The Birthday Challenge

Looking for an alternative to birthday cake? Here are a few suggestions

“You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream (and cake)!”

In many cultures sweet foods play a prominent role in the celebration of a year’s passage in the life of a child. In Western cultures those sweets often come in the form of birthday cakes and ice cream. Although festive, birthday cake and ice cream, especially when coupled with a child’s birthday meal can add up to a hefty serving of carbohydrate.

There are a number of ways a concerned parent can approach this situation, depending on the child’s age, the parent’s wishes, the child’s current blood glucose levels and his/her overall metabolic control. It is perfectly appropriate to simply choose to adjust the amount of insulin given to cover the extra carbohydrate load, as this is special occasion. However, there are also other options available that can be as festive and delicious without running the risk of unduly elevating blood glucose levels.

One option is redesigning the type of birthday cake served.  Instead of traditional frosted layer cake, parents can serve individual cupcakes decorated with the name of each child attending the party. The amount and type of icing and topping can be modified. For example, parents can allow the celebrants and the birthday child to have lightly iced cupcake tops, decorated with small pieces of fruit such as blueberries or raspberries.

Another option is to bake the cake into flat-bottom (cake-type) ice cream cones. Like the cup-cakes above, the ice cream cone cakes are pre-portioned and they also are carb reduced. Cake type cones are mostly air and one cone contains only seven grams of carbohydrate.  They can be topped with a light whipped topping and a berry or cherry for a festive touch.

Or to give the party a healthful dessert twist, prepare or purchase a “fruit cake” (a cake made from fruit, not the bread-like holiday staple) designed in the shape of the child’s favorite toy or pastime. In addition to being moderate in carbohydrate, these cakes are low in fat and calories and provide a burst of color. Children can have fun picking apart the cake piece by piece and adult party-goers may also appreciate the more sophisticated, less overly sweet flavor of fresh fruit.

Finally, if the child is agreeable and has an adventurous palate, birthday cakes can be dispensed with entirely. One way of doing this is to host a party with a theme from another culture which does not include birthday cakes as part of their celebrations. For example, one of the traditional birthday meals in India is a curried vegetable stew served with fruit chutney. For dessert, guests are presented with a rice pudding flavored with nuts and the spice cardamom, which adds a minty lemony flavor with floral notes.

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One Response to The Birthday Challenge

  1. Mel T says:

    It’s a great idea to try new foods in birthday celebrations. I love rice pudding, however I question the suggestion that a rice and sugar bomb would be a better option to control blood sugar than cake!

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