A Healthier Easter
Easter is nearly here. While the warmer weather may inspire bouts of fitness, the traditions of the season -- baskets of candy and platefuls of ham -- aren't exactly healthful. A few well-chosen sweet treats can still be part of the celebration, just consider making a couple adjustments. Here are some suggestions for healthier Easter.
A tisket, a tasket
This year, instead of loading up on cream eggs and chocolate bunnies, consider making a homemade trail mix of raisins, dry cereal, peanuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, yogurt-covered raisins, and a few chocolate chips. Or bake some mini carrot or blueberry muffins, using applesauce or a mashed banana to replace some of the fat in the recipe. Instead of giving bags of jelly beans, throw in some dried fruit or maybe some fruit leather.
If your family is especially fond of certain packaged treats, look for lower-fat versions or smaller-sized packages.
Of course, Easter treats need not be edible. Fill baskets with puzzles, art supplies, books, games, stuffed animals, or stationary. Or how about something that encourages your kids to get outside and get active, such as bubbles and sidewalk chalk?
After everyone has explored their Easter baskets, round the kids up for an egg hunt. It's a great way to be active, enjoy the warmer weather, and spend time as a family.
To lighten up some of your favorite Easter foods, such as casseroles and cakes, try these tips for cutting calories and fat, not flavor.
Ask yourself: "Can I reduce or replace oil? Can I use low-fat milk instead of cream?" Fats like oil, butter, or margarines can usually be cut by one-third to one-half in recipes. Try a small cut-back at first, then increasingly cut back little by little. For a moist baked product when fat is reduced, add dried fruits or applesauce.
Substitute whole-wheat flour for up to half (or more) of the white flour called for in a recipe. Make muffins using oatmeal, bran, or whole-wheat flour. Use evaporated skim milk instead of whole milk or cream. Select yogurt or milk products without added sugar or flavorings.
Substitute reduced-fat dairy products like milk and cheese for those higher in saturated fats and calories. Use reduced-fat yogurt to replace all or part of the sour cream or mayonnaise in a recipe. Replace part of ricotta cheese with low-fat cottage cheese. To replace some moisture and flavor loss when fat is reduced, make up the difference with broth, non-fat milk, fruit juice, and extra herbs, spices and vegetables.
Salads and sides
Add fresh or dried fruits like chopped apples, raisins, prunes, kiwi, or orange sections to green leafy salads. Use only small amounts of fatty foods like avocados, coconuts, cheese and nuts. Sharp cheese gives extra flavor so that less can be used. This helps trim the fat.
Let vegetables, beans, rice and pasta be the stars of your main dishes—use meats as the side dish. If you do decide to serve meat, choose lean meats—look for the words "loin" or "round" in the name and trim meat of all visible fat before cooking. Cook poultry with the skin on to keep it moist, but remove skin before eating to reduce the fat.
Use low-fat cooking methods like roasting, baking, broiling, steaming, or poaching. Limit deep fat frying and sauteing in a lot of oil or margarine. Use either a cooking spray, broth, water or a well-seasoned cast iron pan to saute meats.
Ode to the egg
Coloring eggs is lots of fun, but what do you do with all those eggs afterwards? Why not put them on your Easter menu?
From a nutritional standpoint, eggs deliver a powerful protein punch: you get vitamin A and riboflavin, along with other vitamins and minerals. Egg yolks are high in cholesterol and saturated fat, but the average large egg contains less than 100 calories. Remove the yolk, and a large egg white weighs in at less than 20 calories and has no fat, and remains a good source of protein.
Here's one healthful way to prepare them.
Farm-Fresh Deviled Eggs
Boil the eggs in vinegar to keep the egg white intact in case the eggs leak or break during boiling.
8 large eggs
1 teaspoon white vinegar
4 tablespoons light mayonnaise
½ teaspoon dried mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
Dash of paprika
1 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine
Place eggs and vinegar in medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out yolks and put in small bowl. Transfer whites to serving tray.
Mash yolks with a fork. Blend in mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, and paprika.
Fill each egg white half with yolk mixture and sprinkle with parsley.
Approximate per serving: 100 calories, 8 grams of fat
From the American Cancer Society’s Celebrate: Healthy Entertaining for Any Occasion.
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