On August 3rd, 2012, a beautiful little man entered our lives, and the past year has been a year full of learning, and so many new, wonderful experiences. Besides giving me the gift of being a mom, our little guy led me to begin living a much healthier lifestyle. From the moment I found out he was growing inside me, everything changed. I suddenly found myself re-thinking everything I was putting in and on my body, and I am so grateful to him for this, as I am now in a wonderful state of health – feeling and looking better than I ever have before! So to get to the point of this post – this year we decided to throw him a big First Birthday Party. I am a bit embarrassed to say that it was a pretty extravagant birthday party since he won’t even remember it, but oh well, what can I say, we like big parties 😉 After a whole lot of searching the web and trying to figure out a theme, I remembered the book “Oh The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. I love this book and its message. I want our little man to know that he can do whatever (good things) he wants to do, and I want him to know that he will be able to do it! So here we go…here are some pictures from the super fun party…and let me say, “Thank goodness for Pinterest and Etsy!!!”
“Oh The Places You’ll Go” First Birthday Party!!!
Well, first let’s start with the invites!
We found an antique highchair on Craigslist for $15 that primed and painted (well my hubby painted it 😉 ).
When guests first arrived, they were led into the front door by a walkway of balloons leading to a “ONE” sign. We purchased the letters at JoAnne Fabrics and painted them white. I got the idea here. Also, you can’t really see, but the ballons are held down by rocks what we spray painted blue, green, purple, and yellow (you will see the actual colors on the cake stands).
Upon entering, guests saw a large collage of weekly pictures I had been taking of Matteo from birth to 52 weeks. I purchased the weekly stickers here and placed him on some leftover curtain fabric from his room (this started to become difficult around 20-something weeks.). We printed them all out and taped them to some thick poster board. It was so cool to see all the little changes in him over the weeks, and yes, I cried a bit once we hit 52 weeks. I can’t believe how quickly a year went by!
Also, I wanted something for Matteo to have as a keepsake from his party, so I decided to have guests sign a copy of his book. The sign was purchased on Etsy, and I found the frames at Christmas Tree Shop for $2.99. You will see I used more of the frames for print-outs throughout the party.
We had so many pictures from the past year, and I wanted to display a bunch of them, so I did a few things: made a banner using card stock I found at Hobby Lobby, attached pictures to helium filled balloons and hung them above the dessert table, and created a “1” using a bunch of pictures.
The desserts were put under the balloons with the hanging pictures. All of the desserts were vegan, and the cupcakes were gluten free since we had a couple guests with celiac disease. I have come to realize how important it is to take into account other people’s food preferences and allergies when having a party, and I wanted to make sure everyone could enjoy the food. Unfortunately I had to travel to Above and Beyond Bakery in Ontario, Canada (about 40 minutes away) for the cake, but it ended up being worth it, as people raved about it! I completely forgot to take a picture of the top of the cake, but it says, “Oh The Places You’ll Go”.
I just loved these cupcake toppers! They are so cute and funny! I found them on Etsy, of course 😉
And my mother-in-law made these super yummy cookies with the sugar cookie recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. We purchased the cute food tents here. I downloaded a font called “Green Eggs and Ham”, and used Photoshop to add text to the cards.
I made the stands by following this tutorial. I found the glasses and plates at Dollar Tree, the glue at JoAnne Fabrics, and the spray paint at Home Depot and Lowe’s. I also put doilies under the cookies because I didn’t want them touching the paint.
I made some cool boards using chalkboard paint – one showing Matteo’s Firsts (I found that really cool idea here), and the other showing some cool facts (I had seen something similar on Etsy, but decided to create my own) about our newly 1 year old baby boy
I found the frame at Hobby Lobby on clearance for $12. We took out the glass and painted the backing with chalkboard paint and attached all the pictures using tape. I borrowed a painting easel from our aunt, covered the paint spots with streamers and put it out for all to see! This is now hanging in our living room
I LOVE this! I found a frame at a yard sale for $3. My husband primed and painted the frame, and I painted the backing. It was already missing the glass, so I didn’t have to worry about taking that out.
