We all have our own favorite carrot cake recipe, but now you’ll have a new one.

I made this for a crowd and it was a huge hit. Super moist and rich, yet light. The adapted recipe comes from Fran Costigan’s “More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts, Naturally,“ which has an abundance of healthful sweets that are not only delicious, but also vegan.

Carrots are in season year-round and in their prime now at farmers markets. They are quite versatile in everything from soups and salads to stir-fries and curries. And one of their most popular uses is in the form of juice, which packs a nutritional punch right to the bloodstream.

In addition to the obvious vitamin A/vision benefits, carrots offer a range of other health properties. They are said to cleanse the intestines and to be diuretic, while acting as an overall tonic. Carrots are rich in alkaline elements that purify and revitalize the blood. They nourish the entire system and help in the maintenance of acid-alkaline balance in the body.

Raw grated carrot can be applied as a compress to burns for a soothing effect. Its highly energizing juice has a particularly beneficial effect on the liver, which is why it is often used as a cleansing food. Carrots also help regulate blood pressure and reduce cholesterol through its high fiber content.

So many easy ways to incorporate carrots into the diet mean more benefits for the body. And what better way to “treat” ourselves to health than through dessert. That’s my justification, anyway.

‘24 Karat’ Cake

Makes one 9-by-13-inch sheet or two 8-inch rounds, 8-10 servings

Fran’s recipe makes the two rounds, but I like to have more cake than frosting. I used my favorite cashew cream frosting, although any frosting — or none — works fine, too.

1/2 cup organic raisins

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

2 cups whole wheat or your favorite gluten-free flour blend

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup almond or rice milk

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. orange extract

2 cups shredded carrots or carrot pulp from juice extractor, firmly packed (See other uses for carrot pulp at KarenSchuppert.com)

Heat oven to 350 degrees and oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

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Soak raisins in orange juice for 10 minutes, or until plump. Drain, reserve juice.

Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl.

In another bowl, whisk oil, syrup, milk, vinegar, extracts and 2 tablespoons of orange juice until well blended.

Pour wet into dry mixture and stir until batter is smooth. Add carrots and raisins with rubber spatula.

Spread batter into prepared dish and bake for 30 minutes. Check with toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Take butter knife around edges to loosen cake and invert onto rack for further cooling. Make sure it is completely cool before frosting.

Cashew Frosting

2 cups raw cashews

4-5 Tbsp. maple syrup

2 tsp. vanilla

Pinch of salt

Cover cashews in medium bowl with 4 cups water. Soak for at least 20 minutes. Drain and put cashews into high-speed blender. Add syrup, vanilla and salt and blend until creamy (at least 2 minutes). You might need to add about 1/4-1/2 cup water to get the right consistency (it will thicken in fridge).

Karen Schuppert can be found every Tuesday and Saturday at the Napa Farmers Market. She is a board member, chef and nutritionist. She’d love to share what’s new at the market and how to prepare that fresh kale or kohrabi.

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