It’s party time

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No one told me when I signed up for this mum gig that I had to bake AND decorate childrens birthday cakes.

I have fond memories of amazing homemade birthday cakes when I was growing up. Women’s Weekly cookbook anyone?!? Now I love to bake and can make a good cake, but decorating…that’s another skill altogether. But I’m trying none the less and THINK I’m getting better with practice.

My daughters birthday was back at the start of December and my son’s birthday in mid January. We always like to celebrate the occasion with our immediate family, be it a lunch or a morning or afternoon tea gathering. Call me the party pooper, but I have plenty of years ahead where they will want to invite every child and their pet from kinder and school, so lets just keep it small whilst I still have some control!

In all honesty though, I think the stress involved in organising a celebration is still the same. You still make and bake and create the same things, just on a different scale. And me being me, I like to make as much as I can. I don’t believe in changing my values and philosophy on food and nutrition for birthdays. I don’t do fairy bread, and store bought party pies and lolly bags.

So how can you do it and it still be a success?

One thing I’ve found since cooking the whole foods way is that many of the dishes are just as delicious if not more so. And people are often very surprised at how good healthy cooking can taste! Now I don’t claim to have all the answers and who knows if a bunch of 4 year olds would eat my food but here are some ideas of some recent hits in our house for special occasions.

Savoury

  • Fresh vegetable sticks (cucumbers, carrots) and tomatoes
  • Homemade dips (pesto, hummus, tzaziki, roasted capsicum). The options here are endless and they are so easy and quick to whip up. I can’t bring myself to buy store bought ones when they are this easy (and when I look at the ingredient lists).
  • Homemade sausage rolls. You can sneak so many veggies into these and there are lots of variations. My favourites are these vegetable ones (that actually taste like meat), my spinach and trio of cheeses ones, and a recent invention that were a hit; lamb with feta and mint that are very similar to these but with feta. I actually usually make meatballs with this mixture but re-purposed it for the occasion. One thing I do cheat on is the pastry….who has the time for that? Although I do use Borg’s Organic Puff Pastry which has no added additives or preservatives.
  • Thai chicken balls. These are absolutely delicious and next time I’m making a double batch. I usually hold off on the chilli dipping sauce though as little people aren’t a big fan!
  • Lamb koftas. More bite sized deliciousness! Dip in some tzatiki or minted yoghurt.

Sweet

I try and limit ‘sweet’ dishes to one or two, plus fruit and of course the birthday cake. Even though I use unrefined sugar in my food (honey, dates, maple syrup or rapadura) I’m mindful it’s still sugar.

  • Fresh fruit. Always a hit with our family and friends alike, you just can’t go past a fresh fruit platter. Cut it up, make it look pretty and it will disappear! Alternatively, fruit ‘kebabs’ are also a novel idea and look gorgeous on the table.
  • Bliss balls. The options here are endless but I often need to be careful depending on the allergies I’m catering for. These rum balls (without the rum for little people) and my ‘choc anything balls‘ are some favourites.
  • Chocolate rice bubble bars. Remember these when you were little? Made out of rice bubbles and that awful copha stuff? Well there is a much healthier version these days which I’m always happy to make but just use puffed rice instead of rice bubbles (no need for the sugar and synthetic vitamins and minerals added to these). Just don’t leave it out of the fridge too long as it will fall apart when the coconut oil warms up.
  • Chocolate rocky road. Although I now use a different chocolate mixture (sorry, I can’t share the recipe but if you have the Life Changing Food Book, its in there), this one is still absolutely delicious. Drizzled over chunks of homemade marshmallow and anything else you’d fancy in a rocky road, its a real hit.

Now back to the cakes.

My daughters first birthday cake was this chocolate banana cake (with a few ingredient modifications for allergies) and the icing was from a recipe in the Life Changing Food Book which is sooo much nicer than plain buttercream icing. I don’t have or use icing sugar anyway. And because I don’t like to compromise, even on birthdays, the food colours and ‘sprinkles’ were from Hopper Foods which are free from the nasty artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.
Here is how the cake turned out.
And then my son’s third birthday cake. He is mad about cars at the moment. I totally had a different vision for this in my head but it still worked out ok. He choose his favourite cars and I did the rest! The cake is a sweet potato caramel mud cake (with my own variations according to the ingredients I use and WAY less sugar) and the yummy icing again from the Life Changing Food Book. And those Hopper Foods colours again. They give a slightly different colour than the usual ones laced with additives and preservatives but I think carrot, pumpkin and spirulina do a pretty good job at ‘black’.
Here is how this one turned out.

So now party season is over for me until the end of the year.

Of course there are many, many other ‘whole food’ party food ideas but these are some of my successes to throw into the mix. Why don’t you give some a try for your next party and let me know how you go?

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