Most parents will agree that children eat the healthiest their first year of life.
The first six months babies are given breast milk or formula, which provide all of the essential nutrients they need for growth. Once your little one is ready for solid food, pediatricians recommend offering mostly vegetables, fruits, meats and cheeses. There is usually no room in a baby’s diet for sugary snacks or processed foods. It is crucial at this time to lead by example, and include your baby at the dining table during meal-times, showing them how much you enjoy eating the same foods they are being offered.
Picky behaviors, for the most part, begin later in toddler years. Some parents confuse exploration with pickiness that first year. Babies throw much of their food on the ground, and may spit things out, but it is important to continue to offer them a variety of nutritious foods patiently, without getting discouraged. Remember, babies can sense your frustration and you do not want to make meal-time into a battle of power this early on. Food before one is for fun and exploring, knowing that your little one is still getting most of their nutrition from milk should help put you at ease! A child will never starve themselves unless there is a medical issue of concern. If they are growing and thriving, and not acting sick, put the worry aside! If your baby has certain preferences, wait a few weeks to offer a food they were disinterested in again, and maybe even prepare it differently (i.e., roasting veggies with garlic and avocado oil as opposed to boiling plain).
With that being said, moms and dads usually hope to continue healthy eating as long as possible … wishing that their child develops taste preferences for the healthy foods they are being exposed to, long-term. We all want our kids to grow up healthy and strong, with limited sick days, but we still want them to “have fun.” Those sugar-highs and lows aren’t always “fun” to deal with though, I know from experience! However, if your child’s overall diet is full of nutritious foods, you can all enjoy “sometimes” foods in moderation without behavioral issues or rejection of the healthy foods you prepare.
A baby’s first birthday is such an important milestone. Parents want their baby to eat healthy, but they also want to treat them, “having fun” on their first birthday digging into a big hunk of sugary cake! I personally do not think there is anything wrong with wanting to treat your kids. A sugar-loaded first birthday cake isn’t going to ruin their diet the next day, nor is it going to make your baby less healthy than a child who doesn’t eat sugar on their first birthday. As parents, we are all on the same team. We are not here to judge one another for our choices. I think we can all agree that loving your baby and providing them with a warm, safe environment is most important.
I want to help make parent’s jobs easier. We all want our kids to be healthy, but we don’t always have the resources or information to support us. It’s up to you to decide what’s best for your children! As a parent, I make choices that are important to myself and my husband to raise healthy, happy kids.
It was important to me that neither of my children load up on refined sugar and flour on their first birthdays. I don’t really feel they know the difference, and I don’t want to see my babies over-do it with sugar when they never had it before. First birthday parties can be overwhelming for a baby, lots of people grabbing at them can make them cranky … add in a bunch of sugar and white flour, spiking their insulin, and it can be a recipe for disaster. I wasn’t willing to risk disrupting our awesome sleep schedule or dealing with unknown tummy troubles on their special day.
I decided to work on making a yummy cake recipe, where we could stick with tradition, baby got to have something “fun” (chocolate!), but mama could rest knowing the ingredients were healthy and not loaded with sugar. Actually, the “chocolate” is carob powder, which is much safer for a baby, but tastes like chocolate! If this is for yourself or an older child unsweetened cocoa is very nice in this recipe.
The secret ingredient …
Avocado! Which was also both of my babies first food!
I absolutely love the combination of chocolate and avocado. It’s creamy, rich, flavorful and full of nutrition! My nephew enjoyed this same cake back in March on his first birthday. In fact, my sister-in-law called to tell me he was still chowing down on it after we left the party (Jaxon was REALLY set on his bedtime so we had to skip out soon after cake was served).
Since then, I experimented with several other smash cakes, but this one was by far the best tasting, and easiest to make.
This cake can be made dairy-free by subbing the butter for coconut oil, and grass-fed cream for coconut milk cream. I have not experimented with making it egg-free, and I know it can be a challenge when using coconut flour. However, this cake is very creamy, and I would perhaps divide the coconut flour in half and add more arrowroot starch if you want to try using flax eggs or chia eggs.
The first step is greasing a 6-inch cake pan with coconut oil or butter and pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees. Then, blend a whole avocado and a very ripe banana in your food processor.
Sift your dry ingredients into a bowl (I use a mesh sieve and then whisk).
Place the avocado mixture in a stand mixer or a bowl along with grass-fed butter or coconut oil, vanilla extract and grade-B maple syrup. This recipe uses 3 Tablespoons in the entire cake, and should not have an adverse effect on your baby. I tried making it completely sweetener-free but the result was bitter (note you can always make my blueberry cupcakes into a smash cake, which is sweetener-free!)
Add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet ingredients and mix the cream in between until combined. Then, add room temperature eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides to ensure it all mixes. Note: to bring your eggs to room temperature you can place them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes while preparing your other ingredients.
Then, carefully add the batter to your greased cake pan and place in the center rack of your oven.
Bake the cake for about 45 minutes. Try to not open the door in the middle of baking, and be sure the center is set but checking it with a clean toothpick. If you open the door too much, and/or undercook the center, your cake will collapse.
I made the cake a day ahead and kept it in the fridge overnight. We used homemade whipped cream with vanilla bean and just a touch (about 1/2 teaspoon) of maple syrup for flavor. You can always load the top with your baby’s favorite fruit such as strawberries or raspberries … and you may even find they prefer the fruit over the cake!
To make homemade coconut milk whipped cream, all you need to do is place two cans of coconut milk in the fridge for about 6 hours and use the cream that rises to the top, not the watery liquid at the bottom, same method for whipped cream! I used this for my daughter’s smash cake since she was sensitive to cow dairy when she was one.
Healthy First Birthday Smash Cake Recipe
for the cake:
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 very ripe banana
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 cup arrowroot starch
- 1/4 cup unsweetened carob powder (or unsweetened cocoa or cacao: make sure only ingredient is 100% unsweetened cacao, you can use raw cacao but it may be more bitter, meaning you may need more sweetener)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons grass-fed butter or coconut oil, plus more for cake pan
- 3 Tablespoons grass-fed heavy cream, or coconut milk cream
- 3-4 Tablespoons grade-B maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 6-inch cake pan with butter or coconut oil. Blend avocado and banana in a food processor or blender. Add the avocado mix to a bowl in a stand mixer or bowl with a hand mixer along with butter/coconut oil, vanilla and maple syrup. In a separate bowl, sift all of the dry ingredients together. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, alternating with adding the cream until combined. Then, add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add batter to your cake pan and bake for 45 minutes at 350 until the center is set.
Vanilla Whipped Cream Icing:
- 1 pint grass-fed heavy cream or 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 vanilla bean pod
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon grade-B maple syrup
Chill your metal bowl and metal mixer attachment. If using coconut milk, chill the cans overnight or for at least 6 hours. Add only the cream that rises to the top, not the water to your bowl. If using a stand mixer I place a clean towel over the top to prevent splattering when whipping. Start to whip your chilled cream on high, add in vanilla bean (scraping out just the pod in center), vanilla extract and maple syrup and whip until firm peaks form. Ice a cool cake and top with fruit if desired!
We hope your angel enjoys!!!! We had a few grown-ups digging into this cake as well 🙂