During my senior year of high school, my mom’s cousin drove to Northern California with her significant other for an extended vacation. They ended up in our hometown shortly before Easter, so Mom invited them to join us for the holiday.
Although we rarely did anything too extravagant, mainly dye hard boiled eggs and watch “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown,” we planned a special dinner that year. Mom ordered a honey baked ham from a local spot in town, and we bought the ingredients for some simple homemade sides and a dessert.
Always a baker, even back then, I picked out a carrot cake recipe to try from my favorite cookbook. It seemed to somewhat fit the holiday theme (Easter bunnies? carrots?), and since everyone in my family had a pretty big sweet tooth, I started working on the full-sized cake bright and early on Easter morning.
I carefully followed the recipe, measuring the flour and grating the carrots and gently mixing the batter by hand. After sneaking a quick taste from the bowl, I poured it into our large 9×13” cake pan, slid it in the oven, and set a timer.
Just before our two guests arrived, I pulled out Mom’s electric hand mixer to whip up the cream cheese frosting. I spread the sweet, silky smooth frosting in a thick layer all over the top of my cooled carrot cake, and I set it on the counter alongside the ham, spinach salad, steamed asparagus, mashed potatoes, and bread rolls.
After greeting Mom’s cousin and a little small talk, we all grabbed plates and served ourselves some of each dish. I took small portions of the sides to save plenty of room for dessert but…
I was basically the only one! Everyone else dolloped hefty amounts of the ham, sides, and bread onto their plates, except for my brother, so when the time for dessert rolled around, the four adults cut themselves the tiniest slivers imaginable of my cake.
We ended up with almost a full pan left over! Which meant we continued to eat carrot cake every day for the rest of our spring break… Oops.
In hindsight, these Healthy Carrot Cake Cookie Bars would’ve been a much better option! They’re supremely soft and chewy with the same sweet carrots and warm spices as traditional carrot cake, yet this recipe yields far fewer servings than the recipe I followed for that particular Easter dessert. (And my family agrees that fewer tempting leftovers is definitely a good thing, especially with all of the Easter candy we usually end up with too!)
Even better, this healthy recipe contains no refined flour or sugar, unlike most traditional carrot cake recipes, and just 78 calories in each cookie bar!
Continue reading & see the rest! ›› Healthy Carrot Cake Cookie Bars