Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Star Wars Party Cake, Dessert and Game Ideas

It's the year of Star Wars! Episode 7 is coming out soon and the stores are filled with Star Wars merchandise. We found all sorts of food themed in Star Wars like Kraft macaroni and cheese, fruit snacks, cereal, frozen yogurt, Campbell soup etc. Then of course there were all the toys, school supplies, lunch boxes, blankets, balls, kitchen supplies, clothing, party supplies etc. You name it, they had it! Needless to say, we had no problem finding things to decorate our home with for my son's 7th birthday party. We already owned plenty of Star Wars things like Legos, bakeware, clothes, movies, TV shows, and video games. We bought some decorations, made some of our own, and bought some food and school supplies for game prizes.

Star Wars is one of the more popular party themes out there. Kind of like Legos. Google or search for it on Pinterest and you'll find loads of ideas and inspiration. We re-created many of them and was quite pleased with the outcome. I already blogged about the food we had for lunch at the party so here, I will talk about the cake, desserts, and games.

Princess Leia and Darth Vader.

Star Wars dessert table.


Now that I have a 2 month old at home, I had to go extra easy on the cake this year. I already did a Star Wars cake once for my husband's 40th birthday. I wanted to do something different this time and I wanted to be able to use what I already had at home. If I had the time, I would have loved to do a death star cake. I saw this really amazing one online and read that it took 25 man hours to do. No way! I ended up choosing the simplest and coolest one out there I could find. An abstract Chewbacca cake. I made a three layer 10 inch chocolate cake with chocolate swiss meringue buttercream using about 1 1/2 times the recipe. It was fine but it didn't WOW anyone, especially me. I added more detail to it than the one that inspired me so it looked quite different. It would have looked better if I had used thicker fondant though. It didn't have that 3D effect because I was so frugal on the fondant. I actually ran out of fondant half way through and had to color more. I knew it would happen part way through so my fondant got thinner and thinner. LOL. Then I almost ran out a second time so I really had to stretch it out. I made it work but I had to optimize the coverage like crazy. Personally, I like using thin fondant because I find fondant to be too sweet. However, for this cake design, I think it really could have benefited from thicker fondant. The 3D effect was one of the things that attracted me to the cake design in the first place. Bakers take note!

I actually doubled the chocolate cake recipe so that I could use the leftover filling for cupcakes. As a result, I was able to bake the big 10 in cake and make 24 cupcakes. I decorated the cupcakes with Storm Trooper fondant cut outs and candy melted R2D2s. I made the fondant a couple days in advance and got my husband to roll and cut out Storm Troopers the night before. I used white chocolate chips and blue candy melts to make the R2D2s. I filled them with Trader Joe's Os so that they wouldn't be that sweet. These also became part of the favors that went into the kids loot bags. It took me days to make all the R2D2s since I only had one mold. Grrrr.

Other things I made for the dessert table were pretzel light sabers, Darth Vader Oreos, and lemon sugar cookies colored and cut out as Yoda. The Oreos were also included in the loot bag. I loved how all these turned out. I got my husband and brother to melt and color the pretzels for me. I was totally running out of time! The Oreos were baked the day before and I filled them with icing the day of the party. We actually had them in Oreo form for many days and they were never soggy or anything. I love how Darth Vader and Yoda cookies are so easy to make and do not require any icing to decorate :) I was going for easy and it was perfect. Between the desserts and food served at the party, I was able to cover many of the different characters in the movie.

Yoda lemon sugar cookies.

Blue and red light saber pretzels.

Darth Vader Oreos.

Chocolate Chewbacca cake.

In addition to the cake, I also made Chewbacca loot bags. I bought extra large brown kraft paper bags and aluminum foil tape from Daiso and made the simple bags. I saved these black cardboard pieces from when we bought our Nespresso machine for a future craft and they were perfect for the project! Who knew I would be using them to create Chewbacca loot bags for a Star Wars party one day? I only had to make 9 bags and it didn't take long at all.

Contents of the loot bag. Plus Star Wars fruit snacks I threw in later.

We had great ideas for the loot bags. We purchased brand new old edition Star Wars comics for each of our guests. We also had booklets containing 275 stickers from the new Star Wars movie coming out. We had tattoos from the previous Star Wars movies, the homemade Darth Vader Oreos and R2D2 chocolates. I also threw in Star Wars fruit snacks I bought from the stores. I bought paper masks for the kids to wear and take pictures with during the party and they were welcome to take those home as well. We also planned on giving them the balloon light sabers we made for the games but none of them survived the party. Our group of 6 and 7 year old boys had fun popping them all! Again, who knew?


