Localicious – The Extraordinary Birthday Party

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child’s birthday is a special time, a milestone filled with laughter, joy and fun.  Whether celebrating with friends, family, or both, there is nothing better than seeing the excitement on children’s faces at a birthday party.

Planning a unique party can be a challenge, especially if you don’t want to break the bank in the process. A great place to start is by coming up with a theme for your party. Include your child in this process. Once the theme is decided upon, ideas typically flow from there, from decorations to games to food and everything in between.

Being a whole foods chef, cooking is a big part of life in my house. Luckily for me, my kids enjoy cooking too. My daughter has always been the party planner for her big day … sometimes a year in advance. She has come up with many wonderful ideas – including these edible ones:

art-0401-loca2“Chopped” Challenge. 

My daughter loves watching Chopped on the Food Network. She planned a “dessert” challenge and invited family friends with kids ranging in age from 7-13. Families were split into two teams with the dad’s guiding them. I presented the mystery ingredients in paper bags, and the teams proceeded to create their own desserts using those ingredients and anything else they needed. I chose ingredients that went well together: cuties, cocoa powder, coconut flakes, fresh cream and cinnamon (no questionable ingredients that could potentially ruin the dish like in the show). The moms were the judges and were very impressed by the delicious desserts that came out of our “Chopped” kitchen. The kids and dads had a lot of fun creating their desserts together and everyone else had fun watching them – and we all enjoyed tasting the creations!

Make Your Own Pizza.

Kids of all ages enjoy assembling their own pizzas. For younger children, have the crust ready for them to spread on their toppings (be available to help). Older kids can usually roll out their own crust with (or without) a bit of assistance.

The crust can be English muffins, pre-made crust or homemade crust. Cut up toppings and put them into individual bowls. Get creative! If you make healthy options available, like broccoli, spinach, peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives, etc., chances are good that kids will choose them.

Sauces are typically easy to make from scratch, or you can buy pre-made. Try pesto for a delicious alternative.

Edible Plant Parts

Children love this fun option for birthday or classroom parties that even the smallest of kids can create using leaves, stems, roots, seeds and fruits.

Prepare ahead: Leaves: whole or half cabbage leaves, mixed baby greens. Stems: chopped celery. Roots: shredded carrots and beets, radish slices. Fruits: cherry tomatoes, baby bell peppers. Seeds: sunflower, sesame. One or two salad dressings. 

Place the foods in the middle of the table on colorful cutting boards. Have children start with a cabbage leaf, then add the remaining ingredients on top while talking about the different plant parts. Parents can help drizzle on the salad dressing. Kids can fold their creations in half and eat them like a taco. Most will be back for seconds.

Cooking Class Party

Consider taking the party off-site for a professional cooking class. You’ll save on the hassle of clean up later while providing guests with memorable, creative fun. Cook Red Bluff is a complete kitchen store that sells high-quality kitchen tools and specialty foods. Owner Erin Bianchi is a registered dietitian and offers cooking classes for all ages at the store, with private classes offered for groups of six or more. Erin loves teaching kids to cook! Call (530) 690-2374 or visit http://www.cookredbluff.com for more information. 

More Fun-Food Ideas

There are numerous ideas for creating fun, interactive food treats for your child’s next party, including food sculptures using fruits, vegetables and toothpicks, and homemade sushi for older kids. Younger children enjoy creating their own snacks … and are much more likely to eat what they have made.

Find inspiration for your cooking themed party at your local kitchen store. That Kitchen Place in Redding, Little Red Hen in Chico, Feather River Kitchen & Gifts in Oroville, and Cook Red Bluff have everything you’ll need, including kids’ aprons!

Planning your child’s next birthday party can be exciting. No matter what kind of party, don’t let the food be an after-thought. Make it something fun, healthy and interactive for the kids. They’ll always remember the delicious edible items they created themselves!

Michelle Cave
About Michelle Cave

Michelle Cave is a certified Nutrition Consultant & Nutrition Educator and has been practicing for over 13 years. She studied Holistic Nutrition at Bauman College, in Berkeley, CA and is a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals. Find out more: www.familynutritionconnection.com

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