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 batter  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!”).


Things are going well.  It has been 3 months since the last myoclonic seizure and about 6 weeks since the last tonic-clonic.  Nora is shiny, happy, articulate, and energetic.  She recently learned to ride bicycle without training wheels.  Her 4th birthday is just around the corner (June 22).  She’s still got some of that Nora aggressiveness, but I guess that’s just her.

We got the OK from the doctor earlier this week to decrease her Depakote further.  She is now on 125 mg twice a day, which is half of her “normal” dosage.

She is also now on a 3.5 diet ratio, and has been there for about a month.  She seems to be tolerating that really well.  It doesn’t feel any different in preparation and administration than 3.0.  I’ve been checking her ketosis right away in the morning quite regularly and that has consistently been at 160 (level 5 out of 5).  I take that as a good sign, as the most recent tonic-clonics seem to be have been presaged by anomalous low-ketosis readings a few days before.

So, as with all who live with epilepsy, we are always waiting for the next seizure: the next unwelcome bolt from the blue.  But for now, Nora is doing great and everything is headed in the right direction.

Guess How Much I Love Nora

So much that everything is now heart shaped. Awwww.

Freezing 5 g of coconut oil per heart. We have been measuring 5 g of coconut oil, 3 times per day, for weeks now. Time to do batches!

(above) Baking perfect portions of Nora’s new Pecan Breakfast Cookies, adapted from the Keto Cookbook.

Cookies = Love







(below) Nora enjoying her newest baked goods.




New Keto Resources & PBJ Muffins

One month ago, I was in Portland and met with Nora’s dietician. Afterward, this analogy came to mind:

Your family is driving in a remote forested area when your car breaks down. It’s cold, you don’t have much food, you don’t have cell phone reception and you have not seen signs of civilization. But you survive. You stay together. You ration your food. You start to burn your tires for warmth. Eventually you get desperate and one of your party strikes out to find help. After only a few hours, your emissary triumphantly returns to tell you that there is a Super 8 motel right over the ridge. Not great digs, but it’s food and shelter!

Now, that is a touch dramatic, but going into the keto diet was a bit like being lost in the woods. We have been doing pretty damn well, if I do say so myself. But that day in Portland, I learned so many details from the dietician that were never communicated to us. Better yet, I found out about The Keto Cookbook. It is written by a parent and a dietician, with form letters for daycare, emergency room/hospital visits and TSA (not that I plan to fly with Nora anytime soon)! Best of all, it is full of beautiful photos of the lovely recipes, all 4:1 ratio meals. This morning Nora and I browsed the pictures of all of the wonderful foods she could have on her diet. Many of the recipes are similar to things that I already make, and more than a few will probably not be appealing to her at the table, but just the chance for Nora feel like her diet was fabulously on display for her perusal was worth the $20.

How did we get lost in the woods? Nora’s dietician and I had that conversation during my visit. We went into the diet kind of “backward.” We tried less restrictive forms of diet therapy first. We experimented with feeding her Low Glycemic Index foods on our own before things got really bad. After the November hospitalization for the 24-hour EEG, we decided to try the Modified Atkins Diet before the Keto diet. Then we found that as we increased her fat ratio, she had better seizure control. We also found that we lost seizure control if her carbs were not carefully distributed throughout the day. So we inched closer to the keto diet by finding out what worked best for Nora. What we found out that the traditional keto diet works very well for Nora, although she still gets good seizure control at a lower ratio and a little more relaxed schedule. Because we eased into it, we didn’t have the hospitalized diet initiation that is standard procedure, so we did not have a full keto training as most families do. We learned on our own as we went, but that meant we were out on our own, unsure of even the questions to ask sometimes. It was not until after the last breakthrough seizures (going on 6 weeks ago!) that we talked about inching even closer to the traditional Keto diet and learning about the gaps in our knowledge.

But things have been going well, so a month passed between my last meeting with the dietician and finally ordering the Keto Cookbook. In that month, we have wrestled with adding other supplements like carnitine and dealing with the blood acidification issue. Now that we were getting comfortable again in a routine that works, I guess I had the energy to try new recipes and resources.

