With spring break quickly (and sadly) becoming a distant memory, and Easter approaching this weekend, it’s easy to want to say Sayonara to your strict healthy diet plan and veer off your regimented gym plan that you slaved over for weeks to get your bikini body for break. Nothing sounds better than skipping the gym to binge watch Gossip Girl and eat the Starburst jelly beans your mom sent back with you! But while it’s important to let yourself indulge a little, it is also important to stay on track because of all of the work that you put in to get that beach body you worked so hard for for spring break. With these healthy alternatives to the traditional Easter candies that we all love to enjoy (looking at you Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs), you can have all the flavor and taste at a lower calorie option that you and your waistline will be thanking us for later.
Once upon a time, someone decided to mix peanut butter and chocolate, and thus, this amazingly delicious concoction was created. Peanut butter eggs, a staple of Easter, or any holiday season, are small yet deadly, in the sense of the amount of sugar that is packed in each individual serving. The peanut butter filling often has two or almost three times the amount of sugar that regular peanut butter has, and on top of it, the milk chocolate coating isn’t doing you any favors either. For a low sugar option without the added preservatives, try making your own homemade peanut butter eggs using the recipe below, which is both vegan and gluten free!
- 1/4 cup peanut butter OR allergy-friendly alternative
- Dash of salt
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar or *sugar-free powdered sugar*
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
- 2 tbsp agave or pure maple syrup
- 2 more tbsp of sugar, if needed
Note: Makes 6-9 eggs
- Mix the first three ingredients together in a bowl until it becomes a crumbly dough.
- Add the extra 2 tbsp sugar if it’s too gooey, and add a little more peanut butter if it’s too dry. (Different brands of peanut butter will yield different results.)
- Form dough into flat little ovals/egg shapes then freeze the dough for an hour, or until it’s hard.
- Meanwhile, mix the cocoa and coconut oil, add the agave/maple or stevia drops, and continue mixing until it looks like chocolate sauce
- Then take one “egg” out of the freezer at a time (so the rest stay cold) and cover in chocolate. Immediately return covered egg to the freezer and let harden. Best to store these in the freezer as well. Enjoy frozen or take out and warm to room temperature and enjoy!
It wouldn’t be Easter if you didn’t see those Peeps on the shelves of your local grocery store. However, these fluorescent colored, bunny shaped marshmallows may look like fun, but they’re bad for both your teeth and your body. They are high in sugar and fat, and provide no nutritional value to your diet whatsoever. Though these homemade Peeps may not look as fun as the traditional marshmallows you used to get in your Easter basket, they taste great, are made up of natural ingredients, and can be completely sugar-free if made without sprinkles!
- 1 cup water, split into 2 half cups
- 3 tablespoons gelatin
- 1 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Cover a 9 by 13 inch pan with greased parchment paper
- Put 1/2 cup of water in a medium bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Set aside to soften. In a small pot, place the honey, salt and the other 1/2 cup of water and heat on medium level temperature.
- Using a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to 240 degrees. (You can also test it by carefully dribbling a little of the liquid into a bowl of ice cold water. It should be in the soft candy stage — which will form little soft balls when cooled in the water and taken out. It takes about 7-8 minutes to reach this temperature.) Remove from the heat as soon as it reaches the right temperature.
- Very carefully mix in the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture by pouring the hot syrup in a drizzle down the side of the bowl while slowly beating ingredients together. THIS MIXTURE IS EXTREMELY HOT SO BE CAREFUL! Once combined, add the vanilla and increase speed slowly to high. Beat for 7-15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and fluffy and holds its shape when you lift the beaters out of the mixture.
- Spread onto pan, and add another piece of greased parchment paper on top. Press down to even out with a small rolling pin
- Leave uncovered for 4-12 hours to dry. Use greased cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes. Roll in sugar/sprinkles if so desired.
Healthy Cadbury Eggs
Going back to the traditional candies, that relatives as old as our grandparents have enjoyed through the years, Cadbury Eggs are an unusual candy that many enjoy, but few actually know what it is, or more specifically, what is in them. With a light yet buttery filling that isn’t high in fat and sugar, and with an organic recipe that is chemical and preservative free, these homemade sweets are sure to satisfy your craving without ruining your diet. Even better, the recipe can also be modified for you fellow vegans out there! These eggs are the best of both worlds.
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted organic butter
- 1/4 cup organic heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon honey (add an extra teaspoon for a very sweet filling)
- 1 fresh organic egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon pure stevia extract
- Pinch unrefined sea salt
- Heat butter, cream, and honey, stirring over low heat until butter is completely melted.
- Whisk in egg yolk and cook over medium-low heat until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (should take 3-5 minutes). It will leave a trail when you drag your finger across the back of the spoon.
- Remove from heat and add vanilla and stevia. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Add a tiny pinch more stevia if necessary. If when cooking the custard you start seeing little tiny cooked pieces of egg white, immediately pull from the heat and strain mixture.
- Chill until cool to the touch.
Homemade Rice Krispy Treats
Though not traditionally a treat you associate with Easter, these marshmallow-laden bars are always good regardless of the holiday, and Easter is no exception. As yummy as they are, they are pure sugar, and are sure to make you crash from a sugar high after you eat one. This year, snack on these three ingredient no bake “Rice Krispy” treats that are easily moldable into fun shapes, like bunny rabbits or Easter eggs! With no marshmallow, butter, or oil, feel free to eat one (or even three) with no guilt after a long day of hitting the books!
- 2 cups gluten-free crispy rice cereal
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (can sub for almond/cashew)
- 1/2 cup sticky sweetener of choice – I’ve used brown rice syrup (best), honey and maple syrup (least sticky)
- Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add your crispy rice cereal and set aside.
- Stovetop or in the microwave, melt your nut butter with your sticky sweetener and then pour the mixture into the crispy rice cereal and mix well. If you used brown rice syrup, this should be perfect. If you used honey or maple, you may need to add a dash more to make them stick together.
- Pour mixture into the lined baking tray and press firmly into place. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up.
By Annie O’Sullivan