Guess what? I’m giving you an excuse to eat carrot cake for a snack!
Well, not exactly. But these easy-to-make energy squares definitely give a noble nod to carrot cake while staying right on track in the nutrition lane. Since they’re entirely fruit-sweetened and pack in healthy fats and protein from nuts, they won’t send your blood sugar on an amusement park ride.
In the afternoon when I need a little pick-me-up, it’s so convenient to grab one or two of these from the fridge with a tall glass of water for a nourishing snack. I love it when I can work vegetables into my sweets in subtle ways so that I feel like I’m eating dessert, when really I’m getting in some good vitamin and mineral power. Keeping the carrots raw in these squares leaves their nutrients alone so that they’re as easy to absorb as possible.
Want to make the flavors of your treats pop? Add fresh citrus zest. Read that sentence again, because it’s one of the best kitchen tips you’ll ever read! When I started using more zest in my cooking, I was amazed at a what a huge difference I noticed. Everything just tasted brighter and more alive.
I’m a huge Microplane grater fan because with a quick zip-zip-zip you’ve got super fine zest that’s ready for any recipe—baked goods, salad dressings, no-bake treats…you name it. (And no, they didn’t pay me to say that. I just really love my Microplanes!) Handheld rasp graters are available for everything from citrus zest to chocolate to fresh nutmeg.
I used lemon zest to brighten up the flavor of these Carrot Cake Energy Squares, but orange would be equally mouthwatering. Because you’re literally using the skin of the fruit in recipes like this one, try to choose organic citrus anytime you plan on grating it.
If the dog days of summer have got you dead on your feet, skip the pressing of the dough into the pan. You can easily roll the dough into balls instead. It’s a little quicker and easier (and fun for little ones).
Okay, I’ve kept you long enough. Now go snack on some carrot cake!
Carrot Cake Energy Squares
Makes 12 squares
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup grated carrots (about 2 medium carrots, grated)
1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper, making sure that there is some paper overhanging the sides of the pan.
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add the raisins and process for 10 seconds.
Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the grated carrots. Then stir in the applesauce, coconut oil, and lemon zest until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the lined pan. Freeze for about 1 hour or until firm.
Remove the bar “slab” from the pan using the parchment paper overhang. Cut into 12 squares. Store the squares in an airtight container in the refrigerator.