What Parents wouldn’t do for their Child’s Birthday – Make Healthy Sugar Free Jello

sugar free jelloI love birthdays. They are fabulous days to celebrate people, how much we love and appreciate them and how happy we are to have them in our lives. Celebrating kids birthdays are some of the best, as they can be super fun and creative.

There are so many themes, games, crafts and activities to do around a kids birthday and I personally love a good theme. I get really into it, creating details from the cake right down to the decorations.

The one thing that is part and parcel of a birthday is of course, the cake. It is a tradition that has been around for centuries and one I honestly feel is just wrong if absent on a birthday (I hear in Sweden they start birthdays with cake for breakfast – they know what they’re doing). I have always loved the idea of a cut up cake, or a theme cake, something more than your traditional round or square. The designs, the colors, the creativity. My Mom made them for us growing up and well, even though my Mom warned me not to, I continued that tradition with my children.

sugar free rice krispie squares

Homemade Marshmallows

So for the twins, who just recently turned 6, we had a Minecraft and an Elsa cake this year; which I thought would be fairly simple. And well, once I figured out what I was doing, and all the pieces I needed, they were.

Because we chose a number of years ago to go sugar free this has created some challenges in creating things like a sugar free birthday cake. The cake itself was easy enough to do but it was the decorating, the icing and other accessories that made it interesting. This year for Luke’s Minecraft cake we discovered a design that was pretty simple in itself but required Jello and Rice Krispie squares – which I had yet to figure out how to make sugar free jello or sugar free rice krispie squares. I had some ideas on how to do this but had not made them before.

The Rice Krispie squares were easy enough. A couple of years ago I discovered a recipe sugar free rice krispie squareson Wellness Mama to make marshmallows, so I simply made that recipe and then mixed in the gluten free rice krispies right away while the marshmallow cream was still soft (at one point I thought I would have to make the marshmallows let them set then melt them down…luckily my rational brain kicked in and realized that they would already be soft before they set and I could just mix it all together right away). Once it was mixed in I just pressed the rice krispies into a pan like I usually would. They turned out quite well, though not as sweet as an original Rice Krispie square, which I think was largely due to the gluten free cereal which is not as sweet to start with; otherwise they were great.

The Jello was a little more of a challenge and this was simply because of the color I needed. Jello in itself is easy you use plain gelatin add water and let it set. But when you’re using natural fruit juice as a base and trying to make blue… Did you know there is no natural fruit that creates the color blue? You might think what about blueberries? Nope purple. Red cabbage is as a natural food dye, also purple. I even Googled it to see if I could find anything. No luck.

sugar free jelloEventually I found somewhere, the idea of using white grape juice and then adding a drop or two of blue food coloring. Though I would have prefered not to use the artificial food coloring I thought how much work did I want to do for this Jello. I decided a drop or two would be ok. So I found a natural Jello recipe on Wellness Mama (the same site for the marshmallows) and had it made setting in the fridge in about 5 minutes. Easy.

It tasted great too. In fact I prefered the Jello to the Rice Krispie squares. With this Jello though you have to like white grape juice, which some people don’t. I find it is a distinct taste that you either like or don’t. With my kids, Chloe loved it and Luke did not. The great thing is that unless you are making an odd color of Jello, like blue, you can find fruit juice out there that will give you the color you need without adding any food coloring. Like I wish I had needed red, easy! raspberry, cherry, cranberry

In general, I was really pleased with how these turned out and how the cake turned out in the end. It looked great and tasted good, with the finishing touches being the Minecraft figures on top, which thankfully Luke got from Gran for his birthday and was quite happy to put on top (I was going to sit down and draw and design these things). Luke was really pleased with the result and everyone ooed and awed over the cake when they saw it. That’s the kind of reaction that I like, and what makes it worth it. Now Chloe’s Elsa cake this year… that is another story…

Sugar Free Jello

1 1/2 cups of white grape juicesugar free jello

1/4 c. cool water

1/4 c. hot water

1 tbsp. grain fed gelatin powder

1-2 drops of blue food coloring (number of drops depends on how deep a blue you want)

Pour the cool water in a large mixing cup or quart sized mason jar and add the gelatin powder. Stir until mixed- it will start to thicken a lot. Add the ¼ cup of really hot water and stir to mix- it should be thinner now. Combine this with the juice and mix well. Pour the jello mixture into an 8×8 dish. Put in the fridge, covered, for at least 2-3 hours or overnight and serve. Cut into cubes or scoop out with a melon spoon to make cute shapes.
Serves 4-6

Sugar Free White Cake Recipe

One of the first things I created when we went sugar free was a sugar free birthday cake, as I figured that this was one of the most important things in a child’s life that should not be without. Cake on your birthday is important! So I sought out various recipes and experimented a little.

