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Easter is a fun Celebration at our house. We have an Easter egg hunt with the cousins, celebrate new beginnings and open our three-season porch for the first time welcoming in spring.
There is plenty of food and treats that go along with all this celebrating.
YES, my kids do eat sugar. YES, they love cake and juice as much as the next kid.
I don’t deny them these treats. I make sure that the sweets that we serve have clean ingredients in them.
On a day to day basis I try to limit how much sugar they eat. On special days I don’t let them go hog wild, but I let them have more than normal.
It’s all about balance. Sugar does make your immune system work harder, so try to balance it out with lots of vegetables and fiber.
Wondering how to choose healthy candy and desserts for your Easter celebration?
Let’s start with what to avoid. Then I’ll tell you what to look for, and finally what candy and desserts we’ll be having here.
Plus, I’ll show you one of our favorite traditions, growing your own Easter grass.
WHAT TO AVOID IN CANDY AND DESSERTS:
This is an excitotoxin, which are molecules that are so stimulating to the nervous system that they can excite neurons to death. It is added to many processed foods such as chips, soups and packaged meals. It excites the taste buds and makes food taste better so we want to eat more. This is linked to obesity, hormone imbalance, free radical damage and inflammation.
What to look out for on the label: natural flavorings, spices, vegetable protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, soy protein isolate, glutamic acid, enzymes, protein fortified and yeast extract.
This is the process of forcing genes from one species into an entirely different species. The injected genes can come from bacteria, viruses, insects or animals. One example of a GMO food that just came out is the Arctic Apple which never browns.
“New GMO foods are being released with little understanding of their potential health and environmental consequences. So far, no safety assessments specific to these new techniques are required, and no regulatory oversight is in place for this swiftly moving set of new technologies.”
What to look out for: According to www.livingnongmo.org the following are common ingredients derived from GMO risk crops:
Amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, vitamin C, citric acid, sodium citrate, ethanol, flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), high-fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrins, molasses, monosodium glutamate, sucrose, textured vegetable protein (TVP), xanthan gum, vitamins, yeast products.
Look for the Non-GMO Verified or USDA Organic labels. This certifies that the product is non-GMO.
This is the most highly genetically modified crop. Corn and corn by-products create inflammation.
What to look out for: Avoid products that contain corn by-products such as: corn syrup, corn oil, high-fructose corn syrup. These are hidden in many processed foods. Choose organic corn.
Artificial Food Dyes
These are found in packaged/processed foods. They are linked to hyperactivity, allergies and asthma and cancer.
What to look out for on the label: FD&C Blue No. 1 (or any other combination of colors and numbers.)
These are chemicals used to sweeten food. They may slow your metabolism (I know I don’t need any help here!), increase your cravings for sweets and carbs, decrease good gut bacteria, increase inflammation and more.
What to look out for on the label:
Aspartame- this is an artificial sweetener as well as an excitotoxin.
Saccharin, Acesulfame-K, Neotame, and Sucralose.
According to the FDA, Natural Flavors can include “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.” Companies can use anything found in nature including GMO’s and MSG (see above), without having to list it on the label.
What to look out for on the label: Natural Flavors
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Look for Certified Organic and Certified Non-GMO.
Here are a few of the treats that I’m putting in my boys’ baskets this year.
- Licorice from Candy Tree
- Ocho Peanut Butter Eggs
- Divine Milk Chocolate Speckled Eggs.
I found these at Whole Foods and my local health food store.
Even most of the other candy I found at the health food store had Natural Flavors listed on the label.
For our Easter dessert I head straight to Whole Foods. (No I don’t work there….yet. We have one opening near us in a few weeks and my husband has already said that I need to get a job there or I Am Banned.)
I’m not much of a baker and I like to keep things easy. Here’s why I get our Easter cake from them:
We bake daily, using only cage-free eggs, natural butters and the best quality unbleached, unbromated flour available.
We never allow artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or hydrogenated fats in any of the food we sell.
A few other things going in our Easter baskets this year:
I really love useful toys and not little plastic ones that will end up in a junk drawer in a couple of days.
My boys are really into these Fidget Spinners, Fidget Cubes and Thinking Putty. I’ll also be putting in some bath bombs.
Now on to one of my kids favorite traditions:
Growing your own Easter grass
Here’s what you’ll need:
Plastic bags to line the baskets
Spray bottle with water
Wheatberries can be found in the bulk section of your local grocery or natural food store. I found mine at Hy-Vee.
These are the same seeds that are used to grow the wheatgrass you can get at a juice bar.
I used organic potting soil so that I can juice my wheatgrass after Easter!
IMPORTANT: You need to soak the berries for 24 hours before you plant them. That softens them up and gets them ready to sprout.
Line your baskets with plastic as a barrier. The grass will grow quite tall so you don’t need to put it up too high on the sides, about 1/3 of the way up.
Add the potting soil.
Drain the wheatberry seeds and add a layer of seeds on top of the soil.
Spray the seeds generously with water. Cover the baskets for the first 24 hours with plastic wrap to create a greenhouse of sorts. Keep the seeds moist. You may need to spray them a few times a day. Keep them in a sunny spot indoors or out. Just bring them in at night.
You will see sprouts in a few days. My kids love checking on them and watering them every day.
Please excuse the picture below from 4 years ago before I ever dreamed of having a blog. I’m only showing you this pic so you can see the final result, since we just got back from a trip and I started my grass yesterday. Sorry! I want to share this so you can have grass in time for Easter. Follow me on Instagram and I’ll share this years pics of our baskets there.
With love & gratitude,
What do you fill your Easter baskets with? Have you grown your own Easter grass? Let me know in the comments below!