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Fun along the Frazzled Journey with Birthday Cakes!

May 23, 2013

Add Candles and the Dragon breathes fire! Take the picture fast before it consumes the wood table!!!

Add Candles and the Dragon breathes fire! Take the picture fast before it consumes the wood table!!!

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On “The Boy’s Very Bad Day” I was working part time, had four kids: one in college with no access to truly healthy food, one in high school who loved her artificially flavored foods and soft drinks, and two in elementary school with some strong needs for attention. I discovered that petroleum based products had infiltrated my home and my grocery store. When my Feingold list came, I frantically searched for replacements for everything! When I realized how “tainted” with artificial everything our home was, I was really frazzled!

What would I do with Easter and The Boy’s birthday coming up? Thankfully, I had my organic, fair trade chocolates from Equal Exchange . And our amazing woman at church had discovered fair trade chocolate chips! I was able to melt, flavor (with REAL flavorings) and mold the Sweet Earth Chocolate Chips. I also discovered that a Wacky Cake was as good as a cake mix any day and could be cut and shaped just like any other cake. (The recipe is at the end of this post!)

On my first trip to Whole Foods (which is three hours away), we ate with my Dad at T Rex Café. We tried to order somewhat acceptable foods and had to say “no” to the awesome dessert they served – a volcano brownie with smoke coming out of it. It looked awesome! I wondered if I could make one for The Boy’s birthday that was coming up!

I like birthdays, science experiments, and fun! So, I took on the challenge to come up with a no artificials Birthday Party. The theme was: Dinosaur Train! (I love that PBS show!)

I made a Train Cake (idea from Family Fun) magazine with Wacky Cake recipe, India Tree natural food coloring – (I have found it best to order directly from them and keep refrigerated. Natural food coloring isn’t as stable. And yes, it is quite expensive, but did I mention, I like Birthdays?! At this point in our journey, I probably need to make my own to keep it organic.) I made the volcano out of Breyer’s ice cream (acceptable at the time, but now that I’m staying away from GMO’s – another frazzled story – I use Alden’s, because I can get it at Kroger and Azure Standard… but that has soy lecithin …soooo I’m looking for something else, but we’re limited in our town so it probably means making my own, but that’s another twist because I want cream without carrageenan – link to help avoid carrageenan at Cornucopia – or a local cow that doesn’t get supplemented with GMO feed. Can you tell this journey has many frazzled twists and turns to it that can be difficult to follow?! Whew!) and Greg brought home dry ice to put in a plastic cup in middle of it. Fun Birthday Party without the artificials! Woohoo!

We found "acceptable" foods at the time to create our Dinosaur Train!

We found “acceptable” foods at the time to create our Dinosaur Train!

I learned I could scrap the artificial junk and still keep it fun! We all decided the cake tasted awesome. And Family Fun had such a great design. We used 365 Organic Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, Sunspire Chocolate candies, marshmallows without artificial flavors, and I found cute dinosaur candles to ride the train! Since then, I have some GMO issues with the marshmallows (I learned to make my own!) and the sunspire candies, but I still revert to them for decorations in a pinch.

Here are some pictures of some of the other Birthday Cakes we’ve tried!

Beach Scene Ice Cream Cake
2011 pics 505

This was an ice cream cake with Feingold approved graham cracker “sand” and real whipping cream with confectioner’s sugar and real vanilla. The gummy bears also were Feingold approved.

I love to make this one! It's one of my favorites, Frosting a lucky match with India Tree mix. fair trade Milk Chocolate drop ridges from "Sweet Earth."

I love to make this one! It’s one of my favorites, Frosting a lucky match with India Tree mix. fair trade Milk Chocolate drop ridges from “Sweet Earth.”

Fair Trade Chocolate Chips decorated this cake. The flames are swirly candles from behind!

Fair Trade Chocolate Chips decorated this cake. The flames are swirly candles from behind!

Sweet Earth Fair Trade Milk Chocolate drop craters. Cake baked in a bowl. Buzz Light Year candle topper.