It took me a long time to figure out what to do about centerpieces….and then a friend said, “Why not make something similar to the cover of the book”. YES! That was it, and luckily Dollar Tree had the perfect vases! Then I just used modge podge and tissue paper to wrap around the vase. This was my first time using modge podge ever (well maybe I used it in grammar school….I don’t remember), and I could not get the wrinkles out, but oh well, still cute! The next part was tricky – taking a picture of a quick crawler, but I did it! Then I just cut the picture and taped it onto a toothpick. I purchased some foam balls; my husband painted them with leftover paint from the chair and chalkboard frame, and I inserted the picture into them. These were placed on the tables, along with some more framed photos of Matteo. We purchased the frames at Ikea for $0.99 while we were visiting family in NJ because, unfortunately, Buffalo does not have an Ikea yet
We had lots of yummy appetizers, food, and drink.
I made 3 flavors of delicious flavored water – Mixed Berry (strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries), Citrus (lemon, lime, and orange), and Pineapple Orange. Of course we had some wine and beer as well.
I also spray painted some mason jars with leftover spray paint from the cake stands, and filled them with colored straws from Ikea.
We all had a great time! The kiddos got to leave with some bubbles and organic lollipops (I have to mention that there was a quick moment when I thought to give the kids some cool swirl lollipops that went along with the theme, but after reading the ingredients, which included corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, I just couldn’t do it)…
…and we discovered that Matteo LOVES balloons!
Now…onto Matteo’s cake….
The super cute cake banner is from here by the way
I am all about customs and tradition so I definitely wanted to have a cake for him, but there are ways to keep tradition and choose better options (I know because I do it for many occasions – Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc., and guess what? They are always just as great, if not better!). I did not want it filled with the refined sugars and possible other scary ingredients found in conventional cakes. I just couldn’t stand the idea of feeding him ingredients that made me, an adult, feel awful. More than 2 weeks later, and I am still feeling the effects (i.e. withdrawal and an intense craving for sugar) of a piece of the Birthday cake I had for the guests. Blugh. Looks like I may have to detox soon! Knowing how I feel when I eat that stuff, I just couldn’t do it to his little growing body. Here are some facts about refined sugar:
- Excessive intake can lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and fatty liver.
- Creates an acidic environment in our bodies which allows bad bacteria to thrive, and encourages the growth and spread of many cancers.
- Causes inflammation in the body.
- Slows down the body’s immune system.
- Strains adrenal glands causing elevated stress levels.
- It is HIGHLY addictive.
- It affects our mood, behavior, and ability to focus.
- It is in most processed foods, and since over 70% of most Americans’ diets consist of processed foods, the majority of people are eating it in excess.
Because of this, I was on a quest to make him a healthy alternative. I found some pretty good recipes using bananas, carrots, and applesauce but the cakes came out too dense, so my mom and I got to work figuring out a better substitute. I wanted him to actually be able to smash the cake 😉 I also needed to figure out a way to make frosting that didn’t use animal products, shortening or sugar. I have made coconut whip frosting in the past, but knew it would begin to melt, so that was not an option. Luckily a friend of mine found a recipe in the book “Vegan Desserts” by Hannah Kaminsky. I tweaked it a bit and it worked! Also, I decided to add some spinach for color. A benefit to that were some added micro-nutrients, and Matteo loved it! Win win! He wanted to make sure mama got to taste some too!
So here you go – My Healthy Birthday Smash Cake Recipe!
This recipe will make 2, 8” cakes.
Ingredients for the Cake:
- 3 cups Spelt flour*
- ¾ cup Coconut Oil – Canola oil can be used as well, but make sure it is organic (no “if, ands, or buts”, about it; if using anything with soy, it MUST be organic). Also, applesauce can be used in place, but like I said, it will be more dense.
- 1 cup Maple Syrup
- 4 flax eggs (recipe below) – you could use egg replacer, but I figured the flax gives it some more health benefits. You will want to make this at least 15 minutes or up to an hour before using.
