Mar 8, 2013

Tyson’s “Healthy” First Birthday Cake

A whole year.  A year that seemed to go by way too quickly, yet I can’t remember what life was like before Tyson was part of it.  An incredible year full of ups and downs, full of new experiences that were both exciting and stressful, but most of all a year full of falling in love with an amazing little guy.  I can’t believe Tyson is ONE!

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Jon and I were really torn about whether to throw Tyson a big first birthday party.  We reasoned that it was a lot of work and that Tyson wouldn’t really get a whole lot out of the experience.  In the end we decided that this is the only time our first baby will turn one, and that it’s a big milestone we wanted to celebrate with all the people who love him.  And hopefully he’ll look back at the pictures one day and appreciate the fun shin-dig that we put on for him!

And a fun shin-dig it was.  We gathered a small group of Tyson’s close family and friends for a casual birthday gathering – Superbowl style!  For those who know me well, you know I love a good theme and since Tyson was born on Superbowl Sunday last year, a Superbowl party with a football theme was perfect.

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We planned the menu easily and decided on making two types of chili (meat and vegetarian) with all the toppings and a variety of other finger foods.  Superbowl comfort food at it’s best.

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However when it came to dessert I was a little anxious.  I was excited for Tyson to “smash” his first birthday cake, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of filling him with refined sugar and gluten for the sake of tradition.  Listen, I’m not naive enough to think that Tyson will never ever eat sugar, nor would I want him to live such a restricted life!  But at his age, he gets just as much enjoyment out of ripe banana as he would from a cake loaded with sugar, so I’d rather wait to expose him to the bad stuff when he is actually asking for it (and when we can discuss the differences between healthy and non-healthy choices).  Besides, as an aspiring nutritionist I was up for the challenge of coming up with a delicious alternative!  I decided that I wanted to create something that everyone at the party could enjoy – not just Tyson – so it couldn’t be (in the words of Jon) too “weird”.

Let me start of by admitting that baking is not my strong suit.  I don’t do it very often because I much prefer to cook savoury dishes, where you can be a little more willy-nilly with the measurement of the ingredients.  I tend to cook by taste – adding a bit more of a herb or spice if the dish needs it.  Baking is an entirely different story – you really can’t assess whether you have been successful until you try the final product.  So let’s just say that there were a lot of failed attempts in my quest to create the perfect healthy first birthday cake for Tyson.  I think I ate more baked goods in the two weeks leading up to Tyson’s birthday than I have in a long time.  Luckily they were full of healthy Real Food ingredients :)

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Eventually there was success.  The final healthy first birthday cake recipe is something I like to call a muff-cake.  It’s a hybrid of a muffin and a cupcake in my opinion – sweet enough to put icing on, but also delicious on its own or topped with some almond butter for breakfast.   They are gluten-free, dairy-free and refined-sugar free and contain ingredients that I feel good about letting Tyson dig into. And they are pretty darn good if I do say so myself.  For the party  I topped them with a coconut cream frosting that was light, fluffy and delicious.

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So without further ado, the recipe:

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Real Food First Birthday Cake (or Cupcakes!)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 9 cupcakes or one mini-cake*

Ingredients

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup date paste**
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
6 eggs

Directions

1.  Preheat over to 350 degrees.
2.  Mix coconut flour and baking soda together in a mixing bowl.
3. Combine all wet ingredients in another mixing bowl, ensuring that eggs are beaten well.
4.  Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, blend dry ingredients into wet ingredients until ingredients are well combined and reach a smooth consistency.
5.  Grease a cake pan or muffin cups with coconut oil.
6.  Pour batter into cake pan or muffin cups.
7.  Bake for 30 minutes or until spongy to the touch.
8.  Ice, decorate and enjoy!

*I know this is an odd number for the recipe to make but once I had the flavour right I didn’t want to mess with the quantities to try to make exactly 12, so you will just have to double it if you need more :)
**Date paste is basically just softened and blended up dates and is a great natural alternative to standard sweeteners.  For more details on how to work with date paste, see Gena’s post.  Have some date paste left over?  It makes a great food for babies!  Tyson loves it mixed in with his morning oatmeal.

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Do they taste like a normal cupcakes?  No they do not, but they aren’t supposed to!   I think it’s important to appreciate a subtle sweetness in food.  Most people’s taste buds are accustomed to such large amounts of sugar, that fruit doesn’t even taste sweet enough to them anymore and that is a shame!  Trust me, try cutting out sugar for a few weeks and you will start to see how amazingly sweet and delicious an apple can taste (especially a local one when they are in season).

