Environmentally Conscious Home, Garden and Plant-Based Cuisine
Heaven on Earth™ is a place where we all deserve to live, work and play.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cupcake War: The Dark Underbelly of a 5th Grade Valentine's Day Party

Cupcake War
Store Bought Cupcakes vs. Homemade Strawberry Parfaits
topped with a Peanut Blossom Cookie
(V/GF except for the kiss)

"We'll give them a choice".

If you were a Red-Blooded American 5th grader
and you were given the CHOICE of either of the above,
which would you choose?
The cupcake, I'm sure.

Maybe it was the fact that when the email circulated regarding my youngest daughter, Teddy's, last elementary school Valentine's Day party, I was VERY tempted to simply sign up for bringing the "plates, cups, and napkins"option, but didn't.

It could have been the amount of money I spent on all of the healthy ingredients necessary to make this homemade dessert, the three stores that I had to visit to pick them all up, or the FOUR hours that it took THREE of us to make enough cookies, strawberries and homemade whip cream for THIRTY desserts.

Was it the fact that when I signed in at the school office for the party, I signed in right under the name of a mom who was there, as she is every school-day, to administer her diabetic child a shot? (Note: I am both endlessly impressed and humbled by this particular mother's dedication. Type 1 or Type 2 makes no difference. This situation simply reminded me of the omnipresence of type 2 diabetes, and that it is preventable.)

Could it have been the fact that a child, said to me, after eating one of those perfectly packaged hydrogenated nightmares, "whenever I eat a store-bought cup cake my head feels funny"?


Fueling my fire, on February 7, I read an article on CNN with staggering childhood obesity statistics including words like "epidemic" and "crisis" as well as phrases like "If parents continue to be in denial...". And, another CNN article on February 13, stated that obese children are outgrowing school furniture. "That is an obesity trend reflected in the furniture", says Tom Brennan, president of School Outfitters, which sells school furniture. What???


Upon finding out that I was not bringing the mandated cupcakes (specified via email to be purchased from Sam's Club or a specific local grocery store) the mom who was organizing the party, ran out, bought them herself and showed up with three dozen of them for $23.97.

"We'll give them a choice", she said.

And, I let her know it.

Give them a choice?
(My desserts were doomed.)

Our First Lady get's it.


Check out the FIRST ingredient in BOTH the cake and icing.
Plus, a double dose of partially hydrogenated oils
,a plethora of ingredients that I had to use my
organic chemistry background to pronounce,
and what the heck is sodium stearoyl lactylate anyway?
(Google it...YIKES!)

Click on the link below to see the ingredients in my dessert:
Homemade Strawberry Parfaits
topped with a Peanut Blossom Cookie
(V/GF except for the kiss)

Any seasoned parent knows that kids are notoriously self destructive. I think it's in their gene code. However, it's our job to keep them alive and whole.
Do any of the following phrases sound familiar?

Don't dive into the shallow end!
I'm not moving the car until your seatbelt is on!
Don't play with matches!
You're not leaving on your bike until you put on your helmet!

Would we give them a choice to dive into shallow water, jump around in the back of a moving car, play with a box of matches or ride a bike without a helmet?


Why do the rules change when it comes to food?

One might say, "It's just one party", but parents of school-aged children know there is
some sort of celebration almost EVERY DAY.

What if we were celebrating with food that was truly fueling their little bodies and minds?
Just think of the possibilites!

Healthy FOOD can be delicious and enticing.

Here's an idea:
Let's NOT give them a choice.

Let's make healthy choices FOR THEM.

As parents, it's our job
Their lives just may depend on it.

Silly Cupcake Tricks
This one defied gravity as it hung off the corner of a desk
for over 25 minutes,
despite a VERY HOT classroom.


  1. Wow! Just...wow! I am angry right along with you!

    So did the kids ever show any interest in the fruit cups you put so much work into?

  2. Love this just as much or more the second time around!

  3. Kathy, welcome! AFTER the cupcakes, the Valentines, the M&Ms and a smattering of other snacks like potato chips, the kids were offered my dessert at the VERY END of the party. The kids were all very nice but I'm sure much of it ended up in the trash as they were already full. I couldn't bear to check. Such a waste...

  4. I will say my son was pleased with your dessert. He gets sick from processed food after snacks at school because we never, ever purchase them in our home. Treats are fruit and homeade granola bars so I know what goes into them. Just so you know-some kiddos appreciated what you did

  5. I guess I don't understand why someone would say, "let's give them a choice"... this seems to be a reoccurring issue in the world today. We talk about how bad things are and then we fail to correct them because we don't want to put any actual work into it. Kind of like the parent that buys all those store bought treats... there is no work and no discipline and that causes many of these problems. They don't want to fight with the child, it's the easiest way to appease them, and it's easier than actually cooking something.

    I don't have any children, so really I don't understand how difficult it is to make sure that they eat right and they are raised properly, so really, I have no say in this, but what I do know is that people are constantly making excuses for the things they don't want to do, (exercise, paying bills, standing up for something they believe in...) and sadly the food that we eat is the first thing that goes to the wayside. The convenience is killing us, literally.

    Great blog, I enjoy reading them!

  6. Please understand that I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE with your intention and the ingredients of your super-yummy alternative. I am just wondering why they reacted so vehemently. Had the students been asked to make requests and orders/requests of parents were made accordingly? Did you let the people in charge know immediately that you disagreed with their request for crappy food and tell them ahead of time that you were bringing in an alternative before you went to all that trouble? Are non-commercially-made items allowed in the school setting? I absolutely agree with what you were trying to so. Hopefully next time, if there is one, your points can be made before the plans are made and everyone get a chance to "buy in" to what you are saying. I would think you would have a LOT of support. If allowed healthy choices, I believe a lot of kids would choose good ones. I am always fascinated in restaurants when kids are served those god-awful kid-meal choices they are often garnished with a sprig of kale or parsley or an orange slice or berry and they usually go for that first. Good food is beautiful and kids naturally love it. Think of how a bowlful of blackberries/raspberries would go over or some of the fun apple slice treats people put together for rawlucks. I hope you can communicate with the people you are dealing with and convince them that healthy choices are best for everyone - though it may cost more - unless you stick to bananas. How expensive would a pile of frozen bananas be? It's too easy to offer good stuff not to do it!

    1. Well-said! I completely agree.
      I love your stance Margaux. It looks like there are many factors in this that could change future "battles" for the better.