Healthy Kid's Birthday Parties
What? Healthy birthday parties? Is that not an oxymoron? (Remember, this is coming from the gal who eats birthday cake for brunch! http://wholefoodhealer.com/2013/07/31/no-body-is-perfect-birthday-cake-for-brunch/ I will remind you it was a cell nourishing, whole food birthday cake.)
Whole food chocolate cake made for Valentine's Day 2013
Yes, it is possible to throw a healthy kid's birthday party AND have the kids like the snacks and the celebratory cake AND have fun! Why would you want to do this? See below.*
1. Come and play, no gifts please. The kids are allowed to play and be kids, no adult organized games required. Go outside and play! Our parents and grandparents had wisdom with that "get outside and play" command.
2. Come back inside hungry? That is a good thing! Snacks that promote healthy cellular reproduction and growth in kids:
a. fruit slices with yogurt spiced dip
b. veggie sticks and yogurt herb dip
c. whole grain pita or tortilla pizza (works well on a whole grain English muffin)
d. tortilla chips (free of genetically altered corn, please) with 100% natural salsa and mozzarella cheese stix
3. Bake a homemade, from "scratch" cake, cupcakes, or cookies out of 100% whole foods. This eliminates refined, white flour and sugars, hydrogenated vegetable oils, corn syrups, and other non-food ingredients in bakery made cakes and pastries or the boxed cake mixes.
Whole food carrot cake for my sister's 50th, August 2013
Ask me for my handout defining what whole grain flours really are. It is not "unbleached" or "all purpose" flours. firstname.lastname@example.org
4. 100% all natural ice cream that does not have fillers, stabilizers, or gums.
*Why throw a healthy, whole food birthday party?
1. Our bodies cellular health depends on whole foods. It was all we could put into our bodies in the days before factory made food products. When we put refined food products into our bodies we are seriously disturbing cellular health. Over a lifetime, this creates degenerative diseases. Why set a kid up for this when healthy, whole food alternatives are just as easy to offer?
2. Creating lifetime habits of good health, whole food eating, and positive lifestyle habits begins at conception (really, it begins even before that. That is another article on cellular regeneration vs. cellular degeneration over the generations of a family's history on this planet.)
3. Teaching your kids that in promoting health we are preventing disease. (This is the next book I am working on!) An ounce of prevention IS worth a pound of cure.
These are my top three reasons that I do not have this attitude: "oh, a little bit won't hurt them."
Jake's b-day cake, July 2013
Wondering how I got to this point?
I have raised my kids on whole foods. As they get older, it is harder to keep them away from refined packaged food products as these products are everywhere and everyone is eating them. Kids think they are invincible (my cells won't suffer the consequences...) AND they want to eat what others kids are eating.
Birthday parties have always been a nightmare for me as I know that I am taking my kids into a lair of packaged food products that are all laden with refined and unnatural ingredients. Yes, I think about their cellular health over the long term! If I don't, who will?
I took them to one birthday party, about 3 years ago (yes, this visual is forever emblazoned in my memory!), and I will describe the visual of food products laid out on the breakfast bar island:
1. Several bags of flavored Doritos, the worst, as flavored (sour cream & onion, etc.) means more synthetic ingredients
2. Two large bowls (4 quart size or bigger) FULL of gummy worms, bears, and various other gummy critters. And these were not the organic, fruit juice varieties one can purchase at the Potsdam Food Coop or Nature's Storehouse in Canton.
3. Several 1/2 gallon, plastic jugs of various soda flavors.
4. Bowls of potato chips, enough to supply several super bowl parties.
5. A pinata full of corn syrup sweetened, artificially flavored & colored type candies (sour skittles, etc.).
6. A large, commercial, sheet cake made of white flour, white sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, fillers, conditioners, and the standard Crisco decorating frosting.
7. Two 1-gallon tubs of inexpensive ice cream, cheaper option for feeding 12 to 15 kids but loaded with more artificial ingredients than I cared to know about.
