A gluten-free/dairy-free/egg-free birthday party… yikes!

By Angela Petrie

Hannah turned 6 on May 8th…  she was my Mother’s Day present in 2004 and Julia, my oldest, was born during the ‘labor day’ long weekend in 2002 – we always laugh at the significance of both. We held off on Hannah’s big birthday party until this weekend as last weekend was a crazy week for celiac awareness month.

It is easy for relatives to follow Hannah’s diet on special occasions – just like my muffins on Mother’s Day they just smile and swallow it even if they don’t enjoy it (although most do).

Over the past several years I have listened to parents and kids alike rave about how great Hannah’s birthday cakes taste (how they look at times is a completely other blog…I have a history of burning cakes or experiencing the not so occasional decorating flop). This year however was an extra stress – how do I make a good tasting gluten, dairy and egg free cake?!?

Enter Pamela’s Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Frosting mixes. I also must give credit to two great ladies: Donna Washburn and Heather Butt’s latest cookbook: 250 Gluten Free Favorites which also includes dairy, egg and white sugar-free recipes. It was in this book that I learned that mixing warm water with ground Salba is an egg substitute. Hhhhmmm healthy’ish’ cupcakes sound great to me.

The ultimate test however was whether 14 little children would agree. The pressure was on! I wish I would have taken a picture but imagine a chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate icing and a raspberry on top. I anxiously watched as 12 of the children devoured them, several asked for seconds and one had warned me previously that she doesn’t eat cupcakes

Whew!  What a relief. The party was a huge success and we were proud that our 6 year old suggested that in lieu of presents she would like donations to the SPCA. Hannah proudly dropped off $165 at the SPCA this afternoon. Apparently there are some dogs in need of surgery at the moment so her timing was great. All in all a great birthday!

That being said birthdays/special events can be a challenge for those with allergies. I am involved with all aspects of party planning (food, drinks, color of cake and icing, contents of goodie bags). I call parents/ teachers in advance, find out party/lesson plans and do my damnest to make sure she does not feel left out. Now that I don’t stay for the entire party I rely on her to make sure that she is safe. We walk around discussing what she can/cannot have, how she must wash her hands before eating, not eat anything that falls off her plate (you never know where gluten is lurking) how she must take a napkin from the middle of the stack and how her cutlery never touches the table.

I also must send kudos to all those parents who ensure everyone else washes their hands, allow her to dish her own food first (even before the birthday body/girl) and is my gluten defender in my absence. Apparently having your mom hang around at birthday parties when you are 6 years old is frowned upon. At the last birthday party she attended the mom made sure that all items were gluten-free (none of the other children even noticed) and there were no cross-contamination issues (thank you Nicole – you are awesome)!

She was all the envy at the Flintstones birthday party when she had a string of Lifesavers versus Fruit Loops around her neck and the latest was creating 3 layers of rice krispee squares (white, chocolate and pink) that were gluten/ dairy free for her kindergarten sedimentary rock project. All of it is possible with a little creativity, time and help from parents/teachers.

The purpose of this blog is to show everyone that gluten-free does not need to taste like cardboard or be boring. Our major home renovation is almost complete and I am ready to try a cooking demo in my home. This is quite a step from a girl who once said if it doesn’t come from a can or a box I’m not making it!

Send me an email if you are interested in attending a gluten-free cooking demo, I’m thinking $10 per person, to socialize, share stories and experience some great gluten-free food.

Angela Petrie is a gluten-free consultant. She can be reached at 250-863-8123 or check out her website at www.glutenfreehelp.ca

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