Birthday Parties while on GAPS Intro

Birthday Parties with GAPS  can be challenging. Being on any restricted diet is hard. Whether it is just one thing like gluten, dairy or sugar you’re avoiding, or you’re on a significantly limited diet like GAPS Intro; it is hard. Generally speaking, wherever there is a gathering of people, there is food. It might be the staff room at work, meetings, playgroup, sporting events, church, or any kind of celebration. There seems always to be food. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but when you’re restricting one or many foods, it can make life tough.

My family of 5 are currently on Introduction Stage 3 of the GAPS diet, and we have all had to face the temptation and exclusion when we cannot eat the food that is on offer, and we witness the people around us enjoy it. As an adult, I find that problematic enough, but for my children, it’s even harder. As a rule, I have gone out of my way to provide something alternative to the food that’s on offer. I do this to help them (and me!) feel less like they are missing out but also to show them that ‘treats’ don’t have to be unhealthy and that even though our foods are quite limited, with creativity, we can make our food fun. So far, I have been super impressed with my children’s ability to accept what they can and cannot eat and to also exercise a level of self-control that indeed many adults do not possess.

So when my eldest child Asher (6) was invited to a classmates 7th birthday party, and I was told the party menu was going to be ‘Traditional Party Food’, I busily set about coming up with some delicious alternatives so that Asher could still feel like he was having fun foods at the party without having to compromise on his diet. Before I got too carried away, I confirmed the exact menu and flow of the day which helped me make sure I was getting the right things prepared. 

‘Decorate your own cupcake alternative’

First up was the ‘decorate your own cupcake’ activity. At the beginning of the party, all children were to decorate their own cupcake with lollies which would then all be put aside and brought back out as the ‘birthday cake’. Sounds fun!

For my daughters 4th birthday a few weeks back I discovered when you cut up marshmallow into squares and pop them into mini patty papers they look quite cute and so for Asher I took it a step further and put the marshmallow straight into a patty paper (the biggest one I had in the cupboard) and once it was set it worked a treat! When pulling the marshmallow out of the paper, the first little bit was sticky but after that, the rest peeled off beautifully! The marshmallow recipe I used is adapted from one Christina sent to me that uses egg whites. I like it best because

a) it uses up some egg whites (Woop whoop!! we always have plenty around!) and

b) I find it feels like you’re eating something a bit more substantial than if you just do the water and gelatin version. 

Marshmallows

I have adapted the recipe from David Lebovit

I’ve found the main trick to successful marshmallows is to make sure you have kept mixing it until it cools to room temperature, otherwise when you refrigerate it the mixture separates and you end up with a clear jelly at the bottom. It still tastes delicious but I like it all mixed in. I have done this recipe in my Thermomix but found it took to long to cool down due to the thermal qualities of the bowl and so I’ve found doing it in a stainless steel bowl with handheld electric beaters gives me more consistent results. I do need a second set of hands for this so I do it when hubby can help out. If you don’t have anyone, stick to the thermi or food processor etc.

This recipe makes a decent amount of marshmallow.

Ingredients

  • 34 grams powdered gelatin
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 250g honey
  • 1 cup (220g) egg whites, room temperature
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  1. In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the 1 cup of cold water to dissolve and soften
  2. In a small saucepan heat the honey until just warm enough to be runny
  3. While the honey is heating, in the bowl of an electric mixer (or just a normal bowl if you’re using handheld electric beaters) beat the egg whites on slow speed until frothy, add the pinch of salt
  4. Increase the speed of your mixer to high and beat until the whites are thick and fluffy
  5. Slowly pour the runny honey into the bowl of whites so that it doesn’t hit the beaters (saves flicky sticky mess!), continue to beat
  6. Put the gelatin into the same saucepan the honey was in (no need to wash it) and allow the heat to melt the gelatin. You may find you need to pop it back on the stove to warm it up enough to melt it. Gelatin doesn’t like to be boiled!
  7. Pour liquefied gelatin slowly into the beating whites. Keep whipping until the outside of the bowl is completely cool.
  8. Pour mixture into paper patties or a tin or tray lined with baking paper
  9. I put mine straight into the fridge after this

Tip: When I poured the mixture into the patty paper I found the paper spread with the weight of it so I popped the papers into a muffin tin and then filled them so they held their shape nicely. Also in hindsight, I would have chosen a normal sized patty paper that was coloured as opposed to the biggest one I could find that was white.

Decorating the cupcake!

Now, what to decorate the cupcake with??

At first I couldn’t think of anything besides dulse flakes that would be fun to sprinkle on top but I didn’t think they would have quite the desired effect so eventually decided on jellies.

Ahh, the glorious jellies that have been our saving grace on GAPS Intro! Since I imagined there would be lots of different lollies on offer for decoration, I wanted to get a variety of colour and flavour. So I chose three types of jellies to make.

  • Beet Kvass for the pink colour,
  • Lemon for the yellow and
  • Peppermint for a slightly green colour.

Unfortunately, the peppermint one went quite yellow looking when I added the gelatin, but I figured it would be a flavour change at least!

