My hands-down favorite cake is carrot cake! Since it’s my birthday week, I made myself these crazy good protein carrot cake bars to enjoy. The thing I love most about making healthy recipes is that I can eat my favorites every single day without sacrificing on flavor or nutrition! These completely vegan (and gluten-free) bars have a moist spiced carrot cake layered with the most dreamy maple frosting, crunchy walnuts, and plump raisins. Just typing that makes me want to run to the fridge for another slice! Good thing each slice is less than 100 calories with 6 grams of protein and only 3 grams of sugar 😉
These bars get their protein from LivWell Nutrition Raw Plant Protein (a blend of brown rice, sacha inchi, pea, and hemp proteins) in their Wild Vanilla Bean flavor. This cold-crafted protein powder has no MSG byproducts, artificial or synthetic ingredients, and is certified vegan, gluten free, organic, and non-GMO. Unlike a lot of vegan protein powders, this brand tastes fantastic! Feel free to use my code “NOEXCUSES” for 10% all orders from www.livwellnutrition.com. If you don’t have this particular brand, any plant-based protein should work so long as you like the flavor. I haven’t tried subbing whey or casein in this particular recipe, so that’s a risk you’ll have to take on your own! 😉
I used Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour to keep the carbs down, but you can substitute twice as much (half a cup) of the following flours: all-purpose flour, brown rice flour, cassava flour, gluten-free flour blend, oat flour, spelt flour, sweet white sorghum flour, or whole wheat flour. If you don’t wish to use protein powder, just substitute half a cup of any of the aforementioned flours (or one-quarter cup coconut flour).
To add sweetness without any sugar, I used Pyure Organic Stevia Blend, a calorie-free blend of stevia and erythritol that’s twice as sweet as sugar. A virtually identical substitute would be Truvia Natural Sweetener. If you substitute baking stevia, granulated erythritol, or granulated sugar like coconut sugar, you will need about twice as much (one quarter cup) to achieve the same level of sweetness. If using stevia extract or drops, please refer to the brand-specific conversion chart.
I love my carrot cake with lots of spice, so I used a generous amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice (cloves can be used in place of the allspice). If you don’t have all of these individual spices, just use one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. This recipe calls for a flax egg (vegan egg alternative), but you can also use a chia egg, one whole egg, or two egg whites. The unsweetened applesauce in this recipe can be substituted for pureed pineapple or pumpkin in a pinch (or even yogurt)! I also used unsweetened cashew milk, but any milk with do. The cashew butter gives these extra richness and moisture, but it’s optional. You can leave it out (your cake bars will be a bit lighter), or replace it with coconut oil, almond butter, or tahini.
If you ask me, raisins and walnuts are a must in carrot cake, but feel free to leave them out for a slightly lower-sugar, lower-fat version!
For the frosting, I used silken firm tofu, natural cashew butter, Swerve Confectioner’s Erythritol, and maple extract (can sub vanilla extract). The Swerve Confectioner’s Erythritol is an all-natural, sugar-free, calorie-free alternative to powdered sugar. Feel free to substitute regular powdered sugar, or simply blend granulated erythritol into a powder. If using a stevia-erythritol blend (like Pyure Organic Stevia Blend or Truvia Natural Sweetener), use half sweetener, half “starch” (such as arrowroot powder, cornstarch, potato starch, or tapioca starch) to achieve the same consistency without making it too sweet.
This frosting is seriously the best vegan frosting I’ve ever made! It’s going to be a staple in my kitchen from now on for sure. You can also combine sweetener and tofu cream cheese (like Tofutti) for an easier, but less macro-friendly version, or try Detoxinista’s nut-free, soy-free vegan cream cheese frosting!
Here’s the printable recipe! As always, I’d love for you to rate and/or comment below if you try it 😉
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- 60g vanilla vegan protein powder*
- 1/4 cup (30g) coconut flour*
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon*
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg*
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger*
- 1/8 tsp. ground allspice*
- 1/4 cup stevia-erythritol blend*
- 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed + 2 1/2 tbsp. warm water*
- 6 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce*
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cashew milk*
- 2 tbsp. natural cashew butter (optional)*
- 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 cup carrot, finely grated
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
- 1/4 cup seedless raisins, packed (optional)
- 8 oz. silken firm tofu*
- 2/3 cup confectioner’s erythritol*
- 1/4 cup natural cashew butter*
- 1/2 tsp. maple extract (optional)*
- *See above for substitutions.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine flaxseed and warm water and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Whisk together dry ingredients (through salt) in a large mixing bowl.
- Mix in flax mixture, plus other wet ingredients (through vanilla).
- Stir grated carrot, raisins, and walnuts if desired.
- Spread mixture over the bottom of an 8”x8” square pan using a spatula (mixture will be thick).
- Bake for about 30-35 minutes until center is no longer “gooey,” but set.
- While cake cools, blend frosting ingredients until smooth.
- Spread cake with frosting once cooled completely, cut into 16 pieces and enjoy!
- Calories (per serving, minus optionals): 64kcal, Fat: 3.0g, Sat fat: 0.7g, Carbs: 5g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Protein: 5g, Sodium: 58mg
- Calories (per serving, including optionals): 96kcal, Fat: 5.2g, Sat fat: 1.1g, Carbs: 8g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Protein: 6g, Sodium: 86mg
- © 2017 No Excuses Nutrition. If you wish to publish this exact recipe digitally (website, blog, ebook) or in tangible format (cookbook, magazine), you must first request permission by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If publishing an adapted version with one or more ingredients changed, it is sufficient to mention "inspired by No Excuses Nutrition."