Sunday, January 15, 2012

happy (sugar less) birthday party

Happy Birthday Capricorns! My 5 year old arrived home last week from his friend’s birthday party with a box of lollies and a tummy ache. It isn’t the first time and probably won’t be the last time.

Children’s birthday parties don’t have to be sugar and fat fuelled to be fun.
I agree birthday parties are the time to enjoy celebration food, I don’t agree though that lollies, chips, chocolate, ice cream, cake, party-pies, sausage rolls and soft drink are all necessary at one party.

In my eyes, the 2012 children’s party menu includes real food options such as:

Homemade dips and rice crackers
Wraps with grated carrot and cheese cut into pinwheels
Home made ‘sausage’ rolls (vegetarian filling reduces the amount of saturated fat)
Chicken sandwiches
For older children have the party at lunchtime and make your own pizzas or have a simple pasta dish, penne with pesto
Homemade fish and chips
Roasted vegie ‘chips’
Mini quiche
Zucchini slice
Fruit kebabs
Popcorn necklaces

The cake

If you want to have lollies at your child’s party the cake is the place to do it. Rather than having bowls of lollies, putting lollies on the cake means that each child gets a few lollies on their piece of cake instead of helping themselves to handfuls. Most children do not want to eat rich cakes with cream and icing.
A simple cupcake is a great option.

The icing on the cake

To avoid food colourings use vegetable juices such as beetroot or carrot juice to give you pink or orange icing, a few drops of liquid chlorophyll for green, tumeric for yellow.

Send them home happy and sugar less  
It is the being with their friends that children love and remember. Set a new trend in your group of friends and change the menu. As for the lolly bag? The best take home party gift I’ve heard of were A Peter Rabbit party where each child was given a seedling to take home and plant.
Our children's childhood is an opportunity to be creative, fuel their imaginations.

One of my favorite party tips I learnt when I first started planning my son’s birthday parties is to invite as many guests as years the child is turning. You really don’t have to invite the whole class, really you don’t!

Below is a carrot cake recipe I’ve made for birthdays both as a round cake and cupcakes.

The inspiration for this recipe came from Jude Blereau’s incredible carrot cake in her book, Wholefood. Jude’s recipe calls for pineapple, sultanas and walnuts, here I make a simpler version. It makes a beautiful birthday cake or any time that calls for cake. The icing is rich so it is optional, the cake is just as lovely with a light dusting of icing sugar and served with vanilla yoghurt.

Carrot cake
2 cups spelt flour (can be white or wholemeal or a mix of both)
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ cup of brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
½ cup coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp nutmeg
4 cups grated carrot
½ cup almond oil (if you don’t have almond oil you can use 125g butter melted)
2 large or 3 medium eggs lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream cheese icing
250g cream cheese, room temperature
120g butter, softened
1 cup of icing sugar
juice of half a lemon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Lightly grease a 24cm round cake tin (spring form or regular) and line the bottom with baking paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and spices.
Stir in the sugar and coconut.
Add the carrot, oil (or butter), eggs, maple syrup and vanilla and mix well.
Scrape the batter from the bowl into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour or until you can insert a skewer into the centre and it comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin before turning out on to a wire rack.
Allow to cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, beat together the cream cheese and butter with the icing sugar and enough lemon juice to achieve a smooth texture.

This makes enough icing to cut the cake into two layers if you wish and ice the middle.

Happy Birthday.


  1. I totally agree! At my daughters 4th birthday party, I did a rainbow theme and tried to steer as clear away from sugar as i could. The only lollies we had were little shot glass size containers half filled with skittles. As for the party favours we gave each child 3 different coloured play dough in a baby food jar to take home :) they loved it!

    1. Thanks for your comment and showing that fun parties don't have to be all about lollies! x


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