2/9/10

Anytime Carrot Cake




Campy LOVES carrots!!
As for me, a bowl of baby carrots with a side of hummus, an ounce of block cheese or salsa is just what I crave when I need a crunchy afternoon snack.

When I first became a vegetarian my diet was lacking in key nutrients. Specifically, fruits and veggies. If you count a bowl of iceberg lettuce w/ ranch dressing as a "nutritious" salad, than I guess I was healthy. Oh, but if you count a box of "vegetarian" bagel bites alongside 1/2 box of cheeze-its, I probably wasn't the healthiest vegetarian. However, I was a 12-year old competitive swimmer and piano player and new nothing about what it meant to be healthy.
I went to see doctor when I was in middle school because my skin was incredibly dry, especially around my elbows, I got really bad razor burn every time I shaved and my nails were really brittle. Let's just say I was having a hard time as a self-conscious teenager.
The doctor told me that I could have a vitamin A deficiency and that the easiest thing for me to do was to increase my intake of Vitamin A-rich foods. Not knowing then what I know now, the best source of vitamin A is from the beta-carotene which is found in orange and dark green vegetables. Therefore, since my mom and dad encouraged me to bring my lunch to school on most days of the week, I started eating carrots every day for lunch, along with my PB&J sandwich and baggie of pretzels. I didn't go overboard with the beta-carotene with a fear that my skin would turn orange, but after a few days of eating more carrots, my skin looked so much better.

Now that my diet is filled with fruits and veggies and very little processed food, I finally feel like the healthy vegetarian athlete that I have always aspired to be. Certainly, cooking all of my meals has helped me feel in control of what I put in my body but even when I do indulge in something that I wouldn't normally eat on a daily basis, my body (and mind) knows that I am still healthy in the inside. Although I have always been (and will be) an athlete, training/working out/exercising at least 10+ hrs/wk, I am conscious about my food choices and always fuel my workouts and lifestyle with the best foods possible.

My philosophy about heart-healthy eating/fueling is "if you eat well most of the time you don't have to worry about the rest of the time"

Carrots are a must for your active and healthy lifestyle. They are a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate and Manganese and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium.

1 x 7 1/4" - 8 1/2" carrot has 30 calories, 7g carbs, 2g fiber, 3g sugar and 1 g protein. Although you may feel that a large portion of the calories come from sugar and this food may have a higher glycemic index, it isn't likely that you are going to pound down a pound of carrots and significant elevate your insulin levels, specifically if you don't live with a blood sugar problem. Because we all handle foods differently it's always important that you find what works for you and understand how to time that healthy food with your training. My body personally does not handle carbs very well when eaten alone, so I always add protein or a healthy fat w/ my carbohydrate food choices.

I hope you enjoy my latest creation. The bulk of this recipe comes from an assortment of fruits and veggies and therefore, you can eat this cake anytime of the day and feel super healthy when you are finished with your serving.

Anytime Carrot Cake
3 large carrots (shredded)
1 apple (shredded)
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1 large banana (mashed)
1 tsp rum or almond extract
1 tsp all-spice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
1 egg
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4-1/2 cup water
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp chopped dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp raisins (I like to chop mine)
1 tbsp chopped nuts
1 tbsp shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 2 non-stick round baking dishes with non-stick spray (lightly).
2. Combine apple, carrots, pineapple and banana in a bowl. Add honey, egg, milk and extract. Stir well and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl combine flour, oats, all-spice, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.
4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet bowl and mix well.
5. Stir in chocolate chips and raisins and add water (by the spoonful) until batter can be stirred easily and slightly drips off your stirring spoon.
6. Combine nuts and coconut in a small bowl.
7. Pour 1/2 of the cake batter in each baking dish and evenly sprinkle the peanuts and coconut over each cake.
8. Bake for 20-30 min. or until cake is firm to the touch and edges are slightly golden.