Thursday, April 01, 2004
Sugarless Easter can be just as sweet :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
When Arlene Sanoy was a child she received one small, hollow chocolate bunny for Easter.
Few children have such modest expectations as supermarket shelves beckon with bags of candies and brimming baskets.
The spring holiday is beginning to rival Halloween as a candy fest, says Sanoy, a registered dietitian with Rush University Medical Center.
But you can moderate the sweets you make available to your children despite the temptations. You can also use the Easter holiday as the start of your family's healthy new lifestyle.
Although the Easter goodies are tempting-even we adults may succumb to a cream-filled egg-you can discriminate. When buying candy, choose the products that taste good, says Evelyn Tribole, a registered dietitian and mother of two in Irvine, Calif.
"Last year we had a Godiva chocolate bunny. It's so fabulous we savored it and ate less," she says.
You may not get away with a solitary chocolate bunny, but don't overdo it either. There's no rule that Easter baskets must be packed with jelly beans and chocolate eggs. You can create an impressive basket by substituting trail mix, granola bars, peanuts or raisins.
If your children receive Easter baskets from Grandma or well-meaning friends, set the rules about when and at what pace your children eat the candy. "In the same way you limit candy for Halloween, take the same approach for Easter," says Sanoy.
At Tribole's home, candy is reserved for after dinner.
"That way the children aren't hungry for candy instead of a meal," she says.
Your children are less likely to miss candy if you add alternate fun items to their Easter baskets, suggests Tribole, author of Eating on the Run (Human Kinetics, Third Edition, 2004).
Her family loves receiving "bunny money" in their baskets. Tribole fills plastic Easter eggs with money ranging from coins to a $5 bill.
Sanoy recommends adding sports-oriented items to baskets, such as a jump rope or a ball. "Don't give gifts such as computer games that promote sedentary activity," Sanoy says.
Think of the holiday as an opportunity to get outdoors and exercise. Add a family bike ride or zoo trip to the Easter agenda.
When you're planning your menu, bring spring fruits and vegetables to the table. This is the season for asparagus, peas and strawberries. Let these foods be the centerpiece for your celebration.
Eggcetera If an Easter egg hunt is on your agenda, here are some tips to avoid food-borne illness from the American Egg Board in Park Ridge.
• Use a food dye designed for eggs and follow package directions. Discard any eggs that crack.
• Don't hide eggs in areas that are frequented by pets or where you've used lawn chemicals.
• Arrange your hunt so children start looking as soon as you've hidden the eggs. Once your children find the eggs, refrigerate them until serving.
• If any eggs were left at room temperature or outdoors for two hours or longer, discard them. Hard-cook and color extra eggs as replacements and switch those with the unsafe eggs.
Spring greens and strawberries with poppy seed dressing Like a bouquet of spring flowers, this salad of strawberries and greens, adapted from The Healthy Cook (Rodale Press, 1997) will add delightful colors to your Easter table.
6 cups baby spinach leaves 2 cups sliced strawberries 1 cup peeled and diced kiwi fruit (2 kiwi fruit) 1/4 cup orange juice 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest 2 teaspoons canola oil 2 teaspoons poppy seeds 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds Combine the spinach, strawberries and kiwi fruit in a salad bowl. Stir the orange juice, orange zest, oil, poppy seeds, salt and pepper together in a cup. Just before serving, pour the poppy seed dressing over the salad and toss gently but well. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Serves 6.
Bev Bennett is the mother of two and the author of 30 Minute Meals for Dummies (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003).