The games at the party were a bit of a flop. I put my husband in charge of it because I didn't have the time to deal with it. We're both to blame. He's not experienced in dealing with these sorts of things and I should have been involved more. I gave him plenty of ideas and helped him out when I could but during the party he was on his own. Unfortunately, he was not able to command our group of boys and things got out of control. At one point, he was looking for me and kept calling me and said that the boys were out of control and that he needed help. I was upstairs breastfeeding our daughter. Ugh.

R2D2 assembly station.

I can't really talk too much about the games and activities that took place since I didn't do them myself. When the kids arrived, my husband had an activity for them to build a R2D2 unit. He spent over 2 hours devising this R2D2 craft for kids and no one was interested in doing it. I felt bad for him. It was too structured and the boys just wanted to whack each other with balloon light sabers. It was a cool idea but it was a last minute idea and I did warn him that we didn't have much time and we needed to just do things we had supplies for. The R2D2 pieces weren't even in the correct colors. He tore open my Halloween construction paper and used that. Had I known, I wouldn't have let him and I would have gave him something else. Plus, I told him we didn't have enough glue sticks for everyone. He thought about using tape and then wanted to drive to Target the morning of the party to buy glue sticks. I am so glad I didn't let him! I mean it was nice he took initiative and worked so hard on the activity. Too bad it didn't work out:(

In fact, we actually already had an activity for the kids to do when they arrived. I had printed out many Star Wars paper crafts for them to cut and clue into 3D characters. This was printed in color the weekend before. Last year, we had coloring pages for those that arrived early, this year I thought we could do this. What they didn't do, they could take home to do later. I thought my husband's R2D2 craft was somehow a game we could play for a prize. There was a misunderstanding there.

One great thing about the games and activities were the light sabers! When I was crafting my loot bags, my husband was building handles for the balloon light sabers. The aluminum foil tape and black duct tape I got from Daiso were perfect for this. We had leftover round label stickers from when we had our garage sale years ago so we used that as buttons. We took as many shortcuts as we could and I think the balloon light sabers turned out fantastic! Good job hubby :)

We had a light saber game where each kid was blindfolded and they had to use the force to see if they could whack the balloon that was floating in the air. We had a bunch of helium balloons strapped to a larger one and that was moved around. The kids had fun with this game. The prize was a Star Wars pantry pack consisting of Star Wars cereal, Star War fruit snacks, and Star Wars Kraft macaroni and cheese.

The second game also involved light sabers. My initial idea was to give each person a balloon and light saber and see who could keep their balloon in the air the longest. The game that was played was with one balloon and each kid had to take turns. I guess we ran out of balloons but this game was way too easy.

In the third game, each kid had to shoot at the death star using a nerf gun. My husband used the cardboard we saved from a Lego game last year and cut two holes into them. He decorated it with a bunch of cutouts to resemble the death star. I think. And judging by the colors, it was probably that Halloween construction paper pack again. This was fun when the family tried it but during the party, my husband said only two of the kids tried it out. I think he just has trouble commanding children.

In addition to the games and crafts, we also had the kids watch a Lego Star Wars show while we prepared their lunch. I popped fresh popcorn for them to enjoy while they watched :) My husband also had the kids play video games. Apparently, this happened throughout the party. Again, they had to take turns but they didn't all want to play. He even printed out certificates to give to the kids for three different video games. Ok. There was way too much stuff planned for them to do. Too many choices and no time. I really should have helped him out more. Oops.

So the games were a flop but the food was a hit. The kids all ate but we made so much food! Nothing new there though. Regardless of the disorganized activities, all the kids (as far as I know) loved the party and had a great time! It doesn't take much to please little children. Many lessons learned.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Star Wars Party Food Ideas for Lunch

This past weekend we celebrated my son's 7th birthday. Since Star Wars Episode 7 is coming out next month in the theater, we decided this would be a good year to have a Star Wars theme party. Him and his father are huge Star Wars fans! I like Star Wars too :) Many of us even got dressed in costumes. It was awesome.

I love the "Use the Forks" sign :)

Throwing a Star Wars party was so much fun! There were tons of stuff we wanted to do but our time was limited since we now have a baby to take care of. I chose this month for my husband to take his parental leave just so I could carefully plan and throw a nice birthday party for my son. It would have been impossible otherwise. When my parents and brother came over for the party, I had to use them to help as well. We always plan way too much and even when we scale down at the last minute (which we always have to do), it's still too much. And I'm a little crazy too I guess.

Mac & cheese

I loved how all our food turned out. They also looked great with the Star Wars labels I was able to Photoshop together. The food was a hit with the kids this year. I love serving healthy foods but last year when I tried serving things with vegetables in it, the kids didn't really eat it and we had to throw a lot away. After going to so many kids parties here, I now know that kids just like simple junk food like cheese pizza or mac n cheese. To make them slightly less junkie, I made mine from scratch using fresh and good ingredients. For the main dish, we served ham & cheese sliders and macaroni & cheese. It's a good thing we had both because some of the kids only wanted one or the other. Kids are unpredictable! We served macaroni & cheese at my son's 4th birthday and it was a big hit. We served ham & cheese sliders at my son's 5th birthday and it was a big hit. Again, I was just going for simple, easy to make foods I knew little kids was actually eat and enjoy. It was a good call :)

Ham & cheese sliders

We have Star Wars pancake molds, sandwich molds, cookie cutters, ice trays and party supplies I bought a couple of years ago. LOL. I really wanted to use the sandwich cutting molds so I made another kind of sandwich. I used the dark sourdough bread we liked from Trader Joe's and made egg and avocado sandwiches. I knew that Tristan liked them but unfortunately at the party, none of the kids wanted any:( That was fine since most of the adults loved them, including myself. I thought they looked great cut out in Millennium Falcons too. I pretty much gave my dad and mom instructions and they did them for me. Ha!

Millennium Falcon sandwiches & Tie Fighter cheese and crackers.

We created another spaceship using food: Tie Fighters! I loved these because they were healthy and they tasted great. We used multi-grain crackers we already had at home and we bought some string mozzarella and whipped cream cheese to glue the spaceships together. It was so easy and they looked awesome. These crackers and regular kettle chips served as appetizers. Plus the kids had freshly popped popcorn and watched a Lego Star Wars movies while we prepared lunch.

Fresh popcorn using coconut oil & bit of salt.

For drinks, I made Yoda soda out of lime sherbet and 7-up. All the kids loved it! Big surprise. I had to make a second batch too.

Fruit & chips turned Star Wars food with labels!

Finally, we also served fruit with their meal. I felt like the crackers and fruit were the only healthy options for their lunch. LOL. I was able to find short bamboo sticks at Daiso and I made little Obi-wan Kabob-ies using oranges, persimmons, bananas, red grapes and kiwis. I left the skins on the oranges and bananas so that the fruit kabobs would look nicer. It was easier to pierce the oranges too and it wasn't too soggy. When it came time for the desserts, I left the fruit kabobs out as well.

I thought the lunch table looked amazing with everything on it. The dessert table looked equally amazing. The decorations and food labels really helped. I'm still recovering from the party craze from this weekend but I will be blogging about the desserts next!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Controling Gestational Diabetes Through Diet and Exercise

Roast salmon, quinoa/corn salad, salad with vinaigrette

At one point I didn't think it was possible to control my glucose levels with just diet and exercise. Everything I ate, no matter how little, spiked my glucose. I also exercised hard every day. I began to think that the only way to beat the disease and still be able to eat somewhat normally would be to be on insulin medication. I hated the idea of it so I stuck to my plan even though it was frustrating. Sigh. The baby needed carbohydrates so in order to consume more, I had to resort to complex carbs, sugars with low glycemic indices, and I had to add more protein to my diet. All of those things helped me provide the needed carbs for my baby's growth while keeping my glucose from spiking too fast.

White rice and brown rice contains the same amount of carbs. The difference is that brown rice will slowly increase your glucose levels and that makes it safer for your body. The longer your glucose stays at a dangerously high level, the more damage it will cause to your nerves and blood vessels, kidneys, vision, and heart. Carbohydrates with a high fiber content helps slow down your glucose levels. As your glucose slowly rises, the insulin from your pancreas can better convert that into energy in a timely matter. With gestational diabetes, the baby's hormones from the placenta is blocking the insulin from doing its usual job and the insulin is less effective so slowing down the increase in glucose in your body would definitely help. As for glycemic indices, sweeteners such as agave syrup are great substitutes for white sugar or any kind of sweetener because it has a very low glycemic index of 15. Compare that to white and brown sugar with a glycemic index of 64. Finally, adding protein to your meal also helps slow down the glucose from rising in your body. This is especially important during breakfast, if you want to feel full and still have carbohydrates.

I ate so many berries but I love them :) More seeds, more fiber!

Papayas were great too. Not too sweet.

After being on a diabetic diet for over eight weeks and experimenting on all sorts of different foods, I discovered what worked for my body. In the last several weeks, I was able to constantly keep my glucose under control with just diet and exercise. I felt full, I gained weight, and best of all, I never had to go on any medication. Thank goodness! I'm scared of medication :S The nutritionist at the clinic complimented my food choices all the time, calling them "beautiful." I never told her I was a foodie and food blogger :) I proved to the clinic that I was able to control my glucose levels on my own so they released me from the program. I no longer had to log everything that I ate and report every activity that I did. I still had to be on a strict diet and take my glucose test every time I ate and I only logged what I ate and did on the odd occasion when my glucose did go over the allowed level. I no longer had to go to the clinic to report anything to them. Because I was able to control my glucose levels without assistance, that meant baby and I would not need any medication when I go into labor. Hurrah! I was so relieved and happy.

A new day, a new salad.

Now that it is all over, I wanted to share some of my food choices to help others who have diabetes, especially gestational diabetes. In my previous post about my strict diabetic diet, I indicated what some of the bad and good foods were. Here, I can provide more details of the sorts of meals I have been enjoying. I tried to mix things up so that I wouldn't get bored of eating the same stuff but sometimes it was just easier just to eat the same stuff. Lol. This was especially the case for breakfast. I experimented with so many different things for breakfast and repeated failed my glucose tests. Seriously. I would add protein and fiber and think it would be safe but my blood tests proved them wrong. The worst part was that I didn't even feel full afterwards. Lose and lose! Experts weren't kidding when they say you have the highest insulin resistance in the morning.

These healthy kefir pancakes I made were terrible for me:( I only had 2 plain ones. BG: 175mg/dL.

This became my trusted bread for toast in the morning.

My typical breakfast. BG: 110 mg/dL.

I never had a problem with my glucose fasting numbers. After breakfast though, my glucose would spike quite a bit. The problem with my typical breakfast was that it was loaded in carbs. Things I typically eat such as bread, cereal, scones, muffins, pastries and fruit were all bad. Through trial and error, I was able to narrow down my breakfast to just 1 1/2 slices of the small multigrain bread with peanut butter or sunflower butter. The nut and seed butters were important since they provided the protein in the meal. If I didn't have the butters, I would instead have my bread with eggs or an omelet and that would take care of the protein as well. Sometimes I had potatoes too but then I would cut down on the bread. To accompany every breakfast, I would have a hot decaf coffee with unsweetened almond milk. All this pretty much became my trusted breakfast for weeks and weeks.


1/2 slice of multigrain bread
3/4 cup potato
1 cup omelet with veggies, cheese, meat
10 oz decaf almond latte
1/2 glass of water

BG reading after 1 hour: 116 mg/dL

My favorite brand of decaf coffee. Yum, yum!

I made my lattes with this. Pretty much 0 carbs.

Yogurt parfait.
My lunch would typically consist of multigrain crackers, cheese, and raw vegetables. Or a smaller portion of leftover dinner from the night before. Or a low fat, slightly sweetened yogurt parfait. Dinner was my hardest meal to pass since it would normally be my largest meal. The following meals worked well for me since they had a good balance of complex carbs, protein, and fiber. I even had the occasional treat in the form of salty Cheetos or a small cookie or two. I just had to make sure I didn't consume as many carbs in my main meal. On top of dinner, I would either have gone walking just before or right after my dinner before taking my glucose test. My body responded well to exercise and I definitely saw my glucose level drop as a result. It was amazing to see and that kept me motivated in exercising more. Basically, going for a 45 minute walk allowed me to have an extra cup of blueberries or half of a medium fruit like a nectarine. I have a pretty good eye for estimating quantities since I hack in the kitchen all the time so I never actually measured out precisely how much of everything I was eating. Keeping track of my food logs and pokes was enough work for me!

Me & my running partner, my 6.5 year old son.


1/4 cup peanuts
3/4 cup Cheetos
4 cup salad with dark leaves, mushrooms, tomatos, eggplant, ham, sardines, edamame, croutons, cucumbers, olives
1 fresh fig
1/4 cup blackberries
1 glass of water

BG reading after 1 hour: 121 mg/dL
Activity: 5 min stair climb nonstop after lunch, 25 min walk after dinner

Peanuts, Cheetos and salad with chickpeas, edamame in basil vinaigrette.


One-sided grilled chicken breast burger with cheese, veggies, avocado, mustard, and mayo
1/2 cup carrots, mushrooms & 1/2 cup pita chips with artichoke/chickpea hummus
1 cup Jamaican coleslaw
1/2 cup blackberries/blueberries
1 glass of water

BG reading after 1 hour: 109 mg/dL
Activity: Went on 4km run after breakfast

One-sided chicken burger with cheese and lots of veggies.

Half a whole wheat bun actually has lots of carbs. Protein is from chicken and cheese.

Tip: It's much easier to eat an one-sided burger with a knife & fork:)

Jamaican coleslaw with cranberries & sweetened with agave syrup.


1 1/2 tbsp honey roasted peanuts
1 3/4 cup Jamaican coleslaw
1 cup fried rice with mixed grains, veggies, ham, sausage, eggs
2 chunks tofu
2 jerk chicken drumsticks
3/4 cup raspberries
1 glass of water

BG reading after 1 hour: 126 mg/dL
Activity: 38 min walk after lunch, 20 min nap in afternoon

Coleslaw, jerk chicken, barley/white rice fried rice with tofu.


2 small potatos
2 small yams
1 1/2 cup squash, zucchini, snap peas, peppers
3/4 cup halibut
1 sausage
3 coconut thin cookies
1/2 cup pirate booty popcorn
1 glass of water

BG reading after 1.5 hour: 101 mg/dL
Activity: didn't sleep well night before, 38 min walk after dinner

BBQ squash, sausages, yams, halibut. Sure, diabetes can eat well! :)

BBQ greens.


1 1/2 cup mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, celery
2/3 cup artichoke/jalapeno dip
1 small corn tortilla with enchilada mix of turkey, sausage, veggies, cheese
1 tbsp pineapple salsa
1/4 cup guacamole
5 nachos with enchilada mix
1/4 cup peanuts, cashews
1/2 cup peach & blueberries
1 glass of water

BG reading after 1 hour: 112 mg/dL
Activity: 40 min walk after lunch, 10 min body workout, 25 min walk before dinner

Homemade guacamole.

Turkey/black bean enchiladas with salsa and guacamole. Made this for our anniversary meal.

I know it's hard. Sometimes too hard. But I'm living proof it can be done. You can beat gestational diabetes without any medication. You and your baby will be healthier for it and you will feel proud of your accomplishment. Just take it one day at a time and persevere through it. My family benefited from my diabetic diet as well. My 6 1/2 year old son was a trooper. He had to eat more vegetables and beans than usual and since it was the summer and he was off school, he became my walking and running buddy. He cheered me on when it got tough. I couldn't love him more! :)

To further motivate you to keep going and not to give up, here is me after my last 4 km run, exactly one week before I went into labor. It was my hardest pregnancy run ever but I'm so happy to have made it to 9 months! I only ran until I was 5 months pregnant with my first child. In a way, I should thank gestational diabetes for pushing me to run longer.

After a 4km run, exactly 1 week before my labor and delivery.

Yes, our new baby arrived! Three weeks early but we're both healthy and well. As an added bonus, she was only 6lbs 10oz so she was small enough for me to push out easily. Lol. My first child was over 8lbs and that was really rough. Our new baby seemed so tiny to me but the nurses were impressed she was so big considering she was three weeks early. Thank you gestational diabetes? Or I just have a tendency to have big babies.

I hope the sample meals above can give you some ideas of what you can eat and still be in the safe zone. With some creativity and work, food doesn't have to be boring for Diabetics. Exercise, although more difficult in the third trimester, helped me cope with the stress and it made me stronger, like I had mentioned in my previous running post. It only took me 2 or 3 pushes to bring my daughter into the world. That's 5 minutes tops! Compare that with several hours of pushing, assisted by a vacuum and an episiotomy for my first child. Ouch! Both pregnancies, although almost 7 years apart, resulted in natural vaginal births without any medication or pain relief. Remember how I hate medication? :) The main difference was that this time I had more energy, I felt stronger, and the pain didn't last that long. I had good control of my contractions and I didn't make a sound until a few minutes before I could push. The nurse complimented me on my control. I tried extra hard to be cool because my 6 year old son was in the delivery room with us and I didn't want to scare him. We had no babysitter since the baby came so early. Overall, labor and delivery couldn't have gone better for us. I'm so glad I pushed myself to run and exercise more in this pregnancy. I think the baby came early as a result and labor was shorter and easier overall.
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