Easter is time to celebrate spring and new beginnings. This year, make some new, healthy, holiday traditions at the grocery store, in the kitchen and in your Easter basket, using our healthy alternatives guide:
Lamb is great source of protein, 26 grams per 3 ounce serving, iron and zinc and it also is a good source of vitamin B 12 and niacin. Lamb is also much lower in sodium for heart health compared to cured meats, such as ham. Lamb contains only 48 mg of sodium, compared to ham which contains 756 mg sodium. To lower the fat content of lamb, trim all visible fat and drain fat drippings from cooked ground lamb.
Partake: Hardboiled Eggs
Pass: Deviled Eggs
While both are good sources of protein, 6 grams per whole egg, deviled eggs contain more fat and sodium than hardboiled eggs. If deviled eggs are your favorite, consider a healthier recipe, substitute ½ of the mayonnaise for Dijon mustard and use smoked paprika and black pepper instead of salt.
Partake: French Cut Green Beans
Pass: Green Bean Casserole
Green beans are a nutrient dense, low-calorie, vegetable. They will provide filling fiber, and many phytonutrients, vitamins such as A, B-12 and B-6, as well as minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese and potassium. However, the preparation of these healthy green veggies makes a big difference in their nutritional value. Traditional Green Bean Casseroles can have as much as 240 calories per 1 cup serving in comparison with steamed green beans that contain 35 calories per 1 cup serving.
Partake: Mashed Potatoes
Pass: Scalloped Potatoes
Potatoes are a great source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber (in the skin of the potato). However, the preparation of potatoes can make these healthy tubers into a diet-disaster. 1 cup of scalloped potatoes, with butter, cheese, and whole milk can have as much as 280 calories. 1 cup of mashed potatoes with whole milk and butter contains about 200 calories. You can still enjoy mashed potatoes while cutting calories, substitute skim milk for whole milk, olive oil for butter and ½ potatoes for cauliflower and turnips, save 70+ calories.
Partake: Hershey Dark Chocolate Mini Eggs
Pass: Cadbury Crème Egg
Chocolate can have a place in a healthy, balance diet, in moderation. Dark chocolate trumps milk chocolate, due to its higher cancer-fighting antioxidant content. So if chocolate is a must in your Easter celebration; pass on the Cadbury Crème Egg, which contains 170 calories, 8 g fat, 15 mg sodium, 19 g sugar, and 1 g protein for 1 egg, and pick up five Hershey’s Dark Chocolate mini eggs for 180 calories, 12 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 16 g sugar, 1.5 g protein and 8% of your daily value of iron. Unwrapping five eggs will seem like more of a splurge than just one Cadbury egg.
Partake: Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Pass: Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs
Portion size matters! Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups not only contain less artificial ingredients, but also ingredients that are sustainably harvested. You can have two of these cups for 200 calories, 16 g fat, 120 mg sodium, 14 g sugars, 4g protein instead of two Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs which contains more than twice as much sugar and a lot more highly processed ingredients.
Pass: Jelly Beans
Both of these candies contain very little nutrition and high amounts of sugar. 5 Peeps, or 1.5 ounces contains 36 grams of sugar, that’s nine teaspoons of sugar! ¼ cup of jelly beans, or 1.5 ounces contains 30 grams of sugar, or 7.5 teaspoons. Fill the Easter basket with some “healthier” candies such as dark chocolate covered dried blueberries or raw nuts or seeds, or Annie’s Homegrown Bunny Fruit Snacks, which contain only 10 grams of sugar per 0.8 portion-controlled package.
Bottom line: treats have a place in a balanced, healthy diet as long as they are in moderation. During the holidays, pass on the treats you can find year-round such as soda pop, ice cream, cookies, cakes and chips. Now, Grandma’s famous rhubarb custard pie? That only comes around once a year, so enjoy.