Carrot cake

This carrot cake has zero refined sugars and a secret ingredient that will have you scratching your head…

If you’ve been keeping up with my recipes so far, you’ve probably noticed I try to avoid refined sugars in my cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type to ‘quit’ refined sugars completely, and I don’t believe eating them in moderation is at all bad. However, I do believe adding refined and free sugars to cooking and mass-produced goods in the quantity that we do has become a habit rather than because it actually improves the taste or end result.

Case in point: this carrot cake.

Besides just ONE tablespoon of honey, this cake is entirely sweetened by apples. And you wouldn’t know it! It is so sweet and deliciously moist, you’ll wonder why people ever added refined sugar in the first place.

Before anyone cares to point out the obvious, yes, I know, apples (carrots and honey) have sugars *inserts eye roll meme*, but there’s a big difference between consuming sugars in foods in their whole and natural state compared to those extracted and highly processed. For one, sugars in whole foods like apples are accompanied by a raft of different health-promoting macro and micronutrients including complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamin C and different antioxidants, while refined sugars provide very little nutritional value for what is a calorie-dense food. High-quality honey, although considered a ‘free sugar‘ and more calorie dense, gram-for-gram, than refined white sugar, has disease-fighting antioxidants that help to neutralise free radicals in the body. Plus, I personally love the taste and enjoy it in moderation, which is important in being able to sustain a healthy and balanced diet, but leave it out if you prefer.

But why should we reduce our refined sugar intake? According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), consuming too many free sugars is associated with poor dietary quality, obesity and risk of noncommunicable diseases – which account for 71 per cent of the world’s deaths each year. Interestingly, this warning does not extend to consuming intrinsic sugars, which are those found in whole foods, like intact fruit, vegetables and milk, which WHO says has no reported evidence of adverse effects.

I’m not a dietitian, and as I said above, I am not advocating quitting free or refined sugars completely, but I do think there’s merit in reducing our intake and improving the quality of the sugars we are consuming. Everyone is different and what each person needs to lead a healthy life is different, but for most of us, eating less refined and free sugars and more fruit and vegetables can only be a good thing. And when doing so results in something as delicious and genuinely good for you as this carrot cake, it’s hard to find reasons not to!

…Click here to find a super special labneh icing – the perfect pairing!


2 apples, cored and grated (I like red gala for their sweetness)

3 medium carrots, grated

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

3 eggs

1 cup flour (I used spelt)

1 cup almond meal

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp mixed spice (or cinnamon)

1 tbs honey (the darker the better!)

100g pecans, chopped

*Makes 12-16 slices.


Preheat oven to 180° fan-forced, and line three nine-inch baking trays. I usually do this by folding baking paper in half on itself until it forms a triangle, and then measuring the point from the middle of the cake tin and snipping the excess paper off to form a perfectly fitted circle.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients well, ensuring there are no clumps of dry ingredients. It will not look like normal cake mix – don’t freak out! It’s quite thick and textured, but once it’s cooked you wouldn’t know the difference.

Spoon evenly into cake forms and spread out with the back of a spoon. I usually make the centre slightly lower than the sides to account for any rising – but this cake tends to rise quite evenly anyway.

Bake on the middle or lowest rack for 30 minutes. Insert a clean knife into the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean, it’s finished, otherwise, leave for an extra five minutes.

Once cooled, ice each cake with labneh frosting and layer on top of one another. Decorate with extra pecans or lime zest.

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