By: Jodie Shield, RD

A birthday party just wouldn’t be the same without a cake.  A cake signals that it’s time to sing “Happy Birthday,” make a wish, blow out the candles, and open the presents.  But while most birthday cakes are laden with sugar and fat, they don’t have to be.  Try some of the following strategies for making your child’s birthday cake both delicious and more nutritious.

Find a tasty recipe, and try baking the cake from scratch.  That way you can control the types of ingredients that go into your child’s cake.  Baking a homemade cake may take a little extra time, but the end result is worth it.

Use reduced-fat cake mixes, or bake an angel food cake.  Many of the reduced-fat mixes taste so good, none of your guests will know the difference.  Angel food cakes are also a great choice because they contain less fat (they’re made with egg whites) and lower amounts of sugar than other cakes.

Make tasty substitutions.  Whether you bake from scratch or use a mix, you can substitute a half cup of unsweetened applesauce for a half cup of butter; a third cup unsweetened cocoa powder for two ounces of baking chocolate; one cup of evaporated skim milk for one cup of heavy cream; and skim milk for whole milk.  You can also reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe by one-quarter to one-third.

Go easy on the frosting.  Most of the sugar and fat lurks in the icing.  For example, while a generous slice of yellow cake has about 200 calories and five grams of fat, the two small tablespoons of vanilla frosting that go on top have about 170 calories and seven grams of fat.  Reduced-fat frosting and fat-free whip toppings often make tasty alternatives.

Top it off lightly.  As an alternative to rich ice cream treats, serve reduced-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt topped with fresh berries such as blueberries, raspberries, and sliced strawberries.

Watch the portions.  There’s no need for giant-size servings.  Let kids ask for seconds if they want more.

Birthday cakes are a party must.  And with a little preparty planning, they can be healthy too.  Have you got any tricks for lightening up  birthday cakes?

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. Making tasty substitutions is genius! I will definitely keep those substitutions handy for my cake.

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