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Healthy Holiday Sweets…Yum! – Jill Sung

carrot mini cupcake

Not into holiday weight gain, but love the holiday sweets? I don’t actually love eating sweets, but I love baking…  And it’s fun to bake for holiday parties or as gifts to friends.  My current favorite, carrot cake. It’s pretty healthy as cakes go, and I’ve melded together a few recipes to create a healthier version that tastes great and is really moist without making me or the gift recipient feel guilty about indulging. Makes about 20 servings. Per serving: Calories with frosting: 219.4; without the frosting: 152.8. (You can check nutritional info for almost anything you make with this recipe calculator:


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4  cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup apple sauce, unsweetened
  • 3 egg, large
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded carrots(fine grating disc of food processor works well)
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained


  • 6 ounces, neufchatel cheese (lowfat cream cheese)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
  2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Make a well in the center and add sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in carrots, coconut, walnuts and pineapple.
  3. Pour into 9×13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool.
  4. Frosting: Cream the butter and neufchatel/low fat cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until creamy.Mix in orange peel.

You’ll notice I replaced the vegetable oil with apple sauce and cut the sugar in more than half. Sometimes, people will partially replace the sugar with natural replacements like agave syrup (from the agave plant, doesn’t increase blood glucose levels) or xylitol (from birch tree – kills cavities)…but I haven’t tried these yet.

I love making this in mini-loaves, cupcakes, and mini-cupcakes (the smaller the size, the fewer the calories and sugars per serving – you’d be surprised, but people will eat less when things are served in smaller sizes). For Yoshiko’s baby shower, we combined a plate of mini-cupcakes, and decorated the icing with a crying baby (that’s Metta’s artwork above!). Hope you love the recipe. I’ve gotten rave reviews, over and over again. Let me know your secrets for healthy baking or just your favorite recipes!

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