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Close Your Eyes and It's Almost Like Carrot Cake (Almost)

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Every few months I go through the same ritual: I collect all of the fitness/yoga/health magazines I've picked up at airports or the check-out line at the grocery store, cut out all the recipes and workouts I want to try, and then head to the recycling center to dump the rest of the stuff I don't need.

On my last go-round, a recipe for carrot bread from the June 2012 (wince) issue of Yoga Journal caught my eye. I love carrot cake, but rarely make it because I have zero self-control and would eat multiple pieces per day, likely mumbling to myself about how the extra vitamin A would improve my eyesight. The Yoga Journal recipe for Carrot Bread (from a yoga spa called Xinalani, in Puerto Vallarta) coincided with a huge haul of carrots from Urban Harvest Farmers Market, so I went to work to test out my healthy, carrot cake consolation prize.

You'll need:

• 2.5 cups all-purpose flour • 1 Tbsp. baking powder • 2 tsp. cinnamon • 1 tsp. baking soda • Pinch salt • 2 cups shredded carrots • 3 large eggs • Three-quarter cup raw or light brown sugar • Three-quarter cup canola oil • 1 Tbsp. vanilla • One-half cup milk • 1 cup chopped pecans

I have to be honest right up front--I didn't add pecans (not my favorite) and I was so absorbed in my multi-tasking (catching up on Grey's Anatomy -- no, I'm not proud) that I added one TABLESPOON of baking soda and almost a full CUP of milk. I knew something had gone awry when I popped this in the oven -- there was just too much batter, the result of my almost doubling the milk -- but I hoped for the best. The recipe is simple:

Preheat your oven to 325 °F and coat a nine-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Combine the first five ingredients in a medium bowl, and the next five ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and then add milk (and pecans, if you are so inclined). Pop into the oven and bake for 55 minutes, or until "moist crumbs" come out on a tester stick.

I used a larger dish, seeing as my batter was slightly...enormous. The bread had been in the oven for about 20 minutes when I realized my baking soda error, but a peek at the bread showed it wasn't really worse for wear--a little puffier than I anticipated, but cooking evenly. The house smelled delicious--sweet carrots mingling with warm cinnamon, and the sprinkle of fresh nutmeg I took it upon myself to add because nutmeg? It's delicious.

The bread came out right on the 55-minute mark and I let it rest for about 20 minutes before slicing. I found it to be very light, but still filling, and incredibly moist. This is one of the absolute best bread recipes I have ever made, and I'm positive reducing the milk to the appropriate, recommended level would not have a negative effect on the recipe. (There was a small area in the middle that was just slightly undercooked -- definitely a result of the milk issue.)

So far I've consumed most of this bread with just a schmear of butter and a drizzle of honey, but I envision this for breakfast with a little yogurt and some fruit for a light, fulfilling breakfast. If you're really trying to fool yourself into carrot cake land, go all-out with cream cheese sweetened with a little fruit or honey.

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