In a season filled with opportunity for overindulgence and weight gain, carrot cake seems like a healthy (and even innocent) option. It may come as a disappointment when you find that carrot cake is actually one of the highest calorie cake options available.
Since carrot cake incorporates fibrous shreds of vegetable matter, recipes use more oil, butter, or another fat source to give the cake a fine crumb and soft texture. Add in chopped nuts, raisins, and cream cheese frosting, and even a small carrot cupcake can easily pack 500 calories.
Take a look at these ridiculously high-calorie carrot cake variations and their Hershey’s Bar equivalents, and prepare to be spooked:
- Panera Carrot Cupcake- 650 calories, the equivalent of 2.95 Hershey’s bars
- Ruby Tuesday Carrot Cupcake- 325 calories, the equivalent of 1.47 Hershey’s bars
- Red Lobster Carrot Cake- 600 calories, the equivalent of 2.72 Hershey’s bars
- The Cheesecake Factory’s Carrot Cake Cheesecake- 990 calories, the equivalent of 4.5 Hershey’s bars
Sure, you could spend your time making substitutions on your aunt’s “famous” carrot cake recipe, devoting precious hours to googling oil substitutes and butter-free frosting, or you could try these brilliant, no-bake Carrot Cake Balls.
A hybrid mix between a carrot cake and a donut hole. This awesome recipe, courtesy of the lovely folks at PopSugar fitness, clocks in at a mere 88 calories per serving.
Best yet? Unlike junky, processed 100 calorie packs and other “diet treats”, these carrot cake bites are naturally healthy to boot! Free of any added sugars and chock-full of heart-healthy poly and monounsaturated fats, these fall treats are even dairy-free and gluten-free (if you care to use gluten-free oats).
Protein-Packed Carrot Cake Balls
1 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dates
4 ounces unsweetened applesauce
1 serving vanilla protein powder (about 35 grams)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup pecans (or walnuts)
1/3 cup rolled in unsweetened coconut
- Add the cashews, oats, dates, applesauce, protein powder, and spices to the food processor. Turn on for several minutes until choppy dough forms.
- Add the grated carrot and pecans until thoroughly mixed. The dough will appear slightly sticky.
- Pour the unsweetened shredded coconut into a bowl.
- Roll dough into balls, roll each one in the coconut, and place on a clean cookie sheet.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to set. Store uneaten balls in an airtight container in the fridge.