Every year when the Easter bunny comes to town, he seems to bring a whole lot of calories with him. As kids, it seemed to be all about a basket full of sugary sweets and a large family meal (which seemed to hold it’s own treasure trove of fatty foods). More and more people, though, are looking for ways to make healthy changes, not only to our daily lives, but also to our holiday celebrations. Now, that’s not to say you should go throwing your grandmother’s recipes out of the mix, but tweeks, even little ones, can add up to a more nutritious day for the family. So, in the spirit of getting things a “bit more fit”, while still having a good time, Total Nutrition Technology has some ideas for a fun, tasty Easter.
The pre-meal nibble. What’s a holiday get-together without an array of snacks and appetizers to hold you over until the main event? These can be very tempting and a little won’t hurt, but be careful because they can add up fast. There are also some small changes that can help:
- Substitute the mayonnaise in deviled eggs with oil and vinegar. Adding mustard, onions, pickles and/or Worcestershire sauce can also add great flavor without the fat.
- Using low-fat or fat-free cream cheese and sour cream in the traditional spinach & artichoke dip. Part-skim mozzarella cheese is good too and don’t forget the garlic or little squeeze of lemon to keep it flavorful.
- What better time go with “rabbit-food”. Serve your veggie platter with a zero-fat dip made with Greek yogurt, dried dill, lemon juice and seasonings.
It’s dinner time. Everyone seems to have their own traditional Easter dinner, but ham seems to be a popular choice. Lamb can be a leaner option , as well, and so much tastier when picked up at your local butcher. Here are some other ways “to cut the fat”, literally:
- Trim the excess fat off your meat before cooking, keeps your main course from sitting in a pool of grease.
- Buy a lower sodium ham, or soak your regular ham in water for 4 – 12 hours to help reduce the sodium nitrate level.
- The leanest cuts of lamb include the loin, shank and leg as compared to the blade or ground lamb.
- Options for side dishes are far too many to list here but you can never go wrong with fresh, steamed or baked vegetables. A neat trick with cauliflower is to steam it and mash it, like you would your potatoes, giving it a light, fluffy texture.
Ending on a sweet note. Assuming everyone hasn’t overdosed on chocolate bunnies or eggs, then dessert is next on the menu. You can use your own recipes and possibly find substitutions to make them a little more nutritious, such as coconut oil in place of vegetable oil. Finding a new recipe to try can lead to a new favorite too.
- Carrot cake seems like a good fit for Easter and can be healthier when sweetened with honey, applesauce and pineapple. Never hurts to sneak those extra veggies in where we can either.
- Rice crispy treats tend to be lower in fat than many sweet treats and can be made even better for you by using “brown rice puffs” or replace the butter for that “oh-so-magical” coconut oil. They can even be a fun activity with the kids, forming them into shapes to fit the holiday.
- Greek koulourakia “cookies” are a delicious, traditional Easter item similar to sweet puff pastry and are not only low in calories but are made without eggs or butter making them vegan.
Don’t forget about those baskets. While we’re at it, Easter baskets could use a little updating as well. Instead of just filling them with candy (or adding to your child’s ever-growing stuffed animal collection), throw in a few things that will get them moving. With spring weather upon us, give them a kite, jump rope, sidewalk chalk or anything that gets them out into the fresh air. Many of these items can even be found at your local dollar store. Give their minds a work out , too, with puzzles, mind teasers and arts & crafts.
However you choose to celebrate the holiday, TNT wishes you and your family a happy and healthy Easter!