Celebration Time, Come On!

We just finished up celebrating our son’s second trip around the sun and given how many party attendees requested recipes from our food offerings, I thought that a little sharing for posterity’s sake was in order.

Homemade Birthday Banner

garden view garland P1010701 leafy garland

I completed our set of birthday garlands for last year’s first birthday celebration.  Much to my surprise, I made many more yards than I’d intended.  My husband assured me that this was a good thing since we are partial to parties in parks.  Now that our neighborhood tot lot is the ideal setting for our son’s enjoyment, we are armed with plenty of decorations (thankfully this relieves me of the sense of obligation to make more).  Our adornments made our favorite park a little more special in honor of our little guy and his favorite friends.


I was determined to provide healthy snacks that I’d be more than happy to feed my kid for our party.  Considering, my limited time, the constraints of an outdoor party in the heat, and the variety of dietary constraints that many live with, I put together a menu with the hopes that each person in attendance could enjoy at least one thing.  The combination of food allergies is tricky to navigate, but I think that I at least achieved part of what I set out to.

Here are the recipes and links (in italics) to the originals when applicable.

Mango Cashew Sunshine Bites  – my changes are recorded here

  • 2/3 cup cashews
  • 1 cup dried mango
  • 1/2 cup coconut (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 cup Harmless Harvest coconut water (the best tasting that I’ve ever had, this coconut water is raw and delicious)
  • 1/4 cup raw coconut butter
  • 2 tsp honey
  • seeds of one vanilla bean
  • orange zest
  • pinch of red salt
  • pinch of turmeric 
  1. Soak Cashews in salted water for six hours.  Drain and Rinse.
  2. Soak mango and coconut in coconut water for 30 minutes.  Retain any excess liquid.
  3. Place all contents in food processor and process until a silky smooth paste is al that is left of the ingredients.
  4. In preparation for rolling the balls, coat hands with coconut oil.  Spoon out 1/2 teaspoons of the mixture at a time, roll into a ball and coat with coconut flakes.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Chewy Granola Bites again, my changes are recorded here

  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds in 6 Tbsp of water (could use Harmless Harvest, this is only occurring to me now)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats
  • 3/4 pecans
  • 1 cup dried white figs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 tsp red salt 

(Before preparing this, I soaked the oats, groats, and pecans according to the specifications of Sally Fallon and dehydrated them.)

  1. Combine chia seeds and water.  Set aside.  A gel will soon form.
  2. Toast oats, groats, and nuts in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Check and stir every 5 minutes to prevent burning.
  3. Mix coconut oil, syrup, and vanilla.  Add a little heat if necessary to turn the oil to liquid form.
  4. Use a food processor to blend the bananas and the oil mixture until it is smooth.  Then add the chia gel with only a quick pulse to incorporate.
  5. In a large bowl combine the toasted oats, groats, and nuts, the liquid mixture, and the figs.
  6. Chose a pan based on how thick or thin you’d like your bars to be.  Line with parchment paper.
  7. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes (but do bear in mind the thickness of your bars when choosing the length of time before checking in to prevent any burning.)
  8. Allow to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes.
  9. Make use of the parchment for removing from pan.  Cut or crumble as you like.  (The cooler and thicker the bars, the more likely that they will actually be bars.  Mine were too warm and too thin to be bars when I started to cut.  So they became tasty granola bites instead.)
  10. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.  The coolness helps to ensure that they hold their shape.

Quinoa Salad
The original recipe comes from a little cookbook that my mom gave me years ago when I was a vegetarian in college.  The little book is long gone, but this one favorite recipe has remained something of a staple for me.

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (I soaked mine first and then added too much cooking water so it was sort of mushy, but definitely nutritious)
  • 1 bunch of Italian parsley’s leaves chopped very finely
  • 1 box of mini tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 lemon, juiced (I learned this method from my Cypriot friend:  halve the lemon, then put a fork in the sections of each halve.  Squeeze while moving the fork up and down until you are satisfied with the amount of juice extracted.  Simple.  And do take advantage of the oils from the peel as they naturally come off on your hand in the process, they make a lovely salve.)
  • Olive oil and red salt to your taste.

Sachertorte – From The Frog Commissary Cookbook

  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate (the good stuff.  Valrhona, for example.)
  • 8 oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 3/4 tsp red salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (in our house we always put a bit more for good measure)
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • 8 oz crispy walnuts ground to a fine powder in a nut mill.
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 8 egg whites


  • 2/3 cup apricot jam (I found an all organic variety sweetened with apple juice, score!)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate (the same stuff you used in the cake), chopped
  1. Butter and flour a 9″ by 2 1/2″ springform pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  Cool to lukewarm.
  4. Cream the butter with the salt, vanilla, and sugar.
  5. Toss the walnuts and flour.
  6. Add the egg yolks one by one to the butter-sugar mixture.
  7. Stir in the chocolate and nuts.
  8. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  9. Stir 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up.
  10. Fold in the remaining egg whites.
  11. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake 1 hour.
  12. Cool in pan for 20 minutes.  Then flip onto a cooling rack and remove the bottom.  Cool completely.

(The Frog describes how to properly ice the cake.  I chose not to put time into such things, so I take a simpler approach, which ends in a rather funny looking cake that is just as tasty as its prettier counterpart.)

  1. Place the cake on your serving plate of choice.
  2. Spread jam over top and down the sides of the cake.  Place in the refrigerator to set the jam.
  3. Carefully heat the cream so that it will be sufficiently warm to melt the chocolate.  (Don’t let it boil or burn).
  4. Stir chocolate and cream together until the mixture is completely smooth.
  5. Allow to cool till just warm enough for spreading.
  6. Pour the chocolate over the cake taking care to distribute evenly on the top and down the sides.
  7. Chocolate will pool up around base of the cake.  (Clearly the thing to do is use a spatula to wipe it up and then use your mouth to enjoy the evidence of your lack of skill in cake decorating.  Depending on how long you wait to serve the cake, you may have to repeat this step.)
  8. You can carefully freeze this cake.  First on a plate, then wrap carefully and extensively once frozen.
  9. Or you can refrigerate for a couple days before serving if you are doing a lot of cooking, say for a birthday party.

Banana Cupcakes with Maple-Coconut Cream Cheese frosting – adapted from an adaptation of The Silver Palate Cookbook

The truth is that my husband made this cake and frosting.  I provided him with a recipe and then he did more research.  I don’t really know what he did.  I’ll leave you with the links and the changes that I know were made.

  • Yogurt was substituted for buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar and 1/2 cup of maple sugar was used in place of the sugar (which is missing from Helen Jane’s recipe all together.)
  • In the frosting, maple syrup was the only sweetener used.  A little less butter was used, and shredded coconut was added on account of the liquid sweetener form.  Cupcakes were topped with coconut and an umbrella for tropical whimsy.

Cucumber / Lemon Water
This is simple and yet, surprisingly satisfying.  I washed and cut up three little cucumbers and an entire lemon (skins on, seeds out) and plopped them in our five gallon water bottle which we put on the crock at the park.  While we had a couple gallons left at party’s end, I was happy to see that so much had been consumed on such a hot day.  And happier still to know that I avoided sugary juices and drinks all together.


There may very well be errors here.  Use your best judgement and let me know.  A little editing is all it takes to make most things right.

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