Her cake was magic. No matter how the day had gone, if I’d forgotten to study for a math test or if I was the last pick for a floor hockey team in gym class, a single slice of it would make everything better. Truly: poof.
But of course, 'twas far too delicious to eat just one piece. My sister Karen and I would have our first slices as an afternoon snack, and then we’d help ourselves to more after dinner. And if we got hungry again before bed, it felt wrong not to have another sliver. How could we waste freshly baked carrot cake? (When it comes to words to live by, these are some I'd highly recommend.)
Suffice it to say, the cake went quick, to the point where getting your fair share of it started to feel like a competitive sport. If you didn’t reach for your next slice fast enough, you’d miss out. So, after a seemingly endless series of squabbles between Karen and me (sorry, Mom!), we came up with a system. If we wanted dibs on part of the carrot cake, we had to stake our claim. Indeed: We’d take a toothpick and savagely carve our initials in the frosting. That slice of cake would be off-limits for anyone else.
Thanks to our new system, I was able to make my share of the carrot cake last more than one night. I got in the habit of stashing some, carefully signed “JD,” in the fridge and sneaking a little for breakfast the next day: As comforting as my mom’s carrot cake was after school, I loved it even more in the morning. (Whether that's because I wasn’t really supposed to be eating it then or because it actually got moister and more flavorful overnight is anyone's guess.) No matter the reason, I still believe that there’s nothing better than carrot cake for breakfast.
These days, however, having real-deal carrot cake first thing in the morning is a bit too sweet for me. That’s where the carrot cake smoothie recipe from my new cookbook, Love & Lemons Simple Feel Good Food, comes in.
This creamy, dreamy smoothie recipe tastes *just* like my mom’s carrot cake. It's sweet, earthy, nutty, and packed with warm spices. However, it's made entirely with whole foods and plant-based ingredients, so it's a nutritious, energizing way to start the day. It's also perfect for meal prep.
This creamy, dreamy smoothie recipe tastes *just* like my mom’s carrot cake. It's sweet, earthy, nutty, and packed with warm spices. However, it's made entirely with whole foods and plant-based ingredients, so it's a nutritious, energizing way to start the day.
To make my carrot cake smoothie recipe, I start by roasting carrots and sweet potatoes, which intensifies the veggies’ natural sweetness. I know the sweet potato might be an unexpected addition here, but trust me on this one: It makes this smoothie insanely creamy, and it somehow enhances the carrot flavor. Plus, it adds loads of nutrients like fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
After roasting, I pop these veggies in the freezer for an hour or two. When they’re fully frozen, I divide them into four containers, putting enough for a single smoothie in each one. Then, I add frozen pineapple for tangy flavor, pecans for nutty richness, chia seeds for healthy fats, and warming cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
I add frozen pineapple for tangy flavor, pecans for nutty richness, chia seeds for healthy fats, and warming cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
I stash these individual smoothie packs in the freezer until I’m ready to make a smoothie (which is generally the next morning, because I still have zero carrot cake restraint!). Then, I dump the contents of one container into the blender and add a few remaining ingredients. A big glug of almond milk gets the blender moving, vanilla extract adds warmth, and a pinch of salt makes all the flavors pop.
But it’s the Medjool dates that really take this smoothie over the top. Along with antioxidants and fiber, they give it a rich, caramel-like sweetness. They also thicken the smoothie, working with the sweet potatoes to create its luscious texture. It may not really be cake, but it certainly tastes like dessert in a glass.
I still look forward to eating my mom’s carrot cake when the family gets together, but in the in-between times, this smoothie is the perfect way to get my carrot cake fix. It’s quick, it’s delicious, and it makes me feel amazing. But the best part? I never have to worry about inscribing it with my initials so that I can enjoy it later. With my supply of smoothie packs prepped and ready in the freezer, I can have carrot cake for breakfast every day.
Carrot cake smoothie recipe
Ingredients (Freezer Prep for 4 Smoothies):
8 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2- inch pieces
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2- inch pieces
Melted coconut oil, for drizzling
2 cups frozen pineapple
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons chia seeds
4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Remaining Ingredients For Each Smoothie:
3 soft Medjool dates, pitted
1 1/4 cups almond milk, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
4 ice cubes
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Place the carrots and sweet potato on one of the baking sheets and drizzle with coconut oil. Toss to coat and spread evenly on the baking sheet. Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
3. Let cool, then spread onto the second prepared baking sheet. Freeze for one hour, then divide into four freezer-safe containers. Evenly divide the frozen pineapple, pecans, chia seeds, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg among the containers and freeze until ready to use.
4. Make one smoothie: If your dates are not soft, soak them in a small bowl of warm water for five to 10 minutes. In a blender, place one container of the carrots and sweet potatoes, the soft dates, almond milk, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth, adding more almond milk as needed to blend. Add the ice and blend again.
Credit: From Love & Lemons Simple Feel Good Food © 2023 by Jeanine Donofrio. Excerpted by permission of Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography by Eva Kolenko. All rights reserved.
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