Carrot & Walnut Halwa Cake

This is a recipe inspired by the super talented Saliha Mahmood Ahmed (Masterchef Winner 2017) from her latest recipe book ‘Khazana’. The original recipe contained a variety of different nuts as well as sultanas but I have adapted this slightly and used only walnuts in this recipe. The original recipe also asked for the cake to be cooked in 2 tins but I am quite lazy so ended up using only 1 deep cake tin (10′ round tin), which meant that the cooking time for my cake was a lot longer. If you split your cake batter into 2 tins, remember to reduce the cooking time accordingly.

Overall this was quite an easy cake to bake and it was enjoyed by everyone!

Carrot & Walnut Halwa Cake

Carrot & Walnut Halwa Cake



  • 200g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 50ml milk
  • 300g plain flour, plus extra for coating cake tin
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 400g finely grated carrots
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 100g walnuts, roughly chopped (plus extra for decorating)


  • 300g cream cheese
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 100ml double cream


Pre heat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease a cake tin with spray oil and flour. Set aside till needed.

Mix the muscovado sugar, eggs, sunflower oil and milk in a large bowl and whisk until all ingredients are well combined. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and set aside.

Melt the butter and the caster sugar in a pan till all the sugar has dissolved. When the butter has foamed, add the grated carrots and mix thoroughly. Cook for about 5 minutes till the carrots have softened and add the spices, mixing it well into the carrots. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped walnuts and let it cool slightly.

To finish the cake batter, mix the bowl with flour into the bowl of wet ingredients alongside the cooked carrots. Mix it thoroughly with a wooden spoon and pour the batter into the prepared cake tin.

Bake in the oven for around 75 minutes. After that time is up, check if the cake is done by inserting a wooden skewer into the middle of the cake. The skewer should come out clean if its done, if it doesn’t, then bake for a further 10-15 minutes till it is done.

Once the cake is baked, let it rest in the tin for a few minutes before removing it from the tin and let it cool completely on a wire rack before icing it.

To make the icing, put the cream cheese in a bowl and mix till it is smooth (this only takes a few seconds, try not to be tempted to over mix it or you could end up with runny cream cheese!). Add the icing sugar and the double cream and mix till it starts to thicken and it is smooth. Again don’t be tempted to over mix as you could quickly end up with a very runny mixture and you won’t be able to ice your cake.

Once your cake is completely cool, cut it in half and add some icing to the middle. Sandwich the cake together and use the rest of the icing to spread all over the top and sides of the cake. Use a palette knife to create a smooth finish. Use more chopped walnuts to decorate the cake.

Slimming World – The Basics

Please note: This post has been edited to reflect the changes SW has announced this week.

One of the questions I get asked often is how does Slimming World (SW) work? So I’m going to give you an overview of the plan. It is a very easy and simple plan to follow. If you’ve ever tried any diets in an effort to lose weight before and maybe were not as successful as you’d hoped or just want to give SW a go, please be open minded! You may be surprised at how generous the eating plan is, but it all works perfectly well together when you follow the simple 3 steps bellows.

Step 1 Free Foods

Most of the food you will be eating from will come from a list of foods called Free Foods. These are called Free Foods because they are unlimited – you can have as much or as little of these foods as you like without weighing or measuring a single thing! Sounds great, right? So what exactly are these Free Foods you may be wondering? These are foods that are naturally lower in calories and high in satiety (that means appetite satisfaction). You can fill up on these foods whenever you like as long as they’ve been cooked without any fat or oil. You will be able to find the full list of the hundreds of Free Foods available to choose from in the Food Optimising book you receive when you join a SW group. The following is just a summary of what is included:

  • Fruit – only when fresh or frozen whole (cooked, canned, dried & pureed fruits are NOT free foods)
  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Meat & Poultry (including some vegetable proteins)
  • Dairy products – fat free natural yogurts, low fat plain cottage cheese, quark
  • Eggs
  • Rice, pasta & grains
  • Beans, peas & lentils

Enjoy filling up on these foods any time, day or night, without any limits! Free Foods will keep you feeling fuller longer than other foods – especially protein rich foods such as lentils, eggs, meat and poultry.

