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Carrot cake always sounds so "healthy," but that’s not necessarily the case — especially when the cake is made with a stick of butter and there's a thick layer of cream cheese frosting on top. For our carrot cake makeover, we control the portion by making kid-friendly cupcakes, but we still keep a hefty helping of carotene-rich carrots. We also switch from butter to canola oil, use some whole wheat flour, and whip up a frosting with light cream cheese. The carrots blend into the batter if you grate them miniscule bits using the smallest side of a box grater. Decorate each cupcake with a jelly bean or sprinkles, or just keep things plain and simple.

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup 1% lowfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups finely grated carrots (about 8 ounces)
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.
  2. Combine the sugar, oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl and beat at medium speed  until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and stir to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. At low speed, gradually beat the flour mixture into the liquid mixture until just combined.
  4. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and cool completely before frosting.
  5. To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and sugar at low speed until blended. Raise the speed to medium once the sugar is incorporated and continue to beat until creamy. Spread the frosting over the cupcakes and garnish as desired with a jelly bean, an M&M, sprinkles or nothing at all!

Tip: For a non-cream cheese-based frosting, whisk together 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1½ tablespoons lemon juice or 1% lowfat milk.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cupcake): 270 calories, 12g fat (2g saturated, 0.9g omega-3), 170mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate, 1.5g fiber, 4g protein, 40% vitamin A

Recipe submitted by: Liz W eiss, MS, RD and Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD

Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD and Liz Weiss, MS, RD are The Meal Makeover Moms, and together, they’re on a mission to help busy families eat a healthy and delicious diet. Read their latest cookbook, Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, or listen to their weekly radio podcast.

Recipe By: Meal Makeover Moms