In hindsight, deciding to go Palm Oil Free at the beginning of a month when all three of my kids have birthday parties was not great timing. Throwing parties for boy/girl twins on the same weekend has many challenges, not least of which is the need to produce enough party food to sink a ship.
The days when I had the time and patience to lovingly craft a table full of themed party food are long gone. Racing round the supermarket grabbing at appealing looking packages in the hope it all looks sufficiently party-like when it hits the table is more my style.
Unfortunately, a lot of those appealing looking packages shouting claims like ‘Baked Not Fried’, ‘No Artificial Colours’ or ‘No Added Sugar’ might be healthier for our kids, but they hide the fact they’re made with Palm Oil which makes them less healthy for the planet.
Determined to ensure no Orang-utans were harmed during our birthday celebrations, I used this opportunity to see if I could find store bought party food that was both Palm Oil Free, and able to pass the ‘omg-my-mum-is-so-embarrassing’ tween test.
Here’s what I learned.
Shopping is Complicated
There are lots of brands that make a range of products of which only one or two are Palm Oil Free. In my opinion, they’re not really taking this issue seriously. Sure, I can buy their Palm Oil Free product, but I still feel like I’m contributing to a business that happily takes part in the Palm Oil industry. Where possible, I prefer to buy brands whose entire range is Palm Oil Free. Not only does this send a stronger message, it makes remembering which products to buy a whole lot easier.
The flavour and design of the birthday cake is usually the start of the whole birthday party conversation. While I love baking, in the past I’ve always used cakes out of a box for birthdays so that I can put my time and energy into decorating. So I was disappointed to find out that pretty much all cake-in-a-box products contain Palm Oil – mostly in the frosting packets that are included. So baking from scratch is the best option.
Decorating the cake you’ve just baked isn’t straight forward either. Lots of decorations – particularly fondant icing – contain Palm Oil.
Brands to buy:
- Queen cake decorations – writing icing and cachou – but not their fondant icing.
- Nestle chocolate melts and drops
Lollies are a great way to decorate cakes, and there are quite a few brands that are completely Palm Oil Free.
Brands to Buy:
- The Natural Confectionery Company lollies are widely available, and they have a great range.
- Haribo’s entire range
- All Chupa Chups are good to go
- Thankfully most marshmallows – Mr Mallow, Pascall, Homebrand and Planet Candy – are Palm Oil Free
It’s just not a kids party without sausage rolls and Cheerios – and thankfully both of these party foods have easy Palm Oil Free options.
Brands to buy:
- I Love Pies sausage rolls. In addition to their Free Range Pork sausage rolls, they’ve just launched two new flavours which the kids at our parties loved – Lamb & Rosemary and Spinach & feta. They’re not only Palm Oil Free, they’re also free from MSG, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours.
- Hellers cocktail sausages are good to go. Some of the other in-store Deli brands may also be Palm Oil Free – if in doubt ask, or check the Auckland Zoo guide to Palm Oil Free shopping for more details.
This is where it gets tricky – and your options become quite limited.
Brands to buy:
- Homebrand Vegetable Crisps – lots of flavours all of which are Palm Oil Free
- The Proper Crisps entire range is Palm Oil Free but these are definitely at the premium/expensive end of the category – perhaps save these for impressing the parents.
- Go Nutz corn chip range is good to go
- Bluebird Light Plus range
Other brands have some flavours in their range that are Palm Oil Free – so there are other options is you need them. Check the Auckland Zoo buying guide for more details.
I usually make my own from scratch but am finding it harder and harder to buy as the ready-to-go microwave popcorn brands take over the world. According to the app I have on my phone, EziPop Microwave popcorn is one of the few Palm Oil free options.
Approach this aisle with caution. There are no brands that are completely Palm Oil Free, and in fact in my supermarket there are only three types of biscuits that make the grade – none of which were voted ‘party table worthy’ by my kids. So it’s back to the kitchen.
Life just wouldn’t be worth living if there weren’t Palm Oil Free options. Thank goodness there are plenty of brands to choose from.
Brands to buy:
- Whitakers entire range is Palm Oil Free
- Choose any Toblerone and you’re good to go.
- At the premium end of things, Green & Blacks and The Seriously Good Chocolate Company are have their entire range Palm Oil Free.
Thankfully there are lots of safe options for ice cream – and a lot of them are also locally produced. So if you don’t have time to bake, a good old ice cream cake might do the job.
Brands to buy:
- The whole Tip Top range is Palm Oil Free and they have a huge range of flavours to choose from.
- Kohu Road is another locally produced brand with a full range that is Palm Oil Free.
- OOB is not only Palm Oil Free, it’s also organic.
- The Pure New Zealand ice cream range is good to go.
- At the premium end of the category, the Gourmet Ice Cream Company has some delicious grown up flavours to try.
Throwing not one but three Palm Oil Free kids parties certainly had its challenges. While it took more research and planning than usual, I learned that it is possible to feed not one but three parties full of hungry tweens and do my bit to save the orang-utans all at the same time.
If you’d like to try shopping Palm Oil Free, read these handy guides from Auckland Zoo. There’s even a downloadable guide for your wallet.