We served the healthy first birthday cupcakes alongside some super cute chocolate-dipped strawberries made by Jon’s sister (thanks Bobbi!)

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We decided to make Tyson his own personal mini cake instead of just giving him a cupcake.  Truthfully, Jon was inspired by some mini football player figurines that he picked up at the party store that day and decided that Tyson needed a mini football field for a cake.

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My surprisingly artistic husband worked on this cake for over an hour until everything was just right.  This was a last-minute project so I did concede that we could use a bit of real food colouring since I didn’t have time to come up with an alternative.  Everything in moderation, right?

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Tyson definitely enjoyed the masterpiece.  Seriously, our boy can eat.

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I’m so glad we decided to throw a party for Tyson.  Everyone had a great time and I think we put on a party he will be proud of.  And though there were a few times I was almost ready to throw in the towel during my baking adventures, I’m so glad I stuck it out so that Tyson could mark his first year of life with a delicious treat made of Real Food.

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Oh, and I just realized that I didn’t talk about the amazing Kids Snack Trays that my sister and her husband put together for the party.  At the risk of making this post WAY too long, I will share that fun project in my next post.

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22 comments
  1. Julia

    March 8, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    I was going to comment on the lack of recognition of the snack trays!! haha!!
    The muff-cakes were DELICIOUS and Tyson had an amazing time digging into that cake!

  2. theboylerroom

    March 8, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    I have to try these cupcakes now…. I’m always looking for gluten free recipes for my son(likely celiac). Are you avoiding gluten in general or due to an intollerance of some sort? Curious.. :)

  3. Carrah Johnston

    March 9, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    Hey Sarah, do you have the coconut frosting posted online anywhere? I definitely am going to give this recipe a try.

  4. Sarah @ Kids Heart Real Food

    March 9, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    Hi Heather – let me know how your son likes the cupcakes! In terms of avoiding gluten, it is not due to intolerance but rather I would prefer Tyson not eat it for a variety of reasons – including the fact that gluten tends to be an allergen, especially in children, most gluten tends to be heavily processed and it causes a significant spike in blood sugar compared to other whole grains and I don’t want him filling up on gluten when there are many more nutritious grains and other foods for him to be eating instead!

  5. Sarah @ Kids Heart Real Food

    March 9, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    Hi Carrah! I just put a link to the recipe I used in the post (I used about 1/2 the recommended amount of maple syrup and it was sweet enough to me. You could also substitute with stevia if you want it to be sugar free). Let me know how they turn out for you!

  6. Marie @ MyMomThoughts

    March 20, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. I am about a month out from little man’s first birthday and I wanted to have real food and no refined sugar. I love your blog!!!

  7. handmademummy

    March 31, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    Wow, I’m impressed you managed to make up a complete cake recipe! My little one is still on the milk stage as he’s only a month old but I know when it comes to solids I am keen to keep things nice and real. I will be following your blog with interest and hope to get some more great ideas :)

  8. ashleyelizabeth

    March 31, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I did a fruity oat-type cake with a greek yogurt icing for my oldest’s first birthday, but I might try this one out next time around!

  9. Sarah @ Kids Heart Real Food

    April 1, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    I would love the recipe for a greek yogurt icing if you have a chance – sounds delicious.

  10. Sarah @ Kids Heart Real Food

    April 1, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    Thanks so much for following along!

  11. vegetarianmamma

    April 4, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    The cupcakes (and the rest of the food) look amazing!! I am hungry now! I am so glad you joined us last week! Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :)

    The party will be GREAT this week! We are giving away a tote full of goodies from Namaste Foods! The items are gluten free and allergy friendly! Can’t wait to see what you bring to the party!

    Cindy from vegetarianmamma.com

  12. vegetarianmamma

    April 4, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    Just a quick note to let you know I featured this recipe at one of my favorites at this week’s Gluten Free Fridays link up! I can’t wait to see what you link up this week! :) Cindy

  13. Sarah @ Kids Heart Real Food

    April 5, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    Thanks Cindy – that’s great!!

  14. Dana @ Celiac Kiddo

    April 5, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    So sweet! Happy birthday to your little guy. My son is nearing 18 months, halfway to two! It really flies, like everyone says. Some cliches are true :) The cakes look delicious, and your husband’s was awesome!
    -Dana

  15. Dana @ Celiac Kiddo

    April 5, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    This does look like a great GF recipe! My daughter (now almost 5) has celiac, diagnose when she was 3. It’s quite a process getting used to GF but it does get easier.
    -Dana

  16. Sarah @ Kids Heart Real Food

    April 7, 2013 a las 3:18 pm

    I will let my husband know you liked his cake – he is very proud of it! And yes, time really does fly.