Over time, Easter has morphed from a time of religious reflection into a time of national celebration. Its ethos has shifted from the Easter story into a long weekend crammed with chocolate eggs and other tasty but ultimately unhealthy treats.
Many people look forward to the period as a guilt-free opportunity to gorge on chocolate and indulge in their culinary weaknesses. Still, most of the time, once Easter has been and gone, many are left feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and wishing they hadn’t indulged quite so much.
What makes it worse is that many people who would prefer a healthier Easter holiday think that it's not possible, believing that removing the chocolate removes most of the fun surrounding the holiday.
That doesn't have to be the case, and there are, in fact, many wonderful and healthy treats that you can enjoy over the Easter break so that you and your family can feel better about yourself.
One of the best ways to enjoy these healthier options is to compile them into an Easter basket or hamper - also known as a stuffer basket.
Here, you can still have fun with various treats without feeling guilty. Here are some top 10 things to include in your alternative Easter basket that won’t leave you feeling guilty.
1. Dark chocolate
If you want to eliminate the sugary and fattening Easter eggs but can't eliminate chocolate from your diet, you can include the healthier alternative and try dark chocolate instead.
Although they still contain a fair amount of sugar and shouldn't be eaten in massive quantities, dark chocolate has many fantastic health benefits - and the stronger, the better.
Dark chocolate is known to be an antioxidant, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. They also help stimulate cognitive function, meaning that you may be more focused and have better concentration with a diet that includes dark chocolate occasionally.
The unique bitter taste creates a luxurious indulgence that contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of regular chocolates, helping your Easter basket appear more high-class and fancier.
Additionally, as dark chocolate is packed with mood-boosting nutrients such as magnesium, protein, phosphorous, potassium and selenium, you'll feel much better after eating it. You may even have a more enjoyable Easter.
Nuts are the perfect addition to a healthy Easter basket. Not only are they great-tasting snacks, but they come with numerous health benefits.
Most nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and cashews, provide plenty of essential minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, calcium and vitamin E.
These help with all sorts of body functions, like regulating blood sugar levels, muscle function, and bone growth.
Additionally, the omega-3 fatty acids in nuts can help maintain good cardiovascular health. They can prevent blood clotting and inflammation, allowing you to pump more blood around your body and energize you.
Aside from having numerous health benefits, adding a mix of flavourful nuts to your Easter Basket can make it much more fun, especially if you fill it with various types and flavors. In addition, the added ritual of having to crack open certain nuts makes the entire process more enjoyable. They are also a very filling snack to keep everyone well-satiated.
Crackers can be an excellent healthy alternative to Easter chocolate, especially when craving something salty. They're a much better alternative to regular crisps as many brands make delicious crackers with whole grains and fewer additives, making them a more natural and less processed option.
When eaten on their own, they are also relatively low in calories and fat and high in fiber which is great for maintaining overall gut health. You can also spread them with cheese and other dips like hummus. Just make sure you go with low-fat options to maintain a healthy Easter.
Moreover, crackers come in various flavors, so it's easy to find one you like. You can experiment with many options to create a colorful Easter basket.
4. Fresh Fruit
If you're looking for a healthy way to add some sugar to your Easter plans, why not ditch the chocolate and opt for various fresh fruit instead?
Fruits like strawberries and watermelon are excellent sources of nutrients like vitamin C, which promotes healthy skin while regulating mood. They also add a sweet, delicious flavor that everyone can enjoy.
Citrus and tropical fruits like pineapples and mangos also make a great addition to an Easter basket, as they evoke a feeling of spring that suits the season perfectly and are also delicious. In addition, these fruits are full of natural sugars, so they won't leave you feeling bloated and overly full.
5. Dehydrated Fruit
Dehydrated and dried fruits like apricots, dates and mangos are a fantastic alternative to the usual Easter chocolates, as they contain no added sugars or preservatives.
Dehydrated fruit has more dietary fiber than conventional sweet treats and fresh fruit. In addition, it is naturally rich in vitamins and minerals.
Not only do these snacks pack a powerful nutritional punch, but they're also super simple to prepare and can equally be bought as they are from the store.
Dehydrated fruit also lasts longer, meaning you can save them for a rainy day when you need a tasty pick-me-up.
Seeds are a fun and often overlooked snack to add to a healthy Easter basket. These are nature's nutrient powerhouses, packed with multiple vitamins and minerals.
Many options, from hemp and chia to pumpkin and sunflower, fit everyone's taste buds and nutritional needs.
Seeds provide essential nutrients like protein, magnesium, iron and zinc that can help you stay energized throughout the day; perfect if you're looking to host an active Easter with lots of games and activities.
Seeds can be eaten independently or added to salads to give them a bit of texture while boosting them to make them even healthier.
Aside from chocolate, Easter is also heavily associated with bunnies and rabbits. So, to pay homage to this, why don't you add some of their favorite foods, such as carrots, celery and cucumbers, to your healthy Easter basket?
These crisp and crunchy vegetables add a nice texture to your Easter basket, give a fresh taste to your treats and are also very light and low in calories. Carrots and celery can be enjoyed independently, or you can throw in a dip such as hummus or sour cream to elevate the flavor profile even more.
Vegetables such as carrots and cucumbers are great for gut health and cholesterol balance and can also promote hydration, making them a super healthy alternative to Easter eggs.
Popcorn makes a fantastic addition to your easter hamper because they're a pretty healthy snack, especially when compared to chocolate. They either come sweet or salty, satisfying both savory and sweet cravings.
When getting healthy popcorn, make sure it's air-popped and lightly seasoned, as popcorn covered in butter isn't healthy.
When cooked this way, popcorn becomes a high-fiber treat low in calories and can help fill you up quickly.
Pack the kernels into your Easter basket and pop them at home for fun.
Although they're not something you can't eat unless you get edible flowers, adding some flowers to your Easter basket is a great way to add color and make it more memorable.
Flowers make a wonderful gift on any occasion. However, given that Easter is a time to celebrate the start of Spring and the blooming of wildflowers, what better time to buy some flowers?
As it's spring, some of the best flowers to add include daffodils, especially as these yellow flowers are already synonymous with Easter. If you want to get flowers that you can eat, various types are available at all the big supermarkets, which make great additions to cakes, cocktails, salads and more.
10. Protein bars
If you're an avid gym goer or gifting an Easter basket to someone you know that's into fitness, adding protein bars to help with muscle growth is a great option.
Protein bars come in various flavors, and many emulate the tastes of sugary, chocolate-heavy treats, so make a good alternative if you're still craving that taste and experience.
Don't load up with too many protein bars, though, as they are often high in calories to supplement bulking cycles, so stick with a couple to ensure you don't overdo it.
However, they are a good source of iron, potassium, and fiber, which will come in handy if you want to lead a healthier lifestyle at Easter.
You can even make your own using protein to ensure you know what is in them and make them a little healthier.
You can have Easter without the eggs
Although it may sound like an alien concept for many, you don't have to have an unhealthy Easter and fill it with chocolate eggs. Instead, there are various tasty, fun and ultimately healthy alternatives that you can include in an Easter stuffer.
All of the previously mentioned food combines to make a fun and memorable Easter basket that can help you still celebrate the occasion in a guilt-free way.
But, also remember that if you do over-indulge, it’s not the end of the world. You can still make progress with your goals - just don’t let the Easter weekend creep into the following week.