The Keto Cookbook is a great resource, but it’s not the Ritz. I started by reading and implementing their section on kitchen tips and tools to make life easier. We have a lot of the necessary equipment already, but not everything. I had resisted getting silicon bakeware until now because it just kinda creeped me out. Today we had a big shopping trip and I went all out–silicone muffin cups, more little rubber spatulas and pinch bowls, and yes, a teddy bear pancake pan. Anything to make cooking easy or food appealing and fun. Nora and I spent most of the day on my bike going to stores to find the things we wanted, and she got to help pick out the shapes and colors that would hold her food.

The 2-person paper muffin cup technique.

I used the muffin cups today and was quite pleased. Silicone cookware has a few real benefits for the keto diet. It does not absorb fat or liquid, so the amounts that are measured and cooked end up in the food, then in the kid. They are also rigid, so I can put each muffin container on the scale, tare it, and fill it with the correct amount of batter. Every muffin will be the same. Cora and I tried to accomplish that with paper muffin liners recently, with marginal and at times hilarious results. She had the idea to use a pastry bag to fill the muffin liners, but the liners were not strong enough to hold the batter alone on the scale. She would put a liner on the scale and spot it while I filled it to the right weight, then she would deftly transfer it to the muffin tin. We lost a few and it was incredibly labor and time intensive. The silicone is going to save a lot of time and effort. It already has.

Today I made Nora the “PBJ Cookies” recipe from the Keto Cookbook, and learned a thing or two about how to use the book.

First, I still had to enter the recipe into the online recipe analyzer that I use. The cookbook assumes a 4:1 ratio and reports only the calories and carb content of the recipe. I would have to go through some algebraic gymnastics to calculate the protein and fat content of the recipe, although it could be done with the known information. Nora is also on a 3.5:1 ratio, so I can adjust the recipe to reach her ratio. In addition, we use different brands of peanut butter and other products, so I have to use the nutrition information for  the ingredients that I will use. The cookbook gives me a good starting place, but it is not all done for me. That is also how the recipes on this blog should be used for other families. This is all a DIY guide.

I analyzed the PBJ cookie recipe last night, anticipating that I would make it today. Nora and I spent several hours biking around town on our cookware errands, and by the time we got home I was tired and she was ready for a snack. I put the recipe together and got it in the oven as fast as I could. Because the cookbook specifies individual meals and snacks, not batch-cooking, I assumed that I would give her the whole portion. I looked at my nutrition analysis, and it was and appropriate breakdown for a mid-day snack. What I forgot, in my haste, was that I specified 4 servings from the entire recipe in my online recipe analyzer. I forgot that the entire recipe made a 400 calorie meal, not a 100-150 calorie snack. Nora scarfed down all 3 PBJ cookies that I made, then I realized my mistake–instead of having about 1 g carb, she got 3 g carbs total! Luckily, that didn’t push her past 10 carbs for the day yet. It was more like she had an early dinner so everything was ok, but I had my moment of panic. I realized that I was relying on the book rather than thinking it out for myself and I was tired and in a hurry when I made and served her. No harm, no foul today, but a lesson to keep in mind.

The PBJ Cookie recipe was a hit, although the “cookie” was more like a muffin, topped with a peanut butter plus butter “frosting” and a few strawberry bits for the “jam.” I was able to make 2 more batches of the recipe, this time measuring the muffins into 4 equal portions so that they can be used as snacks. Here’s my take on the recipe, adapted from the Keto Cookbook.

1 PBJ Muffin with topping. Adapted from The Keto Cookbook. Nutrition analysis and information from

PBJ Muffins

37 g egg (whip well first then measure)
20 g macadamia nuts, ground
11 g canola oil or walnut oil
5 g Bob’s red mill flaxseed meal
8 g Strauss European Butter
8 g Adams 100% Natural Peanut Butter
12 g strawberries

Measure the egg, ground macadamia nuts, oil and flaxseed meal. Mix well. Measure 18.5 g of batter into each of 4 muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Mix butter and peanut butter. Frost each cooled muffin with 4 g of the mixture.

Slice the strawberries into small pieces, placing 3 g of strawberry on each muffin.


Each muffin has:
0.7 g net carbs
2.3 g protein
10.6 g fat
1 g fiber
3.53:1 ratio

If your child needs a higher ratio, increase the butter and decrease the strawberry per muffin until you reach the right ratio.