Article by Jennifer Whitlock

Food additives, preservatives, colourings, sugar…hyperactivity! With three very active boys of my own, I try to have healthier birthday parties for my children. It never ceases to amaze me how sugar and additives can affect children’s behaviour. A few weeks ago, while my son was at tap dancing, a child arrived for class eating a chocolate doughnut. His parent was threatening him that he wouldn’t be allowed to dance if he didn’t stop “playing up”.

By designing a child-friendly and healthy buffet, including healthy “lolly bags”, both children and parents will be happy!
What food makes for a great kids’ party? Serve fun finger-food snacks like baby carrots, chicken pieces/ nuggets, organic/rice sausages, homemade sausage rolls, sushi, Vietnamese rolls, homemade salt-free popcorn, cobs of corn, salad wraps cut into small portions, tortilla/rice chips with dip, cheese, grapes, watermelon and any other fruit.

Homemade juices are easy to prepare and water at hand is even better. Organic fruit juices are easily available from the supermarket rather than sugar filled cordials and fizzy drinks. Tomato sauce can be an organic brand or why not make your own.

If cake is in order, make it ice cream/alternatively use soy ice creams or fruitcake.


Muesli bars
Makes approx.16 bars

3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup muesli*
1 cup sultanas
1 cup chopped dried apricots (or dried fruit medley)
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice(retain the peel for other recipe)
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup dates
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup LSA
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons honey
Natural yoghurt
*Use a natural muesli that is nut and sugar free.

In a medium saucepan, combine sultanas, apricots, honey and orange juice. Bring to the boil, stir for one minute, cover with lid and turn off heat.
When cool, combine with remaining ingredients except for yoghurt. Press mixture into an oiled cake tin or mini muffin tins can create cute round bars for variety. Press down well with hands to compact mixture.
Spoon small dollops of yoghurt onto each bar.
Cook in oven 160 degrees for 5 mins. Then refrigerate for 24 hours before serving (we can never wait that long!)
Can be kept in the fridge. We freeze ours individually.
Tip: If bringing to school or daycare, ensure you mark the container with “nut free muesli bar” to conform with the current policies!

Fruit Salad Muffins – with a difference
Makes approx.12 muffins

2 cups self-raising flour alternatively use plain flour and al free bicarb
1 egg (free range of course)
1 cup natural yoghurt
1/2 cup milk*
2 bananas mashed
½ punnet strawberries finely chopped
6 large oranges
*Try substituting cow’s milk with rice or soy milks.

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
Lightly grease large muffin tin.
Slice oranges in half and squeeze juice. Retain juice for another recipe and ensure all the pulp is removed and pith just remaining. Place orange halves in muffin trays…these are your cake paper cases!
Sift flower in a bowl. Mix together the egg, honey, yoghurt and milk and add to the flower mix, stirring until just combined.
Stir through the mashed bananas and chopped strawberries.
Spoon into the orange halves until the orange halves are half full…kids love the look of these…this was a girl guide recipe!
Bake for 20 minutes.

Sweet Potato Biscuits…a recipe from Zimbabwe
Makes approx. 20 biscuits

2 ½ cups self raising flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon nutmeg(optional)
1 egg (free range)
1 cup grated, raw sweet potatoes

Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees.
Sift flour and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Cream the butter with honey in another mixing bowl. Mix in lemon peel, nutmeg, and egg. Then stir in the grated sweet potato.
Blend the flour mixture with the sweet potato mixture.
Place rounded teaspoons of the cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet or muffin pan.
Bake for approx. 7 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. .

Jamie’s Tomato Sauce
2kg tomatoes
300g onion
1 clove garlic(optional)
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
½ cup honey

Chop the onions and tomatoes roughly. Place in a large pot together with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil, then boil for 4 hours. Sieve the mixture, then pour into sterilised bottles and seal.
* try using organic ingredients

Garlic toast
2 slices bread
Butter or Nuttelex
1 clove garlic
Toast bread slices in toaster. Spread with butter. Cut garlic clove in half and rub cut side on buttered toast.

