pass to Health & Happiness
    August 31, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Ohhhh this cake sounds delicious. This may be the perfect recipe for company we’re having this weekend. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • Lu
    August 31, 2010 at 9:53 am

    On my way to the kitchen right now. Well, theoretically I’m sitting at my desk at work but that cake will be made soon. Like. STAT. Looks great!

  • Kelly
    August 31, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I have an obsession with bull dogs, that picture just made my day.

  • Jillian @ Reshape Your Life
    August 31, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Carrot cake is my favorite!! I’m not a dessert person but I LOVE carrot cake, I will DEFINITELY have to try this recipe!

    mmm carrot cake. now I’m hungry. lol

  • Karen
    August 31, 2010 at 10:00 am

    How about a giveaway of a Jenna-made version of this delightful dessert. My own baking skills are a bit rustic. Carrot cake w/ frosting is my favorite dessert of all time! Pretty please?!

  • Amanda
    August 31, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Jenna! This looks delicious!! And my birthday is only weeks away!! lol 🙂 Perfect timing!

  • Marina
    August 31, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I love carrot cake, I should try making this one because it looks perfect

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin
    August 31, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I had carrot cake for my birthday too. Best. dessert. ever.

    I’ve never tried putting crystalized ginger in mine, but that sounds like it would be amazing. I’m going to have to try that! 😀

  • Allison K
    August 31, 2010 at 10:16 am

    This looks amazing. I’m looking for a good desert recipe for this weekend and I had decided on your blueberry crisp recipe, until this one popped up!

    Also, I made your mom’s enchiladas last night, the ones you posted about a few weeks ago? AMAZING! I could not stop eating little forkfuls of filling while I was filling the tortillas. My husbands experience went like this: bite of enchilada “oohh. wow. These are good” bite, bite ,bite enichilada is gone. “No, these are amazing.”

  • Samantha @ Food Edu
    August 31, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I love carrot cake, but have never tried my hand at it before. Looks great–may I tell you that I absolutely love the change in your blog?! I literally want to make every single recipe here–you make it seem so easy and have so much enthusiasm!

  • eatmovelove
    August 31, 2010 at 10:24 am

    So I’m trying to wean myself off of eating a CAKE every evening…and you go and show this? 😉 Thanks.

    Is this your OWN recipe though? You said you were looking at it until midnight…from a book? Do you take a variety of recipes and make it your own? Or are you supposed to cite where it came from? I’m just curious for my own reasons! – not that I think your copyrighting LOL!

  • Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run]
    August 31, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I think it is utterly AMAZING how much your photography has improved since you began in ’07 — like WOW!!

  • Liza (Health Nutting)
    August 31, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Looks amazeness mmm yummm, I probably will make this! 🙂

  • Kate
    August 31, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Whoa, sounds great! This is getting bookmarked!

  • Corinne
    August 31, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    carrot cake is def. my favorite! this sounds delightful. question for you: what is crystalized ginger and where can i get it? tjs? 🙂 thank youuuu

  • Anne
    August 31, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Hey, the recipes are cool but two a day — one for cake and another for cookies? I am overloading on rich/ sugary food a bit and I am not even cooking along with you. Seems like recipe focused blogs update 1/2 times a week (at most). No burnout needed — for us or you.

  • Katie
    August 31, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I love how you keep posting recipes!! This is awesome! My recipe book is growing larger as we speak 🙂

  • A Teenage Gourmet (Sami)
    August 31, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Um, YUM!

  • Bess @ I Dream of Greenie
    August 31, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Carrot cake is probably something I could eat for breakfast, lunch AND dinner! I love that this recipe is easily veganized and utilizes coconut instead of pineapple, which I find makes the cake kinda mushy.

  • Kathy @trulyyumlife
    August 31, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I am always looking for healthy and delicious recipes! This looks amazing. I will have to try this one out!

  • Tori @
    August 31, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Ok. You have to stop posting recipes….you’re adding to my to do list 😉
    These look awesome too!

