Instead of frosting, top a generous slice of carrot apple ginger cake with tangy goat cheese drizzled with ginger agave syrup.

Hoppy Easter, everyone! I hope you are enjoying your beautiful Easter morning and ¬†celebrating Easter in your own special way. I woke up a little early to test out a cake recipe I’ve only baked once before, and the reason I’ve only baked it once is because of the amount of oil and sugar in the recipe. It’s a delicious cake spiked with freshly grated ginger, and tastes best right out of the oven, but it seems crazy to have 1 1/3 cups of oil in a cake recipe! I wanted to keep the flavor but reduce the fat, so I did a bit of improvising, thanks to a tip from a Cooking Light contest winner over 10 years ago. Instead of using oil or applesauce (as the substitute,) a jar of carrot baby food was used to add moisture. Clever, isn’t it? Hoping it will work with this recipe, I substituted a 6-oz jar of sweet potatoes baby food for almost 1 cup of oil. Because of the added sweetness, I reduced the sugar from 1 1/2 cups to 1 cup. I also added some apples and a little cinnamon, which can be increased if you want a “warmer” flavor, or omitted if you prefer a spicier, ginger taste.

My husband and I had this for Easter breakfast and I was happy to see he went back for seconds! The cake is moist and fragrant, and the tangy goat cheese is the perfect compliment to the light sweetness of the carrot cake . I think I’m ready for another slice…

Carrot Apple Ginger Cake

2 cups spelt flour (or all-purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups shredded carrots
2 cups peeled and chopped apple (about 1 large)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 6-oz jar sweet potato baby food
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (use a 2-inch piece for less intense ginger)
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
goat cheese
ginger agave syrup (inspired by Veggie Nook’s recipe here)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan or two 8-inch round cake pans.

In a large mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients until well-combined. In another larger bowl, combine carrots, apple, sugar, oil, sweet potato bay food, eggs and ginger. Add half of dry ingredients to carrot mixture, mix well. Add remaining dry ingredients and combine well, but do not overmix. Sprinkle chopped walnuts or pecans in bottom of bundt pan or two 8-inch round cake pans. Fill pan(s) and bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool and remove cake from pan(s). Top with a dollop of got cheese and drizzle with agave syrup, add extra nuts, if desired.

Cute min-bundt cakes are just the right size for one.

sweet and spicy ginger agave syrup

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This recipe is a piece of cake, but your guests won't have to know. A single slice in a pool of maple syrup--simple, elegant, delicious!

I originally came across this recipe¬†a while ago in my search for wheat-free apple cake recipes. It won’t take any more time to make than a regular batch of muffins or chocolate chip cookies, so it’s really pretty easy. I made a few minor adjustments to my taste, but essentially it’s the same recipe.

This wheat-free cake is perfect for a Sunday brunch, with your morning coffee, or afternoon tea. Shredded apples keep it moist, while a toasted topping of pecans and maple syrup add sweetness and crunch. Convert these to cupcakes for a portable breakfast or healthy snack on-the-go.

Apple Spice Cake

1 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (reduce by half for table salt)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 cups grated apples, with about 1/3 cup juice squeezed out (drink it, it’s delicious!)
1/3 cup vanilla soy milk (or equal amount of juice squeezed from grated apples)
1/4 cup chopped dates (optional)
1/4 cup chopped and toasted pecans or walnuts
maple or amber agave syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ pan or 8″ square cake pan. If making cupcakes, line 12 baking tins with paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Stir in shredded apples and dates until well distributed. Add 1/3 of dry ingredients, mix well by hand. Add remaining dry ingredients, making sure to incorporate dry ingredients without over mixing.

Pour batter into pan, bake on middle rack in oven for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. If making cupcakes, bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

While cake is baking, toast pecans or walnuts on cookie sheet on top rack of oven for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from oven, cool until easy to handle then chop. Set aside.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes on wire rack. Invert cake onto plate, then flip over again onto serving plate (so top side faces up.) Before serving, garnish with toasted nuts and drizzle with maple or agave syrup. Cake serves 6-8.

You'll go nuts over this moist apple cake that's spiced just right!

The cocoa powder will dull the otherwise bright green smoothie, but the flavor it brings will brighten your day.

I started experimenting with smoothies a few weeks ago to introduce more raw foods into my diet, and to hopefully perk up my energy and overall well-being. Strangely enough, I found smoothies made mostly of fruits made me extremely tired, and only after drinking a cup of coffee was I able to get back to work! I read several recipes for green shakes, all sounding pretty gross until I came across one that used greens, fruits and avocado. I found this the most delicious and versatile, and you could add flavors like blueberry, banana, chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry, etc. The avocado–and the addition of the different flavors–seemed to help tame the leafy green taste, and you still get a nutritious, vitamin-packed smoothie.

Here is what I made this morning using my favorite green smoothie ingredients: kale, apples, avocado and dates (it is not entirely raw because of the roasted cacao nibs, cayenne and cocoa powder.) I prefer the more nutrient-dense kale over spinach, and the taste is mild enough to let the other delicious flavors come through. I added just enough banana for additional creaminess and sweetness. Feel free to adjust any of the ingredients to your liking:

Green Morning Smoothie with Cocoa and Banana

1/2 apple, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 kale leaves, chopped (about 1 cup packed)
2 dates, soaked for an hour or overnight
1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
1 two- or three-inch-piece ripe banana (the riper, the better!)
1 packet of Stevia, or 2 teaspoons sweetener of your choice
2 teaspoons cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon broken cacao nibs, plus extra for garnish (optional)
1 teaspoon hemp seeds (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 -3/4 cup soy or almond milk
1 cup water, plus more, if needed

Add everything in a blender, add enough water until it reaches 3/4 of the level of your ingredients. Mix on medium-high speed until blended, adding more water if needed. Pour into glasses, garnish with ground cacao bits. Makes about 20-24 ounces.

Chocolate Avocado Shake
This shake is more chocolatey. The sunflower seeds and cacao nibs give it an extra crunch!

1/4 avocado, chopped
1 stalk celery
2 kale leaves, about 1/3 cup packed
1/4 apple, chopped
1 pitted date, chopped
3 inch piece frozen banana, sliced (about the length of your index finger)
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (optional)
2 roasted cocoa nibs (about 2 teaspoons ground, optional)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon stevia
1 teaspoon agave syrup (or leave out and use all stevia)
pinch salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 – 3/4 cup soy milk
1/2 cup water

Put everything in a blender, pouring liquids last. Blend until nice and thick, adding more water and sweetener to taste.