Today we celebrated little R’s second birthday. It wasn’t a huge affair, just a small gathering of family and close friends. Eleven adults, six children under 6 and one young teenager.
We had such a great day, relaxing and catching up but one of the best things about the whole day for me was when a couple of the adults commented in amazement at how well behaved the kids were and how happily they played together all day. Especially compared to the usual screaming and craziness of children’s parties that we’ve all experienced before.
I said, “do you know why? Because none of the food they’ve eaten contains numbers and artificial crap. No cocktail franks to create itchy red cheeks, no artificial food dyes in the iced cakes to cause tantrums and melt downs, fairy bread with naturally coloured sprinkles instead of a piece of bread covered in hyperactivity inducing poisonous chemicals etc…
This is not to say that we all sat around and munched on carrot sticks and apples, there was definitely still sugar involved – though mostly unrefined. But there was also plenty of yummy, nutritious whole food treats and goodies to appeal to young and old and everyone seemed happily satisfied with full bellies and smiling faces!
So here’s what we ate…
Plain vita wheat rice crackers, olives, dips – homemade and store bought, (preservative free) as well as nuts, “macro” brand organic chips, fairy bread with real butter and Hopper’s Natural 100s & 1000s.
We decided the best way to feed everyone something remotely healthy would be with a barbecue. I made skewers with diced beef and vegetables marinated in cumin, lemon and olive oil, plus meatball skewers made from minced beef with vegetable pieces, marinated in honey and tamari sauce. Most of these I cooked in the oven as there were a lot of them plus they seem to cook more evenly this way.
This left room on the barbecue for lamb chops and preservative free sausages.
Lunch was served with scalloped potatoes made by my mum with cream, milk, and cheese and a green salad with baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, snow peas, green beans, and avocado, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, pink salt and black pepper.
Chocolate bliss balls rolled in coconut which made for a good replacement of the traditional rum ball/chocolate truffle.
My little R basically scoffed the whole plate of Honey Joys made with butter, local honey, raw organic sugar and “Freedom” brand corn flakes – low salt and free of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.
I also made “really healthy chocolate crackles” and you can find this recipe here. I have made these before and they are really yummy but they didn’t hold together very well. This time I increased the coconut oil to 200g and the sugar to 3/4 cup and they were MUCH better. Delicious and not at all crumbly.
What child doesn’t like fresh blueberries and strawberries? Berries are coming into season here and therefore cheap and delicious.
And of course, the smurfalicious birthday cake…
I slightly modified an old family favourite recipe for a chocolate cake here using spelt flour (with baking powder) rapadura sugar, butter, eggs, milk, cacao and vanilla bean paste.
The icing was made with icing sugar, butter and Hoppers natural food colours. It was my first time using these plant based food dyes and I was so impressed with the vibrancy of the colours. The other decorations were the Hoppers 100s & 1000s and chocolate “Smarties.” The Smarties are obviously not ideal but they are free of artificial colours and flavours so not all bad. (I bought the smurf figurines from Big W in a packet of 8 for $28. Both my boys are smurf obsessed at the moment so I knew these would be treasured for more than a day on a cake top!
SIMPLICITY CHOCOLATE CAKE
This is the recipe for just a standard size round cake tin and I tripled these ingredients to make the large rectangle cake pictured:
1 cup organic spelt flour (or self raising flour)
1 tsp baking powder (omit if using SRF)
1 cup raw organic sugar or rapadura sugar (either is delicious)
2 tablespoons cacao
1 tsp of vanilla bean paste or extract
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup milk
Combine all ingredients and beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
Pour into a greased and lined baking pan
Bake for 35-40 minutes** on 180dc (350 F) Test with a skewer to see if it’s ready. When the skewer comes out clean it’s done.
*see here for egg substitution using chia seeds
**if you are tripling the ingredients for a large cake it will take an hour in the oven.
Note: I used raw sugar for this cake but only used 2 cups of sugar instead of 3. With the icing on the top it’s sweet enough without tripling it.
However, if using rapadura sugar, triple it, as it is not as sweet.
Every guest, children and adults alike, received a lolly bag because, well, why not? J, my 4 yr old helped me personalise the lolly bags with stickers. They contained an “Artisse” organic, natural lolly pop, (bought from my local health food shop) a few “Natural Confectionary Company” lollies, a couple of smarties, a white marshmellow, a balloon, some bubbles and a whistle.
Obviously some of the foods here will not suit everybody. Every family and every child has different needs, tolerances and allergies. For us however, making some of these healthier choices and simple swaps helped us to achieve such a pleasant day for everyone. The children still had a party sugar fix but not a chemical fix and what a difference it made! They all had an absolute ball and our day ended peacefully with a relaxing bath and ten minutes of quiet time snuggled on the couch before both kids passed out from a big day of pure fun 🙂
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