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Teresa Hatchell 2005

A few days ago, I took some time to thumb through and scroll back and forth through my "What's Cooking?" collection of emails, letters and recipes readers shared with me over the years. During my review of recipes, I came across a healthy “rendition,” if you will, of carrot cake and cream cheese frosting that I haven't baked for a few years.

I selected it for today’s column chiefly because carrot cake is one of my most favorite cakes. And the spring-like weather we've been experiencing many days lately has me longing for foods I usually cook in spring.

Please note that I use a healthy recipe from Dr. Richard E. Collins. I clipped the article from somewhere back in 2005 according to my scribblings on the paper. While the raisins are optional, please do not leave out the Grape-Nuts cereal. It truly adds texture and flavor. I am also offering my recipe for glazed carrots as a bonus.

Lite, fluffy, carrot cake

1-1/2 cups non-fat margarine (Promise Ultra)

2 cup sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup Egg Beaters egg substitute

8 ounces crushed pineapple, undrained

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 cup raisins (optional)

1 cup Grape-Nuts cereal

3 cups self-rising flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3 cups carrots, grated

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, sugars, Egg Beaters, pineapple and vanilla. Add the raisins and Grape-Nuts cereal. Mix these ingredients well. Add the flour and spices. Again, mix the ingredients well. Fold in the grated carrots. Pour the batter into a bundt pan than has been sprayed with non-fat spray. Bake the cake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes (Don't open the oven at all during the first 45 minutes. Then test it by inserting a toothpick down into cake and pull it back out. If it comes out batter-free, you know the cake is done. If not, bake it for another 15 minutes.) Remove the cake from the oven. Cool the cake on a baking rack for about five minutes. Remove the cake from the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting it with your favorite non-fat cream cheese frosting.

Cream cheese frosting de-‘lite’

1 cup fat-free cream cheese, room temperature

1-1/2 cups fat-free ricotta cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

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1 tablespoon lemon juice

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix (a thickening agent)

In a large mixing bowl, place all of the ingredients except for the pudding mix. Beat these ingredients until they are very smooth, being careful to scrape the sides and bottom and sides of the bowl frequently. Add the pudding mix and beat until the frosting is well combined. Spread the frosting over the cake. Be sure to refrigerate this cake because the frosting contains cheese.

Orange-glazed carrots supreme

1-1/2 pounds carrots (8 or 9 carrots)

1 cup fresh orange juice

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Peel the carrots and cut them into 2-inch lengths. Halve or quarter the pieces lengthwise so that all pieces are the same thickness. Place the carrots in a large skillet with fresh orange juice, salt and pepper. Bring this to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover, and cook over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until the carrots are tender – six to eight minutes. Uncover. Cook until liquid is reduced to a glaze – two to three minutes more. Mix in two tablespoons cilantro if desired. 

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