1st Birthday Party! Gluten, Dairy and Artificial Food Colouring Free Desserts

Dr. Michelle Peris

My son’s first birthday has passed and it was a joyous event for our whole family.  I felt it was extremely important that we celebrated his first year of life with many of the popular traditions like eating cake but I didn’t want to compromise his diet.  So I was on a mission to make his desserts delicious but also gluten, dairy free and free from all synthetic colorings and additives.  I wanted to share because I think we can revolutionize the way we do birthday parties so that they can be fun but also healthy. Being that my desserts were a HUGE hit, I wanted to share them with my health savvy readers!

Gluten free: There are so many other grain flours available that it’s quite easy to make the switch.  You can buy pre-made all purpose flours or you can blend them all separately.  The key to a tasty gluten- free flour recipe is to blend several different flours.  Some great examples of gluten free grain flours are rice, chickpea, tapioca, coconut and potato.  Gluten free all- purpose flours can be used at a 1:1 ratio of what the recipe calls for.

Dairy free: Again there are so many milk alternatives that it is very easy to supplement a dairy-free option into your recipe.   Try almond, soy, coconut, hemp or rice milk.

Artificial food colouring free: These are synthetic and have been linked to many cognitive and behavioral concerns in children.  You can get creative on finding alternatives to food coloring, you can make your own natural food dyes, purchase naturally colored sprinkles or find other creative ways to decorate your desserts.  I attempted all three of these natural alternatives.  In the end I used the sprinkles because I was short on time and my spouse claimed that no matter what I tried that you could taste the beet juice in the icing.  But I encourage you to experiment and please do share your successes.

I used lots of colorful decorations instead of food coloring, I think this is a great way to making it fun and exciting for your children without adding unnecessary chemical agents.  Naturally colored sprinkles can be colored with carrot juice, turmeric powder and spinach powder.  Natural food dyes can be made with beet juice or beet root powder, chlorophyll, red cabbage and I am sure many more, but these are the ones I attempted.

Natural sweeteners:  Instead of using refined sugars which are associated with many health issues, I used natural and organic maple syrup.  When using a liquid sweetener versus a solid you need to adjust your recipe.  With maple syrup you use 3/4 of what the recipe calls for (if you are modifying it yourself, which is what I did).  Other natural sweeteners that can be used are apple sauce, honey, molasses and dates.

Ghee: Is clarified butter which is a process of slow heating butter removing the protein from the fat, rendering it less allergenic.  Many people who have a dairy sensitivity are able to digest ghee.  I have included the recipe on how to prepare it.  I used it in one of my recipes because I am a fan of butter, but I am a bigger fan of making butter better!


1 brick of organic butter

Heat butter on low heat in a saucepan for 45 minutes to an hour. You will know it’s done if it begins to smell like caramel.

The ghee will have separated into three layers, the top is the dairy solids, you can scrape this layer off the top and use it on toast on the same day if dairy does not bother you. The middle layer is the ghee and the bottom layer will be a brown crust that mostly sticks to the bottom of the pan. Pour into a glass jar using a wire mesh strainer to ensure to filter out any of the bottom layer. Ghee can store on the counter top for up to two weeks and therefore spreads easier than butter.

Gluten Free Cake Pop Recipe

  • 3/4 cup     maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup     Ghee
  • 2 eggs      *if you make cake pops it is suggested to add another egg to make them extra sticky so for this recipe I used 3 eggs.
  • 2 tsp         natural & organic vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten free all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp      Xanthan gum
  • 1 3/4 tsp   baking powder
  • 1/2 cup     almond milk


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or cake pop pan.
  • In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes or cake pops, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

White Chocolate Cake Pop Coating

I went to whole foods and found organic white chocolate chips.  I purchased one large box of chocolate chips so if you were to buy the bags of chocolate chips I would suggest buying two bags or 2 cups of chocolate chips.  You want to make sure you have enough to fill a bowl of melted chocolate at least 1/4 to 1/2 full so that the dipping process is easy.  I picked up cake pop sticks at Micheal’s craft store.

Double Boiler Method

Put chocolate chips into a double boiler or heatproof mixing bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water and stir gently until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. (Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the boiling water or the chocolate may burn.)

Once the chocolate is melted you can dip the cake pops in trying to completely submerged them into the chocolate, add sprinkles and then let them stand to dry.  I purchased blocks of the floral styrofoam making it very easy to stick them into so they dried properly.

Gluten Free Dairy Free Chickpea Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 300g Enjoy Life Dairy Free Chocolate chips
  • 1 can (19 oz) Canned Chickpeas rinsed and drained or 1.5 cups chickpea flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • 131ml Maple syrup


  • Preheat oven to 350F (180C) Grease your pan with ghee or add your paper cups
  • In a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over pot of barely simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth.
  • In a bowl of a food processor, combine chickpeas, eggs and maple syrup; process until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides and make sure chocolate is completely mixed.
  • Spread batter in prepared cake or cupcake pan.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes (cake), 22-25 minutes (cupcakes) or until a knife inserted into centre of the cake comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a serving plate.

It was a wonderful day filled with so much love and celebration, and I am proud to say that the day went smoothly.  All those who ate the treats left happy and those who were interested were very impressed with my healthier alternative desserts.  And those who did not know much about what I had done didn’t even notice a difference.  That to me was a success!

Happy & healthy baking!

Dr. Michelle

* All of these beautiful photos were taken by the talented Helen Grose, check out her website or like her facebook page.  She offers great deals and is always having fun contests.  If you have an event you need to book her, she is top notch.

Dr. Michelle Peris is a Naturopathic Doctor whose goal is to inspire health through educating, motivating and empowering people.  She has a family based practice out of a clinic in Oakville, Ontario.

Contact Dr. Michelle today to book your 15 minute complimentary consult.