Spring is finally in the air and Easter is here! It’s time to plan your treats and eats for the holiday festivities. Check out these easy ways to add healthier surprises to your Easter baskets and satisfy your family and Easter guests.
Easter baskets are, of course, a highlight of the holiday for kids, but they are typically filled with candy loaded with calories, fat and sugar. With some simple planning you can swap in some healthier and lighter Easter sweets and still delight your kids.
- Dark Chocolate – Choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Look for dark chocolate made with at least 70% cocoa. This ensures heart-healthy antioxidants. Also, opt for hollow or marshmallow-filled eggs, which can have half the calories of crème-filled or solid chocolates. Chocolate almonds are favorites, too.
- Plastic Eggs – Fill plastic eggs with healthier snacks like trail mix, nuts or colorful dried fruit bits. Half the excitement for kids is finding the eggs. Including healthier surprises inside adds variety and a welcomed change!
- Fruit , Seeds, Nuts, Popcorn – Consider making your own chocolate-covered treats using dark chocolate melted over dried or fresh fruits, seeds, nuts or popcorn. One fun idea: chocolate-covered clusters of pomegranate seeds or dried cherries with sunflower seeds. Serving a sweet treat may introduce kids to a new nutritious food.
- Think Beyond Treats – Add some of your children’s favorite fruits to the basket…such as berries, grapes, raisins, dried apricots or apple slices. For a little protein, include healthy almond or peanut butter packets or fruit yogurt for dipping. Individually-wrapped light cheese portions, as from Cabot Cheese and Laughing Cow are also welcomed snacks.
- Non-Edible Surprises – Load baskets with non-food items. Think of what hobbies your kids enjoy and create a theme. You could include items like a jump rope, a stuffed animal, sidewalk chalk or Easter-themed stickers and coloring books.
Are you looking to please your brunch bunch? When planning your Easter feast, consider the fresh flavors of the season and springtime produce. To balance the sweets, keep your menu light, easy, healthy and colorful. Here are my suggestions:
- Make your grains count – Try a new whole-grain. Cook quinoa or polenta. Add Greek yogurt, nuts and fresh fruit for delicious and hearty parfaits.
- Give eggs a healthy twist – Mix eggs with fresh veggies such as onions, red bell pepper, spinach, asparagusand add lean protein like light cheese or beans. Serve as a frittata or omelette. Skip creamy, heavy dishes. Check out this recipe from Cabot for a spinach frittata baked with caramelized onions and light Cabot cheddar cheese.
- Serve a salad – Add a beautiful fruit or spring salad to your menu. This time of year, strawberries, oranges and grapes are at their peak, so get creative with these sweet fruits. For green salads, incorporate spring veggies like asparagus, artichokes, radishes and sweet onions in a homemade vinaigrette dressing.
- Choose healthy spreads – If serving whole-grained bagels or breads, offer nutritious spreads with fewer calories and saturated fats. Nut butters, hummus, tuna, ricotta or cottage cheese-based dips containing veggies (like chopped onions, carrots, broccoli, olives) are great protein options.
- For smoothies, go green – For a sweet kick, prepare smoothies for your guests with fresh fruit and don’t be afraid to add some green…like spinach or kale leaves or avocado. Look for a way to fit in greens at any meal.
Wishing you all a healthy, happy Easter!
For more ideas on healthy eating and quick meals , check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009) or contact me for individual counseling. My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit:http://www.georgiakostas.com.
This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.