Whether you’re throwing an all-out bash for baby’s 1st birthday or celebrating your little one with a handful of friends, one constant remains the same across the birthday board: Cake is key. And with good reason, because it isn’t every day we get to enjoy it!
However, just because birthdays are a day for indulging doesn’t mean any and all caution has to be thrown to the wind when it comes to nutrition — especially since there are plenty of healthy birthday cake recipes for toddlers and big kids that are just as tasty as the real thing.
“There are a few ways to make birthday cakes healthier while still offering that ‘birthday cake’ scrumptiousness,” says Jackie Newgent, R.D.N., C.D.N., and author of “The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook.” “If you’re going homemade, try using whole-wheat pastry flour instead of white flour, use a few less tablespoons of sugar and opt for a less processed version, such as coconut palm sugar or turbinado sugar instead of white table sugar. Also, if you want some colorful accents, use a natural, plant-based dye.”
Newgent also encourages parents to think outside the box if they don’t have time to make something from scratch. “Instead of using traditional cake mix, consider choosing a healthier muffin mix and drizzle the muffins lightly with an icing glaze and serve just like cupcakes,” Newgent says. “Or look for an almond flour-based cake mix and top with an all-natural, organic frosting.”
And finally, even though no birthday is complete without something sweet, try to make the day about more than just that. “I always encourage kids to enjoy that one day of celebrating, which, of course, includes birthday cake,” says Katharine Jeffcoat, R.D.N., and family and child nutrition expert at Portland Pediatric. “With that said, to make sure the day isn’t completely about sugar, I advise parents to also serve their child’s favorite meal, so they see that the cake is just one of the pieces to their special day.”
Want to whip up something tasty for your little one’s birthday while keeping things healthier? Here are 13 healthy birthday cake recipes and healthy birthday cake alternatives guaranteed to make a lasting impression.
1. Fruit-sweetened birthday cake
2. 1st birthday smash cake with yogurt frosting
3. Gluten-free carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
This stunning gluten-free (and paleo) carrot cake with cream cheese frosting from Downshiftology substitutes most typical baked good ingredients for healthier alternatives. (Hello, almond flour and coconut sugar!)
4. Vegan birthday cake
Go ahead, try to find a cake more fun and festive than this pretty vegan birthday cake from Kitchen of Eatin’. Perfect for anyone with dairy allergies or sensitivities — and chock-full of unsweetened cocoa powder!
5. Healthier smash cake
6. Fruit tower birthday ‘cake’
Looking for the healthiest birthday treat of all? Why not try this simple fruit tower birthday cake from Weelicious. Scrumptious, juicy fruit stacked into a pretty little “cake.” Also makes for a sweet birthday breakfast surprise!
7. Easy yogurt cake
8. Cauliflower chocolate cake
9. Plant-based carrot cake
10. Gluten-free apple cake made with quinoa
11. Eggless date cake with whole-wheat flour and oats
12. Zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting
Made with coconut oil, raw honey, applesauce and a hefty helping of veggies, the zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting from Joyful Healthy Eats ticks all the boxes for a (super tasty!) healthy birthday cake.