Gluten-Free Dragon Cake! Birthday Party Ideas For Cool Kids With Allergies!
What do you do when your 5-year old has food allergies and asks for a dragon cake for his birthday? Well, you do what any good mom would do – PANIC – oh wait, that’s not the right answer. You’d hit the web, of course and figure out how to make this monster for your little monster. Of course, my little monster didn’t just ask for a dragon cake, he asked for a magic Milk + Bookies themed birthday party with a pink dragon cake sitting on top of a castle but that’s another story….
As a trained chef and health coach, you’d think nailing an allergen-free birthday party would be a breeze, but the pressure of a 5-year old’s birthday happiness is enough to make even Thomas Keller sweat. After first searching for gluten-free bakeries in the area (hey, I’m no dummy) and coming up empty handed in my new North Bay hood, I hit Pinterest and found an easy DIY dragon cake.
This cake was virtually fool-proof though and got rave reviews from both parents and kids alike. Success! The original cake inspiration was laden with allergen landmines for a child whose body resists gluten, dairy and soy.
So here are my tips for hosting a simple, cool kid’s party for a rascal with allergies.
1. Schedule the party in between meal times: This way, kids and parents aren’t expecting a full spread so you can easily provide healthy allergen-free nibbles. We went with a bowl of fresh fruit from local farms, a vegetable crudité and assorted gluten-free crackers with hummus, baba ganoush and olive tapenade for dips along with water, wine and a this festive Clementine Crush drink recipe you can make kid or adult-friendly.
2. Take any awesome recipe and adapt it to your child’s needs: For the dragon cake, we just bought a gluten-free cake mix. We chose The Pure Pantry cake mix. This cake gluten free, dairy free, casein free, soy free and nut free. You can’t beat that! We also bought allergen-free versions of the candy featured in the DIY dragon cake recipe. And finally, made homemade buttercream icing using 4 sticks of pastured butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbsp. vanilla extract and a few drops of natural dye.
3. Prepare a craft: Instead of handing out cheap party favors that end up in the trash or tripped over by a parent in the middle of the night (those Lego injuries are a $#*@&!), have a craft the kids can do to take home as their favor instead. There are loads of resources for kids’ crafts online. We bought googley eyes, felt, some glue and some little magic hats and had the kids make their own magic rabbit. They were a huge hit! And, it kept the focus off food and snacking and on interacting with their friends.
4. Hire some interactive entertainment (or be it yourself): Kids love when special guests show up! This year, we had a magician so during the set-up, we were the entertainment. We gathered the kids around and read a few stories while they waited for the special guest to appear. I’ve been to really awesome parties thought where dad played his guitar and got the kids singing and dancing or big sis did face painting for everyone.
5. Breathe: Parties are supposed to be fun and you deserve to join in on it. It’s time to take a breath, grab your glass of wine (holla!) and toast to your success at making a fantastic and memorable party for that little allergy-filled munchkin of yours.