Let Them Eat Cake

Tasty treats without the guilt.
By Dawn E. Warden Published January 14, 2009 at 07:01 AM

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the banning of bake sales at a school in California. The fundraising fare was criminalized on the basis of fat, calorie and sugar content, enemies in the war against childhood obesity. Now I never was for the banning, because I stand by the belief that education is the greatest tool we can hand down to our children, whether it’s food or sex or drugs. What they don’t know will hurt them.

Call me a libertarian, but I don’t have any hard and fast dietary regulations when it comes to my kids or myself. Which is not to say that I’m laissez-faire, either; it is understood that we are not sitting down to fast food meals on a regular basis, that donuts are not the breakfast of champions, and that some type of vegetable or fruit must be consumed at least once a day.

My 9-year-old hasn’t quite sorted this all out and is due for a little tête-à-tête with a nutritionist shortly, but he is slowly getting over his obsession with a handful of not-so-great-for-the-heart-or-waistline foods. Expanding his palate is another story …

Hopefully, I didn’t put you to sleep with all that, because then you’d miss out on the real scoop, which is a new line of baking mixes from former Philly resident and Campbell Soup exec Nora Schultz (now based in Princeton, N.J.). A sizable box showed up unannounced in my office awhile back, and I got very excited by the colorful, retro-looking boxes of Naturally Nora cake and icing mix. I took them home over the holidays, figuring I could assign my daughters the task of whipping up a couple of birthday cakes for two of their brothers.

Best intentions aside, one daughter made one cake, and I never even got to taste it. However, the directions were easy to follow, and the cakes came out perfectly round, moist and chock full of rainbow-colored “dots.” The frosting whipped up great, too, and, unlike some batches, actually covered the entire cake and the middle. Best of all, the mixes are free of preservatives and artificial colors, also enemies of the bake sale contingent. And all of the kids said it was “really good,” which, from kids, is a high compliment.

Schultz conceived Naturally Nora in response to the void of convenient, health-minded—and great-tasting—desserts on the market, and because of the link between artificial colors and ADD/ADHD. Naturally Nora’s Sunny Yellow mix lists these ingredients: unbleached wheat flour, sugar, baking soda, natural vanilla flavor, cream of tartar, salt, carob bean gum and guar gum. As opposed to Pillsbury Moist Supreme’s Classic Yellow label, which is a novella by comparison: sugar, enriched bleached flour (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), partially hydrogenated soybean oil, wheat starch, baking powder (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, dicalcium phoshate); contains two percent or less of: dextrose, corn starch, salt, artificial flavor, propylene glycol monosesters, mono- and diglycerides, cellulose, colored with yellow 5 and red 40, xanthan gum, cellulose gum, polysorbate 60, TBHQ and citric acid.

You get the picture.

The line is available at select Acme and Whole Foods markets—I have spotted the colorful boxes at both the Wynnewood and Devon Whole Foods stores, and they are at the Paoli, Wayne and Bala Cynwyd Acmes—as well as online at naturallynora.com.

As an aside, Naturally Nora supports school fundraising efforts through its Bake Great Schools program. Maybe I should send the web link to that school in California …

This article appears in the January 2009 issue of bocconcini
For more from Dawn Warden at Main Line Today Magazine click here.