Healthier pancakes
1 cup plain flour
1 egg
1 1/4 cups milk
pinch of salt

Sift flour & salt, break egg and add to a well in the middle of the flour. Stir in flour gradually from the sides, adding milk a little at a time. When half the milk is used, all the flour must be moistened. Beat well to remove all the lumps. When smooth, add remainder of milk gradually. Stand it aside for 30 minutes -1 hour. Melt a little butter in a pan, wipe dry with kitchen paper, melt another little piece of butter in the pan. Pour about two tablespoons of the batter into the pan, and allow it to spread evenly by moving the pan about. Cook quickly until set and under side is slightly brown. Toss or turn the pancake with a spatula, and cook on other side till brown. Drain on absorbent paper.

Chicken Nugget alternative
Kids love these and they are great cold as finger food in lunchboxes.

500 g organic chicken breast/thigh, cut into nugget shapes
1 clove garlic, crushed
plain flour

Mix chicken with garlic and let stand for about 30 minutes. Roll chicken pieces in flour then freeze for 15 minutes. Fry until crisp and golden brown. Stir with enough oil to ensure all pieces are covered. Bake in a preheated 180°C oven for 1 hour.

Heathier pizzas
First layer: 3 tbsp cream cheese and 3 tbsp homemade tomato sauce, mixed well.
Meat layer: (500 g mince, half a leek, one clove of garlic, oil for frying, 1 big can of kidney beans) cooked
Topping: grated mozzarella cheese(optional).
Spread first layer on pizza base, cover with meat mixture and top with grated cheese. Bake in a hot oven (220 degrees C) for 15-20 min.

Choc-free Brownies
2 cups of flour
2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 cup of butter
2 tbsp honey
2 eggs
1/4 tsp sea salt

Grease a 13x9x2 inch (35x22x5cm) baking pan. Combine flour, baking powder and sea salt. Melt butter, remove from heat. Stir in honey. Add eggs. Stir until combined. Stir mixed dry ingredients into mixture. Spread in pan. Bake in a 180’C (350’F) oven 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into bars while warm.

Apple muffins
1½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
2/3 cup milk/soymilk
1/4 cup oil
1 small/medium golden delicious apple

Sift flour into a bowl and sugar, egg, milk, and oil, stirring with a fork until mixed. Peel and dice apple. and stir into mixture. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with oil and spoon mixture into cups. Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes.

Alternative lemonade
Dissolve a cup of sugar in with a cup of boiling water and then add 1/2 tsp of citric acid. Put the ‘sugar syrup’ in a bottle and store in fridge.
To make lemonade just drizzle small amount of the sugar syrup into a glass and top with plain soda water/ sparkling mineral water.

Lunchbox muffins
1½ cups self-raising flour
1tbsp honey
½ cup rice bran
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk/ soymilk
¼ cup oil

Sift flour in a bowl and add remaining ingredients, stirring with a fork until mixed. Brush a 12 cup muffin pan with oil and spoon mixture into cups until ¾ full. Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes or until golden.

Party Jelly
½ cup sugar dissolved in ½ cup warm water
½tsp citric acid
300 ml cold water
3-4 tsp gelatin dissolved in ½ cup boiling water (boil for longer if sensitive to sulphites)

Combine ingredients in order. Refrigerate until set

Potato crackers
1/2 cup mashed potato
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp chopped chives sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 180°C (moderate). Combine potato with other ingredients and mix well. Spread very thinly into square shapes on a greased baking tray and bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Banana Cake
3 teasp fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup SR flour
1 teasp honey
1 teasp bicarb soda
180g melted butter
2/3 cup mashed ripe bananas
2 eggs
2/3 cup chopped walnuts(chopped)

Add lemon juice to milk and allow thicken
Sieve flower into bowl , add melted butter, honey, banana, milk eggs
Mix by hand
Add nuts
Bake 45 mins at 180 degrees
Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired

Lolly Bag Suggestions…instead of plastic lolly bags try:
Paper lunch bags decorated by the birthday child
Fabric bags in themed patterns ie: bugs; fairies; stars; dinosaurs
Noodle boxes painted

Lolly Bag Suggestions:
Small boxes sultanas/apricots
Cheese sticks
Mini muffins

Party suggestion:
For my sons 2nd birthday we had a jungle party and themed the whole party around this. We made jungle invitations for all his friends. We made animal tails and ears for all the guests, and the party bags were made from fabric with insects on it and included little wooden tigers.

On the day, we hung bunches of bananas and oranges from the kids tree house. We played the “Jungle Book” music and played games with animal themes. Fruit salad was served and jungle juice (strawberry and apples blended together with ice) was the drink of choice.

The cake was a snake shaped ice cream cake.