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Vegetarian Journal Sept/Oct 1998

Let's Party!

by Lisa Rivero


Check out the recipes!

A few years ago we celebrated our son's third birthday by inviting a group of toddlers to the house and making homemade tofu ice cream in a hand-crank ice cream machine. The children took turns stirring the ice cream as it froze. We have captured on videotape these words from one of the mothers, as she shook her head and licked the last few drops from her spoon: "I never would have known." She meant, of course, the tofu.

The challenge of hosting a vegan birthday party is that, in most instances, the guests will not all be vegan or even vegetarian. And as children grow older, their friends will be used to the more traditional birthday party, complete with bakery cakes, "real" ice cream, and tons of plastic party favors. Our son turned six this year, and I realized that his friends now have much higher expectations of what constitutes a "cool" birthday party. Could I possibly please a dozen of his friends, only one of whom would be vegan or vegetarian, while also staying true to our plant-based diet?

I began, of course, with the cake. I have several recipes for lowfat, low-sugar carob cakes that our family enjoys, but for this party I wanted to serve a chocolate cake that would be as close as possible in flavor, texture, and appearance to what would be expected by the young guests. After a couple of revisions, I came up with the chocolate cake recipe below. Blended cooked rice gives the cake a fine crumb and helps to bind the ingredients without the use of egg replacers. Maple syrup adds delicious sweetness, and the canola oil provides richness. I also developed a white cake recipe using the same cooked rice technique. This cake is sweetened entirely with fruit juice concentrate, and the addition of silken tofu makes the cake less crumbly (i.e., less mess on the floor).

We made the chocolate cake recipe into cupcakes, which we frosted with easy chocolate glaze. If you'd rather avoid chocolate or have a more traditional looking frosting, use the white frosting. Or you can spread either cake with fruit spread or decorate with fresh fruit.

Before the cupcakes were served, the children munched on Party PBJ Sandwiches and Fresh Fruit Kebabs made with pineapple. Although I thought I'd prepared more than enough of each, nearly every child requested seconds and we had no leftovers.

For a beverage, we had ready a chilled bottle of apple juice and a chilled bottle of carbonated water. We gave each child the choice of "fizzy" juice or regular juice.

As for party favors, we filled small paper bags with novelty pencils, trading cards, stickers, sequins, and sugar-free fruit leather. Other ideas for party favors include small novelty notebooks, playing cards, bags of seasoned popcorn or trail mix, and modeling clay or colored chalk.

I'm happy to say that our son and his friends will have happy memories of the party. We didn't hear one word of complaint or suspicion about the food, except one boy's comment that "You know, Albert is a veterinarian."

The following recipes include foods we served at the party as well as some other celebration foods your family may enjoy. Just one word of advice: Don't feel you need to wait for a party to make party food!


Recipes

 

Party PBJ Sandwiches

Thinly sliced whole-wheat sandwich bread
Thinly sliced white sandwich bread
Smooth peanut butter made without hydrogenated oil, or any other smooth nut butter
Fruit-only fruit spread

 

To assemble sandwiches, spread a thin layer of peanut butter on a slice of whole-wheat bread. Add a slice of white bread and a layer of fruit spread. Top with another slice of whole-wheat bread. Trim the crusts (save them for snacking) and cut the sandwi

 ches into small triangles, or use a sharp cookie cutter to make unique sandwich shapes. Allow for 2 sandwiches per child. Make half of the sandwiches with whole-wheat bread on the outside, and half with white bread on the outside. Arrange cut sandwiches attractively on a serving platter.

Total calories per serving: Varies depending upon amount of peanut butter and jelly used
 Fat: Varies depending upon amount of peanut butter used



 

 Almond Cinnamon Hummus

 (makes about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned (drained and rinsed) chickpeas
1/4 cup apple juice concentrate
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor container. Blend until very smooth, adding a bit of water if necessary for desired consistency. Spoon into a serving bowl, and garnish with slivered almonds and cinnamon sticks. Serve with Pita Chips, crackers, carrot and celery sticks, or apple slices.
 

Total calories per 1/4 cup serving: 112
 Fat: 6 grams
 


 Pita Chips

Round pitas, cut in 8 pie-shaped wedges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange pita wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, turning once. Place pita chips in a large serving bowl. Serve with Almond Cinnamon Hummus.

 Total calories per serving (1/4 of pita): 41
 Fat: <1 gram

 



Fresh Fruit Kebabs

 If you use fruit that discolors easily, such as apples or bananas, prepare this appetizer right before guests arrive. Or provide pretzels and bowls of pre-cut fruit, and allow the children to make their own kebabs as a party activity. Shop for pretzel sticks made without casein, lard, or hydrogenated oil.

