PROTEIN CARROT CAKE BARS WITH MAPLE FROSTING (VEGAN)
My hands-down favorite cake is carrot cake! Since it’s my birthday week, I made myself these crazy good Protein Carrot Cake Bars to enjoy. The thing I love most about making healthy recipes is that I can eat my favorites daily without sacrificing on flavor. For example, these bars! The base is a super moist spiced carrot cake with crunchy walnuts and plump raisins. The top layer is a dreamy maple frosting (made with tofu -shhh). Just typing that makes me want to run to the fridge for another slice! These bars are vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, and gluten-free, too.
Did you know? Population studies indicate that soy (like tofu) has either a neutral or slightly beneficial effect on various health conditions (source).
These Protein Carrot Cake Bars get their protein from LIV Body Lean Vegan Protein in Snickerdoodle flavor. This pea protein is one of the best-tasting I’ve ever tried, and it has no artificial ingredients! Use my code “NOEXCUSES” for 20% off all LIV Body products 😉 If you don’t have this particular brand, any plant-based protein should work so long as you like the flavor. I haven’t tried subbing whey or casein in this particular recipe, so that’s a risk you’ll have to take on your own! 😉
However, you should be able to substitute the pea protein for two-thirds cup of coconut flour, so long as you add one-third cup additional sweetener and one-third cup almond butter.
I used coconut flour to keep the carbs down, but you can substitute twice as much (two-thirds cup) of gluten free baking flour or any of the following flours: all-purpose flour, brown rice flour, cake flour, cassava flour (Paleo), oat flour (oats blended into flour), sorghum flour, spelt flour, tiger nut flour or whole wheat pastry flour.
To add sweetness without a bunch of sugar, I used my favorite stevia blend, a calorie-free blend of stevia and erythritol that’s twice as sweet as sugar. Feel free to substitute two-thirds cup of baking stevia, granulated erythritol, monk fruit blend, brown sugar alternative or any granulated sugar like coconut sugar. If using stevia extract or drops, please refer to the brand-specific conversion chart.
I love my carrot cake with lots of spice, so I used 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. each nutmeg and ginger, and ¼ tsp. cloves (or allspice). If you don’t have have all of these individual spices, just use two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice!
This recipe calls for ground flaxseed as a binder, but you can also use one whole egg, or two egg whites if not vegan (just reduce the milk by one-quarter cup). The unsweetened applesauce in this recipe can be substituted for pureed pineapple or pumpkin in a pinch (or even dairy-free yogurt)! I also used unsweetened coconut milk, but any milk with do.
The creamy almond butter gives these extra richness and moisture, but it’s optional. You can replace it with more applesauce or milk (your cake bars will be a bit lighter), or replace it with coconut oil, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter.
If you ask me, raisins and walnuts are a must in carrot cake, but feel free to leave them out for a slightly lower-sugar, lower-fat version.
For the frosting, I used silken firm tofu, powdered monk fruit sweetener, a little lemon juice, and maple extract (can sub vanilla extract). Feel free to use any calorie-free alternative to powdered sugar, or substitute regular powdered sugar. You can also use half as much of my fave stevia blend 😉
This frosting is seriously the best vegan frosting I’ve ever made! It’s going to be a staple in my kitchen from now on for sure. You can also combine sweetener and tofu cream cheese (like Tofutti) for an easier, but less macro-friendly version, or try Detoxinista’s nut-free, soy-free vegan cream cheese frosting!
Here’s the printable recipe for these vegan Protein Carrot Cake Bars with Maple Frosting! As always, I’d love for you to rate and/or comment below if you try it 😉
This post contains affiliate links and is sponsored by LIV Body.
Protein Carrot Cake Bars with Maple Frosting (Vegan)
- 2/3 cup (80g) vegan protein powder* I used LIV Body lean vegan protein in Snickerdoodle, code "NOEXCUSES" for 20% off
- 1/3 cup coconut flour*
- 1/3 cup calorie-free sweetener* I used one that's twice as sweet as sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
- 1 1/2-2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice*
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt optional
- 2 cups carrot finely grated
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk*
- 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce*
- 2 tbsp. creamy almond butter*
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract optional
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts optional
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut optional
- 1/4 cup seedless raisins optional
- 8 oz. silken firm tofu* like Mori Nu brand
- 2/3 cup powdered sweetener* I used a monk fruit blend that measures like sugar
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. maple extract optional*
*See blog post above for substitutions.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Whisk together dry ingredients (through salt) in a large mixing bowl.
- Add wet ingredients (through vanilla) and mix until combined (batter should be thick but spreadable).
- Fold in chopped walnuts, coconut, and raisins if desired.
- Spread mixture over the bottom of an 8”x8” square pan using a spatula.
- Bake for about 30-35 minutes until center is set.
- While cake cools, blend frosting ingredients until smooth. Add vanilla extract, sweetener, or more lemon juice to taste.
- Spread cake with frosting once cooled completely, cut into 9 pieces and enjoy!
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge in an airtight container at least a week.
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