Book cover for THE HANDMADE MAMA: Simple Crafts, Healthy Recipes, and Natural Bath + Body Products for Mama and Baby

THE HANDMADE MAMA: Simple Crafts, Healthy Recipes, and Natural Bath + Body Products for Mama and Baby

Mary Helen Leonard

Spring House Press
May 1, 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1940611716

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Mary Helen McNally-LeonardMary Helen Leonard is a natural lifestyle writer and educator living in Austin, Texas. She has spent ten years working in the natural skin care industry, formulating do-it-yourself recipes for the popular natural skin care blog, www. Mary Helen also writes about food, family, and DIY at When she’s not in the kitchen whipping something up you can find her snapping photos, sewing freestyle quilts, or snuggling up to her son, Charlie.

On this life-changing journey into mamahood, making your own healthy recipes, soothing skin care products, and everyday baby items allows you to choose what goes into and on your­–and your baby’s–body.  From Mary Helen Leonard, a natural lifestyle writer and the creator of the popular blog Mary Makes Good, THE HANDMADE MAMA is an expression of unconditional love fueled by a new mother’s DIY passion and maker mindset. With quick recipes, simple instructions, inspiring photos, and helpful tips and sidebars, THE HANDMADE MAMA  will make planning and completing your healthy and handmade mamahood projects a breeze. From ginger syrup for upset stomachs and a natural baby powder to delicious food purees, colorful changing mats, and simple, playful toys, THE HANDMADE MAMA is about choosing a fresh, healthy, and safe path while making your pregnancy and your baby’s first years a time you’ll cherish.

Healthy Smash Cake

Yields 2 small cakes

One tradition that I dreaded upon my son’s own first birthday was his first bite of cake. It’s not that I’m opposed to a mess, or even my child getting his first real sugar rush. I might be kinda crunchy, but I’m really not too uptight. It was just kind of a bummer to have spent the last twelve months (well, more like twenty-two if you count pregnancy) fiercely defending this new life from things like synthetic chemicals, potential toxins, and sketchy foods only to plop him into a pile of hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, and food dye on his first birthday. As his party approached, I had my heart set on baking him a special healthy cake. But then life went upside-down (like it does) and I ran out of time to make it for him. We ended up getting a giant sheet cake from the local wholesale store—slathered in rainbow-colored frosting and sporting an ingredient list that I would have needed a magnifying glass to decipher. Did we all survive? Yes. Did we sleep that night? No. If I had that day to do over again, I would have baked him this cake. It’s made with fruits and veggies and all-natural goodies! Mountainous peaks of freshly whipped cream give baby plenty of ammunition for creating that adorable mess we have all come to expect in first birthday photographs.


  • One and 1/4 cups (300 ml) all-purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole wheat flour*
  • One and 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) carrot or sweet potato puree (recipe page 123)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk or plant-based milk
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) applesauce
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) cooking oil
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 ml) blueberries

For topping:

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Grease two miniature Bundt pans or 4″ (10cm) cake pans with butter or cooking oil.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours and baking soda.

In a second bowl, combine the carrot or sweet potato puree, milk, applesauce, sugar, cooking oil, mashed banana, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Whisk until fairly smooth.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry, and then mix until well combined. Gently fold in blueberries, then pour into cake pans.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes,* or until firm and golden brown. To test for doneness, stick a dry toothpick in the center of the cake. When the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done.

Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 30 minutes before turning them out onto cooling racks.

To make whipped cream, combine heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar and whisk with electric mixer for several minutes at the highest speed, or until the cream forms soft peaks that easily hold their shape. Store whipped cream in the refrigerator until cake is served.

When cakes have cooled completely, top with whipped cream and fresh berries just before serving.

*If using gluten-free flour, bake for an extra 10 to 15 minutes.


These recipes may be reproduced with the following credit:

Recipes from THE HANDMADE MAMA: Simple Crafts, Healthy Recipes, and Natural Bath + Body Products for Mama and Baby by Mary Helen Leonard. (Spring House Press; May 1, 2018; $27.95/Paperback, ISBN: 978-1940611716).

Contact: Paul McGahren