Healthy Carrot Cake Bars with Greek Yogurt Frosting are filled with whole grains, reduced sugar, and applesauce instead of loads of oil! The Greek yogurt frosting is sweet yet tangy and absolutely delicious!
A couple of days ago I came to a realization: every married couple should have to put together a piece of Ikea furniture at some point in their marriage. Ideally sooner than later, you know, to make sure it’s gonna work out. I seriously think it’s a true test of a marriage.
Let me back up a bit. Since we’re moving, we’ve decided to sell a couple of things around our place now that we won’t be needing at our new house. Two of those things are the wardrobes that we used to supplement our teeny tiny closets in our duplex right now (p.s. YAY for a walk-in closet!). We had a person interested in buying them both, but she thought we would need to take it apart so it could fit in her car. Being the nice people we are, we offered to have them disassembled when they came to pick them up. Halfway through taking the first one apart I got an email saying “Nevermind! We found a friend with a truck so no need to take it apart!” Huh. That’s where the fun started.
I’ll spare you the the details but let’s just say there were a few choice words said and the entire itme I was laughing at the situation which Marc did not fine comical, butthe end, the wardrobes are gone and we’re still married. We passed the Ikea test!! Let’s celebrate with cake.
Around this time of year I always get a craving for carrot cake. It’s not my favorite cake out of all the cakes but I do love it’s spiced carrot-y goodness. What I don’t love about it is how greasy it always seems to be. Does anyone else notice that? Looking at a few recipes I’ve realized why – there is so much oil in traditional recipes! Since I’ve been accused of ruining people’s healthy diets with all of my brown butter and chocolate recipes, I set out to make a healthier version of carrot cake.
Lightened Up Carrot Cake Bars
Since carrot cake is a pretty hefty cake to begin with, with all of the shredded carrots, coconut, nuts, raisins, whatever else you care to throw in there, I didn’t think that using mostly whole wheat flour would make much of a difference. I used white whole wheat flour and you couldn’t tell a difference at all!
I traded most of the oil for unsweetened applesauce and for the remaining amount of oil I used melted coconut oil. I also cut the sugar in half and these were still amazingly sweet. In the frosting I used half cream cheese and half plain Greek yogurt. Sometimes I use vanilla Greek yogurt, which is also amazing!
The frosting isn’t quite as thick as your typical cream cheese frosting because of the yogurt, but still worthy of licking straight from the beater. Which is, obviously, the true test of a good frosting or batter.
For my add-ins I nixed the nuts and raisins but you could definitely throw some in there if that’s your thang. I’m just not a fan.
After all of these healthy substitutions, these Healthy Carrot Cake Bars with Greek Yogurt Frosting were still SO delicious! They would be great on Easter when you want some carrot cake but perhaps something a little lighter after a meal of ham and scalloped potatoes. We ate them for dessert, for a snack, and even for breakfast. There are, after all, vegetables in them which automatically qualifies it as breakfast-acceptable.
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healthy carrot cake bars with greek yogurt frosting
for the bars:
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups grated carrots
- 1/2-1 cup shredded coconut depending on how much coconut you like
for the frosting:
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 8 oz Greek yogurt
- 1 cup powdered sugar or more if you want it sweeter
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease 9x13" pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In large bowl combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir well to combine.
- In smaller bowl, whisk together sugar, applesauce, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract.
- Fold in carrots.
- Add wet carrot mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
- Fold in coconut.
- Pour into prepared pan and spread out evenly.
- Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the middle clean.
- Let cool completely.
To make the frosting:
- Beat together cream cheese, Greek yogurt, powdered sugar, and vanilla until well combined.
- Spread or pipe over cooled bars.