Nora’s Birthday! Raspberry cheesecake, cupcakes and frosting!

Just after spring officially turned to summer, we celebrated Nora’s 4th birthday. Everything has been going well for Nora these past few weeks and we are all transitioning into summer mode.

Nora’s birthday morning started with an experimental special treat: Cytra jello. I’m not a jello fan myself, and I doubt that I have ever made it at our house, but my kids immediately recognized it. Remember that Cytra is the supplement she takes to counteract the blood acidosis that tends to occur on the diet. It’s sweetened with saccharine and colored with red dye #3. Sounds like the perfect match with gelatine, right?

Nora's Cytra Jello Heart

I bought some plain unflavored gelatine because I saw it in several keto-recipe ideas, so I thought I would have some on hand. On the back of the package was their super simple cheesecake recipe, which I decided to use later (see below). The idea was born to sweeten the cheesecake with Cytra, as she takes Cytra everyday anyway. I made a 1/2 portion of the cheesecake, which required mixing a full package of gelatine with Cytra, then using only 1/2 of the mixture for the 1/2 cheesecake. That left me with 1/2 portion of Cytra + gelatine and–ta da! Cytra jello was born, shaped in 2 heart silicone molds. It was a hit and I have had requests for more Cytra jello.

Gelatine has 2 g of protein per envelope, so each heart contained 0.5 g protein, no carbs or fat.

Nora shares a birthday with her buddy Ian, who is 1 year older. Ian’s family invited us over for a birthday buddy celebration. They were very thoughtful to call with the menu so that we could plan Nora’s dinner. She had her first taste of watermelon on the diet (16 g! 3 tiny chunks!), along with hot dog, avocado, and other normal dinner foods. For dessert they made a raspberry cheesecake, a treat that is relatively easy to turn into a keto-friendly dessert.

I made a keto-pumpkin cheesecake recipe last fall, but the texture didn’t quite fit the bill and I wanted a cheesecake that would hold up to a raspberry sauce on top. I looked at other keto-parent blogs and thought I had found a winner, until I serendipitously happened upon the back of the gelatin box, where I found their “It’s-A-Snap Cheesecake” recipe. The ingredient list was so simple that it was almost perfect without modifications, and because it was no-bake I didn’t have to gamble with texture outcomes by adding more fat. With all of the other birthday prep I was ready for simple.

Nutrition information for 1 serving of No-Bake Raspberry Cheesecake. Nutrition information from 8 servings.

No-Bake Raspberry Cheesecake
(8 servings)
1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatine
1 cup boiling water
336 g (12 oz) Primrose cream cheese (re-calculate nutrition with your brand)
113.4 g (4 oz) English Double Devon Cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
120 g raspberries

Mix gelatine into 1 cup boiling water, adding any no-carb sweetener to your taste (or equivalent to 1/2 c sugar. We used 1/2 Cytra packet.). Stir until gelatine completely dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Beat together cream cheese, double devon cream, and vanilla in a large bowl with mixer until smooth. Slowly beat in gelatine mixture.

Pour into shallow glass dish and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.

Nora at the end of the table with her cheesecake, and b-day buddy Ian with candles on the big cheesecake!

Raspberries can be used fresh on the top, mashed and cooked down, or cooked down from frozen. We also added a bit of Cytra for sweetness as well. Next time I might try to add some gelatine to the raspberries then pour over the firm cheesecake, so that each serving is more equally distributed. Just remember to count the gelatine in the recipe, as it adds protein.


Makes 8 servings with nutritional information in side panel.

(click on pictures to enlarge)

Nora dug into her cheesecake and loved it! She was almost done with her generous piece before the rest of us got our cheesecake in front of us. Then it was so great, she licked the plate! She was allotted every one of those carbs, so she can get them into her any way she knows how.

I am not a fan of the no-bake cheesecake, so next time I have the energy I will try the more traditional version adopted from another keto-parent blog.

