Don't be a bunny when it comes to your health this Easter.
You can have your egg and eat it too; you just have to make some smart choices before Easter Sunday rolls around says Nutritionist and Director of The Brown Paper Bag Nutrition, Jacqueline Alwill.
“Go for the physically smaller packages and Easter eggs as your first step,” she advised. “Down-sizing will save your health and your budgets.”
Jacqueline’s tips for a healthier – yet delicious Easter – are endless. Here are some quandaries you may find yourself in when it comes to consumption - and Jacqueline’s sage, sugar-free advice:
You still have a sugar hangover from last year's Easter egg hunt...
“At Easter, it is the high sugar content in the chocolate that is the biggest issue for our health,” explains Jacqueline.
When you look at the side-effects of too much sugar, it may sour the taste somewhat. These include increased blood glucose levels causing energy spikes and rapid falls - "something you’ll see in full force with children on sugar overload during Easter,” Jacqueline points out.
Then there are hormonal imbalances, weight gain, dental cavities and decay, immune system suppression and the increase of inflammatory disease to consider too!
You’re keen to try non-chocolate (yet equally delicious) Easter Sunday alternatives…
• “Raw Cacao is rich in magnesium, sulphur and flavonoids which the body utilises for energy, muscle relaxation, strengthening hair and nails, liver support and to reduce fat oxidisation in the blood stream,” Jacqueline lists of the readily available alternative to standard chocolate. “It’s also great to lift your mood and libido."
• Carob is a great caffeine-free alternative to chocolate (even raw cacao contains a small amount of caffeine) - making it a wonderful as an option for kids. “We often roll carob into our Easter bliss balls with banana, coconut and oats,” Jacqueline claims.
• Fresh Medjool dates are like nature’s caramel and can be a sweet alternative to the caramel egg by simply pitting and eating with almond, cashew or peanut butter, says Jacqueline. “Try serving them as a dessert option this Easter and watch the insane (read: freaking delicious!) reaction of kids and adults alike.”
You want to swap your standard supermarket chocolate for a connoisseur favourite...
“When selecting chocolate, read the nutrition panel and see if you can choose ingredients such as stevia, erythritol, coconut nectar or xylitol as options to swap for some of the sugar,” Jacqueline suggests. "Avoid milk and white chocolate and go for dark, [as] the lighter chocolates are higher in sugar than dark chocolate,” she adds.
Some smart brands include:
• Pana Chocolate focuses on whole food ingredients like coconut nectar or maple to sweeten the goods with raw cacao, cocoa butter and coconut oil.
• “Lindt dark chocolate bars are also a great option instead of the shaped Easter bunnies as they contain less sugar. Simply tie a colourful ribbon around them and you’re as festive as ever!”
You’re reading this the day after the big chocolate binge…
- Rise: “Flush the body with warm water and the juice of half a lemon to alkalize the digestive system,” Jacqueline suggests.
- Eat: “Focus on eating clean quality proteins - such as fish, chicken, lean meat, legumes - with an abundance of leafy green and cruciferous vegetables - i.e. cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli - to support liver detox pathways and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds) to balance hormones and satiate hunger,” advises Jacqueline.
- Hydrate: "Drink plenty of water, herbal teas to calm the body (chammomile) and support digestion (peppermint) and green juices when you need a snack.”
- Be Mindful: “Close the kitchen - especially the pantry with the chocolate - after your evening meal, brush your teeth and don’t turn back. The temptation for chocolate can be real at this time of night, be aware of it and proactive about not letting it overcome you by eating mindfully."
Whip up something that would make the Easter Bunny green with envy! All recipes are thanks to The Brown Paper Bag.
RAW EASTER CREME EGG
Makes 20 eggs
2 bananas (340g)
1 cup oats
1 cup coconut flesh (approximately the flesh of one coconut)
1/2 cup cocoa butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons vanilla essence
1/2 cup shredded coconut
5 Medjool dates, pitted and cut into quarters
1/2 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup cacao
1 tablespoon maple syrup
- To make the cream filling combine the bananas, oats, coconut flesh, cocoa butter, honey, vanilla and shredded coconut in a food processor. Blitz until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to set slightly. Remove from fridge and scoop out a tablespoon size amount of mixture and place a date piece in the centre. Roll the mixture between your palms to create a smooth ball shape. Repeat this process using the remaining mixture. Place the eggs in the freezer for 4 hours to set.
- When the eggs have been in the freezer for 3 1/2 hours, start to make the chocolate. Place the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat until melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cacao, maple syrup and salt. Allow to cool.
- Remove the eggs from the freezer and line a tray with baking paper. Pick up one egg at a time and roll into the chocolate mixture, ensuring an even coverage. You can use your hands for this or two spoons. Transfer to the lined tray and repeat with the remaining eggs. Return to freezer for 10 minutes before creating a second coat.
- Return to the freezer for a further 10 minutes. Once set remove from the freezer and trim the excess chocolate off. Place back in the freezer on baking paper in a container to set.
- Serve from and store in freezer up to 2 weeks.
SPELT HOT CROSS BUNS
250g Spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup raisins
150ml natural yoghurt
Cross Piping Mix:
50g Spelt flour
70ml cold water
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line a tray with baking paper.
- Combine the spelt flour, bicarb, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Stir in currants and raisins.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the yoghurt and milk.
- Make a well in the dry mix and gently pour in the wet ingredients and fold together until combined.
- Using floured hands divide the mixture into six small mounds and place on a lined baking tray. Tuck the buns closely together.
- To make the cross mix whisk together the flour and water in a small ball and transfer to a piping bag. Pipe individual crosses onto each bun. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and enjoy warm.