I firmly beleive that a sustainable and enjoyable dietary approach should have room for your favourite foods. Incorporating treats into your diet can really help you to achieve your goals, as it prevents feelings of deprivation (which eventually inevitably leads to ‘giving up’).
On the contrary, it is easy to overdo the fun foods if you don’t have a strategy in place. This can hinder your progress and leave you feeling frustrated.
To help my clients to achieve balance and moderation with treats, I have two useful strategies:
Firstly, try to find a healthier way to enjoy your favourite treats, or healthier options that satisfy your cravings.
Secondly, practice portion control, even with ‘healthier’ treats.
This recipe is a great example of practicing these two strategies. Yes, they are still cupcakes, and they taste decadently indulgent. BUT – thanks to the addition of applesauce, they are much lower in oil and sugar than regular cupcakes. The fact that they are already portioned (into little cakes) helps with the portion control factor.
Each cupcake provides only about 180 kcal, compared to about 350 kcal for a traditional carrot cupcake. Despite this, they are everything that a carrot cake should be: moist, sweet, fluffy, and topped with a creamy zesty frosting.
The cupcakes are sugar free when using non-nutritive sweetener or xylitol, but they work with sugar too. 1/2 cup of sugar for the whole batch is still a lot less than what is found in traditional recipes. You certainly can also try to use whole-wheat flour or almond flour (for gluten free) instead of white flour, if you prefer.
The batter contains no eggs and is vegan, but not the frosting. If you are vegan, try a coconut yoghurt frosting or use any plant-based frosting recipe that you like.
You can serve these to guests without anyone knowing that they are lower in fat, sugar, and calories. They taste like the real deal. Enjoy!
Carrot & coconut cupcakes with lemon yoghurt frosting
- 1 cup finely grated carrots about 200g
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/3 cup oil canola or olive
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tbsp vinegar white wine or apple cidar
- 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
- 1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour sifted
- 1/2 tsp baking soda or sub with 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup granulated sweetener, xylitol, or sugar
Lemon yoghurt frosting
- 1/2 cup plain yoghurt a thick Greek-style yoghurt will work well
- 1/2 cup plain smooth cottage cheese or low-fat cream cheese see notes for vegan alternative
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp granulated sweetner, xylitol or sugar
- Optional – nuts for decorating e.g. walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 180 C fan. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray or line with cupcake liners.
- Mix the carrots, applesauce, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and coconut together in a medium bowl.
- Combine the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl, then gently combine the two mixtures. Be careful to not overbeat the batter.
- Spoon the batter into the muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool before removing from the pan.
- Combine all of the frosting ingredients together and beat until smooth. Taste, and add more lemon juice / sweetener if necessary. Then frost your cupcakes! Place a walnut in the center of each cupcake if you want to be fancy.