Sustainable Living Recipes: Carrot Cake Made From ‘Rescued Carrots’

“Use Everything – Waste Nothing”  ~ Quote by Anthony Bourdain (from Wasted: The Story of Food Waste, a Netflix documentary)

John and I recently attended the Taste the Waste event at the Red Stag Supperclub in NE Minneapolis.  The mission for this function was to bring awareness to the enormous amount of food that is wasted annually.  Food is wasted at every link in the food chain,  from farms to homes to restaurants to grocery stores and beyond.

6 startling food waste statistics:

  • Over 40% of food produced in the USA goes to waste.  That comes at an average cost of $1500/family per year
  • The annual cost of food waste has topped $1 Trillion
  • 800 million people are starving while 1.3 billion TONS of food is wasted every year
  • 1/3 of this food never makes it to our plates
  • 1 in 5 children continue to go hungry
  • Over 90% of food scraps go to the landfills in the USA annually.  This contributes to increased green house gasses and climate change
  • 10 million tons of produce goes unharvested each year

“We don’t need to produce more food, we need to act differently”   – Wasted: A Story of Food Waste

One of many useful ideas that we came away with was the creation of a designated area in the pantry and/or fridge for “use soon” items.  We thought this was a phenomenal concept! I don’t know about your house, but I have been guilty of overlooking items in my fridge that get pushed towards the back or are near the bottom of my produce drawer, only to find them when they are no longer usable.  I’ve started doing more frequent inventory checks and when I find products that may have slight defects or are just past their peak, I move them to the ‘use soon’ location. On the matter of expiration dates or best buy/use by dates, some of them can be very confusing and often times are the impetus to waste food that does not need to be disposed of yet.  That is a whole separate blog topic!

My parents joined us for dinner this week and I was pondering what type of dessert to serve.  When I did my fridge check, I found some carrots that had been in my produce drawer for quite some time.  They were not perfect looking on the outside when I “unearthed” them but once scrubbed & peeled, they were absolutely not beyond use.  I decided carrot cake would be the best opportunity to highlight their unrealized potential. At the Taste The Waste event, an item such as this would be termed “rescue food”.   This is edible food that would have otherwise gone to waste.

See the carrot cake recipe that I used below.APC_1966

Carrot Cake

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups of finely grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans


  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (1/2 cup) stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cake Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter two 9 inch diameter round cake pans with 2 inch sides.  Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
  2. Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the sugar and vegetable oil in a large bowl until combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add to the sugar and oil mixture, beat until combined.  Fold in the carrots and pecans.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan.  Make sure the batter is divided equally to ensure level layers.
  4. Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool cakes in pans for 15-20 minutes.  Run a knife around the sides and turn the cakes out onto racks. Peel off the parchment paper and allow them to cool completely before icing.

Frosting Instructions

Beat cream cheese and butter together until creamy, add powdered sugar and vanilla.  Place one cake layer on a platter or cake stand.  Spread a generous amount of frosting on the top.  Top with the second cake layer.  Spread frosting on the top and over the sides.

Chill until use.  This cake can be made up to 24 hours ahead of serving.  I would venture to say that the flavors are even better when it is prepared a day ahead.

I hope you found this post helpful and that it sparks some creative ideas to reduce food waste in your kitchen.  Please comment and share feedback/suggestions you might have as well as initiatives that you may already be instituting in regards to this important issue.

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