4 Ideas for a Sugar-Free Easter


The Easter holiday invites a bit of excess. During medieval times, Easter Sunday was the day when Lenten fasts of eggs, dairy and fat were broken, thus an inundation of rich treats was prepared to celebrate not only the risen Christ but also the return to a regular diet. Many families today don't observe as strict dietary restrictions during the pre-Easter season, but Easter baskets overflow with candies, chocolate and other sweets, nonetheless.

How can we give our kids treats without excess sugar and fat, things known to lead to childhood obesity, poor dental health and hyperactivity? Here are a few suggestions to make your holiday (almost) sugar-free:

The Easter basket
Healthy and delicious don't have to be mutually exclusive; the basket can still overflow with goodies. Choose fresh fruits that don't need refrigeration, such as clementines, apples, kiwis and bananas. Popcorn, granola bars, trail mix, and small boxes of organic cereal can be fun yet healthy sources of whole grains, fruits and seeds. Honey sticks and fruit leathers can lend a fruity goodness without processed sugars.

The hunt
Egg hunts for real hard-boiled eggs have faded from popularity and been replaced with candy-filled plastic eggs. Instead of candy, fill your eggs with healthier options. Small toys and even a few coins will certainly bring a smile. A movie pass is just the ticket - even if it's just a coupon for a home movie night. Think outside the box and find ways to treat your family at low cost and in low-sugar ways.

The feast
Keep your family dinner simple with a protein, starch and plenty of fresh veggies. Make fruit platters and vegetable trays a focal point. Avoid high-fat side dishes. For dessert, opt for a carrot cake or dishes made with fresh fruit.

Bake someone happy
Spend a few minutes whipping up these Carrot Muffins with your peeps. Not only will they bring smiles to their faces, but you'll make memories together.

Carrot Muffins With Honey-Sweetened Cream Cheese Spread
3 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar, brown sugar, or Sucanat
1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup shredded carrot
 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with papers or spray with nonstick cooking spray. In large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. 

In a separate bowl, combine oil, milk, yogurt and eggs. Whisk to blend. Fold in carrots. Add wet ingredients to dry. Fold gently until mostly moistened. For 12 large muffins, fill muffin cups completely, even mounding past their tops. For 18 kid-size muffins, pour cups almost full. Bake 25-35 minutes, depending on how much you fill them. In small mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and honey. Whip until fluffy. Serve with muffins.

Jessica Fisher is a busy mom to six children and lives San Diego. She writes about family fun at www.lifeasmom.com and shares family friendly recipes at www.goodcheapeats.com.

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