(click on pictures to enlarge)

I am sure that all keto-parents spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for special events because special events are always bound up with special foods. Now that we have our keto-kid as the center of her special event, my goal was to showcase her special food for all of her special people at her birthday party for her friends. My hope was to make her feel normal for a time. When we talked about cupcakes, she said, “do you mean I’m not on my diet anymore?!?” But this time I said, “no honey, you are still on your diet, but now everyone will get to share your special foods!” Although we still had whiny requests for another cupcake, that’s normal. There were no tears today because she had a cupcake that looked the same as everyone else’s cupcake. Little did she know that hers tasted just a little different.

When I made cupcakes for the party, I started by making a double batch of Nora’s Raspberry-Coconut Cupcake batter. I weighed out 6 cupcakes for Nora and baked them up in the special princess cupcake liners that she picked out. Then I added a little sugar back to the batter and cooked up cupcakes for everyone else, in different cupcake liners. Wow, it goes so fast when you don’t have to weigh the batter that goes into every cupcake!

I used the same procedure to make the frosting. First, mix it up perfectly according to the keto-version recipe and frost Nora’s cupcakes. Then mix some powdered sugar back into the rest of the frosting and do the rest. Although Nora’s cupcakes are pretty good on their own, other kids are accustomed to sweet cupcakes. I didn’t want other kids rejecting them for lack of sweetness. Actually, Anders rejected his because he thought it was too sweet! He has never had a sweet tooth (although he seems to be part fruit bat), and now that he doesn’t eat many sweetened foods he can taste the difference.

Many of Nora’s regular foods were on the menu: Hazelnut-Applesauce Mini-Muffins (baked into 16 g mini-muffin liners–that batter works great for measuring), Flackers, cheddar cheese, string cheese, rotolini, PBJ muffins (without added butter for everyone else), raspberries, mini-peppers, seaweed snacks, Macadamia Monster Mash, avocado, carrots, celery, cream cheese, and turkey/ham/cream cheese roll-ups (although I made those on standard tortillas because Nora was not having any, and her low-carb tortillas are expensive!) We pre-measured Nora’s lunch and brought it ready to put on her plate.

The theme was a fancy tea party luncheon, so I bought some mismatched fancy tea cups at a second-hand store along with some linen napkins and doilies. I had a fancy lace tablecloth from home that we put on the picnic table at the park. It looked to be a fancy affair, but it was the best of all worlds–fancy kids, fancy dishes, fancy food, and all fun and games at the park!

The pink cupcakes were also a hit. I found some sparkly pink sprinkles made from gum arabic and food coloring, rather than sugar. My research indicated that gum arabic is almost entirely fiber, so it should have no impact on her diet. I sure hope so. I put just a bit of sprinkles on top of her cupcake. So cute, but not sweet.

I realized at the beginning of the party that we had candles but not matches! Of course, none of us smoke and had no easy way to make fire. It was also fairly windy, so instead of running home for matches we piled on several fancy toothpicks with a crown and a few fairies. Nora asked about the candles but quickly got over it and dug into the cupcake!

Nutrition information for 1 Raspberry-Coconut Muffin. Recipe makes 18 servings. Analysis from

Raspberry-Coconut Cupcakes
(makes 18 cupcakes)
56 g Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
84 g European-style butter
300 g (6 large) eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
60 g Thai Kitchen Organic Premium Coconut Milk
1/8 c water
36 g raspberries

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F degrees.
Combine the coconut flour, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, mix the butter with a hand mixer until fluffy, then add the eggs, vanilla extract and coconut milk and mix until well combined. Add water after the mixture begins to thicken. Let rest to allow the coconut flour to absorb all the liquid.
Add the dry mixture to the wet and blend well.
Spoon 30 g batterĀ  into regular cupcake liners or silicone molds.
Push 2 g of broken up raspberries into each cupcake.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until firm.