Sweet Earth Fair Trade Milk Chocolate drop craters. Cake baked in a bowl. Buzz Light Year candle topper.

Again, Sweet Earth Fair Trade Chocolate "Chips" had enough variety in shape to help me out with these pandas!
Chocolate and Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting with Sweet Earth Chocolate Chips and, of course, Family Fun Magazine Birthday Cake Ideas helped out yet again!

Chocolate and Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting with Sweet Earth Chocolate Chips and, of course, Family Fun Magazine Birthday Cake Ideas helped out yet again!

I used Whole Food's 365 sandwich cookies, chocolate and vanilla ice creams and whipping cream with confectioner's sugar and vanilla to imitate the popular ice cream cake.

I used Whole Food’s 365 sandwich cookies, chocolate and vanilla ice creams and whipping cream with confectioner’s sugar and vanilla to imitate the popular ice cream cake.

As you can see our food journey has taken many twists and sharp turns over the past two years. What was acceptable at one time on one cake, required a replacement on the next. I’m still looking for improved fun foods to use. I just made a sourdough chocolate cake this week to test out. If you’re on a frazzled food journey, just know that any step you take toward healthy eating and living is good for your family. Be sure to celebrate any progress you make and give yourself a break!

This is a reminder that even on a long journey, you can have some fun (of course, this is from the crazy woman who packed 6 family members and her dog in the van to visit family in California for Spring Break!). You may not be as insane as I am with Birthday cakes (although Family Fun and Parent Magazines make it relatively easy to be insane ;)); but you can find ways to add fun to your own real food trek! Maybe my frazzled journey can save yours some of the frazzle!

I’ve had this Wacky Cake recipe from Junior High Home Economics Class (they don’t call it that anymore!) so I’m thinking it’s safe to share it with you.

No mixing bowl needed for a basic square pan! Easy! This is my “go to” recipe for an easy dessert.

Mix in ungreased square cake pan:

*1 1/2 cups flour (I use white whole grain. I’m experimenting with some sourdough cake recipes since I’m learning about soaking and fermenting grains.)

*1 cup sugar (I only use organic whole cane sugar since sugar is one of the big genetically modified foods. You can experiment with honey as well.)

*1 tsp baking soda

*1 tsp salt (I always read labels, even with salt! One salt I thought was healthier listed sugar – GMO alert! – as an ingredient.)

*3 Tblsp cocoa. (I like Equal Exchange Fair Trade Cocoa.)

Make 3 holes in the mix.

*Into one put, 1 tsp vanilla. (I make sure this is organic, real vanilla. It costs more but the artificial stuff is really bad for my kiddo. I won’t be going back!)

*Into another put 1 Tblsp vinegar. (I use organic for baking, regular for cleaning.)

*Into the other put 5 Tblsp oil. (I use melted coconut oil which is liquid around 75 degrees. I avoid canola, corn and vegetable unless they’re organic, and still use them rarely. Melted butter also is a good real food option. Sometimes, I use organic canola because it’s what some folks are used to.)

*Pour 1 cup water over all.

Mix well in pan

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees

If making a Birthday cake, you need to double the recipe, mix in a bowl and pour into the shape of pans called for. The Panda Cake used 2 round cake pans. The Dragon used a regular long cake pan. I make a butter cream frosting from Betty Crocker using organic ingredients that is always a hit around here.

To begin with, you may want to try some of your favorite treats with organic substitutes. It makes the transition to real foods a little easier for the kids (and adult kids) in your family. My kiddos are discovering that real food tastes better than artificial and genetically modified foods. They recognize the efforts I make and they appreciate that I don’t serve foods with petroleum or allow them to be used in the GMO food experiment! Here’s to having fun on this frazzled journey!

I’d love to hear some of your Birthday ideas! Right now, I’m planning a spa party for daughter number three! I’m looking forward to sharing my homemade lotions and lip balm recipes!

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