As we all start getting back to normal after lockdown, the one thing I can’t wait for is to throw birthday parties at home again. This newsletter is all about how to do just that, in a healthy and easy way.
Healthy party recipes, tips and more...
In my house Springtime means lots of children’s parties; my three children’s birthdays fall over a period of six weeks. As I’ve been preparing this year’s celebrations, I wanted to share some of my most successful creations over the years. My children normally pick a theme and I go with it but below I’ve listed a full range of sweet and savoury creations that can work whatever your celebrations look like. Hopefully some of my ideas below can help put together healthy party food in minutes!
Fun savoury party food
So that children don’t just get high on sugar and then are hungry straight after a party, it’s useful to get them to start with a few filling and nutritious goodies. See some simple but effective ideas below:
1. Try shop-bought tortillas stamped out into shapes with cookie cutters served with dips, seen below as moons and stars for my son’s space-themed party. Brush them lightly with olive oil and cook at 200c in the oven for 5 - 10 minutes until golden.
As you can see, the kids even got in on the fun and helped prepare them. Sometimes younger children can find it a bit difficult to fully stamp out the shape, so it helps to bang them with something else in order to get a clean cut and push the cutter all the way through.
2. This one is super simple; a carrot with some green pepper can turn hummus into a tropical island for any pirate or sea-themed parties. Serve with some cucumber and pepper batons.
3. Create fun sailing boats from eggs with the simple addition of a red or yellow pepper sail. This is a nice change from normal beige party food that tends to be carb-heavy, and instead an addition of healthy protein. You'll see I also made very simple pirate boats out of orange slices.
4. Pizzas easily becomes fun faces with the aid of cheese, eggs, olives, peppers, spinach, cherry tomatoes and ham. They can also be turned into a rainbow with red onion, different coloured peppers, sweetcorn and tomatoes.
5. Different shaped silicone moulds can be used to transform healthy and filling frittata into quirky and topical party food. Shown here are my number moulds which are perfect for kid’s birthday parties. I've posted frittata recipes on my Instagram. Take a look here.
6. Rainbow sandwiches are always a big hit. First cut peppers and cucumber into small pieces. Then cut out a piece of paper into your desired shape (example below is for a colourful sea theme!) and cut out the bread around it with a knife. Spread with butter or cream cheese and decorate with the pieces of vegetables. Olives work well for eyes.
7. Continuing with the rainbow theme, rainbow muffins were recently a big hit at my daughter's fifth birthday. I've shared the recipe below.
In a large bowl mix:
50g ground almond (or 20g coconut flour if you want them nut free)
80g melted butter
1 tsp baking powder
150g strong cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
Spoon or pour into 12 silicone moulds. Then top with diced vegetables. I used:
1 small yellow pepper
1 small orange pepper
1 small red onion
However, you can add corn, avocado, herbs, cooked broccoli or spinach. Bake at 200c for 18 mins. They are best eaten warm (and can easily be reheated).
Sweet fun treats
I try to avoid added colours, additives, emulsifiers, oils and sugar in shop-bought sweets and party food if I can. Making your own can be more personal and not as hard as you think!
1. A kid’s party classic, making jellies is a great and fast way to come up with sweets and treats that are both low in sugar and super fun. With a silicone mould or cookie cutter you can make any shape imaginable! See my Instagram here for lots of jelly recipes.
2. Healthy doughnuts!? Didn't think they existed? Then you have to try these! My kids, like most, love doughnuts. However, I’m not so keen on the sugar / fried oil / flour elements. To find a compromise, I made them this healthier but still very pretty version. See the full recipe on my website here.
3. Pink popcorn. Place either bought or homemade popcorn in a saucepan with some butter. Once the corn is coated remove from the heat, sprinkle with freeze-dried raspberry powderand some ground up xylitol and spread out and leave to dry on a tray. Once cooled pour into a large bowl or individual paper boxes or bags and serve.
4. Bananas with an eye drawn on and a blueberry in its mouth (cut the stalk into a slit) are immediately transformed into dolphins. Anyone can do this in a matter of minutes and they are such crowd-pleasers. I cut the banana in half and place it in a bowl of grapes or blueberries to hold them upright.
5. Tall glasses can be layered with different coloured cut fruit to make a colourful sundae without any shop-bought ice-cream or artificial ingredients. Make sure to add the cherry on top for that special sundae touch!
6. Ice-cream cones can be filled with strips of mango, pineapple, kiwi and and pieces of half-cut strawberry, decorated with raspberries, blueberries and dollops of passion fruit seeds. This creates a healthy fruit 'ice cream' alternative with no added sugar.
For nearly all my parties I've hired plates, bowls and cups from Make It Pop Shop, which is an amazing Cardiff-based reusable tableware and decoration company. I find using them is an inexpensive and sustainable way to create a special party as it saves buying lots of partyware that you never end up using again!
I hope these simple ideas have inspired you to throw a healthy kid's party! Next time, for part two, I'll be sharing my favourite birthday cake ideas and also tips on presentation... the easiest way to make kids eat something that's good for them.