I have a silicone mould that makes a lovely cube shape, so I chose that this time and it made it super easy to slice the jellies into mini cubes suitable for ‘sprinkling’.

Jellies

Since getting the hang of making jellies I usually just wing it. But here is a rough idea of what I did. 

Tips: 

  • If your jellies break coming out of their moulds, you need to add more gelatin! 
  • If you’re using silicone moulds, they can be hard to move into the fridge without spilling once you’ve filled them, so I try to remember to place the moulds on a metal baking tray before I fill them! 
  • Sometimes when stirring the gelatin, I find mashing any lumps up against the side of the bowl is effective.
  • Beet Kvass is a fermented beetroot drink which my family is still adjusting to the flavour of. I love adding it to jellies for the colour but also for the probiotic boost! See here for how to make it.

Beet Kvass Jelly Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup beet kvass
  • 3 tablespoons gelatin
  • 1 cup boiled water (a little cooled is best)
  • 1 tablespoon honey or to taste

Method

  1. Put hot water in a bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top, stir to dissolve.
  2. Add honey and stir to dissolve.
  3. Leave to cool until close to 40 degrees, this is so the heat doesn’t kill the good guys in the kvass. Pour in beet kvass and stir.  Pour into mould. Refrigerate to set.

Lemon Jelly

Ingredients

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons gelatin
  • 1 cup boiled water (a little cooled is best)
  • 1 tablespoon honey or to taste

Methods

  1. Put the juice in a bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top.
  2. Add hot water and stir to dissolve gelatin.
  3. Stir in honey, once it’s dissolved, pour into moulds and refrigerate.

Peppermint

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peppermint tea – I use tea leaves
  • 3 tablespoons gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon honey or to taste

Method

  1. While the tea is still quite warm, add the gelatin, stir to dissolve.
  2. Add honey and stir to dissolve.
  3. Pour into moulds and refrigerate.

Next! 

Hot food, hot dogs on bread, party pies, sausage rolls etc. 

Recently our family were advised that we really needed to increase our food sources of iodine and in a pinch, we could use nori rolls. We had them in the cupboard and so started gobbling it up right away which the kids loved. So regarding hot food substitute, the first thing that came into my head was a sausage wrapped in a nori roll (you’re getting a good glimpse of how my brain works!) but we aren’t frying meat yet, and a boiled snag isn’t something that makes my mouth water!

I thought maybe meatballs shaped into sticks and rolled up in nori, but in the end, I decided to go with cold meatballs and cut up nori roll ’chips’ with a dip. I first attempted to purée some leftover food to make the dip, but it had lots of fat in it so tasted and felt gross cold, so I opted for a tomato sauce made from scratch. I didn’t really feel like going to the extra effort, but I was convinced that dipping into something yummy would be a huge novelty for Asher and would be exactly the incentive he needed to eat the meatballs cold as he generally doesn’t like to eat cold meat. So I adapted Quirky Jo’s ketchup recipe to suit us. The sauce turned out beautifully and tasted so delicious; I knew it was going to be a hit. I included in the package some toothpicks to make dipping tidy and novel!

Meatballs

I recently made some meatballs to have on hand as snacks but they were so dry and not very appealing. The meat I used was too lean so I made sure this time that there was plenty of fat in the mince I used. I also added veggies for the extra bulk and nutrition! I made way more than Asher needed for the party but I figure if I’m at it I may as well make a few meals out of it! There are heaps more flavours/veggies/herbs you could add to it but this is what I did:

Ingredients

  • 2 litres broth of your choice (I had chicken broth on hand, so that’s what I used!)
  • 2kg beef mince -ish 
  • 1 carrot roughly chopped
  • 1 zucchini roughly chopped
  • Kale roughly chopped
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Throw into your Thermomix/food processor the carrot, zucchini and kale. Blend (Thermomix Sp 6) until fine. Or grate/chop by hand. 
  2. In a big bowl, add salt and veggies into the mince and mix by hand
  3. Put broth in a large pot on the stove and bring to a boil
  4. Roll the mince mixture into desired meatball size and pop them onto a plate
  5. Once your broth is boiling cook the first half of meatballs. Keep rolling the rest of the mince while they cook
  6. When cooked, scoop out with a slotted spoon. Pop in the second half of meatballs and remove with slotted spoon

**A fair bit of fat will end up in the broth by the end but it will be delicious to reuse for another tasty dish down the track!

Tomato Sauce

I really needed something quick and easy to make in the Thermomix as it was getting late in the night and did a quick google search. Quirky Jo’s Tomato Sauce recipe came up and although it had heaps on ingredients we couldn’t eat it gave me a base to work from.

I literally only included the ingredients that we are able to have at the moment and substituted the onion for leek and the oil for broth. I’m sure her sauce is way more tasty if you follow the whole recipe but below is what I did. 

