Preparing for a children’s birthday party that is preservative, sugar and gluten free requires a little more planning than usual. The good thing is though, unless you have to worry about food intolerances you have a few options. The main thing to remember is to be realistic about the time you have before the party (to cook) and of course, how much you actually enjoy cooking.
Don’t forget, a sad mum running around stressing = sad party.
It’s important to have a balanced approach and do what you are comfortable with. Even limiting the sweet choices available is doing your kids a favour – so if all you can do is make some smarter choices, then you are onto a good thing.
So what are your options when planning your party:
- The whole deal – if you want a gluten, sugar and preservative free party –make sure you plan well in advance! Research your menu and recipes and enlist the help of some friends or family who understand what you are trying to do to possibly prepare a dish for you.
- Theme Selection: select time and theme carefully – if you want an easier option, hold a BBQ lunch, then the expectation is for less of your typical sweet party foods and you don’t have as much prep to do!
- Homemade is still better: be happy with the fact homemade is better than store brought and accept offers for family or friends to bring a dish they choose. If possible, ask them to make a savoury option – then at least you are limiting the sugar side of things (and can make these yourself).
- Make and buy: make as much as you can (cakes, biscuits, crackles) and buy some healthy options.
Suggestions for healthier alternatives to purchase:
- Potato Chips: if, like me, you love potato chips, buy a plain flavour (so you are at least limiting preservatives – note they generally have vegetable oils) or an Organic brand (but please read the label! Some of the Coles branded chips are not too bad).
- Crackers: as I’ve mentioned before, I love Mary’s Gone Crackers (seed crackers). They aren’t for everyone and if kids aren’t used to eating them they might not enjoy them, so look for some rice crackers with no preservatives.
- Lollies: if you don’t want to make some jellies yourself, then you could purchase some preservative free lollies from a store like Cut The Chemicals (note, these do contain sugar and vegetable oil).
- Birthday Cakes and treats: try and find a local company that produces sugar free or refined sugar free treats (if you are ok with some fructose).
- A great example in Perth is The Naked Bakery, where you can buy delicious raw cakes and treats.
- For cupcakes you can try Cupcakes by Alli, she traditionally makes cupcakes with sugar, but since adopting a “sugar free” lifestyle has started experimenting with sugar free ones!
- You could also try your local farmers markets for treats and gluten free breads and other goodies.
What about drinks?
I wanted to add in a section on drinks as I feel it is a really important area to discuss and one where even if the only thing you worry about is this – you are saving your children and guests from consuming countless sugar.
Be conscious of what’s actually in the drinks you and your children consume, it’s easy to think because you are drinking it – they aren’t that bad for you. Juice and normal varieties of soft drink are full of sugar (remember how a glass of no added sugar apple juice and coke both have around 8 to 10 teaspoons of sugar) and diet varieties are full artificial sweeteners, the affects of which are really unknown.
Perhaps I am so adamant about this one as I’m a reformed Coke Zero drinker. It’s addictive and something you shouldn’t get your children onto! Trust me – it was a hard habit to break. It becomes so normal to have it you don’t think twice about it, but we really should and encourage our children to be the same.
So what other options do you have? To make life easier naturally you can buy some soft drinks and let everyone make up their own mind (if you’re ok with that!). Of course there is good old water, to make it more interesting fill up a glass jug with some water and slices of lemon or lime for flavour.
If you want some bubbles, you could flavour soda water or even get out your old soda stream! Add some fresh-juiced fruits for flavour (such as blueberries, or raspberries).
I hope this has given you some ideas on how to plan a healthier party, without losing your mind in the process! I’d love to know if you have any of your own tips that might help others.
Other posts in the Children’s Party Series: