All Natural Strawberry Lemon Birthday Cupcakes

I couldn’t wait for my daughter’s first birthday to arrive.  I wanted to dress her up, invite all our friends and family and just relish in that day and the year the we’ve had.  I knew there would be lots of sweet treats and not-so-healthy food for our guests (I wanted everyone to enjoy the food after all- this was a birthday party!) But I knew I had to do the cupcakes right.  I’ve never been a fan of store bought cake.  I always thought it was too sweet, too rich and too white.  The abundance of artificial food dyes annoyed me the most, especially as it stained everyone’s mouth and teeth!  I knew I wanted to make the cupcakes myself and make them as real as possible.  (People who have switched from SAD “the standard American diet” to “real food” know what I’m talking about!)

My goals were:

– No hydrogenated oils (aka trans fat) and no corn syrup

– Absolutely no artifical food dyes!

– Limit the amount of refined sugars and flours

– Avoid canola, soy and corn ingredients (they are most likely to be genetically modified and are found in pretty much ALL processed/ boxed foods)

– No chocolate (it’s too much for little ones I think)

– Make it fun!

I found this recipe that gave me an idea of what to do.  I knew I wanted lemon in there, but I decided to switch the raspberry for strawberry (more kid friendly I think) and decided to change it up a bit to make it easier on me.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes)

– 1 box organic lemon cake mix (organic is key to avoid trans fat and corn syrup)

– jar organic strawberry preserves

– 8 oz plain cream cheese (organic if you can find it and afford it)

– 1 c confectioner’s sugar

– and whatever the box of cake mix requires…I used half pure olive oil and half unsweetened applesauce (You can substitute oil for applesauce 1:1.  It makes your olive oil last longer!) eggs (high omega 3/pasture fed/free range or organic) / organic milk


use a pastry brush and pure olive oil instead of Pam

1. Line muffin tin with paper baking cups and grease using pure olive oil and a pastry brush.  Preheat oven.

2. Combine cake mix and ingredients.  Fill up muffin tin half way, put a teaspoon of strawberry preserves in the batter then fill up tin the rest of the way with batter.  Bake according to directions.  Let cool on a wire rack.

3. To make frosting: Beat until combined room temperature cream cheese and sugar.  For flavor and color add a couple of generous spoonfuls of strawberry preserve to frosting and beat with electric mixer until combined.  This will give it a light pink color.  Taste frosting and add more strawberry if desired.  Frost cupcakes when they have cooled.

4. Top with sprinkles and enjoy!

When I finally got to taste test them I thought they were really good, but not nearly as sweet as most regular cakes and definitely not as sweet as store bought cakes.  I was almost afraid people wouldn’t like them very much.  But everyone loved them!  People kept commenting that they liked them because they weren’t too sweet.  Even my friend who doesn’t like sweets loved them!  Of course Marlee just played with it and didn’t eat it (which is fine!) but I was so happy how these turned out!

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Booksphotographsandartwork
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 17:26:58

    Sounds great I will have to try that. I have never noticed the storebought cakes tasting sweet just not really good. Sort of bland and fake.

    I just started using canola oil to fry corn fritters! I read somewhere to use that instead of the other stuff. Now what should I use? It can’t be olive oil as it needs to be really hot and I don’t think I would like them with an olive oil taste. I have just started making them. Silly me I had no idea that all you did was mix water and cornmeal. Too easy even for me. I used to eat them at my grandmothers all the time. Thanks for the recipe.


  2. Linda Wright
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 17:31:53

    Sometimes you don’t want the strong flavor of good olive oil in your baked goods or other foods. Also, the nutrients in olive oil break down with heat.
    I typically use walnut oil for other cooking (stir frys or any place calling for vegetable oil), and I like coconut oil for other cooking and especially for baking. Both are very healty alternatives to canola, corn & other non-healthy oils.

    The lemon/strawberry combo sounds great! I think as we train our palates to prefer less sweetness in things, foods taste better. You can taste the lemon & strawberry flavors…not just sweet!


    • thegentlehome
      Mar 07, 2012 @ 15:11:46

      So true Linda, it’s funny when you start lessening the amount of sweets you eat, things begin to taste differently! That is good to know about the walnut oil and coconut oil too.


  3. Mea
    Mar 05, 2012 @ 19:11:21

    YES! those were the best ever!


  4. Terri Coburn
    Mar 06, 2012 @ 15:15:56

    Thanks for posting this, Brittany! They look healthy, yummy, pretty and homemade. All things to love!


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