Nutrition information for 20 g of Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting. Analysis by

Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting
(Makes 10 servings of 20 g each)
30 g Thai Kitchen Organic Premium Coconut Milk
88 g Primrose cream cheese (substitute your brand and re-calculate)
71 g European-style butter
8 g raspberries

Blend all ingredients until smooth. I wanted to put 20 g of frosting on each cupcake, so I took my recipe and adjusted the number of servings to get 20 g each. If you divided this on to 18 cupcakes, it would be 11 g of frosting each. You can adjust as you like. The nutrition information is for 10 servings of 20 g each.

The cupcake with 20 g of frosting has a ratio of 2.96:1. With a 1/2 tablespoon of cream with tea, it’s perfect for Nora, at a 3.53:1 ratio (she’s at 3.5:1).

We found this fabulous 3-tier cupcake display that captures the spirit of Nora. If you can’t quite read it: “I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world.” With the cool pig-tailed girl riding her bike with her legs flying out! That’s our Nora (except maybe she would say, “I could RULE the world!”).

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About Christy Anderson Brekken

In no particular order... Instructor and Researcher, Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University. Educational background: University of MN Law School, 2005. MS in Ag and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 2011. Teaches: Agricultural Law, Environmental Law. Mother: brilliant 9 year old boy; brilliant 6 year old girl with benign myoclonic epilepsy on a modified ketogenic diet therapy. Married to: Ted Brekken, OSU Department of Electrical Engineering. Ride: Xtra-cycle Edgerunner with kid seat; 400-pound cargo capacity. Grew up: Devils Lake, ND. Lived in: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pohang, South Korea, Trondheim, Norway, Corvallis, OR. Interests: Cooking, knitting, eating, yoga, laughing, hiking, traveling, staying sane.

7 thoughts on “Nora’s Birthday! Raspberry cheesecake, cupcakes and frosting!

  1. Happy Birthday Nora!!
    Congrats on making such a lovely feast for her birthday- you guys are truly an inspiration!
    We are being admitted tomorrow for the formal ketogenic diet
    initiation – am actually excited tha were not doing this completely on our own anymore…

    • Sharmila–Good luck on the initiation. It’s hard to be in the hospital, but I hope they give you good training, and you already are on your way finding resources. Well done! You are not alone. Send us an update when you can, we will be thinking of you.

    • Good luck. Don’t expect miracles right away; for some people it takes a few months. It’s normal for kids to feel like crap for a few days initially. And it will take some time for you to settle into new routines, and there will be setbacks. You will go through a few phases of adjustments and tweaks. Put your head down and settle in for the long haul. With a little luck, your hard work will pay off.

  2. Well, we aren’t on as restricitive a version of the diet as you guys are but I agree the special events are particularly hard. My little guy asked to skip his Spring Party at school because (at 10) he finds he gets a bit discouraged with the sugar high swirling around him. He has only been on the diet for 6 months so he clearly remembers life on the other side. I am still dreading the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays as those have been huge “food focused” ones for us both in festivities and gift giving.

    As far as Jello….it is a HUGE hit here. He loves it and I make a “creamy jiggler” version that he (and his friends love)…I used 6 oz sugar free jellow (as the sweeterner in Jello hasn’t appeared to effect his Ketosis level), 1 cup of boiling water, 5 onces heavy cream (to add in that needed fat)….pour into jiggler molds or just into a pan sprayed with no stick spray, let cool and cut into cubes. They are his survivor food.

    • What a great idea–to add some fat into the jello! I will try that out and see how Nora likes it!

      We have avoided some end-of-session celebrations too. I never know if it is the right thing to do, but sometimes it’s easier to avoid any hurt feelings. It makes me feel better that your big kid makes that choice on his own sometimes.

  3. Nora’s party looks like it was lots of fun, and you went to a lot of work to make the party so special for her.
    My what a fancy affair, love the tea cups, crown, and even the boys with their hats, how clever. Perfect for Nora!

    • So very fancy! Many more tea parties will be had with those cups and saucers–all thrift store finds for just a few dollars each, and so dainty and beautiful!

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