Saturday, November 10, 2012



I often write about how much sugar we as Americans are eating (156 pounds a year - YIKES) and that too much sugar is the major contributor to our obesity crisis.  

Do most of us eat too much sugar?  Yes.  Is a little bit of sugar OK?  Yes.

A couple of weeks ago I entered the 3rd Annual Jeanne Graves Charity Cupcake Challenge, a benefit for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and a tribute to a mother who taught her daughters the love of baking in the family kitchen and lost her life to Parkinson's disease.  
Elliott Alley, an 8-year old student at Osceola Magnet School in Vero Beach, FL.

Meet Elliott Alley.  He and his parents stopped by our table for a sample.  Elliott's mom told me, "He is really, really picky and he doesn't eat vegetables."  I told Elliott I really would like his opinion because our cupcakes had carrots in them.  He surprised his parents by having a taste.  His parents were really surprised when he stated, "This is really good!"  

Many people stopped by our table for a sample and exclaimed how delicious, moist, and favorful they were. The cakes, featuring coconut and brown rice flours, got more rave reviews from many testers when they found out they are "gluten-free".  I talked with several people who talked about having family members who have celiac disease and cannot eat foods containing the protein in certain grains, like wheat, that trigger symptoms.  
Tropical Carrot Cakes before the cream cheese frosting.

We used carrot slices cut in the shape of a heart as a simple decoration.

So here is the recipe for Tropical Carrot Cakes for Growing Healthy Kids (and families) as featured in the 3rd Annual Jeanne Graves Charity Cupcake Challenge.  Enjoy!


Cake Ingredients:

·         2 eggs + 2 egg whites
·         1/2 cup vegetable oil
·         ½ cup apple sauce
·         1 cup brown sugar
·         ½ cup agave nectar
·         1 8-oz. can of crushed pineapple
·         3 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
·         1- ¾ cup brown rice flour
·         4 Tablespoons coconut flour
·         2 teaspoons baking soda
·         2 teaspoons baking powder
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
·         1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
·         3 cups grated carrots, grate on larger side of cheese grater
·         1 cup chopped walnuts
      Frosting Ingredients:
·         8 oz. cream cheese, softened
·         3 cups confectioners' sugar
·         4 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
·         Fresh coconut, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, apple sauce, brown sugar, agave nectar, pineapple and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in carrots. Fold in walnuts. Pour into muffin tins lined with beautiful paper or foil liners. Fill each liner 3/4 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 min. Let cupcakes cool completely. While cooling, prepare frosting.
In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon juice*. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Spread frosting high on the cooled cupcakes.  Garnish with toasted coconut if desired.
*For demonstration purposes, Natalie’s Orchid Island Orange Juice was used in the preparation of this recipe.  

Epidemiologist Nancy Heinrich is best known as the founder of Growing Healthy Kids, Inc., a nonprofit organization which creates solutions to the childhood obesity epidemic.  Her latest book is NOURISH AND FLOURISH: Kid-Tested and Approved Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes (available at