My first attempt in creating a sugar free white cake was using agave nectar as the substitute for sugar. Though there are many other options for natural sweeteners this was the first one that I tried. I later learned though that agave nectar is considered to be just as bad as the refined stuff because of the way it’s processed. So my next step was to try honey, which is our preferred natural sweetener these days.

This vanilla cake recipe, using honey as the sweetener is very moist and I have used it many times. The kids love it and no one knows the difference when they eat it unless I tell them it’s sugar free. You can easily use this recipe for white cupcakes as well.

I used it this year for Chloe’s kitty cat birthday cake (for the twins birthdays I make a cake for each of them and I usually do one chocolate and one vanilla). With chocolate icing it was delicious as usual.

White (Vanilla) Cake Recipe

1/2c. honey

1/2 c. Earth Balance

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 c. flour

1 3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 c. almond or rice milk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 9×9 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, cream agave nectar and Earth Balance. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in vanilla.

Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan or into muffin tin for cupcakes.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

Yield: 12 cupcakes or 9×9 inch pan

Luke and Chloe’s 3rd Birthday

Chloe and Luke 1 week old

It is amazing how fast the kids grow up. It seems like yesterday that I was holding 2 little 5 pound babies in my arms and now they have just turned 3! Running, talking, and bouncing with personalities all their own. So much more aware of life, what’s going on and getting so big.

Both Luke and Chloe were very excited for their birthday this year. They ‘got’ what was happening and that it was their day. They knew that they would get presents and started asking for things for their birthday. Luke asked for a police car and his own Playmobil set, while Chloe wanted some jewelry and pretty dresses. They had decided what they wanted for birthday cakes before Christmas – Chloe asking for a kitty cat and Luke a train (which turned into Thomas the Tank Engine specifically).

They enjoyed the balloons and the streamers and knew that when everyone came over it was for their birthday and their party. Chloe dressed up in a pretty dress and Luke in a nice shirt and pants. They looked dapper for their big day!

Even though they were twins, when they were born I decided that it was important for them to be treated as individuals, so their own gifts (though sometimes they get joint ones depending on what it is), their own cards, their own cakes. Which in theory sounds like a lovely idea, except when it is 1 in the morning and Mom is still decorating the cakes!

The cakes themselves were not hard to make, I had made one chocolate, one vanilla; as over the last couple of years I found some good recipes that accommodate our no sugar and no dairy needs. Plus I was able to rent a shape pan from Stir Crazy Fun Center here in Calgary to make Thomas (only $5 to rent it and definitely worth it! I had never used a shape pan before and it is the cat’s meow let me tell you 🙂 It was the decorating that took the longest and this was because of the icing I was using. I have tried a couple of white sugar free icing recipes, which I can then color for decorating. I had found a great replacement for icing sugar, but the icing recipe itself I have not had much luck with. The icings I have found, though they taste great are not easy to work with as far as spreading or pumping through icing bags.

Chloe's 3rd Birthday

 

In the past I had made a coconut buttercream frosting but found that after a bit of time it got too hard and was extremely hard to work with. It was difficult to spread right from the beginning and only got worse. So this year I decided to try the Wilton icing recipe which uses shortening, butter, icing sugar and a bit of milk – all of which I had replacements for – but I found this icing also extremely hard to work with. Difficult to spread and very hard to pump through the icing bags. Also after time, it got greasy and hard in the icing bags, no longer mixed together. I found the whole experience very frustrating and though I managed to finish the cakes and they looked great I am sure that with the right icing I could cut my time in half and not be up til 1 in the morning decorating!

Luke's 3rd Birthday

Chloe’s cake, bless her, took me 20-30 minutes to cut out and decorate. This was because it was a simple design and I was able to use my sugar free chocolate icing, which is very easy to spread. Thomas was not so easy and it was not the detail it was the icing!

So I am on the search for a great sugar and dairy free, easy to work with, spreadable white icing recipe that I can color to decorate character cakes. I will keep looking and when I find a good one I will share it! In the meantime I will use what I have and see if I can modify them in some way.

If you know of or have any great sugar and dairy free white icing recipes please share them by commenting below.