 Long, thin pretzel sticks
Small chunks of fresh fruit or berries

(some fruit suggestions: fresh pineapple chunks, apple chunks, peach chunks, banana slices, seedless orange slices, halved grapes, melon balls, raspberries, small strawberries, large blueberries)

Use the pretzel sticks to skewer the fruit chunks, allowing for two to three pieces of fruit per kebab, and three to four kebabs per child. Arrange kebabs in a starburst pattern on a serving plate.

Total calories per serving: Varies depending upon brand of pretzels and types of fruit chosen
 Fat: Varies depending upon brand of pretzels and types of fruit chosen
 



 

 Mini Veggie Pitas

 A fun activity is to make up menu cards for these sandwiches, and at the beginning of the party, have each child check his or her preferences for sandwich spread and veggies. During the party, have someone assemble the sandwiches to order, and place sandwiches individually on plates at serving time.

Mini pitas, warmed and sliced
Tofu-based vegan mayonnaise spread or oil-and-vinegar Italian salad dressing
Bell pepper slices
Cucumber slices
Grated carrot
Fresh sliced mushrooms
Halved cherry tomatoes
Small fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
Alfalfa sprouts
Raisins

Spread vegan mayonnaise or Italian salad dressing inside each pita half. Stuff with desired veggies and serve. Allow for 2 sandwiches per child.

Total calories per serving: Varies depending upon amount and type of vegetables used
Fat: Varies depending upon amount and type of vegetables used

 



 

Homemade Nectarine Tofu Ice Cream

 (Makes about 2 cups)
 

Use a hand-crank ice cream machine to make this popular dessert. The guar gum helps to give the ice cream a rich creaminess, but you'll also have good results without it. For a large group of children, you might want to borrow another ice cream machine from a friend and make a double batch.

2 ripe nectarines, pitted, peeled, and cut into chunks
One 12-ounce block soft silken tofu
1/3 cup pure maple syrup or brown rice syrup (or to taste)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 teaspoon guar gum (optional)

In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients until very smooth. Pour mixture into a pre-frozen hand-crank ice cream machine. Following the manufacturer's directions, freeze the ice cream until the mixture is the consistency of soft-serve ice cream, usually 30 to 60 minutes. Serve in small bowls or on cake.

Variations: For vanilla ice cream, omit the nectarines and add 1/2 cup soymilk. You can also stir in 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips.

 Total calories per 1/2 cup serving: 137
 Fat: 3 grams

 
 


White Cake

 (Makes two 8" round layers or 12 cupcakes)
Dry Ingredients:

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup soy flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

 
Wet ingredients:

1/2 cup white grape juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup water
1/2 of a 12-ounce block soft silken tofu
1/2 cup hot, well-cooked long-grain brown rice
1/4 cup canola oil

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil two 8" round cake pans or 12 cupcake tins; set aside. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl; set aside. Combine wet ingredients in a blender container, and blend until very smooth. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 18 to 25 minutes for cakes, 13 to 20 minutes for cupcakes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake or cupcake emerges clean. Cool slightly before turning onto a wire rack. Top with fruit-only fruit spread, Easy Chocolate Glaze, or White Frosting.

Total calories per unfrosted cupcake: 177
Fat: 5 grams

 



Chocolate Cake

(Makes two 8" round layers or 12 cupcakes)

 

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder or carob powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

 

Wet Ingredients:

1 cup soymilk or 7/8 cup rice milk
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup hot, well-cooked long-grain brown rice
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil two 8" round cake pans or 12 cupcake tins; set aside. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl; set aside. Combine wet ingredients in a blender container, and blend until very smooth. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 20 to 25 minutes for cakes, 15 to 20 minutes for cupcakes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake or cupcake emerges clean. Cool slightly before turning onto a wire rack. Top with fruit-only raspberry preserves, Easy Chocolate Glaze, or White Frosting.

 Total calories per unfrosted cupcake: 186
Fat: 6 grams

 



Easy Chocolate Glaze

(Makes about 1/2 cup)
 

Spread thinly on cakes or cupcakes, allowing the glaze to drip over the edges.

1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons smooth cashew butter
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

Combine ingredients and stir until very smooth.

 Total calories per tablespoon: 49
 Fat: 2 grams

 


White Frosting

(Makes about 1 3/4 cups)

 

One 12-ounce block extra firm silken tofu
1/2 cup dehydrated, granulated cane juice or dehydrated, granulated fruit juice
Pinch of salt or 1 Tablespoon mellow white miso
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
1/4 cup unsweetened grated coconut (optional)

Blend ingredients in a blender until very smooth. Refrigerate.

Total calories per tablespoon: 22
Fat: <1 gram


Excerpts from the Sept/Oct Issue


The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone wanting to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

This article was converted to HTML by Jeanie Freeman 



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