To ensure a healthy balance of food, SW recommend you fill at least 1/3 of your plate with Speed Free Foods where you can and make them your first choice between meals. Speed Free Foods are even lower in calories which means it will help you lose even more weight. In your food optimising book, these food will be marked with an S. These will include fresh or frozen fruit and fresh, frozen, canned or pickled vegetables.

One main point to remember with fruit is that fruit is only a Free Food when it is fresh or frozen and whole. That means cooked, canned, dried or pureed fruit will not be a Free Food when consumed in those forms.

On top of all these Free Foods, you will also be able to use some store cupboard staples freely to add flavour and variety to your meals. Things such as herbs and spices, stock pots and cubes, soy sauce, tomato purees, fat free dressings (vinaigrette, Italian or French style dressings, must be 50kcals or less per 100ml to be Free), low calorie cooking spray (must be 1 calorie or less per spray to be Free), Marmite, Tabasco & Worcestershire sauce.

Drinks that are included in the Free Foods list include:

  • Water – still or sparkling!
  • Coffee
  • Tea (including herbal teas)
  • Sugar free/ diet fizzy drinks
  • No added sugar cordial

Swap sugar for sweetener tablets in your drinks! Any milk used in your hot drinks is not a Free Food but comes under Step 2 Healthy Extra s below.

Step 2 Healthy Extras

In addition to all the Free Foods, you can choose 2 options from the Healthy Extra choices to ensure you are getting enough calcium and fibre in your diet. You can make two choices a day from the Healthy Extras A choice and one choice a day from the Healthy Extra B choice. Again, you will find a full list of these choices in your food optimising book or the SW app.

Healthy Extra A choices are dairy foods that are a good source of calcium. These include the following:

  • 350ml skimmed milk
  • 250ml semi skimmed milk
  • 400ml unsweetened calcium-enriched plain soya drink
  • 40g reduced fat Cheddar/Emmental
  • 30g Cheddar/Double Gloucester/Red Leicester/Gouda/Emmental
  • 50g Mozzarella
  • 35g Halloumi
  • 3 Mini Babybel Light cheeses
  • 2 Laughing Cow Original Triangles

Healthy Extra B choices are foods that contain a good source of fibre. These will include many high fibre wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread, crispbreads, cereal bars, nuts & seeds, dried, canned & cooked fruit. Below are some options you can chose from:

  • 40g unflavoured porridge oats
  • 45b Bran Flakes
  • 40g Weetabix Crispy Minis (Banana/Chocolate Chip/Fruit & Nut
  • 2 Weetabix (including flavoured varieties)
  • 2 SW Hifi Bars/Alpen Light bars
  • 4 Ryvita Dark Rye/Original
  • 60g any wholemeal bread
  • 16 almonds
  • 35 pistachio nuts
  • 2 level tbsp. sunflower seeds

You must ensure that your healthy extra choices are weighed and measured accurately. Please do not guess or estimate!

Step 3 Syns

On top of all the Free Foods and the Healthy Extra choices, you can choose ‘Syns‘ – these allow you to enjoy the foods that many diets ban! All food that isn’t Free has a Syn Value. You can enjoy between 5-15 Syns a day (your consultant will be able to help you decide the number of Syns to aim for each day). You will find Syn Values at the back of your food optimising book or on the SW app (a fab tool available for all SW members).

So now you’ve got an overview of the SW food optimising plan you can see that it is not that difficult! It is a simple, easy to follow plan that is suitable for everyone. You will get a lot more in depth information when you join a group and receive support from a knowledgeable and supportive consultant and of course great motivation and ideas from fellow slimmer’s. Remember, this additional support occurs during Image Therapy, so always aim to stay in group until the end of the session.

Hope you find this useful, if you have questions or need me to clarify anything, please comment below.