- 1 cup non-dairy milk – if using soy, make sure to purchase organic
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tsp Baking Powder – purchase aluminum free
- 1 tsp Salt
*I decided to use spelt instead of whole wheat because it has more nutrients, and is not as overly processed as wheat is today. To make this gluten free, sub 2 cups of Brown Rice flour and 2/3 cup tapioca flour for the spelt flour. This was yummy too! Note – I did try making it with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour, and with the coconut oil it tasted okay. I didn’t like it with the applesauce because it tasted too beany.
Directions for the Cake:
- Pre-heat oven to 350°.
- Grease the bottoms on your baking pans with a little bit of oil and sprinkle with a little bit of flour.
- Mix flour with baking powder and salt & sift into a medium sized bowl.
- In a bigger bowl, add maple syrup to the oil slowly while mixing with a whisk.
- Add your flax eggs to the wet mixture and whisk until combined.
- Mix milk with vanilla extract and add the milk & vanilla slowly to your maple syrup mixture, and whisk.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients about ½ cup at a time. Mix (but do not beat) to get out the clumps (note – this may take a little bit of patience, but you will begin to notice the clumps begin to disappear).
- Split the mixture between the 2 pans
- Make an indent in the middle of the mixture by using a fork. This prevents the cake from bubbling up in the middle.
- Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry.
- 4 tbsp flax meal
- 12 tbsp water
(1 flax egg=1 tbsp flax meal and 3 tbsp water)
Directions for Flax Eggs: In a small bowl, add water to the flax meal while stirring. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes., and up to an hour (the longer the better). When you take them out of the fridge, there may be a bit of water at the top, just stir to combine, and add to your recipe.
Ingredients for Coconut Whip Spinach Frosting:
- 1.5 Cups Coconut Milk (I prefer Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk as the cans are BPA free)
- ½ cup soy or coconut creamer (if using soy, make sure it is organic and/or Non-gmo Project Verified)
- 2 tsp agar agar powder (I found this in the bulk section of a local co-op. Most health food stores should have it as well)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Optional – a handful or more of spinach for color
Note – the original recipe did call for sugar, but like I said, I was trying to avoid it, and Matteo was fine without it. However, I am aware that there are people out there who would not like this without it being sweet. I was going to try adding some maple syrup, but my dog ate the leftover cake I was going to test it on 😉 You could also try adding some stevia for sweetness. I will try them both out next time. If you do, please let me know how it comes out!
Directions for Coconut Whip Spinach Frosting:
- In a medium saucepan, whisk milk and creamer.
- Sprinkle agar agar powder over the top and whisk vigorously until combined, making sure not to leave any clumps.
- Turn the stove up to medium heat and cook until the mixture comes to a full boil, stirring gently from time to time.
- Remove mixture from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.
- Cool in room temperature and then put in the fridge.
- Chill for at least 3 hours until it is completely solid (you should be able to turn the pot upside down without the mixture falling out).
- Scrape the mixture out of the pan and into a blender.
- Begin to puree and add in the spinach if you decide to use it. The more spinach you use the brighter color green you will get. I promise, it will not taste like spinach. Although, is it really a bad thing if it does? 😉 Puree until it is completely smooth.
- Cover your cake with your coconut whip. I noticed I had to put it in the fridge for a little bit after topping it, in order to give it the smooth look I was going for. So I put the cake in the fridge for about 10 minutes; took it out and smoothed out the frosting.
Before putting in the fridge – not so great
After putting in the fridge for 10 minutes and smoothing it out I’m sure I could have made this smoother, but I was rushing, and honestly, this was the first cake I have ever made….Isn’t that crazy??!??
Well, there you go! Hope you enjoyed this post! If you try the cake, let me know how you and/or your little one’s like it! I liked it a lot, even without any sugar in the frosting, but I am now used to not having refined sugar in my diet, which is a great thing! Next I will try to make a non-grain cake for those trying to keep grains out of theirs and their children’s diets. However, I am not opposed to grains, and believe they are very healthy! Dr. McDougall explains it here. Also, if you try the frosting with the added sweetener, please let me know 😀
I purchased this card from here.
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