Adapted Tomato Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 leek – white and light green part only
  • Splash of broth
  • 800g tomatoes, halved
  • 200g tomato paste
  • 80g apple cider vinegar
  • 70g honey

Methods

  1. Place leek in mixing bowl and chop 3 sec/speed 5
  2. Add broth, enough to kind of boil the leek, sauté 3 mins/100C/speed 1
  3. Add remaining ingredients and blend 30sec/speed 9
  4. Cook for 30 mins/Varoma/speed 3
  5. Puree 30 sec/speed 9, turning the dial up slowly to speed 9

Nori Rolls

I literally just cut up some Nori Roll sheets into neat rectangles with my kitchen scissors! Hopefully, that is enough explanation!

Next up was the lolly hunt.

Asher was happy to join in with the lolly hunt and then give his lollies to a friend, but I really wanted him to even be a part of that, so I made him some ‘lollies’. In the week leading up to the party, we had very conveniently been introducing ghee, so I made ghee fat bombs for him. I chose a small shell-shaped silicone mould so that he could get a few ‘lollies’ out of his allotted 1 tablespoon of ghee. The presentation is everything, so I wanted them to look pretty just like another wrapped lolly would. So I first individually wrapped the fat bombs in alfoil so that the fat wouldn’t spoil the wrapping paper and proceeded to wrap each one bonbon style in the only wrapping paper I had on hand, tying the ends with string. I ended up with four lollies which looked terrific and full of love.

Ghee Fat Bombs

The recipe below is only for a couple of little fat bombs; you could quickly increase the amounts to make more.

Ingredient

  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1/3 tablespoon honey or to taste

Method

  1. Stir ghee and honey together in a bowl with a spoon until well mixed and creamy.
  2. Spoon into small moulds.
  3. Set in the refrigerator.

Milk Shake (Switched out for Russian Custard)

There was also the potential for milkshakes at the party, so I included in Asher’s food package some Russian custard ice cream, easy to eat and transport in a ball mason jar. Russian custard is literally raw egg yolks whipped up with honey. It makes the most delicious treat especially when it’s frozen! My family love it, and we have it every day for afternoon tea as a way of getting the goodness of the egg yolks into us. I do enough to last our family 3 days (15 serves) so its a big batch. You can just divide the quantities as it suits you.  I used Jo Whitton Recipe from Quirky Cooking to make my Russian custard. 

Organisation

To make it really clear for the mother running the party I put each element into a suitable container/jar and labelled each one with what was inside and what it was substituting. For example on the box with the mini jellies, I wrote ‘cupcake decorations’, for the Russian custard I wrote ‘Russian custard – milkshake’, for the meatballs I wrote ‘meatballs – hot food’, for the lollies I wrote ‘lolly hunt’, you get the idea. I put all the containers of food into another box so that it would be easy to transport and hand over, especially as another parent was taking Asher to the party.

The night before the party I talked to Asher and told him all the types of food he can expect at the party and all the foods that he was going to be having instead. I tucked him into bed with a smile on his face, looking forward to all the fun things he would get to eat (mum win!). Then in the morning before I left for the day (I had a girls day out), I showed him the box and talked again about each thing and when he would eat it. I really feel these are important conversations to have with our kids, so they walk into these situations empowered and prepared.

So how did it go?

I rang my friend who held the party that night and asked her how it went. I was humbled and stoked by the lovely things she said about my son and the food I had prepared. She said since the food was well labelled and easy to see what was for when, she was able to seamlessly provide Asher with his food at the right time with very little fuss. There was barely a comment even by the other kids. She said Asher was more than happy with his foods, that he was familiar with the food and knew what was what.

He didn’t complain or ask about other foods, she said he was even joking about how he COULD have the paper plate and he COULD have the serviette and he COULD have the water! She said he still delighted in participating in the lolly hunt and was more than happy to pass the lollies back to her to be redistributed to other children who didn’t find many. She had lolly prizes for games and was able to give Asher his lollies I’d prepared instead.

She was kind to provide a non lolly party bag for Asher to bring home. After chatting with her I could really sense that she was really pleased and grateful for my efforts so that Asher could come to her sons party and not be ‘missing out’ the whole way through. I feel really blessed that she was so open and supportive of us in sticking to our diet and really caring about what Asher’s experience would be. I am also super proud of my boy’s attitude too. Probably I am most grateful that my hard work paid off!

‘My friend shared this pic from the day, can you spot Asher’s ‘cupcake’ on the stand?!’ 

Note: Now, he may have consumed 2 days worth of honey in the space of an hour and a half, but that was a compromise I was willing to make!!

Photo of Leanne Chapman

I’m Leanne Chapman, and I am on a long learning curve of how to feed my family food as medicine. I am a mother to 3 busy kids (6, 4, 2) who all have ‘Gut and Physiology Syndrome’. Guess where they get that from?? My husband and I! So we are all doing the GAPS Intro Diet with Christina’s help and learning so much as we go. I’m so grateful to be really getting to the bottom of our varied issues and learning traditional ways of preparing and eating foods.

**** If you are wanting to do GAPS with your family and wanting to feel supported through the journey, consider signing up for Christina’s 8 week online coaching package as your starting point.