Cooking Light’s 30th Anniversary Carrot-Zucchini Cake with Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting

Cooking Light magazine made its debut in 1987 and I may have been the first to subscribe. I was deep into learning how to cook, registering for any cooking class I could find (this was before the Food Network when cooking was not trendy) and trying to master the art of lighter cooking. Now it was the late 80’s early 90’s, low-fat reigned and eating fresh, local, farm to table only happened if you actually lived on a farm. Cooking Light has been by my side for 30 years. It helped me hone my cooking skills, it taught me how to keep “delicious”  in the same sentence as healthy and it inspired me to advance my culinary knowledge so I can share it with others. I’m excited to celebrate Cooking Light’s 30 year anniversary with this luscious, vegetable-packed, outrageously good carrot-zucchini cake. Requests for this cake are frequent, in fact, the cake pictured in this post helped to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday for the second year in a row.

Carrot Zucchini Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 9 ounces white whole wheat flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • ¾ cup drained canned crushed pineapple in juice
  •  Frosting
  • 4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup flaked coconut, toasted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray at 13 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Combine sugars, oil, and eggs in a separate bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in carrot, zucchini, and pineapple into sugar mixture. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; stir until moistened. Spoon batter baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 33 minutes or until done. Cool on wire rack.

Frosting: In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and butter; beat with a mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar; beat just until smooth. Spread evenly over top of cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Cut into 16 pieces.

Notes: I love this recipe but I did make some modifications. Check the cake after 25 minutes because you don’t want to over bake. For the frosting, I doubled the recipe, omitted the butter and added 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. I also used Neufchatel cheese which is an excellent swap for cream cheese because it’s naturally low in saturated fat and does not contain any unwanted ingredients often found in low-fat cream cheese. You can add 1/2 cup of raisins to the batter, if desired. To toast the coconut, line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. Spread the coconut on the lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven while the cake is baking. Bake for about 10 minutes, checking often, stirring so it doesn’t burn. Easter Holiday Idea: Nestle colorful jellybeans on top of the toasted coconut.

Nutrition Note: A piece of this cake is a perfect little bite of yumminess. Using grated vegetables and pineapple adds moisture (not to mention a host of nutrients), allowing you to use half the amount of oil found in typical carrot cakes and it’s made with 100% whole wheat flour. Although this cake is more nutrient dense than most cakes, it’s still considered a treat. Cut small pieces because it serves 16.

Recipe from March 2016 Cooking Light

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