  • Sarah
    August 31, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Love (love!) carrot cake and this sounds divine, especially the coconut icing — wow! Question, are eggs missing from your recipe? I didn’t notice flax or any other obvious egg replacement. Just wanted to confirm so I can whip this up ASAP. Thanks!

  • Courtney @ Bread & Bokeh
    August 31, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    That carrot cake recipe looks so good! I have loved all the recipes you have been posting lately. I really love the new direction the blog is going. You’re an awesome reader and photographer, and I really enjoy the blog more now that it showcases that! I have been reading for almost 3 years, and I love the blog more than ever!!!

  • Chelsey
    August 31, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    mmmm – love carrot cake!!! there is nothing wrong with baking your own birthday cake. i do it every year!

  • Nancy
    August 31, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Now I am in the mood for carrot cake. Great. There is no way I will bake this anytime soon. Damnit! lol

  • Sana
    September 1, 2010 at 3:53 am

    I have never had carrot cake, this is because my mom makes ah-mazing carrot pie 🙂

  • Lisa
    September 3, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    That looks so delicious! Thanks for the recipe-cant wait to try this!

  • Madelin
    December 23, 2010 at 12:54 am

    Hey Jenna, do you think it would work out if I used the batter for cupcakes? How long do you think they would need to bake? Thanks

    • jenna
      December 23, 2010 at 6:09 am

      yes! Bake for about 25 minutes , or until golden 🙂

  • Lori Delgado
    February 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Hi Jenna! This sounds great and I am gonna make it this week but have a couple questions; someone else asked if in fact it does not include eggs? Also, is it a huge difference to use “unsweetened” coconut as opposed to the regular sweetened coconut you get at the store? I found the unsweetened only in the health food section but wasn’t sure if that is what I should use so I just got the regular coconut. Can you please let me know so I can make it properly. Thanks!!! Lori

    • jenna
      February 1, 2011 at 7:17 pm

      hi lori! I got your email and I’m so sorry I haven’t written back yet!! There are NO eggs in the recipe–it’s vegan! And yes, theres a pretty big difference between unsweetened and sweetened coconut. You really should use unsweetened because otherwise the cake will be waaay sweet.

      Sorry bout that!

      • Lori Delgado
        February 1, 2011 at 8:06 pm

        Hi Jenna! Thanks! Thats what I was thinking. Ok no problem I will get the unsweetened and save the other for future use. I can’t wait to make this. I love carrot cake and yours sounds yummy since it has no pineapple and raisons. Gonna make it Thursday for National Carrot Cake Day, hehe. Thanks again! Lori 🙂

  • Lori Delgado
    February 4, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Hi Jenna 🙂 I made this cake tonight and it was SO GOOD!!! We loved it! You were right, the sweetened coconut would have been way too sweet! Thanks! Now to decide which one of your yummy recipes I am gonna try next 🙂 Lori

    • jenna
      February 4, 2011 at 8:03 am

      awesome!! I’m SO glad it turned out! 🙂

  • Zoey
    January 2, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Worst cake I have ever made. Incredibly dry and tasted like baking soda, even though I replaced the tablespoon you list with a teaspoon. That table spoon of baking soda is a typo, right? Of course, had I not been in a hurry I would have seen the problem. There is no acid to activate even a teaspoon of baking soda, and the flour to liquid ratio is way off for a cake. I can only assume that you didn’t actually make the cake and that the photo is of a different cake because as written this one crumbles to dust when served. Total waste of some nice organic carrots, not to mention the rest of the ingredients. And to think I took it to a party! I am so embarrassed.

    • jenna
      January 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      The recipe calls for 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tbsp baking powder, both measurements are correct! If you accidentally swapped the baking power for baking soda, however, I can see how you might have had an issue!

  • Andrea
    June 21, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Hi Jenna,
    I was planning on baking this cake this weekend and was wondering if subbing honey for maple syrup is an option or if it would affect the overall awesomeness of this cake? 🙂

  • Rosemary
    March 8, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Can you bake this in a bundt pan? or one of those pans where the bottom comes out, instead of in two layers?