So, I stood there thinking, "oh my God!" I do not want my kids eating this crap. I work hard to feed them whole, local, seasonal foods from very conscientious local farmers. Truthfully speaking (or writing, as this is what I am doing) from a health perspective, none of these "products" were ever meant to be in the human body. If nature did not create it, don't eat it, is a good motto to live by.
Back to the birthday party scene... this was a true nightmare visual for me. At the same time, the social interaction with other kids is so important. I leave them there at the party, hoping my kids remember the rules: one very small piece of cake, no ice cream, no soda, please show restraint with the mounds of candies and junk chips, and please let your manners shine!
So, fast forward 3 or so years later... hoping to help create a generation of healthy kids' parties is one of the reasons I teach the whole food baking classes for the Local Living Venture. This particular cooking class is called Learn How to Bake (& Convert Your Favorite Recipes!) to Whole Foods.
Sign up for the LLVs newsletter and you will get notices of the classes offered. Then join us for the next whole food baking class. Your cells will thank you.
HOH Whole food treat's conversion chart
1 cup refined flour = 3/4 cup whole grain flour
1 cup refined, white sugar = 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 cup refined sugar = 1 cup sucanat or rapadura unrefined cane juice sugar
1 cup vegetable oil = 1 cup butter from grass fed, pasture raised animals
1 commercial, grocery store egg = 1 egg from free range, natural fed chickens
Free range means the chickens range freely out side, not just living "cage free" in a factory farm chicken barn. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/07/31/california-weighs-sweeping-laws-against-factory-farm-cruelty.aspx
Hint: If a recipe calls for 1 ½ cup sugar, I would immediately decrease the original recipe to ¾ cup sugar. Then I would use ¾ cups Rapadura or Sucanat sugar OR 1/3 to slightly less than ½ cups of local maple syrup or honey. Honey, I find works best in things I am not cooking, peanut butter balls, etc. It makes cookies, muffins, baked goods heavy and sort of sticky.
I find most treat recipes are way too sweet, masking the flavors of all the other yummy ingredients, such as the nuttiness of whole grain flours. Also, the more simple sugars we ingest, even honey & maple syrup, the more blood sugar / insulin issues we create in our bodies.
Add extra spices and vanilla to make up for the reduced sweetness. Your tongue will enjoy the extra flavor and not miss the excess “sweetness”!
Reducing sugar, sweeteners, in the recipe also reduces the impact on your body and the negative health consequences of constantly having high blood sugar and elevated insulin levels. (diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, feeding cancer cells, depressed immune system function, irritating your nervous system....)
Completely avoid hydrogenated oils & partially hydrogenated oils (shortenings and margarine). These are trans fats and are highly toxic to the human body. Their consumption is connected to many diseases.
Use eggs from naturally raised chickens, turkeys, ducks or geese.
Let your whole grain batter sit for 5-10 minutes as the flour absorbs moisture over time. Check to see if the consistency seems right for the type of treat you are making and adjust accordingly.
Making treats from whole foods creates home baked goods that have nutritional value. They are still treats to be enjoyed on special occasions, not daily, but you can feel good about the whole food value when you avoid the refined ingredients: white flour, white sugar, hydrogenated fats and all refined foods.
Remember, we were never meant to eat sweet treats on a daily basis. 200 years ago, were people eating cakes, pies, cookies, and donuts every day? Not a chance. Read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books if you have any doubts. They got one piece of candy for Christmas and made it last for weeks. If we treated “treats” with this respect, our body would thank us.
Take your time and work into this by doing a ½ and ½ mix, then ¾ whole grain & ¼ refined, then finally move to 100% whole grain flours. This eases you into the heavier texture of whole grain baking. (These whole food treats WILL be heavier, denser and this is a direct reflection of them being heavy and dense in nutrition!) In time, you will not notice and your body will be better nourished for it!
If you are an all or nothing person, like me, just make the switch to whole grains, cold turkey, and never look back!
Eat well & be healthy!! Paula